Telstra Prepaid
Review & Comparison

  • Impossibly large prepaid selection
  • Expensive compared to the alternatives
  • Innovative plan features inc data rollover
  • But : Last year Telstra suffered multiple network issues
  • 2016 saw a number of network related concerns for Telstra

Telstra's Prepaid Plans

Which Competitors Should You Consider?

Common questions about Telstra Prepaid

What’s special about Telstra’s prepaid plans ?

Telstra’s prepaid plan range has a number of unique features. Depending on the (specific prepaid) plan you sign up to, you might get:

  • Included sport:
    Telstra’s ‘free’ (for prepaid customers who have a balance of over $30 on selected plans) content / Entertainment is unique and, could, on its own, entice you across. Through their app, you will get one season of AFL, NRL or Basketball when you have an appropriate SIM.
  • Included streamed audio:
    Telstra also offer a 6 month subscription to Apple Music. Streamed audio through this service is free.
  • Remember:
    Both of these entertainment options provide the user with zero rated data.

We explain these, and every other unique Telstra prepaid ‘value add’, in our article, below.

How can I maximize the value in my plan ?

We encourage prepaid shoppers to try alternative service providers to Telstra. One of the best elements of using a Prepaid service is that you are not tied in to a contract. Other providers who resell the Telstra Mobile network will provide better value inclusions. Consider :

Boost Mobile for plans with enormous data allocations on the Telstra Mobile Network – now with 4G.)

What are Data Top Ups and Plus Packs ?

In a postpaid agreement between you and Telstra, you agree that any services you use, on top of the core arrangement, will be charged to you automatically at the end of the month. For example, if you buy a plan which has just Australian Domestic call minutes (core product) but you want to call overseas this month (you’ll be charged automatically for that at the end of the month.) This is just one of the reasons that postpaid plans can end up being more expensive than prepaid plans.

In prepaid plans, additional services like international calls, calls to satellite numbers, the use of premium SMS numbers etc may all be required by customers at some point. Where these services are not included in your prepaid plan, you can buy a ‘Plus Pack’ to enable their use. A Data Top Up plans is the same deal. You use it to add more data on top of the initial allocation you were given in your Freedom bundle.

Imagine you have taken a Telstra Prepaid  plan at $30. You have used all of the international minutes included in your plan but you want to make an international call. Buying a Bonus Pack would allow you to do that.

I need to compare the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks to be able to decide.

Telstra experienced a number of concerning network problems during 2016. Since Telstra’s main justification for their unusually high pricing is the quality of their network, this is a concerning new aspect to their service.

This is an understandable question before you commit to a service. We’ve written a separate page on this very subject, to track the most important Australian network facts.

What phone options do I have with Telstra Prepaid ?

Telstra have a reasonable range of phone hardware targetted at their prepaid shoppers.

You don’t have to take a new phone from Telstra to get a Prepaid SIM from them, however. Any SIM you get should work in just about any phone you bought in Australia. If you do need a new phone, Telstra has an inexpensive range with some 4G models. You’ll find them on the Telstra website.

We generally recommend Kogan for new phones.

How can I compare Telstra prepaid against Telstra postpaid plans ?

We have a separate page for Telstra’s postpaid SIM Only plan range.

I live in a city. Is it worth paying the extra for Telstra coverage ?

In our view, no. Independent studies have shown that, in cities, Optus and Vodafone’s coverage is just as good as, if not better than Telstras.

This is a big news story for telco. Read more about Telstra’s competition’s network coverage.

What's good

  • Undeniably the best 4G network in Australia
  • Useful plan features - e.g. different night time data allocaiton
  • Prepaid better value than postpaid on Telstra's plans at $30
  • Most expensive in market - consider Boost as alternative

What's bad

  • Inflexible procedures - can be hard to work with
  • Better value available if you live in / near a city
  • Consider Lebara if you have a 3G phone
  • Boost Mobile use the Telstra Mobile network

Telstra Prepaid - Everything You Need To Know

Telstra’s prepaid plans’ best feature is their unique content’However, we think there are better deals out there for most people than Telstra’s prepaid range.

