SIM-only mobile plans: Get the best bang for your buck

If you’re after a new mobile phone plan, there’s no shortage of service providers advertising their latest and greatest offers for your consideration, some of which include a smartphone as part of the deal. It’s not surprising really – a top-notch mobile phone is something many people want, making it tempting to splurge on that potentially expensive postpaid deal. However, many people are moving away from the ‘plan plus phone’ bundled option, and instead opting for a simple SIM-only plan that offers great value at a lower monthly cost. If you’re looking for a change, then a SIM-only plan for your mobile may be for you.

What are SIM-only phone plans?

SIM-only, or bring your own phone (BYO), plans provide you with a SIM card to use with any unlocked handset you like. They come in either prepaid or postpaid form, and will be significantly cheaper than postpaid plans which include paying off the cost of a handset. You simply pay for a set amount of calls, texts and data, wish SIM-only plans available on a monthly basis, or over 12 or 14 months

The big advantage of no contract SIM-only plans is that you have the freedom to choose any service provider you like and switch whenever you spot a better plan elsewhere. You can also use whatever mobile phone your want – whether it’s brand new, pre-owned, or your mum’s old Nokia brick with Snake as a game, you’re not limited to the often small range of new phones stocked by the telcos. Of course, buying your own handset outright means a higher upfront cost, but it allows you to potentially save loads of money by opting for a less expensive model.

By removing the somewhat emotional decision of choosing a phone, SIM-only plans also put the focus back on plan inclusions. So what can you get for your money?

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What SIM-only plans are available?

SIM-only plans often come with more variations in their inclusions, with a strong focus on data. Pretty much all of Australia’s service providers offer a range of SIM-only plans at several different price points. So here are the offerings from some of our biggest telcos, including their price per month and credit inclusions.

The most important deciding factor before you jump into a phone plan is to decide whether you want a prepaid or postpaid plan. The differences are in the detail, but their main difference lies in the name of each. Prepaid, you pay for credit and then receive it for a billing period spanning a certain time, whereas with postpaid you are automatically billed at the end of the billing period – be it seven days or more. So, now you know the most obvious difference between the two, it’s time to delve into what the telcos can offer.

Prepaid SIM-only phone plans

$10 and under

At the supreme budget end of the market, there are a few carriers that compete heavily with one another. At this price, billing periods are relatively short (around 7-10 days), so total cost over a month may make them more expensive. Overall you can expect around 500MB of data with some call and text inclusions from the likes of Vodafone, Optus and Coles Mobile. However, you’ll need to remember that the latter two are on shorter billing periods.

Under $20

When you venture over the $10 threshold, you can expect a good jump in data, call and text inclusions. For a smidgen under $20 you can expect 1GB data, plus unlimited calls and texts from some providers. Others still have dollar values attached to their call and text inclusions. In this price bracket, expect to see more competition from the likes of Kogan Mobile, Yomojo, TPG and ALDI Mobile. Online retail giant Kogan comes out the cheapest for 1GB data here, but TPG and ALDI offer 1.5GB for a little more.

Under $30

This price bracket sees a serious beefing up in the inclusions department. A lot of providers now offer unlimited calls and texts, plus around 2GB of data to see you through your days. Coles Mobile comes on the scene again, as does ALDI Mobile. New to the scene are OVO Mobile and Virgin Mobile. In this range it’s all pretty even, but it helps to keep an eye out for billing periods and whether you’re paying for a 28 or 30 day recharge. It might not seem significant, but over a year it can make a difference!

Under $40

Merely paying $10 more can get you some surprising results. Here in the $30 to $40 range you’ll see that the providers have seriously ramped up their data inclusions. OVO Mobile is leading the pack around these parts, with the most data for the cheapest price. In hot contention are familiar faces TPG, ALDI Mobile and Kogan Mobile, all offering at least 5GB for under $40 per recharge.

Under $50

When you move into the more high-end range of prepaid plans, $50 or under can get you some hefty data that even the most data-hungry user would be impressed by. In this bracket, you can easily expect at least 5GB of data, but some mobile carriers even offer 10GB or more. There are three providers that give you 10GB for less than $50 – Yomojo, OVO and Kogan, who have all proven that they pack a punch in prepaid mobile land.

Prepaid mobile is no longer the plan option for teenage kids and mature-aged people who never use their phones. Instead, prepaid now offers some exciting phone plans from MVNOs intent on giving you great value and competitive rates. However, if prepaid is not your cup of tea, then postpaid plans just might be.

Postpaid SIM-only phone plans

Postpaid is a great option for those that like to ‘set and forget’. While postpaid plans are seldom found under the $10 mark – meaning that postpaid has a higher ‘buy-in’ price than prepaid – you can still find some plans that pack a punch.

$15 and under

In this bargain-basement end of postpaid land, there are a few providers who all offer similar inclusions. Overall, you can expect at least 200MB of data, along with either $200 included calls, or 200 minutes of calls, plus varying amount of texts. In this price bracket C Mobile, Think Mobile, SpinTel and Jeenee Mobile are leading the way. Think Mobile seems to stand out from the crowd, offering competitive inclusions at a cheaper price.

$30 and under

Spend an extra $10 per month and you’ll likely see data inclusions increase markedly. Many providers are jostling for your attention here, and about 3GB of included data, as well as unlimited calls and texts, appears to be about the norm. Here, Jeenee, TeleChoice, Vaya and Dodo all provide similar inclusions but it seems that Jeenee comes out on top with 4GB included. It should be noted however that Dodo’s plan is on a 12-month contract.

$40 and under

In the mid-range of what’s out there, plans $40 and under propose great value and data inclusions. In this price bracket you can expect around 5GB for your dollars. Here the ranks are dominated again by Jeenee, Vaya, TeleChoice and Dodo. Though three out of these four are propped up by data bonuses, and two providers are on a 12-month contract. If you like flexibility, then keeping an eye out for data bonuses and month-to-month contracts is important here.

$50 and under

For less than a pineapple, you can expect to be treated to some data delights. At around $50, 10GB included data has become the norm recently, with many providers offering even more than that. Here, Jeenee smashes the rest with 30GB of included data for $50, while Vodafone, Telechoice and Optus all battle for supremacy in around the 10GB mark. Here you should watch out for bonus data again, and the fact that Jeenee’s Mammoth plan uses Optus 3G instead of 4G – all that data is great, but you’ll probably be frustrated with your internet speed.

Which SIM-only plan is right for me?

After reviewing an array of SIM-only phone plans in a variety of price brackets, you’d be forgiven for being confused as to what exactly to shoot for. There are a few questions you’ll need to answer for yourself before jumping into a plan.

  • What network do I prefer? There are three carriers in Australia, no matter what MVNO you decide on. They are Vodafone, Telstra and Optus.
  • How many calls, texts and data do I need? Another important factor is deciding this – this and the next point are also directly related.
  • What is my price range? If you are bound by a budget like most of us, sticking to a price range will be most likely to save you money and deliver only what you need in inclusions. For example, you can expect around 5GB of data for $40 per month.

There are many providers out there – more than what we have listed today – so it’s important to scour to find the best plan for you.

As you can see, Aussies are fairly spoiled for choice when it comes to SIM-only mobile plans from our largest service companies – the ones mentioned above are just some of the brands out there, so make sure you shop around. At the end of the day, a SIM-only plan is a great choice if you want the freedom to choose your phone or you’re after more variety in plan offerings – the choice of which plan, however, is completely up to you!

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