Cheap Mobile Plans in Australia

Get tonnes of talk, text and data for under $30 a month.
  • Ovo Mobile, Kogan, Optus and Boost are fantastic value
  • Get what you need - but don't pay for what you won't use
  • Suit average users' needs and talk / text / data requriements
  • Few contract plans on this page - there's a lot of flexibility to move to new plans
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Top cheap phone plans in Australia

The most common questions about cheap phone plans

Wha are the cheapest plans for less than $30 ?

The best value plan comes down entirely to what you need it for.

There are, however, a couple of plans we’ll recommend to you straight off the bat.

  • OVO Mobile $9.95 :
    Gives you $500 of calls, 1GB of 3G/4G data on the Optus network and even includes parental control software in case you provide this to your child as a ‘pocket money’ plan. OVO Mobile are our best of the best this year. Their plans are an incredible blend of value and inclusions.
  • Unlimited voice + 2GB of data  :
    This price you pay for this combination has fallen dramatically int he last 12 months. 2GB is about average usage at the moment. If you want unlimited calls and SMS, you can get it with Yomojo on the Optus 3G and 4G network cheaper than you’ll get it anywhere else. It’s incredible value and a plan we recommend often.

Which plans under $30 have the most data ?

We would suggest a range of options, depending on your network preference. Each of these providers resells the network of one of the major phone companies.

  • Yomojo offer the best value when it comes to data and you’re looking for a cheap plan. Yomojo use the Optus 3G and 4G network.
  • Lebara is a great alternative on the Vodafone network and also offer both 3G and 4G speeds.
  • Boost Mobile have great pricing including extra allowances on the weekends. Boost use the Telstra Mobile Network.

Significant data allocations are hard to come by under $30. You can check out out data only plans if you’re after JUST data. And, whoever you choose for your SIM Only plan, you should be able to add more data later in the month with a bold on.

What won’t I get if I take a plan under $30 ?

You will be surprised the extras that you’ll get these days in a cheap phone plan.

  • The same coverage:
  • Included streamed video entertainment options: OVO Mobile are unique in offering streamed audio which is zero rated, in their prepaid plans under $30. You can read more about it in our full review but if you’re a V8 Supercars fan or you like gymnastics, then we would suggest to you that these plans are worth a look.
  • Included streamed audio entertainment :
    Optus offer streamed audio on many of their prepaid plans including their $2 Days plan and $30 My Freedom Plus plan. This can save users a great deal of data if, for example, they have an existing Spotfiy account and use it a lot.
  • Parental lock :
    OVO Mobile’s entry level plan includes parental lock software

The truth is, these days, any phone plan should be cheap. If people are paying more than $30 a month, in our view, they’re wasting money.

Do you recommend any cheap prepaid plans under $30 ?

Most Australian prepaid plans have entry level price points of less than $30 per month. We do recommend them – often in fact. Generally, if you’re buying from a tier 1 telco – that’s Vodafone, Optus and Telstra, and spending $30, you’ll get more for your money on prepaid.

We’ve written in some details what the benefits and compromises and have a table which tells you what the key differences are.

What is a PAYG plan ?

A PAYG plan is a Pay As You Go plan. Usually, with either Prepaid or Postpaid plans, you’ll commit to a value in advance.

With Prepaid, to get you going, you’ll buy a SIM, pick a plan and add a recharge value. For example, you choose Lebara, decide on their ‘Unlimited National’ plan and recharge with a $29.90 value. Then you can make calls using the features of the prepaid plan.

On postpaid plans, you’ll take a SIM Only plan for, say $30 per month, hand over some payment details like a bank account or a credit card and they’ll charge you automatically for the $30 you’ve decided on and any additional services you’ve used, every month.

For PAYG, you choose the plan and get charged according to how much you use. For example, you have a SIM in your phone from Amaysim. It has PAYG features. One of those PAYG features is that you can make calls with no flagfalls for 12c per minute. During the month, you make one call a day ( 30 days ) of a standard 2 minute duration. At the end of the month, you’ll pay 12c x 2 minutes per day = 24 cents x 30 days = About $7 in fees.

The difference is that you don’t know in advance how much you will be paying.

As usual, we have more analysis and details on these plans in our PAYG plans explained article.

What is a network reseller ? ( Like Boost, Lebara or Cmobile ? )

Network resellers just don’t own the network. They buy a large quantity of minutes and resell them to you. They tend to be no frills operators. You can find out more in our What is an MVNO article.

Review and comparison of cheap plans

We’ve done the research for you. The plans on this page are the cheapest in Australia. They all cost less than $30 per month.

