Many of us are beginning to wise up to the fact that mobile contracts are not good value for money. They often cost considerably more compared to buying a phone outright and choosing a pay-as-go service instead. Contract-locked phones also take significantly longer periods of time to receive updates and, most importantly, you get bound into a contract for a set period of time while the plan you’re on doesn’t change.
All of the above facts lead to bad value for money, so why commit your hard earned cash to a company that only gives you a worse deal than you would receive on a non-contract plan? Saving money is usually the purpose of committing yourself to a 24-month contract, but it appears that this school of thought is out the window when it comes to what telco providers offer these days.
To help you avoid these scenarios and to start saving money on your phone bills, here are the best non-contract plans available right now in Australia from a variety of providers...
Choosing a device to go with your new non-contract plan is an entire article all in itself, so I won’t delve into the appropriate phones at this stage. However, I certainly plan on writing a follow up article to this where I'll focus on the best value for money handsets once the new Samsung Galaxy S7 is launched in March.
All of the below plans are the best that I could find on the market so far in 2016, with the following criteria being used to select them:
- The chosen plans have to be clearly stated as a non-longterm contract deal. These can be either be a standard prepaid card requiring a credit recharge every 30 days, or a rolling monthly plan that can be cancelled at any time. The plan must also stand-alone and not be part of a landline or other bundle package.
- Plans must not exceed $50 per month.
- The most important factors considered for each plan are the local talk time, SMS and data components (used in determining whether the plan consitutes a bargain or not, e.g. includes 4GB of data or more per month).
- Wherever possible, plans would be based on 4G network access, however I've not excluded those that only use 3G (since many 4G phones end up sending and receiving data on 3G networks some of the time when 4G isn’t available).
- The following plans are offered by all the major providers like Optus, Telstra and Vodafone along with the MVNO providers that rent airtime from the big three.
Optus has turned the tables on some of the smaller MVNO’s by tackling their lower prices head on with its Double Data promotion which runs until 1st May 2016:
|Optus 4G||Unlimited||Unlimited||4GB (+ 4GB)||$40|
This Optus promotion also includes unlimited international calls to selected countries, making it a great value for money option whilst the double data promotion lasts. However, after the 1st of May the plan will return to the 4GB data limit for the same $40. Although one perk is that Optus will let you rollover up to 15GB of data if you don’t manage to use it all before the double data promotion expires.
Amaysim uses the Optus 4G network and with its unlimited month-to-month plans it also provides a decent amount of data for the price. Amaysim have actually managed to price their plans a tad lower than Optus', but with an extra 1GB of data (which is worth remembering once the double-data promo of Optus' above runs out). Amaysim's Unlimited plan includes:
However if this plan doesn’t have enough data for you, then you have the option to pay an extra $10 per month to jack up your monthly data allowance by up to 8GB with unlimited calls, texts and 300 international minutes for a total of $49.90.
Jeenee is another MVNO that uses the Optus 4G network and has plenty of flexibility built into it concerning the amount of data you may require. Their current promotion allows you to receive 5GB of data plus unlimited calls and texts for only $35 a month. Without the promotion, however, their standard plan is as follows:
If you feel that this is either too many minutes or a little expensive, there is the option to reduce your package down to a monthly cost of $37 which correspondingly drops talk time to 300 minutes and text messages to 3,000 (data limit remains the same).
Telstra’s best prepaid plan is their ‘$40 Freedom Plus’ option. While it's 3GB data limit doesn't offer as much as the other plans mentioned above, it's worth pointing out that Telstra does offer '$40 Freedom Plus' customers a bonus 3GB data allowance between the hours of 8pm - 8am daily. For some people though, Telstra is the only provider giving them good enough coverage in their area where they live although the plan - while not brilliant when stacked up against the rest - does provide decent value for money in these cases. Besides having $350 of international calling credit, this plan also includes:
If you want to bump up your daily data allowance, an extra $10 per month gets you a 4GB data limit during the day with 4GB of bonus data to use between 8pm – 8am.
The best value for money plan from Boost is their ‘$40 UNLTD’ plan, which along with its standard minutes, texts and data also includes 2GB of bonus data every weekend. Their plan consists of the following:
|Telstra 4G||Unlimited||Unlimited||3GB (+ 8GB)||$40|
The 2GB of data does not roll over, so if you don’t use the data on a weekend then you will have to wait until next the weekend to receive another 2GB top up.
If you weren’t aware already, ALDI now has its own mobile plans. Similar to Boost, they provide bonus data on the weekend but only an additional 1GB. Their ‘XL $35 Value Pack’ provides 20,000 picture messages and 90 minutes of international calls along with the following:
|Telstra 3G||43,200||50,000||4GB (+ 4GB)||$35|
If this isn’t enough then you can always opt for their XXL value pack that costs $45 per month and includes all of the above but instead gives you a 6GB allowance of regular data. ALDI are still relatively new to this market, so we highly recommend checking their coverage map before you sign up.
Normally, Vodafone are not very competitive within this space, but their current promotion on one particular plan provides a very generous increase in its data allowance until 5th April - which is why it got a mention here. Their 4GB $50 plan has a bonus that boosts its data to 10GB along with unlimited international calls as well as:
|Vodafone 4G||Unlimited||Unlimited||4GB + (6GB)||$50|
This Vodafone plan also allows you free roaming in New Zealand or the ability to pay $5 for international roaming across 50 different countries.
Lebara offer a standard $39.90 Mega Plan, which uses the Vodafone 4G network. They also have an offer on at the moment where you can sign up and receive your first month for half the price of $19.95. Their plan provides the following:
|Vodafone 4G||Unlimited||Unlimited||4GB (+4GB)||$39.90|