Best Phone Plans for a Recession

Best Phone Plans for a Recession

  • Minimize the cost of household essentials.
  • Get more data for less $ - Save up to 32%.
  • Now is the time to compare and move .
  • Do you really need video content in your plan?)
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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I minimise the cost of my plan?

Minimising the cost of your plan really just boils down to figuring out what you don’t need in your phone plan, and then getting rid of it. For instance, entertainment content on your phone plan can really hike up the costs, and you probably get entertainment on other platforms anyway – so do you really need content like AFL on your phone?

Also, take a look at phone plans from MVNOs. These smaller providers resell the major networks, and usually do so at cheaper costs. Take a look at MVNOs like Boost Mobile for the Telstra network, Amaysim for Optus, and other cheap SIM plans.

Finally, try to figure out how much data you’re using, and then ask yourself if you really need all that data on your plan. To determine how much data you’re using, monitor your data usage with your telco’s self-service app or online self-service – most telcos provide either one or both of these.

But I stream a lot of content. Is there anyway to save while still streaming?

You’re not alone – data usage amongst Australians has continued to increase, and is set to grow even more in 2020. Streaming can definitely put a dent in your pocket, thanks to the huge data inclusions you’ll have to get in a plan. Typical usage rates are 3GB per hour of video streaming, and 3GB per day of music streaming. It doesn’t take a genius to see just how fast your data disappears if you’re a heavy streamer!

But there are a number of solutions. First, thankfully, data is getting cheaper and cheaper. Further, telcos have come up with a number of fair data policies in response to customers’ demand for fair treatment.

One such fair data practice is the data bank (sometimes called data vault). Data banking allows you roll your unused data from your current cycle to the next, and the next, and so on — forever. For telcos that offer data banking, check out Telstra and Belong Mobile.

Another fair data practice is data-free streaming, which allows you stream your favourite content for free.

Some plans also offer “unlimited data”. In reality though, they throttle your data to 1.5Mbps when you exhaust your allotted plan data, but you can then browse for as long as you want, but that that slower 1.5Mbps speed. That speed is more than enough to stream music and even some SD videos.

Can I keep my phone number?

Yes, telcos will let you keep your phone number if you decide to switch to a better deal.

What do I do if I am in the middle of a contract.

These days, that might not be as bad as you think. Contact your phone company and ask how much it costs to get out of your contract. In the industry, these costs are referred to as ETFs (Early Termination Fees). Increasingly, they will just charge you for the price of the device, rather than laying a hefty fine on you.

Also, letting your telco know you’re about to end your contract and switch to another telco could land you a pretty nice retention deal. Retention deals are offered to keep customers on board, and some telcos actually have departments dedicated to this.

DO I need to change phone companies?

Not necessarily, the threat to leave often means they will consider offering you a deal that you might not get elsewhere. So this can just a be a tactic, on your part, to get a plan with more value.

Also, just because your current plan might be too expensive or come with unnecessary inclusions, doesn’t mean your telco doesn’t offer other plans that fit exactly what you need. Look into what your telco has to offer, and then compare their plans with other plans from other telcos. That’s the best way to decide whether you DO need to change phone companies.

How much can I expect to save?

By putting our tips into effect, we believe you can save up to 32%.

I need roaming and/or international inclusions but they cost a lot. Should I get rid of them?

No, if you NEED roaming and/or international inclusions, then you have to keep them. But choose the right roaming and international plan for your needs. This begins with identifying those needs. Exactly how long will you be outside of the country? How often (or for how long) do you make those International calls? What countries do you make them to? (Some telcos offer free International calls to select countries.)

To get you started, we’ve put together the best roaming plans here, and you can check out the best international plans here.