What's good

  • Lebara, Amaysim and Boost offer best value <$30
  • Use resellers of Telstra's, Optus' & Vodafone's networks
  • So much cheaper than getting a contract and a new phone
  • An increasing number of 4G plans are under $30

What's bad

  • Make sure you get a 4G SIM if you have a 4G phone
  • Will not suit high end data users

The Cheapest Australian Phone Plans

Cheap phone plans have never been more accessible than they are now

We define a phone plan as cheap if it costs under $30 per month. There are options, however, on this page which cost as little as $10 per month. All the recommendations we make on this page are for Australian phone plans.

It is no exaggeration to say that 2016 was of the most significant years for phone plans in some time. Network investments made by Optus and Vodafone have made 4G accessible to more people, than ever before. Competition between Optus, Vodafone and Telstra, has led to plans including more data than ever before at prices below $30 per month. New plans have been floated, targeted at the youth market with ‘pocket money’ spend levels and including device management software. One phone company has included more data in a cheap phone plan than we’ve ever seen – so far, the inclusion stands at 6GB. Finally, phone plans with International Calls are now increasingly common under the magic $30 mark.

Below, we point out these changes, recommend cheap plans which have the inclusions you need. Importantly, we also explain how you can keep your plan cheap after you’ve signed up by avoiding unnecessary data overage and additional charges.

The best of the best phone plans < $30

Price (+/-$2)

Mobile Phone CompanyVoiceDataNetworkPartner Site
$14.95

OVO Mobile

$500 of cap Voice Calls

1.5GB

Optus 3G + 4G Plus Network

Visit Site

$16.90

Cmobile Red

$200 of cap Voice Calls

750MB

Vodafone 3G

Visit Site

$16.90

Kogan Mobile

Unlimited Voice and SMS in Australia

1.0GB

Vodafone 4G

Visit Site

$19.90

Yomojo

Unlimited Voice and SMS in Australia

2.0GB

Optus 3G + 4G Plus Network

Visit Site

How to get a cheap phone plan

First, understand whether you are in a position to benefit from a cheap plan. Then consider the extra services which are available (like streamed data free entertainment) that might influence the plan you pick. Third, select one. Then the real work begins. To keep your phone service cheap you’ll need to manage it using your phone company’s app.

Who uses cheap phone plans ?

Anyone can get a cheap phone plan. However, if you’re in one of these groups, you stand to benefit most from cheap phone plans.

Those who own their own phone will gain the most from these schemes. Do you identify with these groups ?

  • People whose 24 month contract has just finished:
    The people who benefit most from cheap phone plans are those whose contracts have just finished. If you took a contract out a couple of years ago, which gave you a phone and a plan paid off over 2 years, we suggest you don’t renew it.
  • New arrivals to Australia :
    International students, long term visitors and people brought to Australia by their work commitments all stand to benefit from cheap phone plans. Most arrive with their own phones and no commitments in Australia. The main benefit new arrivals have is that they are not already influenced to the brands that advertise here. They are simply because they are prepared to try a new brand which offers better value.
  • Everyone :
    Learn from these other groups. Just because they have a head start or a bigger incentive, doesn’t mean you can’t benefit.

What is a cheap phone plan ?

We define a cheap phone plan as one costing less than $30 per month. We use this $30 benchmark because phone plans from Optus, Vodafone or Telstra, whether they’re prepaid or postpaid, start at the $30 / month mark. By definition, the plans we talk about on this page are far more likely to come from smaller phone companies – because they offer value in plans that cost under $30.

(Note: We say ‘a month’ here but include plans with slightly different ‘expiries’. Plans shown on this page may have 28 day expiries, 30 day expiries or be postpaid which renew on the same day each calendar month.)

When shopping for a phone plan in this bracket, we recommend the following to get you going :

  • Be realistic about what you use:
    Voice minutes, SMS and data : There is no escaping your responsibility in being clear on the ways you use your phone. You need to know roughly your monthly data usage, roughly how many calls you make a month and whether international calls are something that is important to you. You can fudge around these facts and buy bigger plans if you’d like to. However, if you do that, you won’t be getting the cheapest possible plan – which is the goal we’ve set.
  • Be prepared to try something new:
    We make recommendations on this page around prepaid plans and plans from small phone companies which tend to offer better value than the big brands you’re likely used to. If you want the cheapest plans, you might have to step outside your comfort zone when it comes to brand decisions.
  • Be prepared to manage your service:
    Keeping track of your usage during the month is no longer an onerous pursuit. Just use the Self Service app from your phone company. They are ubiquitous, easy to use, free and incredibly effective. Minimizing your bill, however, means that this will have to become part of your routine in the same way that checking your bank’s app is. We explain how you can do this, below.
  • Choose a plan which is reliably cheap in an ongoing way:
    Our commitment to the recommendations that we make on cheap phone plans is that they can be relied upon to give you not just a cheap first month but a reliably low bill. The advice we give on this page does not include introductory offers and makes clear where additional charges might catch you out.

