Best Phone Plans for Australian Students

Best Phone Plans for Australian Students

  • Find phone companies which offer student discounts
  • Compare the deals of the leading networks
  • We also highlight 'hidden gems' from smaller telcos
We independently review and compile Aussie phone plans so you can easily compare them in one place, for free.



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Common Questions About Student Phone Plans

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.

All three of the major telcos, Telstra, Optus, and TPG Telecom (Vodafone) offer SIM only plans with no lock-in contract. These plans are great for students because they are month-to-month, so you can cancel whenever you like without being subject to early termination fees. Also, you can bring your own phone and just buy a SIM from an of these telcos.

What are mobile plans with student discounts in Australia?

Fortunately, most of the major telcos and some MVNOs offer attractive discounts on phone plans for students. For example, Vodafone Australia offers students double the daa inclusions at each price point. For instance, while Vodafone’s Small SIM Only Plan normally includes 40GB at $45 per month, students can get 80GB for the same price.

Optus offers a 10% discount to students who bundle a mobile phone contract. The discount only applis to the SIM only plan for 12 months, along with a bonus 50GB of data per month for the same period.

You’ll also find student deals from MVNOs like Amaysim and Moose Mobile.

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.

In most cases, buying a smartphone on a student phone plan is cheaper than buying outright in the long-term.

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
  • 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.

The major telcos offer students a lot of data and extras in a SIM only plan. All three of the major telcos, Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone, also offer plans with no data overages. Instead of getting charged for data overage once your plan data is exhausted, these telcos will throttle your download speeds to around 1.5Mbps to 2.5Mbps (depending on the telco) so you’ll never run out of data. You’ll also fing extras like data banking, entertainment like sports and iTunes, and more. A great addition is Telstra Air for students on a Telstra plan, which offers free WiFi usage wherever available.

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.

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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 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 had debts exceeding $100,000, also up from 10,996 people in 2015-16.

And now, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) indicates that the top 100 largest HELP/HECS debts, as of 2023, combine for a total of around $25 million. The highest debt owed by a student is $737,000, while the lowest of the top 100 is $387,000.

The latest report from Futurity Investment Group indicates that 60 per cent of students aged 22-29 owe moer than $20,000 in HELP debts. To get a clear picture of just how long it takes to pay these HELP debts off, 51 percent of those aged 40-49 still owe, and most of their debts are over $20,000.

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, Optus, or Vodafone 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: Prepaid plans give you more control over your spend. While postpaid plans generally include more data and extras, prepaid plans will always maintain the benefit of control and less questions. For instance, postpaid plans typically require credit checks, while prepaid plans do not – making for a more straight forward option. We’ve published an article discussing the pros and cons of postpaid and prepaid plans, so be sure to read it before you make your decision.
  • 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 SIM only plans and mobile phone 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’ll need to sign up for postpaid month-to-month plans. Optus also extends their 10% student discount to mobile phone plan contracts. 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.

Telstra

Australia’s largest telco does not provide any benefits to students, unfortunately. While Telstra offered student deals and discounts on prior occasions, this was no longer the case as at the time this article was published. However, Telstra’s SIM Only plans offer generous inclusions and extras, so perhaps discounts are not very necessary.

If you want discounted plans on the Telstra Wholesale Network, then consider Boost Mobile. The resell the Telstra 3G, 4G, and 5G networks, with an overall coverage of 98.8% of the population – higher than both Optus and Vodafone.

Boost Mobile offers student discounts using coupon/discount codes. These plans and discounts change periodically, so be sure to check before you proceed to purchase. Here’s a look at some student deals which expire in April 2023:

  • $10 per recharge, includes 40GB of data. The discount lasts for 3 months before reverting back to $30. (discount code BOOSTSTUDENT30).
  • $180 for 140GB of data. This is a long-expiry plan that lasts for12 months. The normal cost is $200. (Discount code BOOSTSTUDENT200)

Optus

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, as Optus may decide at any point to stop running student promotions, similar to Telstra. Therefore, it is worth checking out the Optus website to see if the student deals are still current.

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.

Four Optus Choice Plus plans ranging from $44.10 to $80.10 are eligible for the 10% student discount, and they include 80GB to 410GB of data. Remember, you can also buy a phone on a plan and get a 10% discount from Optus.

Vodafone

As one of the largest Telcos in the world and one of the top 3 Telcos in Australia, Vodafone offers some perks for students.

Students can chose from three Vodafone plans ranging from $45 to $65 per month, including 80GB to 600GB of data. While these plans do not indicate a discount on the price point, they include twice the amount of data for students. For instance, while Vodafone’s Small SIM Only plan normally includes 40GB at $45 er month, the student deal doubles the data inclusion to 80GB for the same $45 per month.

To qualify, the student has to be a new Vodafone customer with a valid student ID. Like other student deals, remember that this deal can be withdrawn at any time. take advantage of the

However, if you’re an existing customer, all hope is not lost. Just call 1555 from your Vodafone line to claim the latest student offers, or visit the store.

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, Amaysim, Spintel, Kogan and Southern Phone all have incredible prepaid options that are perfectly suited for students, regardless of user requirements.

This Month’s Hot Offers

$40.00

$ 15.00

/ Recharge @28 days VIEW PLAN
Domestic Voice Calls and SMS
Unlimited
Data
100GB
Contract
Recharge @28 days
Network
Optus 4G+5G
Promotion
60% off for the first renewal plus 20GB bonus data. Use code ESCAPE. T&Cs apply. Ends 31.07.24
$25.00

$ 10.00

/ Month to Month VIEW PLAN Advertisement
Domestic Voice Calls and SMS
Unlimited
Data
25GB
Contract
Month to Month
Network
Vodafone 4G+5G
Promotion
$10 for the first 3 months. Use code FELIX10. New customers only. T&Cs apply.
$25.00

$ 12.50

/ Month to Month VIEW PLAN Advertisement
Domestic Voice Calls and SMS
Unlimited
Data
25GB
Contract
Month to Month
Network
Optus 3G+4G
Promotion
50% off! $12.50 for the first 3 months, then $25 thereafter. Order by 27.08.24.
$45.00

$ 20.00

/ Recharge @28 days VIEW PLAN Advertisement
Domestic Voice Calls and SMS
Unlimited
Data
60GB
Contract
Recharge @28 days
Network
Optus 4G+5G
Promotion
$20 for the first recharge, then $45. T&Cs apply. Ends 31.08.24. New services only.

Conclusion

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, Amaysim, Spintel, Kogan and Southern Phone all have incredible prepaid options that are perfectly suited for students, regardless of user requirements.