How to halve your phone bill by getting a ‘data only’ plan.

60 second intro to data only plans and SIMs

A data only plan ( with PAYG voice ) might just be right for you.

This article explores the interesting and increasingly relevant question of ‘Do I really need that voice and SMS allocation I’ve been given, anyway ?’ If you meet the criteria, getting a SIM and managing it this way can save you a great deal of money.

  • If you don’t talk / text much on your phone any more ( you just use the data )
  • Then a data only plan ( with PAYG voice ) might just be right for you.
  • Plans which have ‘only’ data in them can save you up to 50% of your monthly service fee
  • Make sure that you really don’t talk on the phone very often. If you estimate wrong and end up making more than 1 call per day, it’ll cost more than just getting a plan with voice and SMS in there.

Data Led Plans are plans where the majority of what you’re buying is data

It used to be that when you bought your phone, you’d get $1000 of calls, 500 minutes and 10 MB of data. By the way, that wasn’t so long ago. Since then, you might be aware, the digital explosion has brought technology and the internet in to every facet of our ‘consumer’ lives. That includes, especially, our phones.

If you look at the way in which the average Australian is using their smartphone or handheld device, you will notice that almost everyone has cut back dramatically on the amount of calls and SMS texting which in previous years would be of a higher number. Data led plans give you data, to use on these devices, to communicate with over these apps.

But do you really want unlimited calls and texts? Or are you simply looking for a plan with tonnes of data? There are very few ‘data only’ or ‘even ‘data led’ plans for phones. So, if you just want data, most of the time you will end up paying through the nose for all these other things you don’t even want. If this sounds familiar then let us offer you a point of view on what to do about it.

Introducing the data led plan.

What is a data led plan

A data led plan is price plan you buy from a phone company that only includes data and PAYG ( Pay As You Go ) voice

  • A data led plan is price plan you buy from a phone company that only includes ‘only’ data
  • You pay an upfront cost for the data e.g. $18 for 2GB of data.
  • You pay for the voice minutes / SMS after you use it
  • Voice and SMS is paid for using PAYG rates. PAYG plans are charged in arrears – after you’ve used the service.
  • That just means that every time you talk on the phone using the voice network, you’ll get charged something like 9c or 11 c per minute. Same deal for SMS.
  • So, each month, you might pay $18 for your data and then, $7 for the voice / SMS – obviously depending on how much you’ve used.

Comparing Data led Plans to Voice and Data plans

If your main phone usage behavior centers around data, then Amaysim’s plan offers much better value.

In mid 2015, there was a significant change to the way Optus and Telstra dealt with their customers. Both companies now include unlimited talk and SMS in all of their plans. Whether or not you need unlimited talk and text, whether or not you use it, you have to pay for it.


If you talk and text a lot, it’s possible that the Optus plan is right for you. But if your main phone usage behavior centers around data, then Amaysim’s plan offers much better value. Remember, however, that the numbers shown above don’t tell the full story. To the $9.90 a month that you will be paying Amaysim for the plan we’ve shown, you have to add PAYG voice. Our calculations show that if you make one standard 2 minute call per day, you’ll pay $7.20 per month on Amaysim’s PAYG rates.

Who would want a ‘data led plan?

This type of plan appeals to the technically savvy and early adopters.

Australian families have, on average 7 mobile devices ( tablets, iPhones, mobile broadband dongles ) in the house. We’re the world’s third most internet addicted country ( behind the UK and USA in that order. ) Most people look at the screens on their phones more than they talk in to them. People talk using data – they install Skype or Viber, they use Facetime on their iPhones. They use Facebook Messenger and What’s App to chat with each other.

This type of plan appeals to the technically savvy and early adopters. In order to fully embrace this type of plan, users have to understand why you can use it to call via Skype cheaper than calling at PAYG rates over Amaysim’s network. But, if you know a little bit about phones, as you can see, data led plans can save you a lot of money.

Just choose a data plan with PAYG voice rates

As with ( almost ) any SIM card, you’ll still be able to receive an unlimited number of free calls from anyone you know.

