Vodafone’s Red Plans – and the Alternatives

Vodafone may be the smallest of Australia’s big three phone companies but with 5.3 million subscribers and 3,000 employees they certainly have a major market presence.

Over the last five years Vodafone has invested heavily in network coverage improvements. Their 4G network in metropolitan areas is faster than the competing Optus and Telstra networks. Latest figures show that the Vodafone 4G network now has over a million subscribers.

What are Vodafone’s Red Plans in Australia?

The Vodafone Red plans divide into SIM-Only plans and those that require you to buy a new phone. Since mobiles use different SIM card sizes these plans subdivide into Nano-SIM and Multi-fit SIM plans.

If you want to buy a new phone on a Red Plan you have a range of options available. Their cheapest plan starts at $40 per month and the most expensive one costs $100 per month. If you take the $40 Red Plan you are committed to a minimum expenditure of $960, but if you choose the $100 Red Plan your minimum expenditure is going to be $2,400.

Eliminating the need to pay for a mobile makes their SIM-Only plans much cheaper. For example, if you can manage with just 500 MB of mobile data per month it will cost you $30. This is the same amount of data allowance included in their $40 Red Plan for a customer buying a mobile. For a 4GB data allowance – enough for most people’s needs – the cost is $50 per month.

Key Benefits of Vodafone Red Plans

Your mobile data allowance varies in line with the amount you pay, but other features are common to a number of Red Plans. These shared benefits include:

  • Infinite standard national calls.
  • Infinite standard text messaging, both within Australia and overseas.
  • A certain amount of standard international call minutes to selected countries. For example, if you select the $40 SIM-Only plan you get 90 minutes.
    This option is not available to those who take the lowest price Red Plans.
  • $5 Roaming. For an extra $5 per day you can take your mobile overseas and use your Australian call, text and mobile data allowance. This option is available in 47 countries.
  • If you are buying a mobile from Vodafone, and have selected one of the more expensive plans, you are offered 6 to 12 months free subscription to entertainment services such as Spotify Premium or Stan.

Comparing Red Plans to Other Major Phone Company Equivalents

Comparing Vodafone’s phone plans with the plans of Telstra and Optus requires much more than a simple consideration of price differences. You also need to consider the balance of data and voice services in the packages, and network coverage issues. For example, the Vodafone network might be the best choice for residents of metropolitan areas, but if you live in a rural area Telstra’s superior coverage gives them a distinct advantage.

Suppose your main priority in a phone plan is mobile data and you want at least a 3GB data allowance per month. The three big companies have the following plans available:

Mobile Data3GB4GB2.5GB
CallsUnlimited standard calls and SMS in OzUnlimited standard calls and SMS in Oz$1000 worth of calls, mobile data and text messages.
You can choose.

  • Unlimited Calls to standard Telstra mobiles, unlimited texts to standard Australian numbers, or

  • Unlimited Talk & Text every night 6pm to 6am to standard Australian numbers

BonusesShare plan and get 500 MB data50% off first month access fee500MB bonus data offer

Other Alternative Ways of Getting More Mobile Calls and Data in Australia

Those with expert knowledge of the Australian mobile phone market realise that the phone plans offered by Vodafone and its major competitors are frequently not your most cost-effective choice. All of these companies have their associate smaller phone companies. The small companies do not own cellular networks but they lease bandwidth in bulk from one or more of the major phone companies.

In the trade these small phone companies are known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNO). Since they are able to buy cellular bandwidth at wholesale prices and lack the big companies’ network maintenance and advertising expenses, they can offer the customer very cheap phone plans. This means that you get the same quality of network service that the network owners provide but on much more attractive terms. The MVNOs also give you the valuable benefit of monthly contracts with the freedom to easily move to another phone company if required.

In particular, you gain very significant savings with their SIM-Only plans. Buying a mobile and phone plan through a phone company invariably costs much more than buying a phone independently and taking an SIM-Only plan.

A Mobile Phone Plan Economy Litmus Test

Suppose you live in one of the metropolitan areas and want to take advantage of the higher speeds available on Vodafone’s network. Instead of taking a contract with Vodafone you look for a better deal with an associate MVNO.

CMobile and Lebara companies both operate over Vodafone’s 3G network. Going back to the example of someone who wants to get at least a 3GB mobile data allowance per month, a comparison of Lebara and Vodafone SIM-Only plans shows:

  • The Lebara plan costs less than half the price of the Vodafone plan.
  • Lebara gives you a more generous mobile data allowance.
  • Lebara offers you exactly the same call and texting package as Vodafone.

 Vodafone $40Lebara Unlimited National Plan
Mobile Data3GB4GB
CallsUnlimited standard calls and SMS in OzUnlimited standard calls and SMS in Oz
BonusesShare plan and get 500MB data50% off first month

Lebara clearly has the competitive edge over Vodafone’s offering so many mobile phone users would obviously save a great deal by choosing a Lebara plan. However, some Vodafone subscribers might still prefer Vodafone’s more expensive deal because they value their unique $5 roaming offer, and want access to a 4G network.

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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.