If you’re looking for the best mobile phone plans, then we’re here to help you find them.
When it comes to the best plans, there’s a whole range of different factors that come into play in determining what is the best plan for you.
We’ve created this simple guide to help you pick the best mobile plan for you, based on five criteria, and simplified it down to four customer profiles.
All you need to do is work out which of these customer profiles best matches you, and then see what our recommended plan.
Here’s a bit more about each of our customer profiles and why we’ve picked the plan listed above.
New Phone Nancy
If you like to have the latest and greatest phone every two years, then you’ll probably generally tend to think about going on a 24 month contract to get a new phone. However, did you know that you can also buy your phone outright from places like Dick Smith and Harvey Norman – or even directly from the Apple store if you are looking at a new iPhone.
By purchasing your phone outright, it will be unlocked which means you can use it with a SIM card from any network around the world, not only saving you on your mobile plan while you’re in Australia but also saving you from expensive roaming charges.
You can then get a SIM only plan that better suits your usage patterns and will save you a couple of hundred dollars over the life of your contract.
Here’s an example (figures correct on 19 Nov, 2015):
To get an iPhone 6S 64GB from Vodafone on a 24 month contract on their cheapest plan, you’d need to sign up on a $87/month deal which unlimited calls, a very small 500 MB of data and includes handset repayments. Over the term of the 2 year contract, you’ll spend $2,088.
To get an iPhone 6S 64GB outright from Apple costs $1229. You’re then free to use any provider, such as Amaysim, with your new phone. If you sign up on Amaysim’s Unlimited 1GB plan, you’ll pay $24.90 per month (a total of $597.60 over a two year span). This leaves you with an extra $261.40 in your pocket, and gives you the flexibility to leave Amaysim at any time with no penalty, for example if you decide to go overseas, or you get a phone with your new job.
Low Usage Larry
If you’ve got a phone that you’re happy with and your mobile phone is there for emergencies or incoming calls from friends and family, then you’re just like “Low Usage Larry”.
For infrequent mobile users, we recommend Amaysim’s As You Go Plan. There’s no monthly access fee, calls are just 12c/min, SMS messages cost 12c and if you use data, you can either buy a data pack or pay as you go at 7.2c/MB.
Amaysim use the Optus 3G/4G network, so you’ve got access to quick data speeds (up to 20 Mbps when we tested Amaysim 4G).
You can bring your existing mobile number to Amaysim when you sign up online, and you’ll need to bring your own phone.
Medium Usage Mary
If you’re a bit more frequent user of your phone, but still looking to save on your bills, then we’d recommend the Unlimited 1 GB plan from Amaysim.
We really like the low end Amaysim Unlimited plans for medium users because they all include unlimited calls and text messages with your choice of either 1 GB or 2 GB data.
Amaysim offer their plans as either no contract monthly billed postpaid services or prepaid where you can recharge using a voucher you buy in store or your credit card. You’ll need to bring your own handset or buy one outright, but in exchange you’ll get access to the Optus 3G and 4G Plus networks which cover 98.5% of the population.
You can bring your own number when you sign up online, and Amaysim will mail out your new SIM card to you.
High Usage Harry
If you’re someone who uses their phone a lot, then you should take a look at the Amaysim Unlimited 5GB Plus plan.
It’s a SIM Only plan, which means you’ll need to bring your own handset when you sign up, but in exchange for $44.90 per month, you’ll get unlimited calls, text messages and a very generous 5 GB of mobile data that you can use on your phone or by tethering your phone to your laptop or other devices. It also includes up to 300 minutes of international calls to 32 of the most popular international destinations including the USA, UK, India, Germany and China. If you want even more data, you can get 8 GB of data on their Unlimited 8 GB plan for $54.90 per month.
This is by far the best value unlimited plan that we’ve reviewed, and it won our Editor’s Pick – you can view our full round up of unlimited plans here. It uses the Optus 3G/4G network, and when you sign up online you can get your SIM card delivered and port across your existing mobile number.
Below, you’ll find the factors that you should consider when trying to pick the best mobile plan for your needs and the factors that we considered when choosing the top rated plans for each of our customer profiles above.
