Choosing Your Mobile Plan
Comparing mobile phone plans can be difficult as there are hundreds of options available to you across the dozens of Australian network providers. However, there is just one choice you need to make between the types of plans available, and that is whether you want a prepaid or a post paid plan.
When you go to choose your plan the first thing to do is set your budget. If choosing a contract plan it is important to remember that you will be paying this amount for at least a year. When choosing a prepaid plan, remember that you are going to be paying a bit more for the services so if you are a heavy mobile phone user you may want to consider the contract plan instead.
How to Compare Plans
The first step to comparing mobile phone plans is identifying the way you use your phone, and the way you’d like to use your phone. To help you choose a mobile phone plan, think about:
- The type of person you are. Are you the kind of person who doesn’t like to be tied down, and doesn’t like to owe anyone anything – then you probably don’t even have a credit card. If this sounds like you then you probably won’t want to be tied down to a phone contract either, and may therefore consider comparing pre-paid phone plans. On the other hand if you are the type of person who always wants and needs the latest technology, and wants things to just work, then you can sign up for a contract with a new phone handset included every 12 or 24 months. Plus you’ll know your phone is there for you whenever you need to make a call, without having to worry about how much credit you have left.
- Are you a sporadic mobile user? If you only use your mobile for emergencies, and you thankfully life a relatively uneventful life, then you won’t be making a lot of calls on your mobile, and you won’t need a high call, text or data allowance, so can sign up for a smaller and more affordable phone plan.
- What type of regular user are you? Are you always on the phone to your friends and family, or are you on call at work wherever you are? Knowing who you are talking to and why is as important in helping you choose the right plan as knowing that you are a regular user, because if you are making a lot of social calls, then they are likely to be at an off peak time of the day, such as nights and weekends, while if you are making business calls, during business hours, this is peak time usage. Therefore, you can then look for a mobile phone plan which has affordable offers on the periods during which you use your phone the most.
When you have narrowed down your phone plan options, there are still a few variables you will need to look out for, to make sure you get the right deal:
- Discounts available. Don’t simply accept the face value (or cost) of a mobile phone plan, instead look for something more. Each mobile phone network needs to remain competitive, and so many will offer discounts and exclusive deals, for example, look for offers such as discounted or free calling between phones on the same network, cheaper call rates for a nominated number, cheap long distance calls in off peak times, or packages with free or discounted SMS.
- Extra services and their costs. There are many phone services which we will take for granted such as voicemail, and others which we will come to rely on such as internet access, however, remember that with each extra service added to your plan comes the potential of an added cost too. Look at the fine print to find out how much you will be paying for services such as directory assistance, SMS, caller ID, paging, internet access, email notifications or the ability to receive a fax.
- Keeping your phone number. If in your comparisons you have found that the best mobile phone plan for your needs means changing from your current provider, then you will probably still want to keep your old phone number, as this is the number all of your friends and family contact you on, and it is the number on your business cards. Therefore, make sure that your new mobile phone plan allows you to bring your old number to your new network, and ask about any fees involved.
It is important that you compare new mobile phone plans with all of the information, so look at your current phone bill and work out exactly what you are being charged at the moment for each type of call and message, and how much you are using those services. You will then be able to see whether your new plan will add up to good value. Look at what you are currently paying for the following services:
- Local calls.
- Long distance calls.
- Peak calls.
- Off peak calls.
- Calls to mobiles on the same network.
- Calls to mobiles on a different network.
- Checking voicemail messages.
- Sending SMS messages.
You can then look at your bill and see which of these services you are using the most, to determine which ones you need to find the best price on in your new mobile phone plan.
When you are comparing plans it is also important to look at the provider, not just the inclusions, because the most comprehensive plan won’t be any use if you don’t have reception when you need it. You can compare the coverage you will get with each mobile phone plan by looking at each provider’s coverage area maps. Consider how the provider’s strongest and weakest signal areas relate to your home, your office and other common areas.
Comparing mobile phone plans can seem like a daunting task, however, all you need to remember is to choose a plan which will allow you to use your mobile your way, and manage your services and bills in a way which suits your budget, lifestyle and personality.
When it comes to choosing a mobile phone plan in Australia there are several options available. The three main mobile phone service providers are Dodo, Vodafone, and Virgin Mobile. These three companies all offer several different plans. Here are a few of the mobile phone plan options from each of these providers.
