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Understanding Prepaid Mobile Phone Plans

Mobile plans with no lock-in contract from $5/mth

Understanding prepaid mobile phone plans

A prepaid mobile phone plan comes with a lot of flexibility, making it perfect for anyone who likes a greater level of control over their budget, or someone trying to rein in the amount they spend on their mobile phone bill each month. But if you’ve only ever had a post-paid plan, switching to pre-paid will be easier if you have a better understanding of what prepaid means.

What is a prepaid phone plan?

As the name suggests, a prepaid phone plan sees you paying in advance for a fixed value of calls, texts, and/or data. Additionally, the amount of data allocated, and the call and SMS values are only valid for a fixed period, usually 30 days. Once you have used up the full value you won’t be able to make any more calls, send text messages, or perform any actions that require data until you top up or recharge again.

Prepaid plans vs post-paid plans

There are some key differences between prepaid and post-paid plans other than when payments are made.

  Prepaid Post-paid
Payment made? In advance At the end of the month
Charged for excess usage? No Yes
Available as a contract? No Yes
Does it expire? Usually valid for 30 days, but some networks offer for up to 365 days. Monthly
Bring your own phone? Yes Yes, though you can also buy it as part of the contract.
Extra features? Promotional deals frequently offered  Promotional deals frequently offered

You can speak to different mobile network operators to learn more about the plans they offer, so you can more easily compare the two and also how they differ from other networks.

Why should I choose a prepaid phone plan?

A prepaid phone plan is perfect if you frequently find yourself with a high mobile phone bill, thanks to excess usage charges, and want to bring more control to your budget and monthly spend. With a prepaid plan there are no excess usage charges and you can’t make any more calls once your prepaid credit is used up. You are able to top up or recharge at any stage, but this does force you to pay more attention to how you use your mobile phone.

Additionally, prepaid plans don’t include a mobile phone, so they’re also great for people who already have a phone they are happy with bringing about further savings for the budget conscious.

A prepaid plan isn’t ideal for everyone, particularly if you use a mobile phone extensively for work. But if you don’t use your phone that often, don’t have a fixed income, or want better control over your monthly spend, it is an option worth exploring. Prepaid plans aren’t linked to a contract, so you won’t be locked in and unable to change if you find that prepaid is not the best solution for you.

Prepaid plans for children and seniors

Of course, the demographic that a prepaid mobile plan is ideally suited to is children, with a prepaid plan leaving parents fully in control of the cost of giving their children a mobile phone. Many prepaid plans include unlimited national voice calls and text messaging, with limited or no ability to go online or make premium and international calls. This is especially useful when it is your child’s first phone and they have yet to demonstrate the ability to use it responsibly.

Seniors may have less need for a comprehensive phone plan, often only using their mobile phone for calls and SMS. As such they would have no need for large amounts of data or the ability to be able to call international numbers, so can instead get by quite comfortably with a simple prepaid plan.

How to choose the right prepaid phone plan

Choosing a prepaid plan is not simply about looking at the cost, but also what that cost gets you each time. Unlimited calls are great if you use your phone frequently, but if not then you might want to consider a plan that costs less and limits the number of calls you can make. But equally important is the cost and features of a top up, although it shouldn’t be needed too often if you choose the right plan, could still be necessary on occasion.

Ideally, if you are moving to a prepaid plan from post-paid you will want to look at your average usage over the last six to twelve months and shop around for a plan that matches that, unless you are trying to cut back on usage. Then you will want to also consider the following:

  • All Costs. Don't only look at the advertised cost of the plan, but also extra costs such as add-on packs for data, international calls, and even the cost of once-off recharges or top ups. Most of these will be optional, but you should factor them into your decision just in case you ever need to use any of them.
  • Expiry period. Many prepaid plans see any unused credit expiring after 30 days, but some could have expiry periods of only 7 days, or even 28 days. Longer expiry periods are obviously better, but don't assume that all plans are the same.
  • Call types included. Many prepaid plans include unlimited voice calls, but these are limited to national landlines and mobile phones. Calls to premium numbers and international locations are either not included or limited to a fixed number of minutes. Similarly, SMS is usually included, but not MMS.     
  • Data allocation. If you have a smartphone, you're going to need a data allocation too. Don't only look at the amount of data included in the plan but also the cost of additional data should you need to top up.

We have prepaid mobile plans designed to suit almost any need, with great add-ons available whenever you need them. Order your SIM online and we’ll get it shipped to you and get you connected in no time at all.