What's good

  • Now is the time to be ruthless with your phone bill
  • Incredibly competitive market
  • Substantial recent reductions in international and data rates
  • Best deals always from smaller phone companies

What's bad

  • You may have to compromise on 'nice to have' features like content
  • May require a 'step in to the unknown' with a brand you don't know

60 Seconds Intro

  • Australia’s last recession was almost 3 decades ago
  • But current indicators are showing a wobbly economy
  • Even during a recession, you’ll need a phone plan
  • Even if it is just a short-term significant economic downturn, you still need a phone plan
  • Take some active steps to budget your phone plan expenses
  • Less data, less extras, less inclusions are key to saving on your phone plan.

It’s been many years since Australia had a recession

Australia hasn’t had a recession in almost 30 years. The last recession lasted a year — four quarters from September 1990 to September 1991. You’d have to be at least 40 years old today to actually have an idea of what it was like — the struggles, hardships, and hard decisions that come with such an economic downturn.

Perhaps even at that age you didn’t truly get the full recession treatment. Your parents did, though — they probably faced it full on. The effects can be jarring to the average consumer and businesses alike, and it’s typically a time of strict budgeting for the things you really need — the staples like food, shelter, and in today’s world, your mobile phone and plan.

So what exactly is a recession?

A recession is a significant decline in the economy — one that lasts 6 or more months (2 or more quarters). It typically reflects a significant drop in consumer and business spending, which then shrinks the economy.

Economists predict recessions all the time, but a lot of those predictions fall short of coming to pass. Sometimes, the economy is a little shaky and that’s normal, but it causes some to panic into a spate of predictions about a looming recession, which may end up not being the case.

However, there are some key indicators for a looming recession, such as:

  • The yield curve, where investors demand higher interest rates from the government for short term bonds, and avoid long term bonds;
  • Increasing unemployment/underemployment rates;
  • Declining consumer confidence;
  • Slow GDP growth or consistent GDP declines.

This list is by no means exhaustive — economists have many indicators for detecting an upcoming recession. But these key indicators are enough to have an idea of an economic downturn. Whether or not it turns out to last long enough to become a recession is a different story, but at least this could help you figure out when you need to start budgeting wisely just in case.

This is important because the effects of a recession are felt by everyone, not just the government and businesses. Some possible effects on the average person include:

  • Employment uncertainties due to lay offs, cut hours, etc., as businesses and employers try to cut costs.
  • Those employment uncertainties might lead you to search for lesser jobs that you’re over-qualified for, in order to supplement the cut hours at your regular job or even to just have a job after you’ve been laid off, given how difficult it is to get hired during a recession.
  • Losses on all kinds of investments.
  • Loan and credit requirements become higher, making them much more difficult to obtain when you need them the most.
  • Declining consumer spending due to lack of confidence, which shrinks the economy even more.

The effects are many, but the idea is an overall decline in living standards and conditions. This means that a lot of the things you once took for granted become big deals. You have to budget on everything to save money, including on staples like phone plans.


Is Australia falling into a recession?

Who knows?! But Australia sure is experiencing some economic shakiness right now. Some of those key indicators are happening right now — negative bond market yield curve as the government is now paying more interest on two-year bonds than 5 or more year bonds, increasing underemployment, declining hours worked, etc.

Caption: While the employment rate is struggling to avoid significant increases, there is a high underemployment rate and a decline in hours worked. This suggests people are taking on more part-time jobs than full-time jobs.

Australia underemployment and declining hours worked2019


We shouldn’t jump the gun just yet; a recession might not be imminent. But the economy is definitely taking a hit right now and the average Australian is feeling it. House prices are improving, and this helps with confidence — a good sign that we could avoid a recession. However, consumer spending is flat and retail (high street) sales are declining as more sales are going online — some bad signs that could mean a recession might be around the corner.

In short, people are ‘jumpy’, they’re not spending, and this is a real problem. This is a key indicator of a looming recession, and a very important one. However, consumers must spend on some things they consider to be staples, and phone plans are one of them — you have to have one. Spending a small amount of time focused on optimising your spend will pay dividends.