If that all sounds like boot camp, don’t worry. It’s not ! You might well get far more for your money than you think you will. Some options available in the cheapest phone plans will surprise you. They include….

Even in a cheap phone plan ? The incredible extras you’ll get

Before we start, two things are worth bearing in mind as you read through these.

  • What we show you is real:
    All the inclusions we are talking about here are free of charge in the core phone plan. These are not ‘bolt ons’ which have to be paid for separately.
  • There may be some new terminology :
    Some relate to features which are so new (streamed video entertainment, for example) that we have linked to articles which have more information on those subjects.

As we said in the intro, 2016 saw more change than most years when it comes to phone plan inclusions, even at the cheapest end of the market.

  • Family Zone:
    OVO Mobile launched a plan least year which sits as one of our cheapest. It includes free access to ‘Family Zone’ software. The plan is designed to be cheap enough to give to your child as a pocket money plan and comes with basic entitlements.
  • Streamed Video Entertainment:
    OVO Mobile also offer streamed video entertainment as part of all of their plans. The details are covered in our OVO Mobile review but, if you’re a fan of V8 Supercars, or a petrol head generally, we suggest you might like to take a look.
  • Unlimited minutes:
    Unlimited minutes are now available on plans which cost $16.90 and above. Check out our Kogan Mobile (the provider which offers this plan) or see the table above for more details.
  • Pretty incredible data inclusions:
    Yomojo have the cheapest plans with the biggest data inclusions we’ve seen. Average data usage is around 2GB per month these days and you’ll get that, with unlimited calls for $20 per month.
  • Streamed Audio :
    Optus now offers free streamed audio in many of it’s prepaid plans which start at our $30 cut off point. There are rumors in the industry that other telco providers may soon follow suit on this valuable plan addition.
  • Assurances that if the plan gets cheaper, you’ll know about it:
    Finally, OVO Mobile’s plans have another unique feature. If they drop their pricing, they pass it on to you there and then, without you having to do anything to get the benefit.

Reading this, you might be surprised. Did you think you’d get those features in phone plans under $30 ?

Keeping your cheap phone plan under $30 per month

Now you’ve got a cheap phone plan, you’re going to want to keep it cheap. There’s no point in buying a low priced plan and getting hit with extras which cost you more than you were expecting, further down the line. Here are the steps we’d recommend.

  • Use your phone company’s Self Service App :
    Downloading and installing a phone company app could not be simpler. It’s the first and most important thing we would recommend you do. Apps are all free from the Google Play or iTunes store and they all do very much the same thing. You can track your usage and buy extra services cheap ( like more data if you need it ) rather than paying exorbitant out of bundle rates.
  • Track your usage – especially data :
    Both Android and iOS phones now allow you to measure your data usage through their settings. This is a good guide to your data usage, too. Bear in mind though. The number displayed in your data settings usage section is what the phone thinks it’s used. In some cases, that will differ from what the phone company thinks you’ve used. Treat these are useful indicators – but only as indicative.

 

Phone Network Service App in Australia

 

  • Avoid overage especially data :
    Any overage will cost you. Data tends to cost the lot. There’s no point worrying about it, just make sure you keep an eye on your data allocation. Always remember, the video you watch is 90% of all your data consumption so keep it low if you can.
  • Use your phone smartly :
    There are a number of inexpensive ways you can work around being charged by your phone company for their services and keep your bill down. Install, update your contacts and get as much use as you can out of WiFi calling apps. Viber, Skype over WiFi won’t cost you a penny when your monthly bill arrives.
  • Keep it cheap when you can – with WiFi for data where possible :
    Make the most of free data over WiFi at home. Tune in to WiFi when you’re out and about. Think about whether you really need to watch that cat video using your cellular connection. Some simple ‘mindfulness’ can minimize the wastage of your plan.
  • Be prepared to swap plans :
    None of the plans we recommend on this page oblige you to stay with your current provider for more than 30 days. You can change whenever you want to. Be ready to move if you see a better deal, especially if it includes an introductory offer.
  • The trend is your friend – change plans :
    Finally, in a related subject, we explore what data deflation is. By being on a month to month plan, you are opening yourself to plan improvements of the sort we’ve outlined above, over the course of time.

With a GB of data, a value add of Family Zone, unlimited SMS and some voice minutes, we think OVO Mobile take the deal for the cheapest phone plan on the market.. When you see the plans available here from Kogan Mobile, Lebara Mobile OVO Mobile, Boost Mobile and Yomojo, a couple of things become clear. First, you see that the $30 cut off point for ‘cheap’ is really the maximum you should be paying unless you have some extreme data needs. Second, you come to the realisation that these are not bargain basement phone plans. They include some serious value adds. No wonder the majority of people now take a phone and add a cheap SIM themselves.

