If you’re shopping for a great mobile phone deal, you’ve probably noticed how times have changed. Mobile plan deals are everywhere – it’s no longer a choice between the “big three”, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Even supermarkets have their own mobile offerings prominently displayed in catalogues. Alongside them are smaller companies – some of which grew from being international calling-card providers into offering full-fledged mobile services – with their own money-saving deals to entice you.
All of these providers are actually what’s known as MVNOs – Mobile Virtual Network Operators. Instead of building their own mobile networks – a massive undertaking that would cost billions and take years to establish – they’ve bought mobile network access from one of the “big three”. They’ll often then add valuable services of their own like international calling (usually handled with internet-based Skype-like systems working in the background).
For consumers, this can make accessing great-value mobile plans a lot more interesting. You can choose from a huge amount of smaller providers, and port your existing mobile number to easily switch providers.
However, there are potential “gotchas”. While these providers might be buying access to one of the country’s three big mobile networks, they don’t always get access to the whole network. All three networks operate on multiple frequencies ranging from better in-building coverage to extremely fast 4G data speeds. If the virtual provider you go with has only bought access to, say, Telstra’s 2100 MHz frequency, you’re not going to get the exact same coverage or data speed as you would if you’d signed up with Telstra.
Then again, if you’re after top-tier data speeds and coverage, you’ll most likely head straight to one of the “big three” in the first place. If super-fast data doesn’t matter, or you don’t mind if your phone’s signal meter occasionally doesn’t show five bars, you can save a bundle by trying out one of these alternative providers. Let’s take a look at a few of them, along with our picks of the best value plans.
Still going strong, amaysim is a popular choice if you’re looking for hassle-free, easy-to-understand plans, unlimited talk and text, and generous data allowances that won’t break the bank. Operating on the Optus 4G Plus network, their big point of difference is a firm emphasis on international calling. amaysim phone plans priced $30+ all provide unlimited calls to a set of ten international countries – including the big destinations like the USA, UK and New Zealand. You can’t really go wrong with any of the five unlimited amaysim prepaid plans. Even at the high end (with expanded international calling) you won’t pay more than $50/month. If you’ve got friends or family overseas, this is the provider for you.
Amaysim Spring 2017 Discounts
Starting October 2017, amaysim is running a special offer – get any of their $30+ plans at a discount. Use code 5OFF6 at checkout and enjoy $5 off your chosen plan before November 19.
Pros: Endless talk and text on all unlimited amaysim mobile plans
Unlimited calls to 10 countries on $30+ plans
300 minutes of calls to 22 extra countries on the top two plans
Optus 4G Plus network for reliable, fast data
Best Plan: Unlimited 5GB. Its allowance + international calls makes it exceptional value.
Value-Packed Plans on the Optus 4G Plus Network
Get unlimited talk and texts + great data allowances on these amaysim SIM-only deals! Plans come with no lock-in contract.
Now owned by amaysim but still running with the same smart plan design that made them popular, Vaya leverages the Optus 4G Plus network. Customers get unlimited talk and text across all Vaya plans. They have an extremely low cost of entry ($16) – your Vaya SIM will get you onto a quality 4G network for hardly any money per month and you can talk and text to your heart’s content.
Vaya Mobile Spring 2017 Deals
From October 2017, Vaya clients get more bang for their buck. The telco recently upped data inclusions on all plans. You can now use between 1.5GB on the cheapest plan up to 13GB on the $44 offer. All plans come with unlimited talk and text.
Pros: Extremely low monthly cost
Unlimited talk for as little as $16/month
All special numbers (1300, 1800 etc) included
Great for talkers and texters rather than data users
Best Plan: You can’t go past the Unlimited S plan at $16/month with unlimited talk and text – only 1.5GB of data, but if talk is your thing, this is the bargain for you.
Winner of several awards in 2015 and 2016 for being the best in the game, Aldi Mobile leverages Telstra’s 4G network for its service. While the full speed of Telstra’s gargantuan network isn’t available to Aldi customers – data speeds are limited to a still super-fast 100 Mbps – there’s real value to be had. Aldi Mobile plans range from the cheap but average-value low-end S plan and M plan to the data-generous XXL plan (Aldi uses clothes sizes for plan names!). All come with unlimited calls, so you have to pick based on how much data you need.
Pros: Data rollover on all plans and great for occasional heavy data users
International calls included on L plan and above
Unlimited calls and texts on all plans
Best Plan: With 8GB data and unlimited calls and texts for $35, the XL plan is the easy pick.
