Telstra Plan Review <br>And Comparison

Telstra Plan Review
And Comparison

  • Prepaid and Postpaid plans on Australia's best network
  • Add a phone & pay month-to-month, no contract
  • Plans now include free content 'extras'
  • No excess data (overage) charges
We independently review and compile Aussie phone plans so you can easily compare them in one place, for free.

Here’s Telstra’s Full SIM Only Plans

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Which competitors should you consider?

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Frequently Asked Questions

How will Telstra’s size help me?

Well, if we keep ourselves to the mobile phone plan market (they do a bunch of other stuff like fixed broadband connections under the NBN, for example) they have a 70(ish)% market share. Over half of all the mobiles in Australia are on the Telstra network.

The size of Telstra’s user base is good news and bad news for their customers. Being a phone company is a lot easier when you’re big. You can afford to cover a larger proportion of the country with your network & towers. On the other hand, having such many customers makes Telstra bureaucratic and slow to deal with. Some perceive them as arrogant and slow to consider the needs of their customers. We have the latest survey showing this finding, in the text, below.

However, Telstra seems to be changing its ways. After customers lodged several complaints about dealing with their overseas support staff over the years, the telco has finally listened. Now, Telstra has moved its call centres back to Australia, so you’ll speak with an Aussie whenever you ring them for help.

What do Telstra’s plans have that the others don’t?

Telstra have a number of plan features which are unique to them.

  • Never exceed your allowance:
    Telstra now also offer a plan feature which means you will never exceed your data allowance (What we like to call, ‘Peace Of Mind Data’ throttles speeds to 1.5Mbps after plan data is exhausted). Again, we explain the ins and outs of that, below.
  • They have 5G:
    Telstra now have 5G available in select areas. This only applies to certain plans, however.
  • They have a ‘Plus’ loyalty program:
    A nice-to-have component of some plans, offering the ability to accumulate points and cash them for actual accessories and devices, as well as other perks like cinema tickets. In our view, these probably aren’t a reason to stay with a phone company but if you were going to go with Telstra anyway, they are worth keeping an eye on.
  • Shared phone number:
    If you have one of the new iPhones, you can pay a $5 monthly chargeand split the phone number between your Apple Watch.

What is ‘Peace Of Mind’ Data?

Fairness is an issue to Australian consumers, especially when it comes to their phone bills. Our own research shows that  in 2017, 28% of people had been charged $10 or more in the previous month, for exceeding the data allowance they were provided in their plan. Although newer data isn’t available, we imagine the numbers are not too dissimilar.

Telstra is taking the lead among Australian phone companies, in helping users manage their data. As well as an exceptional self-service app which they provide free to their users, Telstra has also put in place a new plan feature that we like to call ‘Peace Of Mind’ data.

Peace of mind data works by limiting (in the industry, it’s called throttling) the mobile data speeds you’re provided to 1.5Mbps when you reach the limit of your plan’s data allocation. Telstra offers this on their postpaid SIM only plans.

It’s probably best explained with an example. Imagine your phone plan has 12 GB of data included in it. While you’re using that 12 GB of data each month, you’ll get the maximum / full network speeds offered by Telstra. Typically, on the Telstra network, that will give you 4G download speeds which are about as fast as your home broadband connection.

When you reach your 12GB limit, your access to data doesn’t stop. Nor will you be charged $10 per GB, as was previously the case. Instead, you will continue to get mobile data but it will be provided to you at a reduced speed of 1.5Mbps– thus, it might take a little longer for a map to appear, or the video you download from YouTube might be of a standard definition quality, rather than HD.

For almost any task, throttled data like this is enough to keep you going – although some tasks might take longer than you’re used to. On the plus side, you will always have access to data and you won’t be charged more. That’s why we call it Peace Of Mind Data.

How to Cancel your Telstra Plan

On the Telstra network, there are three ways you can cancel your existing phone plans with the network. They are;

  • Putting a call through to 13 22 00 and asking them to disconnect you from the service;
  • Chatting online with a Telstra representative to discuss other suitable phone plans which may interest the subscriber.
  • Heading in-store and chatting to a real person.