Using free WiFi to keep your costs down

Phone companies are now generally known for their generosity of spirit. However, one area to focus on, when you’re looking for a cheap phone plan are the range of a free public WiFi services which are on offer from the major Australian telcos. Shoppers at Mirvac‘s two Australian shopping centres, for example will benefit from such a scheme.  Telstra, too, are in on the act. They have a national ‘Air’ network (you’ve probably seen the posters on phone booths) We take a look at the value of these schemes in keeping phone plans cheap, compare and contrast and offer you our point of view, below.

  • If you’re shopping in a Mirvac shopping center, you may well notice that they have in place a free WiFi data service, in two of their flagship shopping centres.
  • Shoppers at Mirvac’s located in Brisbane and Sydney shopping locations will benefit from the scheme.
  • Free WiFi service will enable shoppers to remain connected during their shopping trip. It doesn’t use the data from your plan.
  • Telstra, on the other hand, have national coverage with their Telstra Air Hot spots.
  • In our view, the Telstra solution provides a much better service in comparison to what’s currently on offer from any other provider.
  • Telstra do not currently charge for their ‘Air’ solution.

 

WiFi in Mirvac shopping centres

There is now a free public WiFi service for shoppers at Mirvac’s two flagship shopping centres, of Sydney and Brisbane. Shopping centre giant Mirvac, operates ‘mall experiences’ in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and the ACT. Mirvac was originally established in 1972, specialising in integrated real estate, investment and development. This solution brings them up to date, on at least part of their inventory and should save shoppers a GB of two of data on their otherwise mobile plans.What is the offer of free wifi specifically ?

For guests shopping at the Orion Springfield Central and Broadway Shopping Centre, free WiFi will be accessible to any and all smartphones trying to attempt. The free WiFi connection will allow shoppers to remain connected for the duration of their shopping time.

Phone companies have, in recent months, launched a series of new partnerships, with the goal of increasing customer convenience around the country. By working in partnership with Mirvac and two of their flagship shopping centres, they’re able to increase connectivity for shoppers, raise brand awareness and explore this type of technology solution. There is no doubt that, in the future, more and more shopping centers and other public places will be connected with similar schemes.

From Mirvac’s point of view, with increased connectivity comes an opportunity to build on and enhance the customer shopping experience :

“With in-centre retail shopping experience continually evolving, especially with the use of smartphones, Optus Business understands the importance of delivering Wi-Fi connectivity to retail consumers to improve their overall shopping experience.” – John Paitaridis, Managing Director at Optus Business

Australians love staying connected at all times.

For shoppers that don’t want to use their plans’ mobile data allocation, free WiFi is an attractive offer. Smartphones are now part of the shopping journey for many shoppers who research on the way to the mall what they want to buy and check prices in store, using their phone.

“We know that digital connectivity in shopping centres is important to customers because it enables them to remain connected when they are shopping, but it also supports personalised content and promotional experiences for shoppers directly.” – John Paitaridis, Managing Director at Optus Business

Shopping centre managers are reported to be pleased with the initial uptake of the free WiFi service for shoppers. Managers looking for new ways to increase foot traffic into their shopping centres, can use the free Optus WiFi as an enticing incentive. Increasing consumers choices, when it comes to the ways in which they stay digitally connected, is a great way to build loyalty. Shoppers which can stay connected for longer, will result in shoppers spending more time in the shopping centre.

Skyfii is working with Optus, on the implementation and maintenance of the WiFi technology. The company is also assisting Optus Business with insights data analytics software.

The Telstra Air Hotspots service

Telstra has an existing and much better free WiFi hot spots network which covers much of the country. Eligible Telstra mobile and broadband subscribers can take advantage of free WiFi hot spots, all around Australia. The Telstra Air network consists of thousands of hot spots which Telstra users can connect to.

If you are an eligible Telstra subscriber, you can take advantage of this free WiFi network, until 30 June 2016. Not only can Telstra users connect to this free hots pots network in Oz, they can also use the international Fox Spots network overseas. Existing Telstra Air home broadband users, will automatically be given access to the PLUS un-metered international network. To use the network overseas and when on holiday, all you need is a remaining data balance on your account.

How do ‘Telstra Air’ hotspots work?

Telstra ‘air’ is the name given to the national scheme rolled out by Big T in 2015. Using their existing physical phone ‘booths’, Telstra rolled out WiFi internet connectivity around the country to several thousand hot spots. Initially, free wifi was offered to everyone ( Telstra customer or no ) across the infrastructure. Since then, selected groups have been offered the facility, for example, free access was granted to Telstra prepaid users who signed up in early 2016.

