From contract-free handsets to prepaid flexibility, Vodafone has a little bit of something for every Australian mobile phone user.
Vodafone offers a range of telecommunications services for every purpose, from high-end enterprise all the way down to your humble mobile phone. While Vodafone has only recently started offering fixed line services via the NBN, its pedigree in mobile services spans many years, with postpaid contract SIM-only plans, prepaid plans and a unique take on how to structure mobile plans with included handsets.
Vodafone mobile contract plans
Vodafone's approach to mobile contracts used to follow the normal routine of a handset paired with a mobile plan and handset repayments over 24 months, but in 2017 it reengineered its approach to plans with an included handset.
New Vodafone mobile plans explicitly separate the handset contract from the mobile plan in terms of repayments, although you do have to maintain a Vodafone mobile plan over the life of your handset contract.
That's an approach that gives you a lot of flexibility because you can opt to pay off a handset over 12, 24 or 36 months at any given plan price, although it does mean that higher plan prices don't get lower handset repayments. As such, it's important to carefully consider the total cost paid for a phone plus service through Vodafone Australia.
That starts with Vodafone's Red plans, which come in multiple variants depending on whether you favour larger data allowances to use while in Australia or need more calling minutes for select international destinations. All of Vodafone's Red plans include unlimited standard national calls and texts, plus inclusions relative to their pricing tiers.
- Red Plan $30: Unlimited calls and texts, 2GB of data, $30
- Red Plan $40: Unlimited calls and texts, 6GB of data, $40
- Red Plan $40: Unlimited calls and texts, 6GB of data, $40
- Red Data/Global Plan $50: Unlimited calls and texts, 14GB/12GB of data, $50
- Red Data/Global Plan $60: Unlimited calls and texts, 20GB/18GB of data, $60
- Red Data/Global Plan $80: Unlimited calls and texts, 32GB/30GB of data, $80
- Red Data Plan $100: Unlimited calls and texts, 50GB of data, $100
These figures are the current baselines but it's well worth checking what Vodafone's current plan deals are at a given point in time, because it frequently offers special deals that either cut prices or increase data quotas on plans, and sometimes both.
You can't sign up for just a SIM-only version of these plans without a handset, but as noted, you're not strictly speaking tied down to them either, because you could opt for a handset that you pay off after a month's usage if you figured Vodafone wasn't for you. Here, for example, is Vodafone's plan pricing for the very popular Apple iPhone X:
The decoupling of handset and contract pricing makes the price you're paying for a handset rather more explicit than with other carriers. By way of contrast, here's the pricing for the much more budget-friendly Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra on a Vodafone contract plan:
Vodafone SIM-only mobile plans
Vodafone's postpaid SIM-only plans are offered on 12-month contract terms or on rolling month-to-month terms. If you sign up for the full year you typically get larger data inclusions, although like the postpaid plans with bundled handsets, there's also options for those who need more international calling inclusions through the Global SIM-only plans.
For 12-month contracts, here's the typical pricing on Vodafone's SIM-only plans:
- Sim Only Plan $30: Unlimited calls and texts, 2GB of data, $30
- Sim Only Plan $40: Unlimited calls and texts, 6GB of data, $40
- Sim Only Data/Global Plan $50: Unlimited calls and texts, 14GB/12GB of data, $50
- Sim Only Data/Global Plan $60: Unlimited calls and texts, 20GB/18GB of data, $60
- Sim Only Data/Global Plan $80: Unlimited calls and texts, 32GB/30GB of data, $80
- Sim Only Plan $100: Unlimited calls and texts, 50GB of data, $100
Vodafone is quite aggressive in terms of bonus deals on its 12-month SIM-only plans, with frequent data boosts or price cuts, so it's well worth comparing the current deals:
If you're more interested in a postpaid plan with no ongoing commitment, Vodafone's month-to-month SIM-only plans may suit your needs:
- Sim Only Plan $30: Unlimited calls and texts, 1GB of data, $30
- Sim Only Plan $40: Unlimited calls and texts, 3GB of data, $40
- Sim Only Plan $50: Unlimited calls and texts, 6GB of data, $50
- Sim Only Plan $60: Unlimited calls and texts, 9GB of data, $60
- Sim Only Plan $80: Unlimited calls and texts, 15GB of data, $80
- Sim Only Plan $100: Unlimited calls and texts, 25GB of data, $100
As you can see, there's a significant upside to signing up for a year in data terms alone, but if you're not in the market for a year's worth of service, Vodafone's SIM-only plans may be what you need. Special deals are less common for its month-to-month plans, but they're not unheard of. Here's the current full pricing details for Vodafone's SIM-only month-to-month plans:
Vodafone prepaid plans
As it does with postpaid contract mobile plans, Vodafone's approach to prepaid is somewhat different to the rest of the industry, depending on your precise needs. It does offer standard prepaid plans with either data, talk or long expiry options, under the Data Combo and Talk Combo deals, which typically look like this:
- Data Combo Plan $30: Unlimited calls and texts, 3GB of data, 28 days expiry $30
- Data Combo Plan $40: Unlimited calls and texts, 9GB of data, 35 days expiry $40
- Data Combo Plan $50: Unlimited calls and texts, 12GB of data, 35 days expiry $50
- Talk Combo Plan $30: Unlimited calls and texts, 3GB of data, 28 days expiry $30
- Talk Combo Plan $40: Unlimited calls and texts, 6GB of data, international call minutes, 35 days expiry $40
- Talk Combo Plan $50: Unlimited calls and texts, 9GB of data, international call minutes, 35 days expiry $50
Vodafone also offers long expiry prepaid plans under the Prepaid 365 Plus deals, with your prepaid value used against calls, texts and data.