You may have to pay out the current billing month, or a pro-rated amount.

What is “Upgrade and Protect”?

Until 2019, Telstra used to offer a scheme called “Hardware Repayment Option”, where customers could buy extra hardware, and repay it over several months. Although they no longer offer this, they do offer an “Upgrade and Protect” scheme for their mobile customers.

For $15 a month, Telstra customer’s with a device included in the plan can upgrade their device before their contract ends. Essentially, this means they can always keep up with the latest trends.

Although, there are some terms and conditions to this scheme. Only customers on the last 6 months of a 12 month contract, or the last 12 months of a 24 or 36 month contract can swap their phone for a newer model. And, it’s only free if the phone is in good condition. If your phone is not in good condition, you may need to pay for the replacement.

The “Upgrade and Protect” scheme also covers screen protection, so you need to worry less if you drop your phone.

What is 4GX?

4GX is a marketing name for faster network access. 4G is already pretty fast. 4Gx uses clever technical means to roughly double the 4G speeds Telstra’s users get. Telstra have actually done extremely well at rolling out their 4GX coverage.

The technology behind 4GX is FDD – Frequency Division Duplexing if you want to look it up.

Does Telstra let any smaller phone companies use their network ?

Telstra has a number of smaller phone networks reselling components of their network, known as the “Telstra Wholesale Network”. Belong MobileWoolworths MobileAldi Mobile, CMobile and others, all have access to the “Telstra Wholesale Network”.

However, the only companies selling access to the full Telstra network are Telstra itself, and Boost Mobile

This is a different approach than Optus and Vodafone take to their network resellers.

What is a ‘Data Bank’?

data bank is a feature that’s available on many of their prepaid plans. Data banking means that whatever data you’re given, it remains on your account until you use it, leave the company for another provider, or the bank reaches 200GB. Telstra offers it directly to their prepaid customers, or you can get it through Belong Mobile, which also uses the Telstra Mobile Network. Telstra’s month-to-month plans don’t offer this feature at the moment.

Typically, with a phone plan, you’re given a data allocation which will last for a month. For example, you might be given a phone plan which has 6GB of 4G data. In the past, that allocation has been provided on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis. That is, if you won’t work your way through the 6GB of data in the month you’ve been granted it, whatever is left at the end of the month is forfeited and replaced with a new allocation, provided on the same terms.

A data bank is different. When you’re given your 6GB for the month, it will stay on your account until you use it. Say, in the first month, you use 4GB of your 6GB allocation. In the next month, you’ll see 8GB at the start of the month. The 6GB from your plan plus 2GB of data from last month.

The data bank facility stays in place for the entirety of your plan. Every bit of data you don’t use will be added to a running total or balance which you can use at any time, but remember, you can only hold up to 200GB in your bank.

What's good

  • Australias best coverage
  • Mature 4G coverage across wide area
  • And new scheme to avoid overage
  • 5G available in select locations and growing
  • Add your own phone to separate month-to-month plan with no lock-in contract
  • No excess data (overage) charges - 'Peace of Mind' data
  • Change plans once a month

What's bad

  • Low levels of customer satisfaction, although complaints to TIO have reduced
  • Must stay connected for 36-months to take advantage of 36-month device payment plans
  • Network re-sellers often offer better value

Telstra’s (Postpaid) SIM Only Plans - Is paying more for the network worth it?

If you’re looking for prepaid options check out our dedicated Telstra Prepaid page.

  • When it comes to Telstra’s SIM Only deals, we all know that plans from big T cost a little more.
  • The question is, does Telstra’s service – both customer and network – warrant the extra monthly spend?
  • If you love some of the new content offers that Telstra has in place (We have a lot of detail on Telstra’s content, below), then the answer might be yes.
  • In this article, we show you the truth about the coverage offered by the phone networks in Australia.
  • And outline options from competitors – some of which are on the Telstra Mobile Network.
  • With them, you can get a plan on the Telstra Mobile Network without dealing with Telstra themselves.
  • Finally, we also consider Telstra’s recent plan inclusion upgrade and explain the details in simple terms.