The phone booths were the first step in the journey. Long term, Subscribers to Telstra home broadband will be given automatic access to the thousands of public WiFi hotspots on the ‘Air network.’ Telstra users will be able to use their existing home broadband data allowance, on all of the hotspots. In exchange, they will be required to open their own home broadband connection to others in the vicinity.  The network of home hotspots is created by simply allocating a small percentage of each users home broadband allowance for others to share. At all times your personal information and data is secure and kept separate from other users. While at peak times there might be a slight reduction in speeds, on the whole it is not anticipated that users sharing their home broadband connection should have their experience affected.

Final thoughts on free WiFi to phone users

Providing free public WiFi access at the two Mirvac shopping centres, is a good first step . If this proves successful it may be rolled out to more shopping centres, Australia wide.

Is the new scheme enough of an incentive for shoppers to choose the two Mirvac shopping centres ? For people who already shop regularly at the two locations, this is an exciting development. With free Wifi, the price is right. But for people which don’t often shop there, we question whether it will make them change their habit. What is likely of more interest to Mirvac is the information they can sniff from the network traffic as it flows ( for free ) through their routers. A knowledge of the sort of things shoppers are looking for ans where they are looking will assist in providing a profile to better serve ( and charge ) customers in the future.

Meanwhile, Telstra have leapfrogged the market again. They already have a national network of Telstra Air connections. They intend to grow it further, including data from home broadband users. The scheme is not original, it’s been deployed previously in Europe. But it is an intelligent application of an existing idea which exploits Telstra’s scale advantage helpfully ( for their customers and the Telstra brand. )

Short term, the information that the providers can take from those accessing their network is worth the most. Users are unlikely to change their shopping destination purely for free wifi. Aggregated, however, knowledge of their search trends, interests, demographics and the trends which can be deduced from the data is of significant worth to both Mirvac and Telstra who are doing the same thing on a shopping center which is effectively the whole of Australia.

And longer term, Telstra’s ability to reduce the load on their mobile network ( especially given the early 2016 network outages they suffered ), by routing users through Telstra Air connections will reduce their mobile infrastructure upgrade and maintenance costs while improving the experience of customers which use them.

The value in these phone plans is genuinely amazing

It’s a general rule, when it comes to products, that the lazier you are, the more you’ll pay: Think mortgage, car insurance and phone plan. A willingness to undertake a small amount of research in to the ways phone plans have changed over the last 12 months delivers some incredible results.

Sustaining the low cost of these plans will involve closer monitoring than the alternative : Buying a plan with far more of everything than you need and ignoring it. But with apps now freely available from big and small phone companies, that’s hardly arduous.

Keep the cost of your phone plan down by extending the data inclusions using free WiFi whever it’s available. There is a great deal of choice already and the footprint of WiFi networks is increasing all the time. Between shopping centers and Telstra’s phone booths with free access, the cheap data from your plans will go a lot further.

Sources :

The ACCC has good advice on how to approach the problem of picking the right phone plan : https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/internet-phone/choosing-a-mobile-plan

And the ACMA also offer good insight on the critical ideas involved in the process of picking a phone plan which is both cheap and provides for your needs : http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/getting-a-new-mobile

‘Bull crap!’ How to Save 50% on your phone bill 2017

  • We’re calling ‘bull crap’ on the big phone companies!
  • The way they’re selling us phones causes us to waste literally hundreds of dollars a year.
  • We have compared dozens of phone contract plans with alternative and we think we can save the average user at least 50% on their phone bill.
  • We consistently find with a few simple strategies, we can deliver that sort of saving.
  • We’ve included three things on this page to help in your search.
  • First, we explain the bull crap – the way things work at the moment.
  • Then we use the tricks and tips that those who work in the industry use when they’re buying a phone.
  • We look at the key facts you need to know about the phone companies and your usage which will the savings.
  • Second, we consider alternatives – including leasing phones, buying new phones internationally, refurbished phones and second hand phones.
  • Finally, we explain how smart people are keeping their phones longer to lower their overall cost of ownership

How to save 50% on your Australian phone bill – By avoiding the bull crap

The key things you need to know to save 50% on your Australian phone bill are listed here. There are two components to the savings you can make. We recommend that you consider both the device and the plan to squeeze as much out of the costs you’re facing as possible.

We start here, with the SIM you need and some obvious advice: Pick a phone plan that suits you. The major problem most people have in doing that is establishing how much data they’ll need. We offer some support (below) and additional resources on that subject. Then we look at the right types of plan to buy – considering all the SIM Only / prepaid options there are out there. Worth highlighting for you are the smaller phone companies as the place to get the best value.

In the second half of this article, we go on to explain the other side of the equation – the phone itself. This involves a change. It might surprise you but we advise against buying a phone under contract and provide the reasons this course of action should be the last on your list. We try and help you see beyond the bull crap the phone companies are dishing out.