- Prepaid 365 Plus Plan $30: Calls 20c/minute, SMS 20c/each, data 2c/MB, 365 day expiry
- Prepaid 365 Plus Plan $40: Calls 20c/minute, SMS 20c/each, data 2c/MB, 365 day expiry
- Prepaid 365 Plus Plan $50: Calls 20c/minute, SMS 20c/each, data 2c/MB, 365 day expiry
Where Vodafone really changes the prepaid space is with its modular MyMix plans. These allow you to take parts of the data, talk and long expiry plans and effectively mash them together to make an entirely bespoke plan. The more you want in terms of inclusions and the longer you want the plan to run, the more you'll pay, but equally you're not then paying for a plan with inclusions that don't interest you or hold any value for your personal circumstances. Expiry can be set to 7, 28 or 90 days, with between 1GB and 11.5GB of data, either 120 standard national minutes or unlimited, and between zero and 300 international calling minutes.
There's a lot of variety in the MyMix plans. By way of example, the lowest cost plan would run for only 7 days with unlimited texts but nothing else at a cost of $8, while the top-tier offering with 90 days expiry, 11.5GB of data, unlimited standard national calls and 300 international calling minutes would cost you $110.
Here's the full rundown of Vodafone's prepaid plans:
How does Vodafone compare?
Vodafone's positioning in the local market has long been one of offering superior value at a given price point compared to the big players in the telco space. Typically you'll find larger data allowances at a given price point on a Vodafone plan, although that is somewhat tempered by a slightly smaller coverage map than the Telstra or Optus networks. That's only likely to be a concern for more regional or rural users, with Vodafone investing heavily in its network in metropolitan and larger regional centres in recent years.
Vodafone's removal of handset "plans" in favour of what is effectively outright phone sales at 0% interest rates makes it an interesting comparison against Telstra or Optus for any given handset ranged by all three carriers. On the surface, Vodafone may come across as lower cost because it will often list the 36-month payment term for a handset, but you've got to qualify that with the fact that you must maintain a mobile plan with Vodafone or pay the rest of the handset plan out immediately. As such, it's vital to look not only at the per-month cost but also the total cost of a plan over 12, 24 or 36 months. For example, here's what you'd pay for an iPhone 8 64GB on Vodafone, Telstra or Optus over 24 months:
Vodafone's deals compare quite favourably against the big players for handsets, but it's smart to ensure that you're getting the mix of extras and coverage you need.
In SIM-only terms, it naturally enough depends on your average spend. Taking a $60 per month standard term, here's how Vodafone compares against other postpaid SIM-only providers:
Vodafone doesn't have a large quantity of MVNOs on its network, with the most notable onboard player being Kogan Mobile and its range of prepaid mobile plans. Here's how Kogan Mobile's plans compare against Vodafone's own offerings in that space:
Why should you consider Vodafone?
Vodafone's reputation is one of selling high-value plans on its own network, so if you're a particularly heavy data user, its high-end plans can often represent great value. Like most providers, its postpaid plans charge a flat $10 per excess GB of usage, helping to keep your costs under control.
In terms of extra features, one key aspect of many of Vodafone's plans is the ability to earn bonus Qantas Points as part of your ongoing mobile spend. If you're a frequent flyer, that can be a great bonus value add. Many plans also give you a bonus quantity of Qantas Points simply for signing up.
Vodafone Australia is part of the global Vodafone group and that gives the carrier certain unique advantages for travellers. While competitors Telstra and Optus sell roaming packages as add-ons to your existing plan, Vodafone postpaid customers can take advantage of Vodafone's Red roaming deal, which charges you a flat $5 per day of usage to access whatever inclusions you've got on your existing plan. For longer-term usage that might not be the most cost-effective way to roam, but for shorter visits it's extremely simple and competitive as an offering.
While the structure of its contract plans with bundled handsets removes most of the subsidy you might expect on higher-tier plans, from time to time Vodafone does offer loyalty discounts at certain plan tiers for selected handsets.
If you're unsure about the Vodafone network, Vodafone also offers the Vodafone Network Satisfaction Guarantee on its plans, with 30 days to trial out the service. If you're not happy with what you're getting, return any device and all you'll pay is any excess charges incurred within the first 30 days.
Vodafone prepaid recharge options
There’s a wide variety of ways to recharge your Vodafone prepaid mobile phone service depending on your personal preference. As with many prepaid plans, it’s worth reading the terms and conditions to determine if there are advantages to recharging earlier than your expiry period in order to take advantage of any rollover bonuses, which may vary by plan.
- Recharge online: Vodafone has a dedicated web portal (https://myaccount.myvodafone.com.au/recharge/new) for managing prepaid recharges for your own phone, or any Vodafone prepaid phone number. Payments are accepted through Visa, Mastercard, American Express or PayPal.
- Via MyVodafone app: Vodafone provides a dedicated smartphone app for managing your prepaid use, including recharges. It’s available for free for iOS (download here), Android (download here) or Windows Phone devices(download here)
- Recharge via SMS: You can recharge your Vodafone prepaid service via text message, sending a specific keyword to enable an automatic recharge as long as you’ve already assigned a credit card to your account. Vodafone’s video takes you through the process:
- Via voucher: Recharge vouchers for Vodafone prepaid services are available from a wide variety of mass market retailers, as well as at any Vodafone store. Vouchers do have specific expiry dates so it’s important to apply them at the right time otherwise you may find they have expired. Vouchers can be redeemed through Vodafone’s web portal or the MyVodafone app.
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