Popular Mobile Plans
One great way to narrow down your mobile phone comparison results is to look at the most popular phone plans. We have compiled a short list so you can compare the phone plans often viewed by our users
Types of Plans
Now that you know more about the various services available to you, you will now want to decide on the type of plan you want. Do you want a monthly plan or do you want prepaid service? Either one can be helpful as long as it fits your individual needs.
Postpaid Plan Comparison
When you sign up with a postpaid plan, you will usually have to sign a contract that ranges anywhere from 12 to 24 months. Some providers have even longer contracts. When you sign the contract, you agree to monthly payments which will include the value of the calls and the data you use.
You may be asking yourself why anyone would want to sign a contract if they didn't have to. It's true, you can go with the prepaid service that doesn't require signing anything, but there are certain perks that come with postpaid plans.
For instance, signing a contract oftentimes means less expensive call rates for medium and high usage mobile phone plans. Not only that, but you have the comfort in knowing that you will always have service, as long as you pay your bill on time that is.
It should be noted that signing a contract can get you into trouble, especially if you begin to rack up charges that you're not aware of. If you go roaming, for instance, or you use more data than your plan allots, you could find your bill extraordinarily high.
The thing is, with a postpaid service you won't know about the excess charges until your mobile bill arrives. That's when you're likely to pass out or have a heart attack if your bill is higher than it has ever been before.
To remedy this, some providers allow for capped plans. This is where you will set a maximum dollar amount that your bill cannot exceed. The only problem with this is that many providers don't allow for small bill caps. Most providers only allow for high bill caps, but it can still help you avoid a tragedy from occurring with your mobile bill.
If you are going to sign a postpaid contract, make sure you are aware that you will have to pay a cancellation fee if you happen to break your contract early. Not only that, but you may not be able to alter your contract once you sign, so you should do your homework before you sign anything; just as you should with any contract situation.
Postpaid Plan Benefits
The mobile phone contract plan will typically be in terms of one year or two years. A two year contract will offer the most attractive phones available as well as the best rates. The main benefits of choosing a contract plan are:
- Cheaper call rates than a prepaid plan.
- Best and newest phones are typically provided with these plans.
- Lowest prices on data and texting are available.
Disadvantages of the Postpaid Plan
There are some disadvantages of choosing a contract plan as well. Consider the term of the contract and how much you are going to pay over time. Some of the main disadvantages of a contract term include:
- You are part of a contract for at least a year; this is a long term commitment with one provider.
- If you terminate the contract early you will be charged a large fee.
- Being stuck with the same provider may cause issues, especially if the network provider does not offer quality coverage.
Understanding Cap Plans
Cap plans are somewhat difficult to understand for many people. The main issue is that a cap plan instead of providing a person with the number of minutes that are available for phone calls offer a dollar amount, such as $500. Users are told that they have $500 per month to use for texts, talk, and data. Some plans will include a certain amount of text and data that does not eat into this monthly allowance. The problem with the cap plan is the fact that the dollar amount is tricky. It does not give users the exact number of minutes that they technically have to use under the plan. In order to determine the number of minutes that is provided in the plan a person has to do the math, dividing the cap amount by the per minute rate for phone calls. This provides an estimated number of minutes that are available through the plan.
- Rollover Caps –These caps rolls over any unused minutes to your next month’s credit. These are great value deals since nothing is wasted in these types of caps.
- Shared Caps – They are designed for people who want to pay less by sharing a plan.
- Combo Caps – Similar to a bundled package, combo mobile caps include data as an addition to the basic features.
- Unlimited Caps – As the name suggests, these plans give you unlimited usage of everything. Therefore, if you are a heavy mobile phone user, this cap is for you.
- SIM only Caps – This is a popular Vodafone mobile phone caps which allows you to bring your own handset and just buy a Vodafone SIM card.
If the cap plan amount of $500 includes data and texts, a person will have to include the costs of each of these to determine their usage amounts. This is where the math becomes tricky and it becomes hard to determine how much a phone can be used before it goes over the allotted monthly amount.
Prepaid Mobile Plan Comparison
For those who don't like to be tied down with a contract, there is prepaid wireless service. This involves purchasing a starter kit from your provider which may or may not include the actual mobile phone. This will allow you the call time and data you need to enjoy your new mobile phone. Then, when that time and data runs out, you will need to top-up your service if you want to access the network again.
