Keeping an eye on the dollars when you’re a pensioner can be quite the challenge – and when it comes to getting connected to the Internet, the confusing range of providers, offers and features can make it a daunting prospect.
What you’d hope for is a company that offers discounts to seniors and pensioners on your broadband service. But for some reason (perhaps because Internet access is still thought of as a “luxury” rather than as an essential service), there simply aren’t any.
It’s not all bad news, though – even if you don’t have a Seniors Card at hand, you can get the cost of connecting your home phone reduced. Telstra operates what they call the Pensioner Discount and Connected Seniors program, and to qualify for access to its perks you don’t need a Seniors Card at all – just a valid pensioner concession card issued to you by the Department of Human Services (Centrelink, as we more commonly know them) or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
And it’s not just age pension recipients that qualify, either – a vast range of pension types are accepted, from recipients of the Carer Payment, Parenting Payment, Mature Age Allowance, Disability Support Pension, and even Newstart in some cases.
On offer is a range of discounts that’ll make your home phone service a lot cheaper. For starters, there’s a discount on the connection charge and a discount on the line rental (exactly how much varies depending on the home phone plan you’re on and how many calls you make – it can be as little as $3 or as much as $12).
Eligible customers also get fees waived – and that means no late payment fees, no credit card processing fees, and (most helpfully) no fee to receive a paper bill in the mail. You also get access to call controls at no charge (allowing you to set a PIN to turn certain call types, like international calls, on and off so you’re not met with any nasty surprises when the bill arrives!).
You don’t get these benefits automatically – you need to let Telstra know you’re eligible and provide them with the necessary details. You can do that either by calling them, or just popping into the nearest Telstra shop.
All of the discounts apply to NBN plans as well but call control can’t be done on NBN-connected phone services.
Now, these discounts only apply to Telstra home phone lines – if you go with another provider you won’t be eligible. And that may not be a bad thing – let’s compare a basic broadband connection on Telstra versus the competition.
Telstra prefers to sell Seniors their broadband services – whether ADSL or NBN – in bundles, and so the absolute cheapest option you’ll find through them is the $69/month Home Internet Connect Bundle. This includes both the broadband and phone services, so any pensioner discounts you’re eligible for will reduce that price a bit – and do keep in mind that the line rental component of the home phone is included in that total price. Telstra’s network is first-rate and you’ll be assured of a reliable broadband service – but even with the discounts, the price may seem a little high, especially with its 100GB data limit.
Thankfully, there are options, and plenty of them – but they mean you’ll have to forgo any pensioner discounts you may be eligible for. We reckon that’s not such a bad thing, given the broadband and phone line prices that are available now.
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Whether or not you’ve been switched over to the NBN yet, there’s great value to be had from some of the more competitive companies out there. One leading the pack when it comes to low-cost Internet is Dodo – now part of the Vocus group of companies, one of the largest broadband providers in Australia.
On ADSL, Dodo can set you up with a broadband connection – with modem supplied – and 50GB of downloads for only $24.90 per month. That’s a phenomenally good price, made even better by the way you can expand it to suit your needs. For example, if it’s unlimited data you’re after, that’s $29.90 a month. Combine that with your discounted Telstra home phone service and you’ve almost certainly saved yourself some money.
If you’re on NBN, Dodo does 50GB for $39.90 – but that includes the home phone line as well, with an option to get unlimited calls for an extra $10. You’ll have to wave bye-bye to that Telstra line and its discounts, but in return you’ll be paying a lot less.
If you’re after a one-stop service on ADSL, meanwhile. Mate Communicate is a great choice, with their broadband and home phone bundle coming in at $59 a month with unlimited internet data – and unlimited landline calls anywhere in Australia.
However, Telstra’s plan may still work out cheaper if you factor in the pensioner discount you get (and, of course, if unlimited data and calls isn’t something you’re after).
Make Some Calls, Save Some Money!
Ultimately, the best pick of these low-cost bundles and plans comes down to what level of discount you’re eligible for from Telstra – so give them a call and chat to them about what you can expect. Otherwise, if there’s no Seniors Card discount, competitors like Dodo and Mate offer high-quality services with perks that may outweigh any the offers you get from Telstra – and most definitely do once your home is converted over to the NBN.
Above all, be sure to use our handy comparison page to get an instant overview of plans that are available, what they offer and the price – we’ve pulled all the info together in one place to make it easy to compare and get the best deal for you!