If you’re a parent looking for a good phone plan for your child, then you’ve come to the right place. But we must first confess that there are very few plans actually tailored for children – after all, a phone plan is generally a phone plan regardless of your age. However, in this article we will review the child-friendly options worth considering and provide some tips on what kind of phone plan may be the best bet for your son or daughter.
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Specific phone plans for kids
Until recently, there were no phone plans from the mainstream Aussie carriers that could justifiably label themselves as ‘for kids’. However, in late 2016, low-cost provider OVO Mobile launched a new prepaid offer that genuinely fits the bill.
Bringing $200 worth of call time, plus unlimited text messages and 1GB of data for just $9.95 per 30 days, the ‘Mini’ plan from OVO Mobile has most other low-cost prepaid plans beaten hands down. But what makes it stand out as a phone plan for kids is that it comes with a free lifetime subscription to Family Zone – an online cyber safety service which gives parents control over their child’s smartphone, allowing them to restrict access to inappropriate content, as well as set time controls to ensure they don’t stay up all night chatting with friends.
OVO Mobile can fairly call this a phone plan for kids, but genuine plans for young people are in very short supply. Some mobile carries, such as Boost Mobile, target teenagers with bonus weekend data, but chances are you’re looking for a plan that you, the parent, can control. Not only will you want to make sure your child has an appropriate plan for their age and usage habits, but you’ll also be the one paying for it – so you’ll want great value, too. Here are some top tips on what to look for from a child’s phone plan.
Prepaid vs postpaid for kids
The first and one of the most important decisions to make in regards to your child’s phone plan is whether you want to go prepaid or postpaid, with both bringing their fair share of pros and cons:
- The best thing about prepaid phone plans is that child can only spend the set amount of call, text and data inclusions that come with their plan. Once they have used up these features, they will have to wait until you recharge again before they can pick up where they left off. So there will be no bill shock! This can be a great way to help kids understand budgeting. Another positive is that, if you’re short on money one month, or your child has been naughty and you want to find a way to punish them, you can simply not recharge their plan. With postpaid plans, you would have to cancel the contract entirely, which is a bit of a hassle.
- The most significant drawback to prepaid plans is that, once you use all your inclusions, you can no longer use data, make any calls or send text message. This potentially takes away the safety net of being able to call mum or dad in an emergency. Prepaid plans also tend to have shorter expiry periods, which could mean you find yourself having to recharge every week or so. And as a general rule, prepaid plans usually lack the same value as postpaid plans where you often get more for your money.
- The best thing about postpaid phone plans is that you will always have a service to call on when it’s needed. They provide the extra security of being able call home in an emergency because your provider will simply charge you extra once you go over the plan’s limitations. Postpaid plans also take away the hassle of having to manually recharge your plan, which is the case with most prepaid plans, although some also allow users to auto-recharge. You are also likely to get better value with a postpaid plan.
- The biggest negative of postpaid plans is basically the biggest positive in reverse. Being able to exceed your plan’s limits in emergencies is great, but this also means the feature is there to be abused. With postpaid plans, you can continue to use data, make calls and send SMS/MMS until the end of your billing cycle and you’ll be charged higher rates for the privilege. This is how bill shock occurs. The other negative is that you can’t just take a break in your service when you want, unless you cancel the contract. The nature of postpaid plans means you sacrifice this flexibility.
As you can see, there are lots of things to think about with both prepaid and postpaid plans for kids. But regardless of which type you decide to go with, here are some general tips on what features to look for.
Features to look for in children’s phone plans
When it comes to picking the best features for your child’s mobile plan, you’ll need to consider what type of phone user they will be. Will they be a light or heavy data user? Are they likely to make lots of calls? Will they more likely send lots of text messages? It goes without saying that unlimited calls and lots of data would be great for anyone, but these are the two factors most likely to bump up the cost. Therefore consider the following as bare minimum requirements for a good phone plan for kids.
- Unlimited texts: No matter what your child’s age, unlimited texts are a really good idea because it means they will always be able to reach you in the event of an emergency. They will also enjoy being able to message their friends as much as they like, so it’s win-win for everyone.
- Long expiry periods: Cheap prepaid plans tend to come with very short expiry periods of 7-10 days, but you might want to consider a plan with a long expiry. This would reduce the risk of your child being left with no credit to call or text you, while also taking away the hassle of having to recharge regularly. This will not be an issue with postpaid plans which provide a constant service.
The type of features that best meet your child’s phone use may also be related to their age, with older teenagers more likely to require a lot of data for video streaming and Facebook. So, let’s look at some possible options for kids at various ages:
Phone plans for kids aged 12 and under
At this age, unlimited texts seem like a great idea so you can always stay in touch, but unlimited calls and lots of data may not be a huge priority – especially if you want to keep costs fairly low. Therefore a cheap prepaid plan should suffice, with the likes of Vodafone, Optus, Coles Mobile and the aforementioned OVO Mobile all coming up with some good, basic, cheap options at $10 or less. But remember to keep an eye open for short expiry times.
Phone plans for kids aged 13 to 15
By the time your kids are into their teenage years, they will likely want more call time to chat with their friends and extra data to watch those funny videos you don’t quite understand. Unlimited talk comes into the equation once you spend over $10 per month, but you’ll still be looking at a modest amount of data until you spend closer to $20 or so. Looking at postpaid no contract plans with 1GB or more of data, Vaya, Yomojo and Amaysim are hard to beat.
Phone plans for kids aged 16 and over
At this stage you might want to make your son or daughter pay for their own phone use, but if you’re still happy to foot the bill then you will see some excellent value in postpaid plans at around the $30 a month mark – still with no lock-in contract. Here you can expect up to 6GB of data to go with your unlimited talk and text, with the likes of Dodo and SpinTel joining the aforementioned providers in the top-value stakes.
Other plans to consider
You’ll have noticed that, when it comes to postpaid plans for kids, it’s often the smaller service providers offering the cheapest deals. But if your son or daughter is really into music, it could pay to go with one of the bigger carriers which offer discounted access to music streaming services, even on no contract plans.
Telstra’s BYO plans all provide either a 6 or 12 month membership to Apple Music (depending on which value plan you choose), plus you can stream music data-free during this period. Optus and Virgin Mobile both offer data-free streaming from Spotify, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio and Pandora.
If it’s sports content or data-free video streaming your kids want, you’ll likely have to go with a contract option from one of the big carriers. Optus provides data-free Netflix viewing and English Premier League soccer on its most expensive plans, or at an extra cost on others, while Telstra has AFL and NRL footy available on selected plans. However, these plans will set you back the big bucks!
Whatever type of phone plan you go with for your kid(s), the take home message is that there are some awesome deals around. In the prepaid space, it’s hard to beat OVO Mobile’s new plan for overall value, while the likes of Vaya and Yomojo are great for low-cost postpaid plans and Virgin Mobile’s inclusion of data-free music streaming makes its plan a great alternative. There’s a lot to choose from – you’ll just have to do your homework!