Then we tell you the important bit – the more economically effective alternatives. In those we include some ideas you may not have thought about: We weigh the pros and cons of buying phones, legally, on the international market from companies like Kogan. We show you where you can get refurbished phones and inform you about some important facts you may not be in possession of. For example, did you know you can often get a warranty with a refurbished phone ? We go on to consider Second hand phones which now make up 20% of the Australian device market.

Finally, we introduce you to a major trend in phone purchases – keeping your phone longer, The average tenure of an Apple phone user has increased 6 months in the last 2 years. This alone could save you 10%.

Throughout this article you will see links to other areas of this site. If you need a definition, clarification or more information, click the link. You’ll find what you are looking for there. Remember, for example, that you can keep your phone number, whichever phone company you end up going with.

Get the right phone plan

 Why you shouldn’t buy a phone under contract from the phone company

There are two occasions in which people typically consider taking a phone under contract from the phone company.

  • Avoiding up front cost: First, some people need to avoid the substantial up front cost associated with the purchase of a modern smartphone. The more famous brands, Apple and Samsung can both cost you $1000 up front, no questions.
  • They’re just renewing their contract: Their existing contract has come (or is coming) to an end. Their phone company has inexplicably just become a great deal more interested in them. Part of the interest involves the phone company offering them a new phone – and an extension of the agreement they have in place now.

If you match either of these criteria – STOP!! Do not enter in to a contract. We’re calling bullcrap!

The key things you need to know about those free phones from the phone companies are:

  • There is no such thing as a free phone: There never was a free phone. The monthly cost of the plan that you are paying for incudes the repayments on the phone. When you sign a contract, you are obliged to cover at least the Minimum Total Cost. Before you leave, you may even need to contact your phone company to get your device unlocked. Remember, the reason they have become more interested in you again, the reason they want to re-contract you is so that you don’t leave them. The phone is a lure. If you do the maths you’ll find it is almost always cheaper to buy the phone and the SIM yourself.

The alternative – build the deal yourself

If there is a single piece of advice we can give you, it is to consider buying the phone outright and adding a SIM. Whether this ‘trick’ will save you money depends on the specifics of the deal. In the last 2 years, the calculations have changed. Increasingly, it looks like the phone companies do not want to subsidise phones in the future the way they have in the past.

  • This alone can save you up to 50% or more of what you’re looking for: Buying your phone outright and adding a SIM can save you 30% of the cost of the alternative contracted plan.

We explore the different options in which you can piece together a phone + SIM deal yourself, below. Alternatively, you can read our dedicated article to establish whether, in your unique situation, you will save money buying a phone outright, yourself and adding a SIM.

  • All the phones we show here are unlocked: One of the principals we’re espousing here, if you haven’t spotted it yet is tying together your own deal. To do that you will need an unlocked phone. Unlocked phones can be taken to any phone company you want to get a SIM from. Here’s more on what unlocked phones are and how you can manage them.

 Buy the right plan

Data is now the most critical aspect of any phone plan you’ll buy in Australia, be it prepaid or postpaid.  That doesn’t mean that people know how much they need in their phone plan of course which is where the problem begins.

In general terms, the newer the phone and the bigger the screen, the more data you’ll use each month. Consider these other factors when working out how much data you will require in a plan. There’s a trick to this which most miss. When you’re selecting your plan make sure you get enough data to cover your need but not so much you waste it. Most people buy way, way too much data and never use it.

  • Your average monthly data usage: As of 2017, if you have a phone bought in the last 2 years and it’s got a big screen, you probably need at least 3GB of data in your monthly plan.
  • You can find your usage history in many phones’ ‘Settings’: Often charts are used to bring this data to life.

data usage Android

data usage Android phone

Consider smaller phone companies

  • Smaller phone companies: We have covered the advantages of smaller phone companies (a.k.a MVNOs) hundreds of times on this website. The maths is simple. In almost every case the network you buy from a smaller phone company is exactly the same as the network you’d get from the big phone company. And then the plan is cheaper. Here’s an example :

Vodafone Prepaid $40.00 vs Boost $40

Prepaid month to month

  • Deal 1

  • Per Month

    $40.00

  • Voice

    Unlimited Talk & Text in Oz

  • Data

    Up to 9.0 GB

Network

Boost are now on the  Telstra 4G network !

  • Deal 1

  • Per Month

    $40.00

  • Voice

    Unlimited Talk & Text in Oz

  • Data

    Up to 9.0 GB

Network

Boost are now on the  Telstra 4G network !

  • You can trial the network before you buy: If you do have doubts about the network, and really, there’s no need to, then you can consider trying a SIM for a month, without moving your number over.

Enjoy free data

There are a couple of scenarios in which you can enjoy free data. If you are outside of a contract agreement with your phone company, you will end up with either a SIM only plan or a prepaid SIM.

Since you can leave those agreements at any time, phone companies know they have to fight to keep your business. The market drops the price of data very quickly. The result is that, over time, if you wait around and are prepared to move plans (either within your existing phone company or by taking a SIM from a new one and porting your number.