Introducing Telstra’s Upfront Postpaid SIM Only Plans

Some time ago, Telstra revamped their postpaid plans. They have replaced postpaid SIM Only plans upfront postpaid plans.

Telstra’s new upfront postpaid plans have some new inclusions, and they have also lost some features as well. We’ll cover them all in this post.

Overall, Telstra’s multiple refresh approach is designed to align the company with the new hyper-competitive environment of Australian phone plans, especially with the knowledge of TPG’s new plan range, which is set to cause serious disruption to every major phone plan provider in Australia – including Telstra.

Telstra have now added even more perks to what they offer. With their upfront postpaid plans, you can get access to their 5G Network. Telstra now separates handset plans from your mobile phone plan, and you can stretch out your handset plan to 36 months and your mobile phone plans will upfront postpaid plans.

With Telstra’s upfront postpaid plans, you also don’t have to worry about data overage charges — your speed simply gets throttled to 1.5Mbps when your plan data is exhausted, and you can stay online at that speed for free until your next billing cycle.

Telstra offers a broad (sometimes so broad that they become bewildering) array of options, extras, and inclusions in their postpaid plan range. These include content inclusions attached to their phone plans, and contract agreements (in which the user is provided a phone with their Telstra service and pays for it over a period of up to 36 months – something we generally advise against these days). We explain each of these, below.

Telstra are not always easy to love. Their huge size means they’re great for big business and government contracts but can be hard for individuals to manage.

Telstra are not always easy to love. Their huge size means they’re great for big business and government contracts but can be difficult for individual customers to deal with. A quick tour of their website or customer service organization will serve as a quick reminder of how frustrating it can be for the individual customer to work with them. At some stage, almost all of us have had to go through it. They are so big, they’ve become unwieldy.

Here are a couple of ‘insider’ facts that are likely to help you in weighing the pros and cons of Telstra’s SIM Only offerings:

  • Telstra has excellent 4G coverage
    First of all, Telstra’s network coverage is the best in Australia. Telstra’s 4G covers 98.8% of Australia’s population. This is slightly better than Optus’ 98.5% and Vodafone’s 97%. You’d need to be really in the bush to not have access to Telstra’s 4G.
  • They have a reasonably good 5G service
    In the wake of Telstra (and everyone else) shutting down their 3G services, Telstra is already expanding their 5G network to cover more Aussies. Today, 80% of Australians could have access to Telstra’s 5G internet. At it fastest, Telstra’s 5G has speeds of up to 400mbps. However, it’s exact speed will vary depending on several factors, including device, location, and weather.
  • You can get cheaper deals on the Telstra Mobile Network
    Third, several phone companies resell the Telstra Mobile Network (now with 5G). They typically have better deals than Telstra itself. Below, we show you which of these options are our preferred Telstra Mobile Network resellers.

Let’s start by looking at the basics of Telstra’s inclusion structure. Then we can consider their content offerings and the all-important network question.

Telstra’s 2 Different Types Of SIM Only Plans:

We usually recommend the month-to-month variants of these plans for a simple reason; Data pricing falls so frequently that, in a few months, you are almost always likely to be able to get more data, however much you spend.

Prepaid Plans

Following their refresh several years ago, the only way you could get a month-to-month plan from Telstra was if you took one of their prepaid plans.

We have a dedicated section for Telstra’s prepaid plans. However, with Telstra’s refresh last year, their upfront postpaid plans are now month-to-month as well, with no lock-in contracts.

Telstra launches upfront postpaid plans

Over 3 years ago, Telstra revamped its entire postpaid plan range, introducing month-to-month no lock-in SIM only plans. However, Telstra dumped those normal postpaid plans last year for upfront postpaid SIM only plans.

Telstra’s new upfront postpaid plans will require you to pay first before your plan becomes active. You will need to have a debit / credit card, or bank on file, because upfront plans require automatic charges by AutoPay on the same date of each month.

That is, unlike previous postpaid plans that sent you a bill at the end of your billing cycle and then gave you 2 weeks to pay, these new upfront postpaid plans will debit your card or bank automatically.

