Choosing a mobile plan

There are many different mobile plans on offer, so choosing a plan that suits you can be difficult. We provide consumer information on how to understand different plans and how to pick one that is right for you.

Types of mobile plans

There are two main types of plans that mobile providers offer: postpaid and prepaid plans. Both plans usually offer voice, data and SMS inclusions for a single fee. However, there are also some key difference between the two.

Postpaid plans

Prepaid plans

  • Pay for service after you use it - usually a monthly bill
  • Buy credit for your phone before you use it
  • Often must sign up to a long term contract (typically 12 to 24 months*)
  • Don't need to sign up to a long-term contract
  • Often higher voice call, data and SMS allowances
  • Often 'poorer value' voice call, data and SMS allowances
  • Excess charges are incurred if you exceed your allowance
  • No excess charges. When you run out of credit you have to buy more (recharge)
  • Often includes handset
  • Handsets rarely included
  • Often have early exit fees
  • Can opt out at any time. Credit will expire if not used within certain timeframe

*Some mobile providers allow you to suspend your postpaid plan for a limited period, such as when you are travelling overseas.

Questions to ask when choosing a plan

The right plan for you will depend on your circumstances and the way you use your phone. Consider the following questions when picking a plan:

  1. Can you commit to a long-term contract or would you prefer the flexibility of a pre-paid account? If you can’t commit to paying a monthly fee for 12 to 24 months, a prepaid plan may suit you better.
  2. Do you need a handset? If so, you might consider a postpaid plan. If not, a prepaid plan could save you money.
  3. Can you manage your mobile usage? If you think you might have trouble staying within your allowances, a prepaid plan will help you avoid expensive excess charges.
  4. Can you get the coverage you need?  The coverage of mobile networks can be different depending on your service provider. Before selecting a provider, check that you’ll get coverage where you need it (for example, at home and work).
  5. Does the contract include all the kinds of services you need, or will you pay extra for these every month? For example, some plans do not include voicemail messages or '13' numbers.
  6. Have you looked at the critical information summary for the plan? These summaries include key information like standard charges, termination fees and the length of any contract.
  7. How much do you use your phone? Make sure you select a plan that suits the way you use your phone.

See also: Included value in mobile plans

Estimating your mobile phone usage

Before you choose a plan it is a good idea to estimate how much you are likely to use your mobile phone. This will help you choose a plan that suits your usage, and make sure you don’t end up with a plan that gives you more than you need. 

To estimate your usage needs you’ll need to know roughly how many calls you make, how many messages you send and how much data you use in a month.

To do this you can look at previous phone bills to give you an idea of how much you’ve used in previous months. You can also use online estimation tools and data rate tables. 

See also: Managing your mobile data usage

Your consumer rights for mobile services

Consumers have rights when they buy any product or service, including mobile phones.

Phone providers must provide clear and accurate information in advertising, contracts and bills.

If there is a problem with your handset, you may be entitled to a repair, replacement or refund. If there is a problem with your service, you may be entitled to cancel it. You may also be entitled to compensation for damages and loss.

If it’s not right, use your rights

More information

Consumer rights & guarantees
Contracts
Helping students be mobile savvy
Included value in mobile plans