What are senior Australians looking for in a phone plan?
A senior Australian is someone over the age of 65, who may or may not have an Australian Seniors card from their local state government which entitles them (you?!) to discounts on a variety of services, including some phone plans.
In many regards, Australian Seniors are no different to phone plan shoppers of any sort. There are a wide variety of options and a broad range of levels of understanding about how those SIM Plan options work, among the population.
Typical needs then, for seniors considering the purchase of a phone plan, include the usual factors. Australian Seniors want a phone plan with good value, good network coverage and the flexibility to move when they want to.
Statistics indicate that Australian seniors are more likely to have a ‘simple’ phone rather than a smartphone and therefore to use less mobile data each month. PAYG plans tend to be best for this sort of requirement.
What is the simplest way to get a basic phone plan which is appropriate for Australian seniors?
Generally, seniors grew up with face to face interactions and are now moving, along with everyone else, to conducting their activities online. Some struggle with the move to digital services but that is by no means true of all Australian Seniors. As with any ‘specialized’ knowledge, some people know about phone plans and some do not.
We have a free booklet you might like to download and read which explains all of the terms you are likely to find used either on this page or more generally, in your search for a phone plan.
For those who find phone plans confusing, the most basics thing look out for on this page is the phone plan type.
Postpaid plans (paid for after you’ve used them) are generally simpler to use once they’re set up – you simply get a bill each month and pay it. However, that convenience can mean they are a little more expensive than the alternative – prepaid.
Prepaid plans are paid for before use and require a little bit more attention. Users have to ‘recharge’ their service once a month (although you can automate that task.) You are unlikely to get a phone bill which is bigger than you’re expecting with prepaid plans.
I am an Australian senior and I don’t have a smartphone (I just have a normal phone) what is the best plan for me?
PAYG (Pay As You Go) plans are usually best for this type of phone (in the industry, they’re called ‘candy bar’ phones.) We have a dedicated page for PAYG plans.
I am a senior’s card holder – how does that affect things?
You may get special discounts from Optus, Telstra or Vodafone for being a Seniors card holder. Pick a plan on our listings to check. There are more details on the specifics of this offer in the article at the bottom of this page.
I prefer to buy my SIM in a retail store. Where can I do that?
Well, if you are a Senior Australian, well done for getting here. The ABC says that 50% of those aged 65 and over don’t go online!
Our advice, however, is to stay online if you can. It really does only take 5 minutes to sign up for a phone plan online and have it delivered. Afterall, you’ve got this far. Many Australian phone companies (did you know there were 50 or so!?) ONLY sell their SIMs online. Purchasing a SIM Online means the number of phone companies available to you, and therefore the deal you’ll get, is likely to be better.
- The best deals will be from smaller phone companies
- Calls and data probably cost a lot less than you think
- Options for older ('feature') phones as well as smartphones
- Retail options if it all becomes too stressful
- Over 50 phone companies to choose from
- Bewildering array of plans and features
- We guide you on this in the article below
Most older Australians pick one of two different phone plan types
Australia has around 50 mobile phone companies these days. That means picking a plans can seem like a bewildering set of options, especially to Australian seniors – people over 60.
The truth is that most older people pick between two phone plan types. (We tell you what they are, below) We suggest you consider these and talk your options over with the family technology expert (every family has one!) It’s not nearly as hard as you think, to move to a better deal and stay in touch with family and friends. Whether you are looking to save some money because you are adjusting to a lower income or simply want to compare the various network plans available, this article can help you.
Below, we start with a quick look at the unique needs Australian Seniors have, when they’re shopping for a SIM. Then we offer a simple distinction which will help you pick one of two groups of people you can associate yourself with (those with a ‘Smartphone’ and those with a ‘Normal phone’ – these tend to be called ‘Feature’ phones or ‘Candybar’ phones by people who look in the phone industry. Then we provide a short list of phone companies which will give each of those 2 groups what they need.
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Australian seniors are far from being overwhelmed by mobile phones and their digital connections. There is an enormous overlap between what younger people do with their phones and what older people do. There are also some differences in the specific needs that older Australians have which can usefully be employed to assist them in finding the right plan.
- Landline calls are not cheaper:
Most seniors use their mobile infrequently, preferring the familiarity of the fixed line connection they’re more familiar with. Often, this is in the mistaken belief that fixed line calls are cheaper. They’re not.
