Mobile phones

Mobile phones can be very expensive. Here are some tips on the best way to handle your mobile.

Check your phone use

Video: Avoiding bill shock

Avoid mobile phone bill shock video

Naomi and Joel Wenitong discuss how to avoid bill shock with your mobile phone.

Before you sign up for a mobile phone, think about how you plan to use it so you can work out the best deal for you:

  • How many calls will you make per month?
  • How many text messages will you send?
  • Will you use the phone for the internet? If so, how much time will you spend on surfing the net per month?

Look at your usual landline or mobile phone usage and add up the call costs to see how much a typical bill will be each month. Compare this to other phone deals and call charges offered by other companies.

Pre-paid phones

Some people prefer to pay for their phone and their phone calls up front. 

If you buy the phone handset and you own it, you can just pay for $20 or $50 of recharge calls. Once you have used up this credit of calls, you can't make any more calls until you get another recharge. This is a good way to stay out of phone debt.

But be wary. If you buy a pre-paid phone, you might find that it is 'locked' to only one mobile phone company. This means you might have to pay up to $150 to 'unlock' the phone if you switch to another mobile company. 

Video: Kenny, Robert and Ryan talk about mobile phones

Mobile phones video

Check out this short film, created by Kenny Campbell, 15, Robert Austin, 14, and Ryan Presley, 14, from Alice Springs High School. 

It's a humorous short film about mobile phones use and tips on how to control mobile phone spending.

Signing up

If you are signing a contract, read it before you sign it. Your signature on the contract means you are agreeing to everything that is written in it.  

Smart tip

Don't trust the salesperson to tell you what is in the contract. Read it for yourself.

Look out for these things in the contract:

  • monthly fees
  • call and text charges
  • contract length and costs of ending the contract early
  • warranty (if a handset is included)
  • phone coverage (see a coverage map of your area)
  • costs if you pay bills late

You should take a copy of the contract home to read in your own time or ask your friends or family to look at it and give you advice about it.

Paying your bills

Picture of mobile phonesCheck your bills when you get them to make sure they are correct.

Call your mobile phone provider if you:

  • get a big bill and don't know why
  • think there are calls on the bill you didn't make
  • don't receive a bill
  • have trouble paying your bills

If you are having problems paying your bills, call your phone company straight away. Talk to them about working out a new payment plan that you can manage. If they are not helpful you can contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) (free call) 1800 062 058.

If don't pay your phone bills you might get a bad credit report with a credit reporting agency. See your credit report or get help with money for information on debt issues. 

Keeping track of your bills

A good way to keep track of your bills is to call your phone company to check on your bill before it comes in the mail or check it on your online account. Some phone providers will text you a message when you reach 80% of your usual bill. But this service may cost, so check the costs before you set it up.

Mobile phone scams

If you get a call or SMS from a number you don't know, offering prizes to enter a competition, be careful. It could be a mobile phone scam. By responding you could be siging up to a premium mobile service with an expensive call rate and you may find it hard to stop or unsubscribe. Call the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) for help if you feel you have been caught up in a mobile phone scam. 

Lost, stolen or broken phones

If your phone is lost or stolen, you should contact the phone company straight away to stop the mobile service so no one else can use it. If you are on a mobile plan you will still need to pay the monthly fee. 

If your phone stops working soon after you buy it, you are entitled to ask for a refund, repair or replacement. You will need your receipts to prove when and where you bought the phone.

If the retailer is unhelpful you can contact the fair trading office in your state:    

Getting the right mobile phone for the right price is all about shopping around and checking the contract.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.

Last updated: 07 Nov 2018