Avoid overage!

  • Know what ‘overage is’: Overage is the name given to the data you use on top of the allowance you get in your plan. With the big phone companies especially, ‘overage’ is charged at usually $10/GB. Some smaller phone companies charge differently. They will always clearly tell you what their scheme is. The way overage is treated has changed dramatically in the last few years. In the past, it was not uncommon for the telcos to rout you $100/GB. These days, you won’t be hit that hard. However, people’s behavior has not always kept up…..
  • Many people buy too much data: Before overage cost just $10/GB, charges for extra data could be extortionate. Many, many people got their fingers burnt with ‘bill shock’. Now they’re working through the ‘twice shy’ time.
  • Know how to manage your data: There are a bunch of apps out there including some very simple apps from your phone company which will tell you how much you’ve used. As you can see above and behind the link we provided, your phone will tell you, out of the box, how much data you are using each day. With prepaid plans, managed in the right way, you won’t be able to exceed your data allocation. We advise you check your phone plan’s data as often as you check your bank account.
  • Be prepared to revisit your decision in a few months: Data usage is increasing year on year. Most people nearly double the amount of data they use each 12 months. The plan that’s right for you in the middle of 2017, will likely not be right for you a year later.

You can find out more on the best way to help yourself in our article dedicated to helping you establish your unique data usage requirements.

Choosing Prepaid or SIM Only plans can help save you 50% too

  • You’ll probably want an ‘Unlimited Plan’: If you make one or fewer calls per day, (irrespective of the number you receive) you might want to consider a Pay As You Go plan. But that’s pretty much the only exception these days. For almost anyone else, an Unlimited Plan is probably the right choice. Remember, most plans are unlimited voice and SMS in Australia these days. Very few have even capped allowances for voice and SMS any more. If you are spending more than $20 a month then you’ll probably get unlimited voice and SMS. In practical terms, this is one less thing to worry about.
  • Consider both prepaid and postpaid / SIM Only plans: Prepaid plans are looked down upon by a small section of the population. We think it’s crazy to write them off. I run a phone comparison site and I have a prepaid SIM from OVO Mobile in my phone. The simple facts are that Prepaid deals are often better than their postpaid alternatives. Our advice is not to write either plan type off. In fact, there are so many factors pushing the Australian market to go the way of prepaid that we think 2017 could be its year.
  • Consider 12 month contract plans : Both Optus and Virgin Mobile have 12 month contract plans. If you find one at the right time, with bonus data added for the duration of the contract, these plans can be better value than prepaid. They also service a real need. A sizable chunk of the population will simply not check the competitive landscape and compare plans more than once a year.

Prepaid terms as low as a single day to test the network

We have a great deal of dedicated information on prepaid plans, and SIM Only plans. We also know that some of the fundamental ideas can be the hardest to grip. We also have an article to explains the difference between SIM Only, Prepaid and Month To Month agreements  if you need that help.

Get the right phone

Australia iphone users

If you want a brand new phone, go to Kogan

Kogan are an Australian mainstay these days. They are a reliable brand with a reputation for innovation and cut throat new phone pricing. Add in the competitive pricing edge for which internet companies are known and you can see why we buy most of our new phones through Kogan for this website.

  • They’re cheaper than the same phone bought in Australia: Kogan phones are often cheaper than you might pay for the same device purchased directly from the manufacturer in Australia. Kogan sell phones on the ‘International Market’ which means they look around different countries for the best price, buy in bulk, sell on the internet to avoid unnecessary costs and pass the savings on to you.
  • They may arrive with different settings: Kogan phones may come with international (often Chinese) default settings. They’re easy to swap, just change the language as part of the set up process.
  • Offer options you can’t always get here: You will find non Australian variants of some phones with international providers, too. Some device variants are not released in every country. Kogan can give you the chance to get a device you would otherwise be unable to.

We have a full review of Kogan Mobile’s hardware and their Prepaid SIM Only plans in our Kogan Mobile review.

Get a refurbished or second hand phone

Having decided to avoid a contract with your phone company in the pursuit of a 50% saving, you might like to consider a refurbished or second hand device. Not only are they cheaper, they might be a safer option than you originally thought.