The great thing about prepaid services is that you will have much better control over your finances. If you are on strict budget, or if you are getting the mobile phone plan for kids, you will love prepaid plans, as you only pay for the service you use.
It should be noted that 0055 numbers should be avoided unless you want all of your future credit used up. Many mobile phone customers fall into this trap. That's why it's essential that you read all the documentation that comes with your plan, including the fine print, which will show you the fee schedule so that there are no surprises. In the case of 0055 numbers, some customers have topped up their prepaid service only to find that the time and data went to the charges that had already accrued, only you didn't have the credit at the time. So be very careful about these types of things.
On the other hand, prepaid phone service is the cheapest option for people who don't use their phone or wireless Internet very often. You won't receive a bill in the mail or online, and instead you will receive reminders on your phone that tells you when you are low on the credit you have already purchased.
Prepaid service allows you for more freedom as you don't have to sign a contract, but it can be pricey if you don't know how to use it properly. So make sure you check with your provider to learn how the prepaid service is used.
Once you've determined the plan you want, you then have to decide which mobile phone you want to use with your plan. You can either buy the phone with the plan or you can bring your own, either one you already own or one you've purchased secondhand.
Prepaid Plan Benefits
A prepaid plan means that you are paying for the mobile phone service before you actually use it. With this plan you are not locked into a contract and can choose to change providers and terms at any time. Some prepaid plans will require you to make a 30 day commitment when you sign up, but after that you are free to change to whatever type of plan you prefer. The main benefits of a prepaid mobile phone plan are:
- No contract, you can switch providers at any time.
- Flexibility: you pay for what you use.
- No set monthly bill, you choose how much you want to add to your plan whenever you use up your time.
Disadvantages of Prepaid Plans
When it comes to the prepaid plans there are disadvantages as well. The main disadvantages of this type of plan are:
- Higher cost per minute.
- Fewer options of phones available.
- Only good for people that do not use their mobile phone very often.
SIM Only Plans
If you are purchasing your phone along with your plan, you can oftentimes include the cost of the phone with your monthly service fees that come in the mail each month if you have a postpaid plan. You can also buy the phone separately. The cost of the phone is going to vary depending on what's available and what bells and whistles you want. Some phones can cost upwards of $1000, but you can find one cheaper if you don't require that much.
No matter how you go about getting your phone, don't ever fall for advertisements that talk about $0 mobile phones. These phones aren't free, as you will be paying for them through the money added onto your monthly installments. Now that you know how the various plans work with regards to the phones, you'll be less likely to fall for such trickery.
Consumers often compare mobile phones as they can often be viewed as an overpriced accessory which will consume you and all of your family’s finances if given half a chance. However, what those people don’t realise is that by comparing mobile phones you don’t see them as an enemy of your budget. The right mobile plan will instead compliment your budget by offering you great value, and the ability to make savings in other areas – for example you may be able to cut out the need to pay for a landline phone, or you can avoid signing up for a mobile broadband contract and instead use your phone as a hot spot.
Your phone can do just about anything you ask it to do, from finding you a recipe for dinner, to calling your mum for you. Therefore, you want to make sure you choose a plan which lets you enjoy all of the features of your handset and network, without blowing out your budget. The plan features you need to compare carefully are:
- Internet and data. Many mobile phone plans will come with a small data allowance, so you need to compare these allowances and decide whether they will be sufficient for the browsing and email access you need. If you exceed the data allowance which comes with your plan you can be charged high excess usage charges, and with all of the features of a smart phone, you won’t want to be constrained by a small data plan.
- Upgrading data plans. It is usually much easier to upgrade a data plan than it is to downgrade to a smaller plan, therefore, if you’re not sure how much data you need in your phone plan, go for a smaller plan to start with and carefully monitor your usage. If you find you need more than your data allocation, you may be able to upgrade your data for free.
- Wi-Fi internet. If you are worried about how much data you will use on your phone plan, make sure you choose a handset and a network which allows you to access Wi-Fi internet. This means that you can use the internet on your phone by logging into a hot spot in a café, hotel or library without using the data allowance on your plan. Plus, when you’re using your smart phone at home you can use your home Wi-Fi connection.
