Trying to find the right mobile phone plan to suit your exact needs can be a daunting proposition. Along with the “big three” providers – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – you’ve got the option of dozens of smaller companies to choose from. These companies all make use of the big three’s infrastructure and services while offering an overwhelming array of rates, perks and bonuses to try to entice you to become a customer. So where should you be looking for the best mobile phone plan for you?
Obviously, comparison web sites like this one can lay out all the details for you. We offer plenty of information about the pros and cons of each provider’s plans. And if you’re an avid reader and like to do your own research before committing to any purchase, the more information you can soak up before making a decision, the better.
But at the most basic level, there’s a few things you should be looking at when picking a mobile phone plan. More exactly, we’re talking about the fundamentals that will help you narrow down your search. After all, the goal should be to find a plan you’ll be happy with not just because of the price, but also because of the quality of service and the features offered. Here’s what you should consider before making a choice.
1: Don’t go for a contract plan unless you absolutely need to
With the huge range of mobile offerings in the market these days, there’s also a ton of competition around to grab you as a customer. That holds just as true for the small third-party providers as it does the big telcos. A few years ago, signing up for a mobile plan – even if you already owned your phone handset outright – meant agreeing to lock yourself in for a two-year contract. This came with harsh financial penalties if you wanted to leave before your 24 months was up. That’s all changed now. There’s a vast range of both prepaid and post-paid plans available without any contract at all. And they all come with great coverage and perks.
The plans offered by amaysim, Boost, Yomojo, Woolworths and others won’t ask anything more of you than a monthly commitment. You can cancel at any time if you’re not happy with the coverage or service. And remember, you can bring your mobile number with you when you change providers, a simple automated process that takes minutes in most cases.
Even at the “big three” providers, plans are available without a contract these days. Think of it this way: if you’re being asked to agree to a long-term contract, there should be something tangible in it for you as well. If a new phone is included with your plan, that makes sense. But if you already own one, don’t get locked down to one provider when prices are sure to drop further over the time you’re sitting out your contract.
2: Don’t get more data than you need
With so many mobile phone plans now offering unlimited calls and texts, the real difference between many of them comes in the amount of monthly data allowance you get. It’s tempting to look at the lower-end plans with their 1GB or 2GB of data and scoff – after all, we all download gigabytes every week on our home broadband, right?
Well, think again. You probably don’t use as much mobile data as you estimate. If you’re only doing basic, everyday stuff – email, web browsing, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on – you’re dealing with data that’s been optimised for mobile use. Even YouTube won’t drain your data as fast as you’d think.
You can save big money by opting for an unlimited-call plan with a lower data allowance. Just be sure to monitor your usage during the first month or two to make sure you’re not exceeding it. Over-limit charges can be punishing.
3: Look for useful freebies
With so many providers competing for your dollar, there’s almost always some inclusions in plans that can be hugely beneficial if they line up with the sort of stuff you do with your mobile.
For example, Telstra (and some providers that use their network) lets you stream Apple Music without impacting your data limit; Optus and others do the same for Spotify, Google Play and more. And have a look at each provider’s web site to check for other value-added offers that might make your monthly payment even more worthwhile. For instance, the six months of free Netflix Telstra was giving to customers a while ago. If you’re suddenly getting something free you normally would have been paying for, that could cut your effective mobile spend hugely.
4: Aim for unlimited, but check the alternatives
Unlimited call and text plans are everywhere now. And that’s a great, no-worries way to get connected on the cheap. But if you’re after faster data and access to more features and bonuses, you might be tempted by a plan that gives you everything you want except unlimited calls.
Don’t let that put you off without doing some calculations first. For example, a Telstra plan that offers “$1000 worth of calls” will give you about 1000 minutes’ worth. That’s over 16 hours of talk time every 30 days. Do you really spend that long on calls? Check your past usage and you’ll probably find you don’t. The other benefits of going with that not-unlimited plan could make it worth your while.
There are plans out there which make everything look incredibly cheap and cheerful, promising you’ll only pay for what you use. Which sounds great until you look at the numbers and realise that if you use your phone to make calls or send texts at anything much more than a bare minimum, it’s going to potentially result in a hefty bill. Or, if prepaid, you’ll run out of credit well before the end of the month.
Pay-as-you-go does have its advantages. If you just want to get connected and expect to spend most of the time receiving calls rather than making them, it can save you a ton of money. But if you’re planning to use your phone as a device for actually making calls, there are enough super-cheap plans around with unlimited calls. Pay-as-you-go doesn’t make a great deal of sense.
With so much raw value in mobile plans across the entire industry these days, you can’t go too wrong with any of the respected names. Plus, you can always check out our reviews if you want more details. For a regular mobile user, it’s a great time to be picking a plan – as long as you stay out of contracts, you can vote with your feet if you’re not happy with the first one you choose. Now, more than ever, you have all the power!