How can I get going with Vodafone Prepaid ?
There are 2 main methods of finding and activating a Vodafone prepaid plan.
- You can start by purchasing a prepaid SIM card on it’s own. They generally come in a starter pack. SIMs on their own usually cost onlya couple of dollars. You can also buy a SIM which is pre-loaded with credit.
- Or you can pick up a ‘prepaid Phone’ from Vodafone’s online store, which will usually come with a prepaid SIM.
In either case, when you have the SIM and the phone:
- Insert the SIM in to your phone.
- Go online, to Vodafone’s website.
- Pick a plan and activate your service.
You can then use it for the period of it’s ‘Prepaid Expiry’ (a technical term in telecommunications which means how long the plan will work for before you need to pay more.
Can I keep my phone number if I want to move to Vodafone prepaid ?
Of course you can. Vodafone allows its users to keep their old phone numbers when they switch to a new SIM card.
Find out more here.
Do you need a prepaid phone to use a Vodafone prepaid phone plan?
In truth, there is no such thing as a ‘prepaid phone’. There are just cheaper phones that people using prepaid plans are more inclined to use.
So, while you will need a phone to use the Vodafone prepaid service, a specifically ‘prepaid phone’ is not required.
Is data charged in 1 KB or 1 MB Chunks on Vodafone prepaid ?
All Vodafone prepaid plans now charge you for data downloads and uploads in 1 kB increments.
A few years ago, the opposite was true. Data was charged in 1 MB increments. Some say that customers got through their data allocation much more qucikly, when data is charged in 1 MB increments, suggesting that per MB charging might as much as double individuals’ usage characteristics.
Per kB charging is now common among all of the tier 1 phone companies, following the customer outcry ( through social media ) that the change to MB charging brought about.
Does my mobile data ‘rollover’ with Vodafone ?
No. Data does not rollover from one month to the next with Vodafone’s prepaid plans.
Both Optus and Telstra now offer this feature (data rollover) on (selected elements of) their plans.
We don’t see the presence of ‘rollover’ as a key feature you’re missing out on if you take a Vodafone prepaid plan. It’s far preferable to find yourself a plan which suits your requirements in terms of the voice and data allocation you need, rather than buy yourself a plan that includes more data than you require and ‘roll it over.’
What’s the Vodafone network like these days ?
For 4G, Vodafone’s recent network expanstion provided impressive statistics. Vodafone now cover 95.3% of the population. Remember, Optus covers 96.6% of the Australian population with their 4G network. Vodafone’s network now covers as much of Australia and offers equivalent speed’s to Telstra’s.
- More about Vodafone’s network :
Vodafone’s network has improved greatly. In this article, we provide independent analysis which compares Vodafone alongside Telstra and Optus with surprising results : Vodafone’s 4G network is now as big and as fast as Telstra’s. Don’t beieve us ? See the article.
- General coverage information :
The most critical information when you’re buying a SIM relates to the coverage on the network you’re considering. This article provides national statistics and the latest insights in to who has what coverage where.
- Vodafone’s Network Guarantee :
Still not sure ? Read about Vodafone’s network guarantee.
- Much improved Vodafone network - now 4G too
- Get more data by buying and recharging online
- Better prepaid deals are often available
- No data rollover from Vodafone
- Better prepaid deals from smaller phone companies
- Amaysim & Moose cheaper on Optus 4G network
- Consider Boost & Belong on the Telstra Mobile Network
Vodafone is one of the world’s largest phone company brands. In Australia, they’ve been in the news for much of last and this year, tussling with the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) over whether they should be allowed to merge with TPG.
Vodafone used to be an Australian favorite, the default option when people were choosing a prepaid phone plan 10 years ago. Since then, the company has fallen from grace. Some now ask serious questions about the quality of their network.
The company does have good some things working in its favor. Vodafone use their global size to lead the market in roaming service sales. They don’t shy away from active price marketing, either. They run constant deals on data inclusions – which what market research tells us causes people to finally considering a change in their provider.
Overall, however, the simple fact is that it’s possible to buy better value prepaid plans, from other phone companies. Many of these alternatives offer better network coverage and cost less. That means we don’t recommend Vodafone prepaid plans.
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Vodafone’s Prepaid Range has been greatly simplified.
- They have 2 types of plan : ‘Combo’ and ‘PAG’ (Pay and Go – very similar to the PAYG plan type)
- By default, their plans are provided with a 35 day expiry.
Let’s take a closer look at those features, here.
- Combi vs PAYG:
Combi plans are Vodafone’s standard prepaid plan. As usual with prepaid, you pay before you use the plan and are granted unlimited calls and SMS in Australia plus a monthly mobile data allocation. Vodafone’s PAG (‘Pay and Go’) plan type is similar to the Pay As You Go plans offered by Amaysim, Aldi etc. We have a page dedicated to Australia’s best PAYG plans. Pay as you go plans allow you to pay in advance and pay per minute/ SMS from your balance with each call type. PAYG plans are most useful for those who hardly use their phones.
