Included value in mobile plans

When choosing or renewing your mobile phone plan, there are a few things to look out for when comparing included value.

What you get under an included value plan

Included value plans give you voice, data and SMS allowances for a fixed monthly fee. For example, for $50 a month you might get $500 worth of voice calls, 500 MB of data and 500 SMS.

Allowances are not the whole story

$500 worth of voice calls for $50 per month might sound like a lot of calls, but what does $500 actually get you? 

To work this out, you need to look at:

  • call rates
  • connection charges (flagfall).

If the call rate and flagfall are high, you will be able to make fewer voice calls on your plan. If they are low you will be able to make more calls.

So while getting $500 of calls for $50 a month might look like great value, if the call rate and flagfall are high you will not be getting as much value as you think.

Compare the call rate and flagfall

The diagram below shows how two $50 plans that both offer $500 of included voice value can end up giving you different volumes of calls.

Plan

Included value voice calls

Call rate

Flagfall (connection charge)

Number of two minute calls per month

A

$500

$1.00

$0.30

217

B

$500

$0.80

$0.25

270

Comparing included value plans

Because call rates and flagfall affect what your included value gets you, you can’t just compare the included allowances of different plans to work out which is best. While checking the call rates and flagfall are a good start, there are a number of other things you might like to think about when looking at included value plans.

How many two minute calls can you make?

A simple way to estimate how much you will get under an included value plan is to look at:

  • How many two minute voice calls you will be able to make on a particular plan. This information must be included in the Critical Information Summary for a mobile plan.
  • The cost of making a 2 minute voice call, which must be shown in any advertisement for an included value plan. The cheaper the cost of a two minute call, the more your voice allowance will get you. 

How much will you use your phone?

While $500 of voice calls for $50 may be a good deal, it probably won’t be if you only make around $100 worth of calls a month. Try to pick a plan that suits your mobile phone usage, so that you’re not paying more than you need to. Work out how many calls you make on your phone and calculate how much that would cost under a particular plan using the call rates. This should give you a rough idea about what voice allowance you need.

What’s included?

The included voice value for a plan might not cover all call types. If a particular type of voice service is important to you, you might want to check whether they are covered by your included value. Some services which are commonly excluded are:

  • international calls
  • calls to 13/1300/1800 numbers
  • calls to special services numbers (12, 14, 15 numbers)
  • calls made and received while overseas (international roaming).

SMS and data allowances

Comparing SMS and data allowances under a plan is much easier than comparing voice inclusions because those allowances aren’t measured in terms of dollar value. The number of SMS included is described as a number and data is measured in MB.

Critical information summaries

When comparing included value, it is useful to review the Critical Information Summary.

More information

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