  • They’re obviously cheaper: Second hand or refurbished devices can save you a lot of money on your hardware. Typical hardware discounts can be 30-50% on the price of a brand new, just released this year phone. Of course, the price you pay will vary depending on the age of the phone and whether their chassis has any blemishes. Consider Moose Mobile for refurbished devices or search the internet. They are increasingly common and you too can benefit from the number of iPhone that there are out there looking for a home.
  • You might even get a manufacturer warranty: Buy a refurbished device direct from the manufacturer or a reputable provider and you might even get a 12 month warranty with it. Warranties are increasingly common in refurbished devices which tells you everything you need to know. They’re as reliable as the real thing.
  • You can factory reset to clear everything off: Don’t worry about the previous owner having configured the phone in a way you don’t. The phone should be provided to you entirely wiped as if you had bought it from new. Worst case, any pictures they’ve taken or weird wifi preferences can be eliminated easily with a ‘factory reset’ which is always available in settings, whether you go with an Android or an iPhone.
  • You can replace the battery if you need to: Many people still do not realize that the battery can be changed ( by registered repair agents ) even on phones where the chassis is locked up tight. Parts like batteries are often replaced anyway in refurbished phones. However, if you want a new battery at any time, you can swap it out.
  • Other components like screens can be replaced: Whether the damage is done by you or the refurbished phone was like that when you got it, dents or scratches can be hidden with a case for the phone. If it’s really bad, any authorized repair center, often including the manufacturer will repair it for you. Of course, there will be a charge.

And of course, remember that you should sell the phone when you’re finished with it too. This will help you recoup even more of the money you could otherwise have spent. Keeping this in mind can help you pick the right phone in the first place. As they say, ‘Start with the end in mind.’ Generally, Apple phones hold their value better than their Android equivalents.

Consider cheaper Android phones

Overseas manufacturers offer top notch functionality at very affordable pricing. Some of these manufacturers make great phones. Most use the Android platform and, while you might not instantly recognize the brands, they do 80%-90% of everything you could expect from the highest end phones at a fraction of the cost. We’ve wondered at the value in the low end Android market for some time.

These phone manufacturers are a bit like the ‘brands’ at Aldi. They provide you with essentially the same product – they just don’t charge as much for it. The companies that do it are small in size at the moment but are growing fast. The minute you write down a phone specification, it’s out of date so we won’t show the specifics of the phones they have. But here are a few brands to look out for.

  • Xiaomi: Famed for building good hardware at low prices, Xiaomo is a Chinese manufacturer. Spend $200 – $300 dollars and you will get a phone which has essentially the same features and operating system as the current Samsung Flagship !
  • Oppo: Oppo’s range starts even cheaper – with devices from $50 – $300 on offer. Oppo have a couple years head start on Xiaomi and better distribution in Australia. You will see their devices in Optus stores and OfficeWorks, among other outlets.
  • Vivo: Vivo cost $300 – $400 and offer versions of Android hardware which appeal to high end users on a budget. Again, you’ll find them everywhere over here, including the Post Office.

Or you can try leasing a phone

Led by the USA, Australian phone companies have recently started dipping their toes in the water of leasing. Leasing options in Australia is already here. Financial arrangements exist in Australia for a company to lease phones to end users in large numbers so this scheme could be the start of something more all encompassing. Moose Mobile are one of the new phone companies which service this growing need.

Leasing provides people with a new phone, helps them split the cost in to manageable payments and leaves them free to move to new phone providers when they want to. You will end up paying more for the phone than if you’d bought it yourself of course. They have to cover the risk and the interest on the money they’re lending you to buy the device. But you will avoid that unpalatable up front cost.

Leasing is a serious option to consider if you are finding it hard to stump up the money to buy a new mobile phone. Here are your major options.

  • Telstra have a weird scheme which is essentially a contract: We don’t recommend that you go with Telstra for your leased phone. They have their own scheme.
  • Or consider real leasing: We recommend Moose Mobile, a smaller Australian phone company. Who will let you buy the phone from them with a simple monthly payment.

Australia Phone Ownership

keep your phone longer

 Keep your phone 6 months longer

  • Keeping your phone longer: The average amount of time that people hold on to their iPhones has increased an enormous 6 months in the last 2 years. Owners which do this are splitting the hardware cost of their investment over 30, not 34 months.

iPhone Popularity

We believe mobile phone contracts are a thing of the past

In summing up, we believe the way people buy phones is changing dramatically at the moment. Contracts, the agreements under which we have all bought phones for the last 20 years are just not the way people want t buy phones now. There are so many more options available now than there were even a few months ago.

DIY or ‘BYO’ phone plans and SIM deals are the way the majority behave. Above all else, picking the phone itself in the right way is the best method of reducing the total cost you’ll pay. Having a new phone is nice but having one which does 90% of the things a brand new product will give you is good enough for most. When you find out it costs half as much as the same thing under contract, many believe that this is the most sensible course. Whether you do it using a low end Android phone, a refurbished phone, a leased phone or a second hand one is up to you.

Smaller phone companies also offer pricing, especially on data, which beats the big phone companies hands down. In many cases, MVNOs (as they’re known in the industry) can save their users 50% on a monthly phone payment. Of course, having a healthy understanding of the amount of data you actually use and how much you will pay if you go over it will also pay dividends.

 Summary

how to save money on your phone bill info graphic