- Almost all phone plans sold in Australia these days now contain unlimited voice and SMS:
Unlimited Voice and SMS.
- Seniors make more voice calls than younger Australians:
Older Australians make more voice calls and spend less time using the more sophisticated aspects of their phone. A food example is the use of ‘Siri’ (Apple’s ‘Virtual Assistant’) – something younger people use a lot but older Australians engage with far less.
- Seniors don’t watch video content:
It might come as a surprise to some Australian Citizens that a number of phone plans, including those from Optus and Telstra include ‘free’ streamed video content such as NRL games or Australian Gymnastics.
- Seniors prefer to engage with phone company brands they know – especially Telstra :
Senior Citizens look for brands they trust – and this is especially true of Telstra. Telstra are more expensive but they do offer the best network coverage in Australia (by some way) – and the insights suggest that network coverage is just as important to older Australians as it is to younger people. Why wouldn’t it be?
The length of time you spend on your phone each day, decreases with time. Source.
- Australian Seniors spend less time on their phone than younger Australians:
Research from both the ABC (see below) and Consultant practice Deloitte, both suggest that older Australians have a more balanced relationship with their phone than younger Australians, a fact which will surprise few.
- Older phone users care less about the phone brand:
Older people tend to be looking for the function of the phone, not the brands. That’s as opposed to youngsters, where the brand is often the most important part of the equation for younger people.
The key Question Australians need to ask themselves is – what does my phone look like? Here’s a diagram to help you decide. Once you know, read the relevant section, below, relating to the phone type.
Knowing whether you have a smartphone or a ‘candy bar’ phone is the key fact that will help you find the best phone plan.
The key difference between these different phone types is the amount of data you’ll need. If your phone is a smartphone, (so you’re using messaging apps like Facetime) you’ll need a plan with some data included. If you’re got a feature phone, you don’t need data. Now you can get the right plan.
Answering this is the most important thing you can do. If your phone has a big bright screen, if it’s an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy phone then you have a smartphone. The alternative to a smartphone is a ‘feature’ phone, known ín the industry as a çandy bar’phone for obvious reasons.
Older people tend to go with Apple products. If you’re going to ‘figure out’ a phone, we find that many older people find Apple’s products easier to use and manage. The reasons seniors choose Apple products are not hard to see. iPhones offer their users more ways to stay in contact. Snapchat (a messaging app your grandkids probably use – you may even have heard them talk about it) might not be right for every senior citizen but Apple ‘Facetime’- a tool through which you can talk face to face over a video connection with children and grandchildren all over the world.
- Your smartphone is going to use more data than you’re used to:
Smartphones use more data than ‘candybar’ alternatives. This type of device is designed to access the internet. In practical terms, people tend to use their smartphones more to access the mobile internet than they do to make voice calls. Most phone plans on the market now (certainly anything requiring a monthly spend of $10 or more each month) include Unlimited domestic voice minutes so you can call and chat all day.
- Consider prepaid from smaller phone companies:
The best deals on plans with mobile data tend to be provided by smaller phone companies. In the industry, they’re known as MVNOs and they resell the networks of the major telcos – Optus, Telstra and Vodafone. By picking smaller phone companies, you’ll (likely) get more for your money than if you went to Telstra direct.
- We recommend Boost Mobile:
Boost are a great pick for an Australian Senior looking for a phone plan. They use the full Telstra Mobile Network – in fact the company is owned by Telstra – but they offer cheaper pricing. Their plans are prepaid, which means, as we’ve said, you are far less likely to spend more money than you want to.
Boost Mobile | Best Prepaid Data Rates On The Full Telstra Network
Prepaid | 28 day expiry | On The Telstra Mobile Network 3G+4G
Boost Mobile are a reliable brand. They are the only phone company other than Telstra to resell the full Telstra ‘Retail’ Network. With Boost you’ll get:
- The full Telstra Mobile Network
Other phone companies resell part of the Telstra Mobile Network. Only Boost and Telstra plans allow you access the whole thing.
- Free streamed audio:
Data free streaming of Apple Music (requires subscription) on top of the data included in your plan.
- Recharge options from $10 to $70:
Boost have a total of 5 recharge options for their prepaid plans, ranging between $10 and $70.
