As every pensioner already knows, making ends meet in a world of rising prices can be a tricky balancing act. And with the Internet now almost as essential a service as electricity or the home phone, there’s a confusing array of plans, bundles, deals and offers available that promise all sorts of technical marvels. But all you really want to do is just get connected to the Internet – for communicating with family, for shopping or paying the bills from the comfort of home, for reading and research – and, yes, for entertainment as well!
As Australia’s largest phone and Internet provider, Telstra is an obvious first choice. Your home phone’s probably already connected with them. Hence, it’s nice and simple to add broadband internet in the mix without spending too much extra money.
Is there a Seniors or Pensioners Plan?
While Telstra used to maintain a special package set aside for pensioners that included home phone and broadband, you won’t find it on their list of plans anymore. Similarly, Foxtel have decided awhile ago to retire their Senior’s Plan and replaced them with even greater cost-saving packages, and believe it or not, that’s not a bad thing. The plan that was on offer came with a very small monthly download allowance of 25GB, suitable for casual web browsing and not much else. Moreover, the price of that plan was only $11 under the current entry-level bundle price, which is a much better deal all round. More on that and the alternatives in a moment – but what happened to those discounts for pensioners?
Where are the Senior Discounts?
Currently, Telstra offers Seniors several benefits for holders of eligible pension cards – whether you are on an age pension, a disability pension, the recipient of a carer payment and a range of other government benefit programs. Exactly what is offered depends on the service and plan you’re subscribed to. However, common to all are things like a waiver of fees (including late payment fees, credit card surcharges and the dreaded paper bill fee), free call control to block access to certain call types (like premium or overseas numbers, so you don’t get any nasty bill surprises) and a discounted connection charge.
On the plans we’re highlighting below, pension card holders get a $15 call allowance each month to use on local, national and mobile numbers. It’s a great bonus, especially if you mainly use the home phone to make local calls. But if you spend a fair bit of time on the phone, or call interstate or to mobile phones, there’s a better option available with these bundles as well.
Best bundles for Seniors
The two Telstra bundles we recommend for pensioners are all-inclusive packages that cover your home phone – including line rental. When you take that into account, the additional cost for fast reliable broadband is actually cheaper than you’d expect.
Coming in at the value end of things is the Connect bundle, at $70 per month. That gives you a home phone line, a broadband connection with 100GB of data allowance per month, and a Telstra Gateway modem to enable wireless broadband throughout your home. There’s a $99 connection fee – but new customers get a $100 credit that negates that immediately.
Is 100GB of data enough for you, though? It depends on what you plan to use the internet for. If browsing through web sites and reading and writing email is the main reason you want to get online, 100GB should be more than enough. It’s only when you get into the more data-hungry internet pastimes that you might need to think about a higher data allowance. For example, if you plan to stream a lot of video – whether on paid services like Netflix or free ones like ABC iView – data usage can climb very quickly. Likewise, if you’re going to be connecting any device that can have high download demands, such as a game console.
In those cases, we’d recommend you spend an extra $10 a month and move up to the Connect Plus plan, which gives you an almost-impossible-to-use-up 1000GB of data per month for only $80.
If you’re not sure how much data you’ll need, don’t worry – Telstra allows you to change between plans without penalty at the end of any month. And both Telstra plans offer three free “data top-ups” a year to keep you connected if you accidentally go over your monthly limit.
These plans are on a 24-month contract. If you prefer, you can also get them without any contract commitment at all. The down side to this is a one-off $120 “casual fee”, but if not being locked into a contract is important to you, the option is there.
What about phone calls?
These bundles both come with “pay as you go” phone calls. While pensioners do get that $15 call credit every month, it can get used up quicker than you think. If you’re on the phone a lot, there’s a much better option available with both plans – for $10 extra per month, you get unlimited calls. Local and national calls as well as calls to mobiles are all included. It’s definitely an option worth asking about when you connect.
There’s also a $15/month add-on that gives you unlimited international calls to fixed lines in 35 countries and mobiles in 17 major countries – a great option if you have family or friends overseas.
What about the NBN?
Both of these Telstra plans are “NBN Ready” – in other words, when the NBN arrives in your area, you can just move over to the new network without hassle or cost. Regardless of what type of NBN service your home ends up getting, you’ll still have access to your home phone and internet without having to shop around all over again.
Are these plans right for you?
If you’re a pensioner who wants to get online with a reliable and fast broadband service, but keep the home phone active and take advantage of Telstra’s pensioner discounts, then these two plans are definitely a good fit. You’ll have a nice big data allowance so you don’t need to worry about limits, and there’s the option of unlimited phone calls to everywhere in Australia for just a little extra each month. For an all-in-one home phone and internet, these bundles are a great choice.