What are SIM-only plans?
As simple as they sound, SIM-only (or BYO phone) plans provide you with a SIM card for you to use in any unlocked handset you like. SIM-only phone plans are significantly cheaper than their traditional counterparts because your plan doesn’t include the cost of paying for your new phone.
The big advantage of only having a SIM card is freedom; you can choose pretty much any mobile phone on the market. 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 phones stocked by the telcos. Of course, buying your own handset 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?
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 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. With 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 7 days or more. So, now that you know the most obvious difference between the two, it’s time to delve in to what the telcos can offer.
Prepaid SIM-Only Mobile
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 to 1GB of data with some call and text inclusions from the likes of Vodafone, Optus and Coles Mobile. Boost Mobile has also come to the game with 1GB data with unlimited calls and texts. However, you’ll need to remember that all except Optus have short billing periods, and Optus’ plan is only triggered when you spend $2 a day, which can also add up.
Plans $20 and Under:
When you venture over the $10 threshold, you can expect a good jump in data, call and text inclusions. For about $20, you’ll be looking at getting 1GB data. Some providers even offer unlimited calls and texts. Other providers 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. Aldi is the only one here on the Telstra network, so if you’re partial to a particular network, it pays to look at these details.
Plans $30 and Under:
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. New to the scene are OVO Mobile and Virgin, but it’s Yomojo that includes a massive 6GB data billed monthly. 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!
Plans $40 and Under:
Merely paying $10 more can get you some surprising results. Here in the $30 to $40 range you’ll see the providers have seriously ramped up data inclusions. OVO Mobile here is leading the pack, 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.
Plans $50 and Under:
When you move into the more high-end range of mobile plans, $50 or less 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 users even offer 10GB or more. There are three providers that give you 10GB for less than $50 – Yomojo, OVO and Kogan. Amaysim also comes to the game with 9GB data – Amaysim benefits from having its SIM cards sold in a variety of stores, which is handy for a ‘quick-fix’ solution. All three of these guys have proven that they pack a punch in the 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 just might be.
Postpaid SIM-Only Mobile
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.
Plans $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 a varying amount of texts. In this price bracket C Mobile, Think Mobile, SpinTel and Jeenee Mobile are leading the pack. Here the leader seems to be Think Mobile which offers competitive inclusions at a cheaper price.
Plans $30 and Under:
Spend an extra $10 per month more 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 offer 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.
Plans $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.
Plans $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 Optusall 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.
Which plan is right for me?
After reviewing an array of 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!