Best Phone Plans for Australian Students

  • Find phone companies which offer student discounts
  • Helps to know how much data you need
  • Compare the deals of the leading networks
  • We also highlight 'hidden gems' from smaller telcos

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Frequently Asked Questions About Students Phone Plans and SIMs

How much do you use your phone plan?

Students should choose phone plans that best cater to their individual needs. To figure out their specific requirements, students can use the data usage calculators provided by network carriers.

Other important factors to consider are service coverage and your location; whether you spend most of your day into remote or regional Australia or within large cities or towns. Phone plans that work best in urban areas may not perform well in rural areas.

What are the best SIM Only (BYO) student phone Plans?

If you are not planning to upgrade your smartphone and looking for a budget SIM only plan, you have many options. Many telcos, including prominent ones, now have competitive SIM only student phone plan options, though the best deals are mostly available on a 12-month contract.

Among all telcos, Optus and Telstra offer the best deals on SIM only plans. To take benefit of any Optus SIM Only phone plan as a student, you need to enter into a 24-month contract. You can bring your own phone and just buy a SIM from Optus.

Similarly, Telstra also offers great BYO deals, allowing students to use their own phone. Some of these deals are:

  • $25 per month (for 12 months): 500 MB data per month, calls and texts to standard Australian numbers.
  • $40 per month: 5 GB data per month, calls and text to standard Australian numbers.
  • $60 per month: 10 GB data per month, unlimited texts and talk time to Australian standard numbers, unlimited international calling to 10 chosen countries.

What are mobile plans with student discounts in Australia?

Fortunately, most of the major telcos are offering attractive discounts on phone plans for students. For example, Vodafone Australia offers $5 off monthly plan cost with their $5 12 month SIM Only Plus plan. Vodafone’s month to month $50 Red Plus Plan also comes with a $5 discount on monthly charges.

Telstra and Optus offer a $10 student discount on both SIM only plans and phone options.

Is it cheaper to buy a new smartphone outright or on a phone plan?

Buying a new phone outright means you pay in full and can freely select your preferred carrier. It is a good option if you are wealthy or have collected enough money to pay the cost all at once.

Buying on a phone plan makes the best option for those who want an expensive phone on a limited budget. With this option, you don’t need to pay the full cost down, and the cost spreads over 24 months.

Buying a smartphone on a student phone plan is cheaper than buying outright in the long-term.

Apple iPhone XS vs. Samsung Galaxy S9

Buying on a phone plan is cheaper than buying outright.

Cost of two premium smartphones on a 24 month plan, and outright with a 24 month SIM purchased separately.

What should I look into a phone contract?

Make sure you read the phone contract carefully before signing it up. Check the following:

  • Service coverage in your location
  • Length of the contract; never enter a contract longer than 24 months.
  • Call costs
  • Monthly limits
  • Process for changing or cancelling your contract
  • Locked or unlocked phone? Cost of unlocking the phone.
  • Using the phone abroad

What should my phone plan include?

Students use their mobile data for communication, information, and entertainment. A good student phone plan should support all these needs.

Both Telstra and Optus offer good deals on talk and text time with student phone plans. With Telstra’s $95 +plan, you can access music streaming that does not eat up all your data. You get full access to the Apple Music Library and unlimited and free access to Telstra Air Data through 500,000 hotspots. One Drive offers 200GB of cloud storage that can be accessed through Microsoft One Drive.

Optus student phone plans also offer better access to live music streaming at no extra cost. Optus’ more expensive plans come paired with Premier League deals at very low cost or free.

As a student, before you select a deal, you should decide what you need and what you can afford to pay for out of your monthly budget.

Best Phone Plans for Students

What's good

  • Secure discounts just for being a student
  • Great deals with all the mobile data you need
  • Students understand the complexities of phones & plans

What's bad

  • Only small discounts for students
  • Not every phone company offers discounts for students


The Best Phone Plans for Australian Students

According to Universities Australia, there are over one million students enrolled in Australian Universities. Add to this figure the number of students in TAFE or other educational institutions, as well as primary and high school students, it is easy to see that students represent a significant portion of Australia’s population.

As a student, it’s more than likely that you will have a limited budget for your mobile phone plan. However, you probably realize how vital it is to stay connected both to keep in touch with friends, one of the best aspects of student life, not to mention how important having a phone can be in helping with your studies too.

Students may also appreciate maximum flexibility in their phone plan. Their needs may change dramatically, several times throughout a typical contract term. That could be as a result of moving or experiencing a change in their income, either starting or stopping a part-time job, focusing more on their studies or travelling.


Debt : Students’ biggest problem

Having a limited budget as a student is something that simply cannot be ignored. The rising debt levels of Australian Students is rising. Debt has a significant impact on students, long after their studies have been completed.

Australia’s mounting student debt is reaching levels that have some financial experts concerned.Snapshot of Australia’s rising student debt. Source.


Figures released by the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) last year, shows the mounting debt incurred by students, year after year. The data shows updated information on HELP (Higher Education Loan Program), formerly HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) debt.