- They have a 35 day expiry which means you have to recharge fewer times in the year:
By default, Vodafone’s plans come with a 35-day validity. The main benefit of this 35 day ‘expiry period‘ is that you will not be required to recharge as often. Optus and Telstra have a recharge validity of 28 days. Most smaller phone companies have a recharge validity of 30 days. Here’s the difference the new extended recharge period makes to the number of recharges you will have to perform every year and the effect on your wallet or purse.
- Large minimum spend for unnecessarily large data allocations:
Vodafone’s cheapest monthly (35 day) Prepaid plans start at $30 per month. $30 per month is a lot to spend on a phone plan, these days, especially when you compare it to some of the alternatives we offer on this page. To justify the cost, Vodafone often offers ‘over the top’ sign up deals – for example, this month’s offer is 35GB per month. These may be attention grabbing rates – but the reality is that only a very small proportion of the population uses this much data in a month.
- No clever data management facilities like data roll-over or data vault:
You’ll get data rollover from and on some Optus prepaid plans. However, we think that data roll-over is a crock – It doesn’t help users understand or deal with their growing mobile data needs. Belong Mobile and Telstra now offer ‘data vault’ on some of their plans. In our view, theirs is the fairest treatment of mobile data available at the moment. With data vault, whatever data you’re given is yours, forever.
- Recharge Options:
You will get any number of recharge options: You can recharge with a daily amount, weekly allowance, 28-day allowance and 35-day plan.
- International Minutes Included:
Vodafone make the most of their global scale by offering substantial (500 minutes and above) international calls in their prepaid range.
- Standard Add Ons:
You can add more data mid-month if you run out.
- Other relevant considerations:
The Vodafone Network Guarantee has changed its name but is still relevant. Obviously, you risk less with prepaid than a postpaid plan, which is where this is focused. Their app is fantastic, and everyone should download it. You still have to activate roaming before you leave Australia. You can roam for free in NZ which is now a standard feature on Vodafone plans.
- Bundled discounts for those buying more than one plan.
Many plans can now be bought in ‘packs of 5 or 10.’ Buying in this way can save you up to 25% – which is a substantial proportion of your annual bill. This is a discount not to be sniffed at.
- Competitors’ prepaid expiry period has been extended:
Telstra have adapted their prepaid range in response to Vodafone’s 35 day expiry period. Telstra’s expiry periods now increase with spend. Their $40 monthly Prepaid Max Plan now has a 35 day expiry. Optus offer almost as many expiry period options as they do plans.
- Optus and Telstra provide included entertainment:
Both Telstra and Optus have gone down the path of adding entertainment options like data free music streaming (both Telstra prepaid and Optus prepaid offer this particular entertainment option) and data free AFL / NRL / Netball for Telstra. Vodafone simply can’t match their competitors for this sort of entertainment value add. To the average shopper, these services are worth more than the price saving they’ll get from Vodafone with the move to 35 days. If you have a Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio or Google Play Music account, for example, our calculations show you could save between 1GB and 3GB of data per month.
- Optus also offers data roll-over:
Data rollover is a key inclusion Optus implemented last year.
Realising the enormous network perception problems they had, Vodafone have invested heavily in the towers and masts which transmit your calls since 2010. Their 3G network now covers 0.5 of Australia. That’s a total of 23 million people. Their 4G netowrk coverage statistics are even more impressive. Vodafone’s network covers 95.3% . Remember, Optus’ 4G network covers 96.6% of the Australian population
Unless you live in more rural areas of Australia, independent research Vodafone on par with any other network which is available to you. Unfortunately for them, however, that’s not the point.
They now say they cover 22 million Australians, deliberately side stepping the natural comparison with Optus and Telstra who quote their coverage in terms of the proportion of the population covered.
Remember, there are dozens of smaller phone companies in Australia. Only one of them offer similar entertainment facilities in their plans that Telstra and Optus have.
Since Vodafone’s new plans don’t include entertainment, in many ways, it is these numerous, smaller networks to which we should be comparing. The smaller phone companies don’t offer entertainment either. And when you do that, the Vodafone plans do not come out at all well.
In Summary – Vodafone's Prepaid Plan range badly misses the mark
Reviewing these Vodafone prepaid plans holistically, we think will under-perform for Vodafone. It’s a shame, Vodafone has nailed their network improvements at a time when Telstra is really struggling and, with a strong prepaid suite focused on addressing the additional value smaller phone companies are offering, they could have done well. Vodafone has also taken a visible market lead in their international roaming options over the last 2 years. Now they want to do something different that’s seen as innovative, fair and which stands out in the market.
Vodafone is looking at this from their internal point of view. The prepaid range is reasonably simple viewed in isolation. From a customer’s perspective, however, it’s not. There are already hundreds of plans to compare out there. The prepaid market is more fragmented and has more providers than any other. It’s a shame. It’s still a brand I love. I hope they get back to being the challenger brand Australians want them to be.
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