Choosing a plan

There are many mobile phone plans and each plan offers something different. Asking the right questions will help you understand and choose the one that's right for you.

Consider your mobile phone options

Consider these mobile phone options to work out what type of plan is best for you.

Old phone or new phone Use a phone you already own Get a new phone as part of a plan
Pre-pay or post-pay Pre-pay for your usage Receive a bill and pay each month
Contract or month-to-month Get a fixed-term contract (usually 12 to 24 months) Get a month-to-month contract
Handset payment Pay a one-off cost for the phone itself in a plan (if a new phone is part of the plan) Have the cost of the phone covered in the monthly fee for using the phone
Included value or exact usage Have an 'included value' plan (e.g. $29 per month for $150 of usage) Have a plan where you only get the exact amount of usage you pay for (e.g. $30 spend for $30 usage)
Unlimited or cap Have unlimited usage Choose a 'cap' (i.e. a limit you are prevented from going over)
Bundle or separate Bundle your mobile phone plan into a contract that includes landlines and internet Keep your mobile arrangement separate

Ask questions before you buy

Ask these questions in your service provider's store, over the phone or you can check their website.

Data usage

Coverage

  • Do you have good coverage in my local area and other places I'll want to use the phone? (Not all providers have good coverage outside major cities.)
  • Can I see a coverage map to check coverage?

Contract length and cost

  • How long is the contract? 1 or 2 years?
  • What's the minimum I'll have to pay each month and the total I'll pay over the contract period?

Call costs

  • Are calls charged for each second or for a block of time? (Most service providers use 60 seconds for their block of time. This means that, if your call lasts less than 60 seconds, you are still charged for 60 seconds.)
  • What calls are not included in the plan like calling overseas or any other numbers?
  • Is there a flag fall with the plan?

Case study: Julie's quick purchase

Julie decided she'd go to a mobile phone shop in her lunch hour to get a better mobile phone on a new plan. She chose a plan that allowed her to make cheap calls on the same mobile network as most of her friends.

However, she didn't notice what it would cost to use her phone to visit her favourite social network website and it turned out to be very expensive. As well as that, whenever she went home to visit her parents in their country town, her network coverage was bad.

She wished that she had checked everything on her plan before she decided to sign up. Julie now has to continue her contract for another 18 months before she can change to a better plan.

Monthly limits

  • What happens after I have used up the included value for the month?
  • Will the plan prevent me from going over a cap or can I continue using it but get charged extra?
  • What are the excess usage costs for going over the monthly allowance or limit for texts, voice calls and data?

Changing or cancelling my contract

  • What will I have to pay if I end the contract early? (This cost can be quite high.)
  • Can I go onto a cheaper or more expensive level of plan if I want to? Will I have to pay extra to change?

Locked phones

  • Is the phone locked to your network? (If the phone is locked, it means you can't use the phone on another provider's network.)
  • Is there an extra cost for unlocking the phone? (Some plans automatically unlock the phone at the end of the contract period.)

Smart tip

Get an International Data Pack before you leave Australia. This can make it cheaper to use data overseas.

Using the phone overseas

  • What will it cost to make voice calls, receive voice calls, send texts and use data overseas?
  • How can I keep track of my costs when I am using the phone overseas? (International roaming usually incurs extra charges.)

Warranty

  • What does the warranty cover and how long is it for? (If you buy your mobile online overseas you may not have a warranty and the phone might be set up in another language.)

Saving money

  • Will 'bundling' my mobile phone save money? (Bundling is when you put your phone on the same contract with other telecommunication services like your home phone or internet.)
  • Can I get free calls to phones on same network, cheaper calls at certain times of the day or free social networking?

Payments

  • Will I be charged extra for paying my bill in certain ways? (e.g. over-the-counter, credit card)
  • What's the cheapest way to pay?

Batteries

  • Will a cheaper battery actually cost me more because I have to replace it sooner?

Related links


Last updated: 10 Jun 2015