Mobile Plans… what they really mean

Mobile phones have taken over. There is more than one mobile phone plan for every Australian, with over 22 million active mobile phone plans in the country as of 2009. So, with seemingly every person owning at least one mobile phone, the competitive nature of the industry has led to some very interesting pricing games. The consumer has had both gains and losses from this pricing war, but with a little education, you can be sure to get the best out of your mobile phone bargain.

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The above information details all the essential information you should consider when choosing between a contract and a pre-paid contract. You must also consider how cost effective each option is when choosing between a plan and a cap. While it may seem cheaper to go for a monthly $30 recharge, it can be frustrating, if and when, you run out of credit and have to recharge earlier.

Taking the Optus’ pre-paid plan as an example, if you make just two five-minute calls a day on your mobile and send five text messages a day, this would land you over your call allowance in just two weeks, meaning you would have to spend $60 a month. However, on a $49 cap you would still be under your call allowance by over $100 after 30 days.

The capped plan is often preferable, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, when signing up to a new cap, because of the competitive nature of the market, the provider will often work in the price of a brand new phone into the price of the cap.

The old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ has never been truer than when discussing mobile phone caps. Therefore, if “Bobs Bonkers Phone Phactory” is offering a $10 cap with $700 worth of calls included, it may be because Bob’s Phone Phactory is charging you $100 a second for calls.

You also have to look at the perks the plans offer. One of the 3 network’s major selling points is their free ‘3 to 3’ deal, whereby you can call any of your friends on the 3 network absolutely free – but how many of your friends are on 3? Also consider the phone you are purchasing. If your phone carries email and Internet capabilities, the plan which offers the largest email and Internet capabilities ticks a very large box when considering which phone to buy.

One other important point to remember is to ensure constant vigilance in relation to going over your included call or usage allowance. Carriers such as Telstra and 3 provide online access (, My3) so customers can check their cap. Getting slugged with charges for going over is a very unpleasant experience, so make sure you keep within the cap by checking your progress at least weekly.

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