Other than the fact that the new postpaid plans are upfront, Telstra hasn’t changed much. You still get the same data inclusions at the same price points, as well as no excess data charges (overage charges) (which we think is one of the fairest treatment of data in Australia).

However, Telstra have added some inclusions and removed some features temporarily, while some features have been removed permanently.

The new upfront postpaid range includes the following features:

  • Postpaid and prepaid customers can get a taste of 5G:
    Telstra’s 5G Network is now live in over 400 major and regional cities. However, Telstra’s mobile 5G is only available for those with a 5G compatible device. If you have a 5G device. You can get a taste of the 5G network free of charge on Telstra’s Basic, Essential, Premium, and Mobile Bundle Plan and one prepaid plan.
  • Customers can add a device to month-to-month plans with no lock-in contracts:
    Vodafone launched this scheme for their postpaid plans around a year ago, in recognition of a number of changes in the market. People are holding on to their phones longerand hate to be slugged with extra data charges at $10 per month. Telstra has followed suit and now provides very similar features to Vodafone. Telstra postpaid plans are now month-to-month plans with no lock-in contracts, and you can add a device as well on a lengthy contract while still keeping your mobile plan as month-to-month. This is a big change for Telstra who used to only offer 12-month contracts in the SIM Only space.
  • Customers can now pay off a device over a 12, 24, or 36-month span, and device plans are separate from your mobile plan:
    Another significant change which has been taking place among Australian phone plan buying is the concept of ‘peak smartphone‘. We’re all holding on to our phones longer than we used to. To Telstra, that means acknowledging that a 2-year contract might be right for some, but won’t be right for everyone. Separating the plan cost and phone cost, making their product structure ‘modular’ – providing service elements that people can choose or change as they want to – recognizes the shift and simplifies the choices they are making. Although you can add a device to your separate month-to-month mobile phone plan, you’d have to stay connected for 36 months to keep your monthly device payments low, but they offer 24-month and 12-month plans as well.
  • Customers don’t get charged for excess data within Australia – their data speeds get throttled to 1.5mbps instead:
    Overage charges (when you get slugged with another $10 on your bill for exceeding your included data allowance) really annoy customers. Telstra’s new plan range continues their alternative approach, limiting speeds to 1.5mbps when you reach your limit, and you stay connected at that speed for free until your next billing cycle kicks in. Most users find that speed perfectly OKfor what they want to do – and preferable to the charged ($10/GB) alternative.
  • Discounts on Entertainment
    In the past, Telstra used to offer data-free entertainment. However, although they no longer offer this service, you can get fantastic discounts when you buy through Telstra. We think the reason why Telstra no longer do “Data- Free” streaming is that they now offer Peace Of Mind Data instead. When you sign up for Telstra, it’s worth looking into the TV, Movies, and Sports streaming that you can save money on. Towards the end of this article, we’ll go into more detail about some of the offers they have.

Quick Summary of upfront postpaid plans

Telstra’s ‘Kiss goodbye to extra data charges’ is an innovative approach to keeping customers happy.

At the moment, Telstra is the only phone company that offers ‘throttled’ data, slowed to 1.5mbps, designed to remove the fear of bill shock from data overspends.  Source: Telstra