We can see that the total amount of outstanding HELP debt is $54 Billion for the financial year ending June 2017. This is $9.3 billion above the estimate of $44.7 billion in the 2017-2018 budget.

However, this is not an entirely accurate snapshot of the situation. Since HELP is considered an asset for the Australian Government, there is an estimated 25 percent of student debt which is classified as DNER (Debt Not Expected to be Repaid), that is not included in these figures, according to the Department of Education & Training.

The number of people with outstanding HELP debt has also increased. In the financial year 2015-16, there were 2.5 million people with HELP debt, that number has now reached over 2.7 million people.

This represents a large portion of the population and with the rise in the cost of living in general, this burden of student debt has a wide-reaching and heavy impact on students and the younger adults members of our society.


The extent of HELP Debt on an Individual Basis

The average HELP (Higher Education Loan Program) debt was up from $19,396 in 2015-16, to $20,3030 in 2016-17. Furthermore, debts above $50,000 have continued to rise in 2016-17, reaching 159,475 people, which was up from $125,650 in 2015-16. Among these figures, 14,046 people have debts exceeding $100,000, also up from 10,996 people in 2015-16.


What is the impact of increasing student debt on the economy?

Mounting debt of any kind has a crippling effect on the economy. According to Barbara O’Neil, an expert in financial resource management for Rutgers University.

“A lot of things are being postponed. You got what you call a crowding-out effect — people only have so much money,” she said. “There’s a lot of business activity that isn’t taking place … It’s a drag on everything.”

With mounting student debt that lingers for years after schooling is finished, fewer people can afford to buy homes, cars and various other things to stimulate economic activity, simply because a large percentage of people’s income, is being directed to repaying student loans. With lingering debt, former students are less likely to start businesses which can also help drive the economy.

O’Neil says, “There’s also evidence entrepreneurial activity is down. When you have that big student-loan debt over your head, you’re less likely to take risks.”

There are several strategies you can implement to help ease student debt. Because telecommunications are a significant cost in the vast majority of student’s lives, it is important to shop around when looking for a mobile phone plan.

This article can help you identify the perfect plan for you, to help save you money, based on your specific requirements, easing the financial load of your own student debt.


What unique needs do students have when it comes to phone plans?

Mobile products, including mobile broadband and mobile phones, are now critical tools for students to improve education. According to a study conducted in 2018, 74% of students in schools which allow smartphones in the classroom use them to assist learning. The evidence suggests that students employ mobile tools outside the school environment, too, for example, ‘Face-timing’ (video conferencing on their iPhone) to help each other out on homework, if there is an issue.

Students are often underestimated by their parents and teachers when it comes to their mobiles. In most cases, the evidence shows that students use their phone to organise their life and ensure they meet their educational commitments. They are diligent users of Google Calendar (and other scheduling or diary services) to ensure they deliver homework and assignments on time. They rely on their phones to communicate with family and deal with the chaos of modern family life. Students are also extremely inventive at using technology to improve the quality of their work.

Mobiles are now so pervasive among younger users that some phone companies have even started developing ‘special’ phone plans for students – or offering discounts on standard SIM Only or Prepaid Plans to attract students.

Below, we will examine the ways you can find the best phone plan as a student. We take a look at the unique needs that students have for mobile products, the discounts available to them and finally make some recommendations on the plans which are likely to address your needs.


Steps to success in finding the right student plan

  • Are you a child or a more mature student:
    The first thing to consider is your age. If you are buying a SIM Only plan for you
  • Know how much data you need:
    Before you start shopping around for the right plan, it is a good idea to find out what your specific requirements are. You can visit some phone companies’ websites and use the data usage calculators to work out how much mobile data you will likely need. We have written about this previously in great detail. Find out how much data you need here.
  • Make sure smaller phone companies are on your list:
    Another important factor to consider is while some providers will say that they use the Telstra or Optus Network, they may only be leasing a portion of the network. This could affect service coverage when travelling into remote or regional Australia. If you spend a vast majority of your time within large cities or towns, this will not be an issue. However, if you frequently spend time in regional or remote parts of the country, service coverage will be a key factor to consider.
  • Consider prepaid plans:
  • Avoid contracts with the big phone companies:
    We run regular research on WhatPhone, to ensure that we are providing for the needs of the people who visit our site.
  • Be prepared to move phone companies:
    Luckily, students are so proficient at understanding their options when it comes to phone plans, most know that it takes all of 5 minutes to make the decision, fill in the form online and have a new SIM delivered to them
  • If you want an iPhone, be prepared to pay:
    iPhones are the best-selling smartphones in Australia. They are also a brand people love. It’s no surprise that students are attracted to them
  • International:
    See below


Best Phone Plans for Students

Most of the major phone companies offer some sort of special deal designed for students, but Optus leads the way mainly because it offers a 10% discount off its plans, either with a phone option or SIM only plans.

What you consider best for your needs will depend upon how much you need a new phone, access you require for talk time and data and network coverage. Many of the offers at the moment include music at no extra cost. Access does not reduce your data, so this helps a lot if you listen to music 24/7.


