Telstra vs Optus: Phone plans compared

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They’re the two giants in the Australian telco landscape – Telstra and Optus. Not only do they offer a suite of broadband plans, they also offer mobile plans. From prepaid to postpaid SIM-only, to bundled phone plans, Telstra and Optus have you covered. However, which one is better value? They’re the two perennial providers in Australia with wide coverage reaching at least 98 per cent of the population, and chances are you are with them, or a low-cost carrier that uses their vast networks. What might surprise you is that there are some key differences between the two. Let’s review what they offer, and see which one reigns supreme.

Telstra vs Optus: Which provider is better?

Plan Type Telstra Optus
Postpaid, SIM-only, 12 month contract $35 a month, $300 calls, unlimited texts, 500MB data $30 a month, unlimited calls and texts, 2GB data
Postpaid, SIM-only, no contract $50 a month, $1000 calls, unlimited texts, 5GB data $50 a month, unlimited calls and texts, 6GB data, 300 int’l minutes
Mobile phone bundled plan (iPhone 7, 32GB), 24-month contract $55 (plus $36 a month phone) $550 call value, unlimited texts, 1GB data $40 plan (plus $36 a month phone), unlimited calls and texts, 1GB data, unlimited texts to selected countries
Prepaid, SIM-only $30 over 30 days, $30 call value, plus 200 minutes bonus talk and 200 texts, 1c text to other Telstra mobiles, 200mb data $30 for 28-days, unlimited calls and texts, 3GB data

Source: Telstra and Optus website

Above is just a snapshot of what the two have to offer in competing segments, so it’s not a whole representation of what’s on offer. Telstra and Optus are two of the biggest telcos in Australia. As such they have a wide variety of plans to choose from. Breaking it down into three different categories makes it easier to compare.

  • Prepaid plans
  • Postpaid plans (both contract, and no-contract)
  • And bundled plans

Overall though, Optus on face value tends to be cheaper than Telstra, but what are you compromising on? Telstra might be dearer in price – generally – but you might get some bonuses unavailable anywhere else. Read on to find out how the two really stack up.

Prepaid Plans Compared

Australia’s two biggest telcos have – not surprisingly – a large range of prepaid plans to choose from, ranging from around $10 all the way up to around $100 per billing period. And for good reason; prepaid is an easy and fuss-free way to get mobile credit.

Optus does seem to have the advantage here, generally offering more data and unlimited calls and texts for the same amount of money. However, Telstra’s plans do include 1c texts to other Telstra customers, as well as bonus text and call offers. Seeing that Telstra is Australia’s largest network with a huge customer base, chances are you could get by with these bonuses that Optus often does not have. Additionally, Optus’ plans are billed every 28-days, instead of 30, so you’re effectively paying 13 bills a year instead of 12; that’s something to keep an eye out for.

Postpaid Plans Compared

In this category, there are two categories to look out for – postpaid plans without a contract, meaning you can leave when you like, and postpaid, SIM-only plans usually with a 12 or 24 month contract attached. One is not necessarily better than the other, but it’s all about what you prefer.

No-Contract Plans

The no-contract segment is a little smaller – probably because Optus and Telstra want you to stick around for a while – but you can still find pretty solid value. The price range varies from about $30 to $70 per billing period. Again, Optus seems to outdo Telstra a little bit in terms of inclusions. For example, at $30, Optus offers unlimited calls and text, plus 1.5GB data; Telstra only offers $300 value and 500mb data. The further up in price you go, Optus starts to take the lead with international calling and other perks, cementing its value over Telstra even further.

Contracted Plans

Telstra and Optus’ SIM-only, contracted plans are much the same story as the other categories’. Frequently, Optus ups the value in both call and text inclusions, and for data. Plans start at around $30 a month, and straight away Optus offers unlimited calls and texts as well as at least 1GB of data. Telstra is still behind, offering dollar-value calls (unlimited texts though!) and less than 1GB of data.

The most standout plan for under $50 seems to be by Optus, offering a massive 8GB of data plus unlimited calls and texts. The best Telstra seems to do is 5GB of data and $1000 value for the same price – that’s the Mx plan, which has its additional shortfalls. As you go up in price – all the way up to $70 a month – expect Optus to take the lead, offering evermore data and international calling. However, you may still find value in Telstra and their large network, particularly handy in rural areas or places with spotty reception.

Bundled Plans Compared

We’ve come to the business-end of the market now, and Optus and Telstra are probably some of the strongest providers to offer plans bundled with the latest mobile phones. In this case, comparing plans using the iPhone 7 32GB, you’ll find that competition between the two providers has tightened considerably. Using the latest iPhone as an example, you’ll realise there aren’t really any ‘budget’ bundles. Expect the minimum bill per month to be around $85, with plans going all the way up to nearly $200. Expect data amounts over 5GB and unlimited calls and texts for the cheaper plans and around 20GB for plans $100 or more.

However, it’s more than just gigabytes you’ll need to be concerned about; with these bundles, Optus and Telstra beef up value with entertainment packs. See below for a quick rundown of what’s on offer:

Entertainment Packages Minimum Monthly Spend to Qualify
Optus Data-free music streaming with Google Play Music, iHeart Radio etc $65
Optus Sport streaming package $85
Data-free mobile streaming with Netflix, Stan, Presto  etc $120
Telstra 3 month Netflix, Stan, Presto subscription Bigpond Movies, 12 month Apple Music subscription – data free $95
AFL and NRL League Pass – 12 month subscription + entertainment packs $135

Optus and Telstra both have some alluring entertainment packs to sway you over. If the phone plans themselves weren’t enough, the two telco giants are perhaps the frontrunners in the industry to offer lots of entertainment bundles to pique your interest. As for which provider is better for entertainment, it’s a much of a muchness. However, if you’re an English Premier League fan, Optus would have the edge as they have the rights to the EPL. If your sport tastes are more domestic, Telstra has ties with the NRL and AFL, offering free subscriptions to their respective league passes in many instances. As far as entertainment and sport goes, Optus and Telstra are pretty neck and neck; it all depends on what type of entertainment and sport you prefer.

Optus or Telstra: Where should you go?

Optus and Telstra are both giants of the telco industry, and offer the biggest range of plans, likely to suit most budgets. They also have the biggest customer bases, so millions of people can’t be wrong, right? While both have an impressive range of phone plans, a lot of people coming from other providers may be wondering what all the fuss is about; frequently, Optus and particularly Telstra do not offer anything particularly exciting in terms of low prices and big inclusions. They do have vast infrastructure costs to keep up with, after all.

The comparisons between the two suggest that Optus does have a slight edge over Telstra in terms of data, call and text inclusions, but there’s more to it than that. Telstra does have the most expansive network, so people in rural areas may find that Telstra is the one to go with. Similarly, both have great entertainment packs included in a lot of their bundled plans; it’s all about what’s in the entertainment packs that may sway you to one over the other. Overall though, we are giving a slight edge to Optus, but Telstra still has lots of merit. Furthermore, it also pays to shop around – so don’t just rely on the big boys for your mobile needs.

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