Boost Mobile Plans For Your Mobile
- Boost Prepaid $20 = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 5GB data.
- Boost Prepaid $30 = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz +40GB (includes 20GB bonus data on first 3 recharges) data.
- Boost Prepaid $40 = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 55GB (includes 25GB bonus data on first 3 recharges) data.
- Boost Prepaid $50 = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 70GB (includes 35GB bonus data on first 3 recharges) data.
- Boost Prepaid $70 = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 100GB (includes 40GB bonus data on first 3 recharges) data.
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 Boost Mobile review.
(Normal phones are also called ‘Feature’ / ‘Candybar’ Phone)
If you have an older, ‘Candybar’ phone, the decision on the plan you pick is even easier.
- You’ll use less data:
‘Candybar’ phones will use less mobile data than their smartphone counterparts – perhaps none.
- Consider ‘PAYG’ plans:
PAYG (Pay As You Go) plans are a nice compromise between prepaid and postpaid plans. Unfortunately, Australia as an increasingly limited range of this plan type. PAYG plans The best way to think of a PAYG plan is that it’s like leaving some money behind a bar, which you and your friends can use for drinks. They money will stay behind the bar for as long as it lasts. Every time someone has a drink, the cost of the drink is taken off the remaining balance. So, if you buy a PAYG plan which costs, say $10 per month, you can use up to $10 worth of calls until the service stops and requires that you purchase more.
- Prepaid plans are fine – But you can get away with buying less data – e.g. 1GB:
There are now a variety of plans, starting at $10 per month, many of which will contain unlimited domestic voice minutes and SMSs and which will give you 1GB of mobile data – plenty for this type of device.
- We recommend Amaysim & PAYG plans:
Amaysim resell the Optus Mobile network and have both a $10 per month plan and a PAYG plan.
Telstra provides pensioner discounts to it’s customers on phone plans. Sign up with Telstra on one of their regular plans, and, as a senior citizen, you’ll receive:
- Discounts on connection charges (in some cases)
- Discounts on home phone calls
- Fee waivers for credit card processing fee and paper bill fee
You can get a discount from Telstra if you have:
- A Centrelink Pension Card
- Veterans’ Affairs Pension Card
- An eligible Telstra Home Phone service or Home Broadband and Home Phone (bundle) service (please refer to your Critical Information Summary to see if your plan is eligible)
Currently Optus does not offer any discounts for seniors. You can save money, however, by using one of the smaller phone companies we identify on this page, many of which use the Optus network.
Vodafone is leading the way out of the three major Telcos in Australia with regards to what it is offering their senior customers. Right now you can get 10% off your monthly plan fees when you sign up to a $35 Red Plan or SIM Only Plan. To take advantage of Vodafone’s offer, all you need to do is supply your seniors card. Vodafone is also offering seniors “Tech Made Easy” workshops for those aged 60+.
Vodafone provides exclusive training sessions for seniors in selected offices across the country. The training is designed to make seniors more comfortable around their smartphones. It’s not that seniors don’t own and use smartphones already, but it is suspected that they don’t all use their smartphones to their fullest capacity. The sessions will include things like:
- How to change the font size of the text on your smartphone
- Hot to select a wallpaper for your smartphone
- Using voicemail
- Checking mobile usage
- Backing up the phone
- Security tips and tricks
- Communication with family and friends overseas
To be eligible, you must satisfy the following criteria:
- Be 60 years or older
- Be a permanent resident of Australia
- Do paid full-time work of no more than 20 hours a week
- Hold a valid Medicare Card
Summing up 'Senior' phone plans
Older Australians are a great deal more sophisticated in their mobile phone use than many appreciate. The way they use their phones is, however, different from the way that younger people engage with theirs.
Older Australians see their mobile phone as a way of connecting with the people that matter in their lives. Many invest time in learning the basics so they can enjoy a facility their predecessors never had – a way of talking to their children and grandchildren at any time and in any place. Seniors, however, appear to known when to put their phone down and have a face to face conversation, instead.
By focusing on prepaid plans, especially those from smaller phone companies (which still use reliable networks like Optus and Telstra’s), and knowing the type of phone you have – you can shortcut the decision making process and reduce the size of your shortlist of plans.
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