SIM Only Plans Offer Better Deals

To take advantage of any Optus deals as a student, you need to sign up for 24 months. You can access these deals directly through Optus or any of the other affiliated retailers. You can bring another phone company’s number with you, allowing you to keep your existing phone number.  Of course, you don’t need to buy a phone from Optus for a SIM Only plan. You can bring your own phone. That’s what it means by SIM only.


The best phone plans for students to help ease that debt

The good news if you are a student, many Telco companies in Australia, recognize the huge demographic of students, and for that reason are offering pretty good deals on their mobile plans just for students.

Here we take a look more closely at what the big 3 Telcos in Australia are offering students.


Australia’s largest telco does provide many benefits to students. Particularly for students who spend a lot of their time in regional or remote areas, as the Telstra mobile coverage is the widest in the industry. However, since it ceased the Telstra Student Lounge, Telstra does not currently offer any student specific deals.

  • Telstra still does offer a great range of mobile phone plans at value good value for students. Telstra may not be the most cost-effective carrier, but they do provide great value particularly around their data inclusions. This is an important factor to consider for students, as students tend to be a demographic that is particularly hungry for plans with adequate data allowance.
  • Other added benefits of going with Telstra include access to data free streaming with Apple Music and live sports including AFL, NRL, A-League and Netball. This benefit alone, should prove to be tremendously valuable for students who stream a lot of music or sport.
  • Telstra offer BYO deals, which allow you to use your existing phone or a new phone you buy outright.


Telstra Mobile – Best For Coverage

Telstra Australia




Prepaid + Postpaid | Month to month and contract

Telstra are unrivalled in Australia for coverage, with a 3G signal that covers roughly twice the landmass of any other phone company except Boost Mobile.

  • Unique coverage footprint:
    Access to 2.5m square Km of the Australian landmass.
  • Unique video content:
    Only Telstra provides data free streaming of the AFL, NRL and Australian Gymnastics in their plans.
  • Fair data:
    Telstra now offer ‘Data Banking’ on some of their plans and provide Unlimited data options.

Telstra’s Plan Range :

All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. You can learn more about this company in our Telstra Mobile review.




Optus seems to be trying harder to win the business of students, providing them with better value at the moment with many deals in their Student Hub.

  • Optus is offering a 10% discount on both SIM-only and phone plans. These discounts are subject to change, and as with Telstra, Optus may decide at any point to stop running student promotions; therefore, it is worth checking out the Optus website to see if the student deals are still current.
  • Optus allows data-free streaming entertainment extras. Some of their plans do require you to pay a fee to access these benefits, while the more expensive plans will usually include these extras as part of your monthly fee. Access to Optus Sport and Nat Geo, music streaming on Spotify, Google Play, iHeart Radio is included. Some plans include access to data-free mobile TV streaming also, which includes Netflix, Stan and ABC; otherwise, it’s a minimal fee.


Winner ! Prepaid plans with included streamed audio.


Optus are a reliable brand with great coverage , great value and some unique Optus value you won’t find elsewhere.

My Daily Plus :
Unique in Australia, $2 days offers huge data : 
Unlimited minutes to standard Australian mobile & landlines. Calls are charged per min. They also include unlimited STD national SMS & MMSs. With this plan, you are only charged for the days you connect your phone to the network !

  • $2 per day = Unlimited standard national talk and text  + 500MB A DAY. Charged per KB. Auto bump up with an extra 524MB data for an extra $2. Maximum of $4/1GB for the day. All for use in Australia. Fair Go Policy applies.
  • Optus SIM Starter Kit $10.00 = Unlimited calls and SMS/MMS in Oz +  5GB
  • Optus SIM Starter Kit $180.00 = Unlimited calls and SMS/MMS in Oz + 60GB

Epic Data plans:

Epic Value plans:





As one of the largest Telcos in the world and one of the top 3 Telcos in Australia, Vodafone has a wide range of phone plans exclusively for students. Vodafone understands the phone plan features that students are looking for, providing plans with unlimited high-speed data, and reasonably priced roaming in 80 countries, perfect for students on a gap year or who have caught the travel bug.

To take advantage of the Vodafone student deals, you will need to verify your student status by registering for a UNiDAYS account.


Prepaid plans from the small Telcos

For the budget conscious and those looking to avoid the dreaded time of the month when the phone bill arrives, a prepaid phone plan could be the perfect solution. There are some great prepaid options today, which do not vary too far from postpaid plans. You can still expect to find great call and SMS rates, high data inclusions, reasonably international calling rates, all with a low price. If you already have a phone that you are happy with, there is no question, prepaid phone plans can save you a lot of money each month.

Carriers such as Boost, Belong, OVO, Amaysim, Spintel, Kogan and Southern Phone all have incredible prepaid options that are perfectly suited for students, regardless of user requirements.



Student phone plans are an integral part of life now, for most high schoolers and almost every university student in the country, using mobiles in the classroom can help improve educational outcomes. Before deciding on a phone plan, we recommend that you find out what your specific requirements are and then shopping around for the deal that will save you money.


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