Best mobile phone plans

When choosing a mobile phone plan it is important to remember that the cheapest plan is not always the best value. You need to look at what is included, such as texting, data and international calls, and weigh this up against what you need and how much you can afford.

Some lower-cost mobile phone providers use networks which belong to other companies. Virgin is a good example of this, as all Virgin coverage comes from the Optus network. The upside to this is that Virgin customers potentially have access to coverage over 98 per cent of Australia. The downside is that Virgin customers get lower priority than Optus customers, so you are more likely to lose reception if there are a high number of people using the network at the same time. It’s not life or death, but it is something to keep in mind when choosing a provider.

Prepaid (no phone included)

 

Value

Data

Cost per month

Telstra

$30 credit plus $220 bonus credit, total $250

400Mb

$30

Optus

Unlimited calls to other Optus mobiles, unlimited standard texting nationally, plus $30 credit for calling non-Optus numbers

500Mb

$30

Vodafone

$450 credit plus unlimited standard texting nationally

500Mb

$30

Virgin

$450 credit, which increases to $600 if you recharge four times consecutively

1Gb

$29


Post-paid plans with an iPhone 5 16Gb

Value

Data

Cost per month

Telstra

$600 credit plus unlimited standard texting nationally

1Gb

$67

Optus

$200 credit

$200Mb

$53

Vodafone

$180 credit plus $70 credit to call other Vodaphone numbers

200Mb

$48

Virgin

$250 credit

250Mb

$47

As a bit of an Apple fan, my personal favourite here is the Virgin $47 plan for an iPhone 5 16Gb. I like that all of your credit can be used how you wish – you don’t have some set aside for calling other Virgin numbers, which you can’t access any other way. I also think the data allowance is good given the price and it is possible to double the data for an extra $5 per month.

From the prepaid section I think Vodafone wins out, as it includes almost as much credit as Virgin, plus you get unlimited standard texting to anywhere in Australia. Virgin does offer 1Gb of data, while Vodafone only has 500Mb, but I use the internet on my phone heavily most days and I have never exceeded my current 500Mb limit. As long as you’re not downloading videos on your phone, such as from YouTube, 50Mb should be more than sufficient.

The last thing to remember is that you get what you pay for. I am currently a Virgin customer and am very happy with the service, given I am only paying $30 per month. The reception I get, however, is nothing to write home about. There are areas of my house where the reception drops out altogether, which can be frustrating. Telstra is, overall, the best choice in terms of Australia-wide reception, especially if you live in or visit remote areas, but it is a more expensive service.

Check these coverage maps to ensure the provider you are considering covers your area:



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