Vodafone 35-day prepaid vs Telstra vs Optus vs Virgin Mobile

Alex Kidman 10 May 2017

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In the battle of the big prepaid providers, whose mobile plans offer the best value?

Plenty of Australians still opt for contract mobiles, but there’s a growing surge of users sourcing their own phones and putting them on more flexible, lower cost prepaid plans. There are benefits and drawbacks to that approach, but it’s definitely worth considering if you’re able to cover the initial handset cost upfront. That’s led to it becoming an increasingly competitive area for telcos to offer value to consumers.

Vodafone’s latest salvo in the prepaid war is the introduction of 35 day recharges for some (but not all) of its Combo prepaid plans. 35 days might seem like an unusual number, but it’s a direct week longer than the 28 day range that many prepaid providers have shuffled to, and on the surface, it seems like a great deal.

As always, though, it pays to compare. If you wanted to just stick to the large name-brand carriers, how much value could you see at the kinds of price points that Vodafone is selling its Combo prepaid deals for?

Direct comparison has to take into account some details that are less quantifiable, such as any data-free streaming or data rollover features that a specific plan may offer. Equally, for the purposes of comparison I’m ignoring Vodafone’s half-price deal on the starter park for its $40 recharges, because while they’re fine value on a month-by-month basis, you can only use it once, which means that you can only possibly get one recharge at that rate, after which you’re back to comparing the regular rates.

One point of comparison from the Telstra side is that its data deals do have an inbuilt time discrimination factor built in, with half the data quota for each plan being "Night" data that can only be used from 8pm to 8am AEST.

So how to compare? With so many (but not quite all) plans offering unlimited standard national calls and texts, data is the real comparison playground here. One way to examine the 35 day expiry period against the others is to examine quite how much data it gives you each day to use, so I’ve tabulated that against the effective price for each of those gigabytes of data. As prepaid plans you can’t go over quota, so how you choose to use your data is up to you.

Here’s how the comparable plans from Telstra, Optus and Virgin Mobile in the prepaid space compare against Vodafone’s new plans:

PlanCost per rechargeDataRecharge periodEffective data per dayEffective cost per GBUnlimited Australian Calls/Texts
Vodafone $50 Data Combo$5012GB35 days343$4.17Yes
Optus $50 My Prepaid Ultimate$508.5GB28 days304$5.88Yes
Telstra Pre-Paid Plus $50$508GB28 days286$6.25Yes
Vodafone $50 Talk Combo$509GB35 days257$5.56Yes
Vodafone $40 Data Combo$409GB35 days257$4.44Yes
Optus $40 My Prepaid Ultimate$406GB28 days214$6.67Yes
Telstra Pre-Paid Plus $40$406GB28 days214$6.67Yes
Virgin Mobile $49 Plus$495GB28 days179$9.80$900 call Value
Vodafone $40 Talk Combo$406GB35 days171$6.67Yes
Vodafone $30 Talk Combo$303GB28 days107$10.00Yes
Vodafone $30 Data Combo$303GB28 days107$10.00Yes
Optus $30 My Prepaid Ultimate$303GB28 days107$10.00Yes
Telstra Pre-Paid Plus $30$303GB28 days107$10.00Yes
Virgin Mobile $29 Plus$292GB28 Days71$14.50$450 call Value
Virgin Mobile $19 Plus$19500MB28 days18$38.00$100 call value

I’ve sorted the table by effective daily data, but you can re-sort by any table column by clicking on it. Not shockingly, if you want more data on a prepaid plan, be prepared to pay for more, but it is interesting that Vodafone’s $50 35-day Combo recharge tops both the effective daily data allowance and the cost per GB figures, making it a very decent value deal amongst the majors indeed.

The other obvious standout in value terms is Virgin Mobile, but not for good reasons. Despite its marketing message around value for younger customers, it’s the only one not offering unlimited calls and texts, and its data value isn’t terribly good for prepaid customers either.

Looking for a new prepaid plan? You can use our prepaid plan finder to search out the best value plan for your needs across every provider. Just click on "Filter Results" to suit your needs and find your perfect plan today:

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