Offering unlimited calls to 10 countries on the top-end Woolworths SIM card, the supermarket giant’s mobile offering runs on the Telstra 4G network. Its data speed is capped to 100 Mbps, but that won’t be a problem for most as speeds like that are rarely reached while you’re out and about anyway. Data rollover is offered on the higher recharges as well, and Woolworths Rewards members get 10% off every recharge.
Woolworths Spring 2017 Offers
Woolworths is always offering smartphones at special prices. Just recently, the new Samsung S8 was available at a significant discount. In October 2017, you can get the Motorola Moto C for only $149 – with a bonus $20 pre-paid recharge.
Pros: Unlimited calls and texts on all except the cheapest plan
Superb coverage on the Telstra 4G network
Data rollover up to a huge 15GB
Best Plan: The $30 recharge gives you unlimited calls and texts and 4GB of data along with 150 minutes standard international calls and $100 International and other non-standard national calls.
A global brand that’s been around for 15 years, Lebara has long specialised in international communications, offering calling cards in Australia long before they began mobile phone services in 2009. Lebara mobile plans uniquely offer unlimited calls to a list of 60 international countries for under $50/month, with a generous data allowance. Lebara plans operate on the Vodafone 4G network.
Pros: Perfect for users who have lots of friends and family overseas
Unlimited national calls and texts
Best Plan: The $49.90 Unlimited Plan is unbeatable with its unlimited calls in Australia and to 50 countries for the one flat monthly rate.
Coles knows how to attract people with value, and their mobile plans are no exception, with great data allowances for incredibly low monthly rates. Coles prepaid plans are simple with only three tiers, at $10, $20 and $40. Running on the Optus 4G Plus network, with the $10 Coles prepaid cards uniquely suited to people who just need to get connected for a short time – they last only 10 days.
Pros: Large data allowances on the 28-day prepaid plans
Unlimited talk and text on all plans
250 minutes of international calls on the top plan
Best Plan: You can’t go past the $20 recharge with unlimited talk and text and a 2GB data allowance.
They’ve disrupted retail in Australia over the years, and they plan to do the same with the mobile market. Kogan mobile plans offer more than just the standard monthly recharge – there are also 90-day and 365-day expiry options for those that want an active mobile phone, but don’t use it enough to make monthly recharging worthwhile. There’s plenty of Kogan phone plans with options for up to 16GB of data per month for heavy users. Kogan Mobile runs on the Vodafone 4G network.
Pros: Large and versatile range of plans
Longer recharge expiry available for those who need it
Generous data inclusions
Best Plan: The 11GB 30-day plan offers a ton of data and unlimited calls and text for only $36.90.
Boost Mobile Australia puts a strong emphasis on fun, with lots of perks and special offers for customers. They also grant a bonus gigabyte of data allowance every weekend, when many people are going to need it most. Powered by Telstra’s extensive 4G network, the Boost Mobile plans offer a lot when it comes to data – if you’re out and about sending and viewing photos and videos all weekend, this is the provider for you.
Boost Spring 2017 Special Offers
Get unlimited international minutes with Boost Mobile. Both the $40 and $50 mobile plans come with unlimited international calls to 10 countries, including Canada, USA, United Kingdom, India, New Zealand, and Singapore.
Pros: Huge data allowances thanks to bonus weekend data
Unlimited calls and texts on all plans
$10 7-day SIM available for travellers, with unlimited calls/texts
Best Plan: The $30/month plan with a base 3GB data and 7GB total is incredible value.
Long time experts in the international calling card business, Hello Mobile targets customers who want to get in touch with friends and relatives overseas without breaking the bank. They’ve also added national plans for everyday users. Using the Vodafone 4G network, Hello Mobile has a variety of plans to easily pick one that suits your usage.
Pros: Flexible plans including low-cost pay-as-you-go options
Access to the recently upgraded Vodafone 4G network
Best Plan: At $39.90 for 30 days, the Freedom 500 plan gives you 500 minutes of international calling per month and unlimited national calls and texts.
Running on the Optus mobile network, Spintel has a unique point of difference from its competitors – a prepaid plan with 30GB of data per month and unlimited talk and text. The catch? That ginormous data limit can only be used on the Optus 3G network, meaning that while you can YouTube all day and night, you’re not going to be streaming HD video with great reception. Spintel has a basic $9.95 plan that’ll get you connected with unlimited texts but only 200 minutes of calls, too – perfect for those who need a mobile just in case.
Pros: Simple range of plans all with unlimited text
30GB data plan for heavy data users
Fast 4G Optus network access for all but the 30GB plan
Best Plan: 5GB of data and unlimited calls and texts for $23.95 is a good, balanced package.
Last audited 16 September 2020