Consider Your Usage
When it comes to picking the best mobile plan, it’s really about picking one that best fits your usage patterns and needs. There’s no point signing up for a 24 month contract for a new phone if you’re happy with your current one, or paying for an expensive Unlimited Plan if you barely make any calls from your mobile.
The best way to work out how much you have been using it to refer to a recent bill if you’re on a postpaid service. If you’re on prepaid, you may be able to access information about your usage within online support/members area of your provider’s web site.
If you don’t have access to that data, you’ll have to make an educated guess about your usage based on how much you think you use the phone.
Unless you’re on a contract, you can always pick a higher or lower monthly plan at a later point if you find yourself using your phone more or less.
Do You Need Flexibility?
Here at Plan Panda, we love flexibility. Not being locked in to a 24 month contract gives you the ability to move to a different deal if your usage changes, if you move to an area with poor coverage on your current network or if there just happens to be a better deal that comes along from another network.
However, this flexibility comes at a cost – it means you’ll have to buy a new phone outright or keep using the current phone that you already have from your previous mobile contract.
If you’re travelling overseas a lot as well, you might also like the flexibility of being able to suspend your mobile plan or pick one of the ultra low cost plans like Amaysim’s $0 per month As You Go.
New Phone or Bring Your Own Mobile?
If you’re happy with your existing mobile phone, then you have a lot more options in terms of which plan best suits your needs because you can pick from one of the many SIM card only providers that will provide you with a mobile service, but not a new device.
Three of the four best mobile plans we’ve picked have come from these providers, as they tend to represent a lot better value than the plans that include a mobile phone.
However, if you’re looking for a new phone, there are a few different options that you have.
The first is to sign up for a new phone on a 24 month contract – we tend to avoid this model as you end up overpaying for your service and don’t have the flexibility to deal with changes to your circumstances like getting a work phone or choosing to move overseas.
You have the option of picking up a cheaper phone on prepaid – typically, these phones are more the low to mid range phones, which means you probably won’t have the latest and greatest technology but plenty of these phones have enough features in them to keep most users happy. You can choose from a range of different brands of Android smartphones or a more basic feature phone. Most handsets sold on Optus Prepaid will work with your Amaysim SIM card without needing to be unlocked, but there’s more information on that here.
Finally, you could buy your new phone outright – the cost for most high end smartphones these days ranges between $599 and $999 for most models. We recommend buying them from an online store.
Prepaid or Postpaid?
When most people think of prepaid services, they think of the mobile services that they had when they were younger, where they would need to go buy a recharge voucher from a local store, dial a number from their phone and enter in a unique code printed on the recharge card or receipt to add that value to their services. A lot has changed about prepaid services since those days.
Postpaid, or monthly billed, services are often thought about in terms of people being on a “mobile contract”, although you don’t necessarily need to be on a contract to get a postpaid service. You can get postpaid services when you bring your own handset as well.
When it comes to the question of prepaid vs postpaid, the main things to consider are:
- Which am I more comfortable with? With a prepaid service, there’s no potential for “bill shock”, as you need to have enough credit in your account to be able to use the services. If something goes wrong, the most you’ll be out of pocket for is the amount of prepaid credit that you had in your account
- Is my plan available on either prepaid or postpaid? The plans we’ve listed above from Amaysim are available on either prepaid or postpaid, and you have the choice of choosing which billing method you prefer.
- Do I need to do a Credit Check? For a prepaid service, you won’t need to go through a credit check however most providers will run a credit check on you before allowing you to sign up for a postpaid service.
Which Provider Is Right For You?
The final thing to consider when choosing a mobile phone plan is the range of services offered by the mobile provider you’re signing up with. These include things like:
- Billing and Payments: How do they send out a bill and what payment methods do they offer? Are you required to sign up for direct debit, or can you pay the bill in person?
- Customer Service: What customer service options does the provider have? For example, Amaysim have all of their customer service based in Sydney, which means you’ll always get an Australian based customer support representative when you call.
- Network Coverage: Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure that the provider you’ve chosen has sufficient coverage in the areas that you’ll be using the phone. You can get an idea of what their coverage is like by checking out the coverage maps on your provider’s web site.