A 60 second intro to Telstra Prepaid

  • Telstra Prepaid Plus, Telstra’s hero prepaid offering is good value in and of itself.
  • It’s also about the chespest and most effective way you can get on the Telstra network.
  • Prepaid Plus offers inclusions which compare well to the alternatives (like Optus, Vodafone etc.) on voice, SMS and data.
  • Additionally, in 2016, Telstra added entertainment (streamed voice and video) and some other value add services to their prepaid range.
  • Some of these entertainment options, notably sport, positively differentiate Telstra.
  • Telstra prepaid will be right for you if you like those entertainment options.
  • For most, however, we think there are better prepaid plan / prepaid SIM offers out there beyond Testra.
  • What’s changed in all these prepaid plans over the last 12 months

Telstra’s plans and positioning, place them at the top of our telco value pyramid for 2017. In essence, going with a big phone company like Telstra means you’ll get a bunch of value adds provided ‘free’ on top of the prepaid plan they give you. If these value adds are of no use to you, however, then you may well have been better off choosing a core plan from an alternative SIM Only or prepaid provider.

Telstra Entertainment


When comparing Telstra prepaid, to what else is out there, we recommend you consider these factors. Telstras voice, minutes and data inclusions are well understood. What you might like to compare them on is their value added plan components which are not well understood.

  • Telstra’s prepaid video entertainment options :
    Entertainment has become a part of phone plans now. Telstra’s prepaid plans and Optus include access to zero rated sports programming, available to Telstra prepaid customers through an app. If you’re in to them, Telstra’s sport inclusions will be hugely valuable. For NRL, AFR or Australian Netball fans (those are the codes that Telstra support), this single plan feature might make Telstra worthy of their monthly prepaid spend. (Note: With any prepaid plan on which the user has a recharge value of $30 or more, they’ll be able to use the Telstra app to watch the sport.)
  • Telstra prepaid streamed audio options:
    Optus and Telstra have quite different streamed audio offerings. Telstra have partnered with Apple. On some Telstra prepaid service, you can sign up with Telstra for a free 6 months Apple Music account. The ‘new aspect’ to Telstra’s support of this is that the data you use streaming the Apple Music service to your phone will not come out of your plan. Optus partners with different streamed audio providers including iHeart Radio and Spotify.
  • Other bonus Telstra features:
    Note, these are all available on Telstra Prepaid Plus. Not all of these features are available on all of their prepaid plans. Telstra also offers access to it’s users through several hundred thousand “Telstra Air’ WiFi Networks. (Which it sometimes offers free, to everyone, anyway) and some Microsoft Onedrive cloud storage.

Telstra prepaid – comparing within Telstra’s prepaid range

Telstra have 4 sets of prepaid plans: Prepaid Plus, Long Life, Simplicity and Beyond Talk.

In our view, and as we show below, this range is too big. It appears that Telstra think the same thing. They look like they’ve made their ‘Prepaid Plus’ plans so appealing that the alternatives they offer are meaningless.

Unfortunately, having them those extra plans is confusing to most people. The subject can simply be demonstrated in a graph. Here are the voice minutes you will get for a $30 on the 4 different Telstra prepaid plans.

Telstra Prepaid Plan Type - voice callsTelstra Prepaid Plan $30 - data

Source: Telstra Prepaid website


Telstra Prepaid Plus

Above, Telstra Prepaid Plus offers more minutes than any other of Telstra’s plans at a $30 limit. It is fair to say that this is not an entirely apples with apples comparison. Recharge expiry differs by plan. Specifically, the Simplicity plan has a 60 day expiry and the Long Life plan 6 months. However, unless you have a very unusual need to make a very small number of voice calls over a very long time, the Prepaid Plus plan is almost certainly going to be right for you.

SMS and Data conclusions are similarly generous in Telstra’s Prepaid Plus, compared to the other plan types. You can see we have compared the data included in the plans and found a similarly lopsided result.

Telstra Prepaid Beyond Talk

Beyond Talk is a standard voice and SMS plan which offers the user minutes rather than a capped value inclusion. As you can see from the chart, you are better off with Prepaid Plus in almost all circumstances.