‘Can I still do everything I used to with my phone ?’ If it’s got PAYG voice rates, then of course you can. Let us give you all the tips you need in order to massively reduce your phone bill while carrying on using your phone in much the same way… With a Data Led Plan, you will still be able to :

  • Call your friends :
    On the plans we recommend in our article, you’ll get PAYG ( Pay As You Go ) rates of anywhere from 9 cents to 11 cents per minute to make a voice call. If, like me, you make less than a call ( for this calculation, as with all the calculations we use on this site, we’ve used a standard 2 minute call length ) a day, this will represent around $5 a month of charges. Because you get PAYG rates, they will be applied to your phone bill on top of the data you buy up front.
  • Receive calls from friends :
    As with ( almost ) any SIM card, you’ll still be able to receive an unlimited number of free calls from anyone you know.
  • Still send and receive SMS messages :
    So long as your data led plan has PAYG voice, You will still be able to SMS from your phone to others, just as you would with any other voice enabled plan.

These providers also allow PAYG voice rates :

Where can I get one of these data led plans ??

  • Cmobile do offer PAYG rates :
    Cmobile offer PAYG rates on their mobile broadband plans on either the Vodafone 3G or Telstra 3G networks. You can read our more detailed article about it. PAYG voice rates are 15 cents per minute with no flagfall ( A flagfall is a cost to initiate a call. )
  • Vodafone :
    Vodafone allow PAYG voice rates on their mobile broadband plans. You’ll pay 20 cents call initiation ( flagfall ) and 1 cent per minute afterwards. Which is actually a fantastic rate ! In metro ( city ) areas, Vodafone have a 4G network.
  • Lebara :
    Lebara use the Vodafone 3G network. They’re a prepaid provider so you’ll need ‘main credit’ to be able to buy a data pack and have some left over for PAYG voice rates. This may sound complicated. It’s not. Just recharge with $20 and buy $10 worth of data for example, you can then use the rest for calls that month.
  • Amaysim :
    Our favourite. Fantastic 4G coverage, super data rates,no unlimited voice and SMS inclusions that you’ll never use.

Other considerations

  • It’s about half the price :
    Buying a SIM Only Data Plan and using PAYG voice ends up about half the price of phone plans which include talk and text. Remember, this happens for a reason. You’re paying less because you’re using less of one of the phone company’s services. The less you use your phone for voice and SMS, the more likely you are to save money this way.
  • Be realistic :
    It’s hard for most people to have a clear view of the number of minutes and SMS they send. Most calls are done ‘on personal autopilot’ without really registering them. It’s important to realistically appraise the number of calls you make. If you under estimate, you could be paying more with this sort of plan that if you’d gone for an unlimited one.

How do the phone companies feel about me doing this ?

Mobile Broadband plans are designed for your tablet or laptop. Phone companies don’t ‘officially’ sell data led plans at this point. Some of them seek to disclaim this sort of use. Of course, they want you paying full whack for the voice calls you make.

  • For example Telstra :
    Specifically state in the terms and conditions for their Mobile Broadband plans that ‘you cannot use the SIM associated with this plan in a handset.’ They say that if you do they will block your usage.
  • Virgin, Optus and Vodafone don’t say anything :
    Data led plans are not mentioned in their t’s and c’s. Some carriers will still let you send texts (e.g. Optus) and some might let you use voice too but this will be charged on top of your monthly fee. If you want to use voice or SMS with a Mobile Broadband plan then ask customer services before you sign up to check it isn’t blocked.
  • Amaysim is the favourite :
    Amaysim have PAYG rates, as you will see from our data plans page  and use the Optus 4G network. It is very possible to save a great deal of money if you want a data led plan and the Optus network will suffice.

Summing up data led plans

If you’re the right kind of user – you know what you’re up to when it comes to SIMs, data and phones – AND – you don’t talk much on the phone any more, then a data led plan could save you 50% on your monthly bills.

The truth is that, since the phone companies turned on their digital voice networks years ago, everything you’ve bought from your phone company has been data. They’ve just packaged it differently to us according to how we were using it. They’ve labeled one expensive version of it for you as ‘voice’ and the other, even more expensive version of it as ‘internet data’.

In time, the realization, acceptance and utilization of data as the core service phone companies offer will increase. It already has. Vodafone has successfully tested VoLTE ( Voice over LTE ) which is a different way of saying that they are making voice calls over their data network. Optus have developed a WiFi calling app. Data is taking over and voice is being replaced.

Get in early. Consider what you really need and use. If you use more data than voice, a data led plan is a great way to manage your costs.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.