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Choosing the right mobile phone plan in Australia

Leon Saw

Fri Feb 22 2013

Choosing the right mobile phone plan

POST-paid mobile phone plan or a prepaid one? Leon Saw explains the differences between the two so you can decide for yourself.

Like the broadband internet plans here in Australia, there are many mobile phone plans for you to choose from, and selecting one that best fits your budget and mobile phone usage can be tricky business.

Before choosing a mobile phone plan, you may want to decide whether to acquire a new or second mobile phone, or to stick with your existing one. Most mobile phone plan providers in Australia offer one of the latest mobile phone models for free or at a heavily discounted rate, if you sign up for one of their plans.

After you’ve decided, it’s time to select a mobile phone plan.

There are two types of plans in Australia, post-paid and prepaid.

Post-paid mobile phone plans

A post-paid mobile phone plan usually lasts 24 months, and requires monthly payments ranging from AUD 20 to AUD 99. Each month, you’ll get a fixed amount of credit for outgoing calls and SMS, as well as data allowance for accessing the internet. The amount of credit and data allowance you get depends on the type of post-paid plan you’re on. Some of them offer more credit than data allowance and vice versa, and even unlimited SMS.

If you deplete the credit or data allowance allocated on any given month, you will still be able to make calls or access the internet, but will be billed extra. Any unused credit or data allowance may or may not be forwarded to the next month depending on the type of post-paid mobile phone plan you’ve signed up for.

Prepaid mobile phone plans

To be on a prepaid mobile phone plan, you’ll have to buy a prepaid SIM card from a mobile phone plan provider in Australia, select one of their prepaid plans and top up the card with any amount of credit or data allowance. Credit and data allowance can be purchased at most convenience and department stores, newsagents and supermarkets.

If you use up the credit or data allowance on the prepaid SIM card, you’ll need to top it up again to make calls and access the internet.

The credit and data allowance won’t be on the card indefinitely though. Depending on the type of prepaid mobile phone plan you choose, the credit and data allowance will expire after a period of time, ranging from a month to a year.

Which mobile phone plan would you choose?

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Additional pointers

If you don’t want the hassle of having to regularly top up a prepaid SIM card, you’ll be better off with a post-paid mobile phone plan.

This isn’t to say prepaid plans are inferior to their post-paid counterparts. The primary advantage prepaid mobile phone plans have over post-paid ones is their flexibility. On a prepaid plan, you don’t have to make fixed monthly payments to make calls or access the internet on your mobile phone. You can at any time, spend any amount of money to buy credit or data allowance to top up the prepaid SIM card. You may even change your current prepaid mobile phone plan to one that will suit you better, just before you top up the card.

Hence, a prepaid plan is great if you’re on a tight budget or rarely make calls and access the internet using your mobile phone.

That said, some mobile phone plans allow you to make calls and send text messages to anyone on a plan from the same mobile phone plan provider and within the country for free. So if you have friends who are looking to sign up to a phone plan, it may be worth considering signing up for the same plan to save on phone calls and messages.

What should students look for when choosing a mobile phone plan? Share your tips and experiences with us in the comments section below!