Telstra Prepaid Simplicity

Has a 60 day tenure (on the $30, tenure increases with spend) and a per minute charge for voice and SMS / data inclusions. As you can see from the chart above, in our view, you are almost always better off going with Prepaid Plus.
Simplicity charge per MB for data. The prices are extremely high. Be careful using data on this plan. Prepaid Simplicity is probably not the right plan to add to a smartphone.

Telstra prepaid vs Telstra SIM Only (postpaid)

Prepaid has always been the lion’s share of the phone company’s sales. Despite the already enormous size of the prepaid market, usage of prepaid services is increasing quickly. A number of factors are driving the increase in prepaid and other SIM only products. One of those factors is introductory offers. Including introductory offers, Telstra’s prepaid plans are better value than more expensive postpaid alternatives on their own network. And the quality of the product is exactly the same. Remember, using a $30 Telstra pre paid SIM, you can get the same network service at a great price without a long-term commitment.

As if often the case, Telstra’s Prepaid Plus plan is better value than the nearest spend SIM Only plan. This is the case consistently across the major telcos. Another reason not to write prepaid plans off before you consider them.

Telstra’s coverage advantage now

A key change for Telstra in 2016 was the perception of their coverage. Following improvements in 2016, Optus and Vodafone’s networks are on a par with Telstra in cities. Independent research shows that all 3 networks cover a very similar proportion of the population with 4G speeds. If you live in or near a city, there really is very little reason to choose Telstra now.

Telstra’s coverage footprint advantage

Telstra (cleverly) jealously guard their 3G /4G  network. It’s not even sold, in it’s entirety through their network resellers.

There are around 2.5 million Australians who live in Rural Australia (that’s towns with less than 1000 inhabitants and includes everyone from farmers to downsizing retirees who have moved from city areas.) For them, Telstra could appear to be the only choice.

Telstra have 2 national networks, their 3G and, separately, their 4G networks. Whatever phone you have, it will work with the Telstra 3G network. The Telstra 3G network covers 98% of the Australian population. That’s 1.26 million square kilometers – a larger network footprint area than any other Australian phone company network. Their 4G network currently covers 90% of Australians with a 4G signal.

Just to make it clear, this does not call in to question what was said above. Telstra do cover some very rural parts of Australia. Those rural parts are very sparsely populated. That means that, for people in the city, for the vast majority of the country as a whole, Optus’ coverage is as good for them as Telstra’s. However, for those living in the coverage area that only Telstra services (usually with a 3G signal), there is no alternative.

3G Network Population4G network population


How Telstra’s network outages affect their prepaid customers

Telstra’s network is provided with equal priority to both prepaid and postpaid customers. When the network stops working, it is most likely to stop working for both prepaid and postpaid customers at the same time.

Telstra suffered a series of embarrassing network outages in 2016. Despite efforts and a great deal of PR, the perception of their network as the most reliable in Australia has been sorely dented.

Alternatives to Telstra prepaid – Optus and Vodafone prepaid

Telstra’s major competitors are well known in Australia

  • Vodafone’MyMix’:
    Vodafone ‘MyMix’ plans allow you to tie together whatever combination of SMS, data and voice you need. We think that the value Vodafone include on these prepaid services is never as good as Kogan Mobile which use the same network. The international rates are simply not as good as those offered by Lebara Mobile, which, again use exactly the same Vodafone 3G and 4G network. We also believe that the Vodafone MyMix plan configurator is complicated and an outdated concept. Yomojo, for example, do the same thing, much better.
  • Optus prepaid:
    Not only does Optus compete with Telstra extremely effectively on data inclusions at the moment, we think Optus’ Streamed Audio offering is better than Telstra’s. We have a dedicated page to compare Optus vs Telstra.

Outside the major phone companies, you will get a lot more for your money. We recommend you compare all prepaid SIM Plans side by side.

Summing Up : Telstra’s prepaid service looks very different already and seems set to change a great deal more – from a coverage point of view

As we’ve seen in the plan inclusions, 2016 was an enormous year for prepaid all over. We believe 2017 will be even bigger.

