How to choose the best mobile phone plan
The best mobile phone plan is one that meets all your needs, but while there are a few things you need to think about first, it isn’t a difficult task or one that will take you weeks to complete. In fact, you could easily start and finish this exercise in a single lunch break.
What to know first
Before you start comparing mobile phone plans you need to establish a few details about your mobile phone behaviour which will influence which plan is best for you. After all, you don’t want to end up with a plan that includes a data allocation if you don’t use a smartphone. You want to pay for features and benefits that you will actually use each month, so look at the following:
- The number of calls you are likely to make. One way to approach this is to calculate how many calls you make each day and then multiplying that by 30. Please note that this only gives you a rough idea of the average number of calls you make in a month, not the duration of the calls.
- What types of numbers you call: local, long-distance, mobile phones or landlines, international numbers, and even premium numbers. Some of these might be included in a bundle deal, while others might be charged differently.
- Do you need data? Some plans will include a monthly data allowance, but you need to decide whether you need this, and if so, how much data you might need. Not forgetting what happens when the data allocation is depleted; are you charged a higher rate for excess usage, or can you add additional data when needed?
Deciding on prepaid or post-paid
Prepaid and post-paid are very different beasts and there are advantages and disadvantages with both. Only you can decide which is ultimately better for you, matching your budget and giving you what you need in terms of actual benefits. Here’s a quick summary:
- Prepaid plans – as the name suggests, prepaid sees you paying at the start of each month for credit to make calls, send text messages, and possibly a data allowance. Other points to remember including:
- The credit is only valid for a set period of time, which could be anything from seven days to a year but is usually around 30 days.
- Any unused credit is forfeited at the end of the period.
- If you use up all your credit before your next recharge you can usually top up calls and SMS or data, depending which you need.
- You usually have to provide your own mobile phone.
- There is no contract, so you can change your plan at any time without paying any extra fees.
- It is most beneficial for people who don’t make a lot of calls and want to strictly control their monthly spend.
- Post-paid plans are usually contract based, while there is month to month plans, you have the option to sign up for a 12- or 24-month term in advance. Post-paid plans usually include a new phone, with the cost of the phone split over the duration of the contract and included in the minimum monthly cost of the plan. There’s also the options to BYO phone and then connect it onto your new plan. The cost of the plan also includes:
- A fixed amount of calls, text messages, and data that you can use. Unlike prepaid, you can continue to make calls, send text messages, and use the internet once the included value is depleted, but your bill at the end of the month will include the cost of any excess usage.
- However, unused call, text, and data values don’t always rollover into the next month.
- If you have signed up to a 12 or 24- month term, you will have to pay and exit fee if you decide to cancel the plan before your 12- or 24- month term ends.
What is a SIM-only plan?
SIM only plans are available as both prepaid and post-paid and see you only receiving a new SIM card from the operator you sign up with. This is useful if you already have a mobile phone you want to keep using, or plan on buying a new phone but paying for outright rather than included in the cost of your monthly plan. SIM only plans do include a monthly call, text and/or data value. Many parents who start their children off with their first mobile phone by handing down an older phone choose to also have their children on a SIM only prepaid plan.
What will it cost?
The cost of your chosen plan will depend on whether or not you go with prepaid or post-paid, whether a phone is included with the plan, and the value of calls, text messages and data included. Check out Dodo's mobile plans to find one that suits your needs.
What is included with the plan
Always look at what is included and weigh that up against what you need. Some plans might include unlimited local and national calls, but no or limited international calls. Similarly, some plans won’t include any data, which is fine if you don’t use a smartphone, but can prove more costly if you do. With prepaid plans, always look at the period your credit value is valid for, along with the cost of top ups
How extensive is the coverage?
Most mobile service providers in Australia leverage the Telstra network, Optus, or Vodafone. This means the coverage you will enjoy for calls and internet access using 3G, 4G, and eventually 5G as it expands, may differ. If you travel frequently you should look at coverage for both your hometown along with the locations you usually travel to, including intra and interstate roads if you also travel into remote areas.
The best mobile phone plan is always the one that offers you the best value with all the benefits you need included. A friend or work colleague might encourage you to consider the plan they have, but if it includes anything you don’t need, or lacks a feature you definitely need, it really isn’t right for you no matter how great the monthly cost might be.