  • They have ‘Peace Of Mind’ (‘unlimited’) data plans:
    A few years ago, Optus launched a plan with unlimited data included for a short time. Telstra and Vodafone followed suit shortly after. The regulator didn’t like the messaging of the unlimited plans that were released because they were not, in fact, unlimited. After the core data inclusion was used in these ‘Unlimited’ plans, bandwidth was slowed to 1.5 Mbps. To avoid a lawsuit, the telcos withdrew those unlimited plans from the market. Now, on all of Telstra’s upfront SIM Only postpaid plans, you won’t be charged for extra data once you reach the limit of your monthly data inclusions – you’ll always have access to data (when you’re in coverage). However, the download speeds you’ll get are capped at that 1.5 Mbps limit. We call that ‘Peace of Mind’ data.
  • Data sharing: 
    Telstra’s new upfront plans now include data sharing across up to 10 devices on the same account.
  • International inclusions: 
    Telstra’s new upfront postpaid plans now come with unlimited International SMS and MMS from Australia, as well as 30 minutes of International calls. If you’d like more International minutes, Telstra offer a $10 add on.
  • Overseas roaming: 
    When Telstra Customers go on holiday, they can purchase an “Overseas roaming pass” for $10. This gives them 1GB of data, and unlimited calls and texts during their travels.
  • Smartwatch and eSIM: 
    Also, the new upfront postpaid plans don’t support smartwatches and eSIM for now. These features will be added later.
  • No more Telstra Air and some other features: 
    Upfront postpaid plans don’t have access to Telstra Air, Mobile Protect, Voice to Text, and Caller Tones.
  • Great ’24×7′ Self Service App:
    Telstra’s 24×7 app for Self Service and Account Management is extremely good. So are the alternatives from Vodafone and Australia’s other major alternatives. You can manage your SIM Only agreement just fine from this Self Service app, as well as use the app for any type of contract plan from Telstra. We always advise people to take advantage of these apps – they help you manage your data and get the most out of your service for free, without having to wait on hold all the time.
  • Telstra has impressive sports deals:
    If you like sports, Telstra has you covered. Telstra customers can get $20 off a Kayo Sport subscription- every month for a year. That means more sport, at a lower price!
  • Loyalty Rewards: 
    Telstra’s Loyalty scheme is called “Telstra Plus“. It allows you to accumulate points and cash them in for actual accessories and devices, as well as other smaller items such as movie and concert tickets. Every $1 you spend with Telstra earns you 10 points. It’s a nice-to-have scheme, at best, and should not (in our view) influence your decision as to which network to go with. These rewards are to trick the rational bit of your brain – in reality, they are worth little (in our view!).
  • 5G Coverage:
    Telstra 5G is now available in select areas on some postpaid and prepaid plans. There are several 5G smartphones available now, including the iPhone 14 lineup. The only X factor is 5G coverage, which isn’t everywhere yet. So far, Telstra claims that their 5G network covers 80% of the population. Most of that coverage is in major cities and suburbs, so if you live and work in such an area, there’s a good chance you’ll have access to Telstra 5G if you purchase the right plan.

Cons Of Telstra

Their 5G is not as fast as Optus

The following information is based on 2022 data, so it’s not impossible that things have changed. However, based on this data, if you’re desperate for the quickest 5G data, it seems you’re better going with Optus.

In 2022, Optus’ 5G data came in with a top download speed of 240.5mpbs. Washer Telstra was only 232.3mbps.

Their plans can be expensive

As with the other two Tier-1 Telco’s, Telstra is not always very budget friendly. Because you get access to excellent customer care, and all of their services (including their full 4G and 5G network). If Telstra is out of budget for you, consider using one of their MVNOs instead- you don’t get as much, but you get what most people need.

There are so many options, it can be confusing.

With Telstra, you can get prepaid, post-paid, sim-only, phone included (pay over 12-months), phone included (pay over 24-months), mobile broadband, home internet, telstra for business. There’s so much going on, that it can be overwhelming.

They are shutting down their 3G network.

On the 30th of June 2024, Telstra will no longer have their 4G network. To be fair to them, we can’t be too mad, 3G is not profitable anymore. But, this might cause older people to become confused as they need a new phone.

Telstra’s SIM Only plans offer you access to their network. Again, you may be surprised to see how similar the 4G population coverage profiles of the major networks are.

3G coverage is where Telstra really have the advantage:

Telstra’s 3G coverage footprint, however, is around twice the signal area  you’d get on either the Optus or Vodafone networks. 4G speeds are obviously better than 3G – but 3G is far, far preferable to no coverage at all. This is the reality of the extra you pay for Telstra. If you live outside a city, there may well be a lot of times, when you can only get a mobile internet connection with Telstra. It might only apply to 1 – 5% of the population – those who live or work in the extra 1.2 million square Kilometers or so that Telstra’s 3G network covers. But to them, that’s an important fact.