There have been many changes but probably the key adaptation to their prepaid service, since you last checked in, are Telstra’s entertainment options. They are mind-blowingly good and, in line with the reason Telstra are prepared to spend so much on them, these alone might cause you to pick Telstra as your prepaid provider. If you choose Telstra prepaid, their ’Prepaid Plus’ range will be right for 90% of those reading this article.

The nature of the prepaid service is that it’s highly competitive. Prepaid services do not require customers to sign up to contracts. Customers’ short recharge commitment period ( 28 days ) gives a great deal of ‘switching power’ to consumers. Essentially, the minute they’re unhappy with the deal they’re on, or they see something better coming, they can leave and go to the new deal.

That works in favor of every prepaid shopper. Simply put, the phone companies have to provide headline stealing introductory offers to get your attention. It has to be worthwhile for you to get you to move away from the competition. That even applies to Telstra who have, uncharacteristically, started competing in this way with special introductory offers.

These days, headline grabbing introductory offers involve including more data which is just what Telstra have done. Incredibly, as we’ve shown above, you’re more likely to get bigger and better data inclusions from Telstra prepaid than if you spend an equivalent amount on their own postpaid range.

Unfortunately, Telstra’s plans are often too expensive for everyone except those in deeply rural areas who have no alternative. One reason for Telstra’s inflated pricing is the charge they impose for 4G services. If you are a feature phone owner (and many prepaid customers are) then paying for 4G speeds even although you can’t use them is wasteful. Compare on our prepaid plans page to get the best value.

Beyond the entertainment, these must be terrifying times for Telstra. They’re forced to match (what they consider to be less worthwhile rivals like) Optus and Vodafone on data inclusions. The famed reliability of the network they used to be able to charge more for, is now seen as in need of some maintenance. This seems to be the start of a network perception problem which could get worse for Telstra. To this, we add the burden of the proposed national roaming agreements. If they go ahead, as seems likely, Telstra will not have a better network at all. Telstra’s prepaid offering will be even more interesting when Optus and Vodafone can access that extra rural footprint. That seems like to accentuate what’s already happening. Telstra having to add more and more data and more and more value adds to justify their very high pricing.

Extra Resources – Articles of use to Prepaid Users

  • Prepaid plans now have streamed audio included in them :
    You may not be aware of one of the biggest improvements to prepaid plans since they were originally devised. 2016 saw the release of prepaid plans which have streamed audio included in them. If you already have a Spotify, iTunes Music, Google Music or IHeartRadio account, then you might like to find out more about streamed audio in phone plans.
  • Entertainment options are becoming common :
    You may also have started hearing about the increasing inclusion of entertainment options in prepaid and SIM Only phone plans. We also examine Optus’ mobile phone plan Entertainment options, Telstra’s mobile phone plan Entertainment options and compare the two.
  • Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month :
    We’ve given a short explanation on this page but if you want more detail on the types of phone plans in Australia, this is it. In Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month, we explain and the best value alternatives you have and when it makes sense to use each type.
  • Prepaid vs Postpaid –the simple trick to getting the best value :
    The tier 1 telcos ( Optus Telstra and Vodafone ) all have both prepaid and postpaid plans. Sometimes they have both types of plan at the same price point.
  • Does it make sense to buy a Phone myself and add a SIM ? :
    It’s often even cheaper to buy your own phone and add a SIM ( including a prepaid SIM ) to it. We explain how to go Buying a phone outright and adding a SIM.
  • Data Rollovers :
    Considering a plan with data rollover in it ? We explain why they’re not the real solution to the real problem with prepaid plans.

And, remember, before you buy, read the CIS (that’s the Critical Information Summary–a clearly written definition of what is and is not included in the plans from these phone companies) before you buy. You need to be confident in the plan you choose yourself. You’ll find the CIS on the Vodafone website.


Compare all of our prepaid plans

If you need another network, you might like to check our Best Prepaid Plans Page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. ) A list of best value plans using the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks.



See all SIM Only plans

If you need another network, for example you’re after an unlimited plan with Telstra coverage, or you live in a city and you’re happy with Vodafone, you might like to check our SIM Only Comparison page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. )