Choosing a phone for your plan
The type and model of handset you want with your mobile plan will determine whether you choose a plan which includes a phone, or whether you bring your own handset to a standalone plan. Firstly, if you choose a plan with a phone included:
- You can mix and match the phone and the plan. Choosing a phone which is linked to a plan may sound restrictive, but most networks will let you choose just about any handset on any plan they have, so you can choose the inclusions you want in the plan, and get the handset with all the features you want too.
- Monthly handset instalments. If the handset you want is relatively new, you will usually have to pay a monthly instalment charge for the handset, on top of the price of your plan. Over the course of your plan, these instalments then pay off the cost of the handset, and at the end of the term you own the phone.
- Free handsets. In other cases the cost of the handset will be built into the monthly cost of the plan, so rest assured that you are paying for the phone somewhere. However, these $0 instalment plans are usually available with slightly older or less popular models of handset.
- If you sign a contract to get the handset you want, you’re locked in. Don’t forget that having a handset included in your plan for free or a very small instalment payment seems like a great deal, but you are being signed up to that handset, carrier and plan for the next 12 to 24 months. Therefore, make sure you will be happy with your choice for the entire contract term, otherwise you could face expensive exit fees.
Alternatively, you can choose to bring your own phone to your plan, which means:
- You pay full price for the phone upfront. A phone which is $5 per month on a plan will often be several hundred dollars, if not in the thousands, to buy outright.
- You’re not locked into a contract. You can take the handset that you own outright and use it with any plan and any provider, and you can even buy prepaid credits and be sure you only pay for what you use.
- You’re not the ideal customer. When you make less of a commitment to a mobile phone provider by bringing your own handset, then they are less inclined to offer you discounts and special offers. For example, on a plan with a handset payment included, you may get a data plan thrown in for free. You will also find that your call and message charges on a plan without a handset included are higher.
Compare Plans From Different Providers
Service providers buy the services from the carriers above and they repackage them to sell to you, the customer. These companies then compete with other carriers, who are all essentially using the same network. However, these resellers provide customised billing, and they will usually have better customer service that includes more personalized service as well as a wider range of mobile phone plans.
Dodo Mobile Phone Plans
Dodo currently offers plans ranging in price from $19.90 up to $59.90 per month. With Dodo there is the option to purchase a phone from elsewhere or to purchase a phone through the company. When purchasing a phone through Dodo a monthly hardware cost ranging from $17 to $25 is added. This price will depend on the type of phone that is chosen.
- $19.90 Plan: includes the first 500 MB of data and $350 for standard calls and texts.
- $29.90 Plan: includes the first 1000 MB of data and $500 for standard calls and texts.
- $39.90 Plan: includes first 1000 MB of data, unlimited SMS/MMS, and $700 for standard calls.
- $49.90 Plan: includes first 2500 MB of data, unlimited standard calls and texts.
- $59.90 Plan: includes first 2500 MB of data, unlimited standard calls and texts plus $100 for international calls.
The current call rate is 90c per minute plus a 35c flag fall. International call rates vary.
Vodafone Mobile Phone Plans
Vodafone mobile phone plans range in price from $19 up to $99 per month. Contracts are either 12 months or 24 months. Here is a breakdown of what you get with each plan.
- $19 Vodafone Plan: included value of this plan is $70 and the plan offers 100 MB of data.
- $29 Vodafone Plan: this plan comes with an included value of $180 and 200 MB of data.
- $39 Vodafone Plan: this is the most popular plan and includes infinite texts, 500 MB of data, and an included value of $300.
- $49 Vodafone Plan: 1 GB of data, $550 included value.
- $59 Vodafone Plan: 1.5 GB of data, $750 included value, unlimited texts.
- $79 Vodafone Plan: $79 included value, 2 GB of data, infinite national calls, and infinite texts.
- $99 Vodafone Plan: unlimited texts and national calls, $99 included value, and 4 GB of data.
Unless noted, all national calls and texts are paid for with the included value of the plan.
Virgin Mobile Phone Plans
Virgin offers two main types of plans the Big Plans and a Topless Plan. All plans from Virgin offer unlimited calls to other Virgin mobile users, voicemail, international calls are included as our text messages, and all unused credits will roll over.
- Fair Go Plans: these range in price from $29 to $89 and include 250 mg up to 4 GB of data, plus the above.
- Big Plans: there are two of these plans, priced at $29 and $39. They come with $450 or $650 worth of calls per month and all of the above.