Telstra and TPG: What Happened?

Less than a year ago, we all thought that Telstra and TPG would merge into one new company. But , it turns out, the ACCC didn’t approve.

If the deal had gone ahead, TPG (Vodafone) and Telstra would share parts of the 4and5G spectrum, and share infrastructure. The idea was that TPG would finally have a competitive advantage over Optus, and T&T could provide better services to more Aussies.

But, the ACCC were not having it. They said they didn’t want Telstra controlling more data than they already did, worrying it would turn Telstra into a monopoly. Contrary to what T&T said, the ACCC said that this monopoly would make services worse for the Australian people.

At the end of the day, Telstra is already the largest Telco in the country, they don’t need even more power.

Telstra has moved its call centres back to Australia

In 2022 Telstra hired 2,000 Aussies as support staff and moved its call centres back to Australia. The telco will use a hybrid model, where some of its support staff will work from home. This means that when you ring Telstra for help, you’ll talk to an Australian and not overseas support staff. And because they work from home, you might even be speaking to someone in your neighbourhood, making it easier for them to understand and empathise with you about any network issues you might have.

Telstra’s content offerings are unique and impressive

In the past, Telstra used to offer some entertainment as “data-free”, but since they’ve introduced Peace of Mind Data, it seems that data-free inclusions have gone away. However, they have tried making up for it by offering some fantastic deals on entertainment.

Below is a table on how much you can, and on what, when you’re an Optus customer.

ServiceCategoryPrice with TelstraDurationPrice normally
FoxtelMovies and TV$50 a month12 months$74 a month
Apple TV+Movies and TVFREE3 months$9.99 a month
Telstra TV Box OfficeMovies and TVPay Per MovieN/ANot available for non-Telstra customers
Kayo SportsSports$12.50-$17.50 a month12 months$30-$35 a month
Spotify PremiumMusicFREE4 months$11.99

How to check telstra data balance

As a prepaid subscriber, you can check your mobile data usage in three main ways;

  • On a smartphone or tablet
  • On your mobile’s browser
  • On your desktop

To check your data on a smartphone or tablet, open the Telstra 24X7 App and select your prepaid number. Your data balance will be shown on the screen.

On mobile browser, disconnect your device from any connected Wi-Fi and type into your browser. Your balance will be shown under ‘included bonuses and packs’.

On your desktop, sign into your Telstra 24X7 My Account. Select your prepaid number from the drop-down menu at the top of the page. Select ‘balance remaining’ under the ‘balance and recharge’ page to see your balance.

As a postpaid subscriber, you can access your data usage in three simple methods;

  • With the Telstra 24X7 App
  • With the Telstra 24X7 My Account website
  • With a text message

Summing up Telstra’s SIM Only Plans

Adding things like Peace of Mind data into their phone plans might justify the  SIM Only plans that Telstra has in market.

Telstra has made a range of improvements to their SIM Only plan range, both postpaid and prepaid. Their data allowance have increased on all price points, and they’ve added fair treatment offers like data banking (prepaid) and Peace of Mind data (postpaid). These new features have led to a reduction in complaints to the TIO, so Telstra is definitely making the right moves.

Optus has a large number of credible and fast-growing brands in it’s stable. Moose MobileSpintel and Vaya, all offer postpaid deals on the Optus networks. Amaysim  and Yomojo all offer prepaid plans on the Optus network. While Telstra matches Optus on price, Optus steals everything below – in one form or another.

However, all that being said, Telstra is a safe, and reliable Tier-1. If you’re worried about your privacy since the Optus breach, Telstra could be a great alternative. If you live in rural Australia, you simply have to consider Telstra or one of its resellers Boost Belong.

Everyone needs at least some awareness of the inclusions of the phone plan they choose. You can find that here.

Telstra’s plan inclusions are as involved as the rest of them. We’ve compared the details here so you don’t have to.

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  • The ACCC warns, as we have, of the premium that Telstra’s users have to pay.
  • Some content from Deloitte’s recent consumer survey.