8 tips on how to get the best phone plan for a recession

Budgeting isn’t fun, but it can be very fulfilling. Cutting waste in spending can leave a lot of money left for other staples, and maybe even other things that aren’t really staples. You can start with your phone plan — although you need one in today’s world, you don’t need every option offered to you by your telco. Here are 8 tips on how to get the best phone plan for a recession.

  • 1. Determine how much data you really need

Be brutally honest with yourself about how much data you’re using. Then ask yourself if you really need to use that much data, and eliminate the unnecessary usage. This should help you figure out how much data you really need. You can monitor your data usage and get an idea of how much data you really need through your provider’s self-service app  (if they provide one) or online self-service (if they provide one).

Most phones also come with some data monitoring and control apps built in: both iPhones and Android phones. There are also free third party apps for data monitoring and management.

  • 2. Understand data usage trends

Understanding the trends in data usage can also help you get a grip on your spend. Mobile data usage grew rapidly in 2020, and telcos are banking on this demand. iPhone users account for 80% of the top 10% of heavy data users, so iOS customers should really be mindful of data usage trends. Data streamers should also be mindful of trends — a typical user can use around 3GB per hour to stream videos, and 3GB per day streaming music. But the good news is that the cost of data is falling pretty fast in Australia, so take advantage of that trend.

  • 3. Know your roaming and international needs

You should also monitor and understand your roaming and International needs if you have them. Don’t just choose any telco and plan if you need international and roaming minutes — some of them have pretty hefty, pricey schemes for that. Choose plans that actually have your international and roaming needs in mind. We’ve put together the best roaming plans and the best international plans to give you a head start.

  • 4. Ignore optional extras

Many telcos offer a lot of extras. These extras can be very attractive, but you probably don’t really need them. They cost more money, but the good thing is that they are optional — you don’t have to take them. For example, handset offers that will tie you to the telco for a couple of years — like an expensive new iPhone leased for 24 or 36 months — are probably a bad idea right now. But Australians are holding on to their phones longer and adding SIM Only plans, so that’s a good thing. We’ve compiled a list of the best SIM Only plans out there to give you a head start.

  • 5. Consider cheaper phone alternatives

You should also consider purchasing second-hand phones and/or cheaper Android alternatives. Many people choose refurbished or second hand phones for around half of what the phone actually costs brand new.

  • 6. Avoid entertainment inclusions

Telcos also attract customers with entertainment inclusions, such as sports and music streaming built into the phone plan. While these can be great when you have the money, you probably don’t really need such inclusions. When you’re on a budget, they simply don’t matter.

  • 7. Look for ‘fair’ treatments of data

Customers are demanding fair treatment from their providers, and telcos are responding with fair data practices. Some good examples are Testra and Belong Mobile’s data banking, which allow you keep your unused data and transfer it to the next billing cycle or recharge, and beyond. Another fair data practice is data-free streaming, which allows users stream entertainment content like music and sports (if you really need entertainment content) without spending their plan data.

  • 8. Move to a smaller phone company

You can also move to a smaller phone company, or an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) for a better deal. These MVNOs resell the major tecos’ networks at lesser prices given their lower overhead and smaller sizes. They also offer thinner plans without the many inclusions that bloat some major telcos’ plans, giving them another way to offer cheaper plans.

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There may never be another recession in Australia, but there will be some economic downturns worth noting. Budgeting according to such economic trends is a wise move, whether or not they result in an actual recession. Everyone likes saving money, and cutting down your phone plan expenses is a really good place to start.

Data usage is huge in Australia and continues to trend upwards. This is probably the best place to start — monitor and manage your usage. This will lead to you realising that you really don’t need a huge data plan, and that you can actually cope with phone plans that contain small amounts of data. You can also avoid flashy extras like the latest phones being leased out over a couple of years, or entertainment inclusions. These tips will certainly pay off in the end, leaving you with some extra cash to navigate a shaky economy, or just to spend as you wish.