These are the current plans available in Australia. However, these plans are always changing so it is important to shop around to find a plan that fits your needs.
Availability of Wireless Internet on Your Mobile Phone
Most mobile phones these days allow you to access wireless Internet on the 3G network. However, before you sign up for any mobile phone plans, make sure you fully compare how the Internet services work and how the fee structure works. For instance, if you plan to use the Internet a lot and you like to download songs and movies, you will want to get a high usage data plan. This is obviously going to cost more than a simple plan that allows for casual browsing and a few emails back and forth.
Some providers allow you to monitor the amount of data you use. You can either find the information online or you may have to call the provider's customer support line. Some phones even have settings that allow you to find out how much data you have left on the plan you're on. This can save you a lot of money, as some providers charge astronomical fees for going over on your data plan. So choose your data plan carefully if you plan to use the Internet quite a bit with your mobile phone.
Review Other Services
Most providers include voicemail with their plans, but other services you may have to opt for. These include call waiting, short message service or SMS, caller ID, Internet access, email notification, fax capabilities, and anything else the provider may offer.
Some providers even let you keep your old phone number. That's a relief for people who find it hard to remember new numbers and, besides, you won't have to burn calories telling everyone you know your new number. With this ability, they will already know how to contact you.
Change Plan or Provider
To change the mobile phone plan you're already on, you should first look at your mobile phone bill and then figure out how many calls you typically make in a given week, whether or not those calls are during peak or off peak times and how many weekend calls you make.
Some mobile phone providers offer free calls. If you aren't using them or if you are using much more or much less than is offered by your current plan, then you will want to upgrade or downgrade accordingly.
Other things to take into consideration are how many phones you call on the same network, whether or not you are calling within your local area or if you make a lot of long distance or even international type calls.
If you aren't using all that your plan allows, you are throwing good money down the drain. On the other hand, if you are using more than you are allotted by your current plan, you could end up going broke very quickly.
Your provider may charge you a fee for changing your contract, and you may have to live out the life of your contract before you can be eligible for a plan change.
That is why it's imperative that you look at the cost of your mobile phone plan very closely before you sign anything. You don't have to be exact, but you should try to assess your usage as closely as possible so as to save as much money as possible while getting all the mobile phone services you need.
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you see where your plan is working for you and where it’s not, so you can find a plan which works in all areas. If that new plan is with another provider there are a few things you will need to work out and watch out for:
- Taking your phone number to a new provider and plan. Transferring your mobile phone number from one provider to another can be done in a matter of hours after switching plans. This means you don’t have to be tied to a plan that’s not working for you for the sake of convenience.
- Fees and costs to cancel a phone plan. If you are breaking a contract to move to another provider then there may be cancellation fees payable, which will be calculated based on the time remaining on your contract. You may also have to pay some finalisation costs for outstanding call or other usage charges. Therefore, before you switch plans, work out whether you will be better off waiting until your contract expires, and saving the fees.
- Unlocking a handset. Often a prepaid mobile phone will be locked to one network, and you will need to contact your provider for an unlock code. There may also be fees involved in unlocking your handset.
- Unlocking a SIM card. If there is a personal SIM lock on your SIM card you need to remove this protection before you transfer to a new plan.
- Keep you number active. Only active mobile phone numbers can be transferred, so don’t cancel your old phone plan before you’ve transferred to a new one.
- Look at upgrading your handset too, but don’t over pay. When you are transferring your number and your service to a new mobile phone plan you don’t have to keep the same handset, and can upgrade to a newer model, with more inclusive features. At the same time don’t be tempted to upgrade to a phone handset you can’t afford, and make sure the cost of your new handset don’t eat into the savings you’re making on your new plan.
- You can only move your own number. You can only transfer your mobile number to a new plan if you are the one who signed the original contract. Therefore, if a parent, guardian or partner signed you up for a phone plan previously, you will need to take them with you to make the transfer.
Plans for Top Handsets
You may like to view and compare the plans available for the most popular mobile handsets right now. Simply click on your desired phone to see the plans available
8MP/ 4''/ iOS 6
8MP/ 4.8''/ Android OS v.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
8MP/ 4.7''/ Android OS v4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
8MP/ 3.5''/ iOS v5.1
8MP/ 4.3''/ Android v2.3 (Gingerbread)
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