Which prepaid mobile phone plan expiry period should I choose?

If you’ve spotted yourself a cheap phone deal, then later been turned off by its expiry period, you’re not alone. Often a phone plan can look good until you look at its expiry period and realise that it’s not what you need. Whether it’s too short, or too long, expiry periods can play a big part in how much you ultimately pay. Whether it’s a short-term plan like seven days, 28 or 30 days, or up to the long-term 365 days, the choice of expiry period you go with is yours. But which expiry period offers the best overall value? Read on to find out more.

Prepaid plan expiry periods: which is best?

Most prepaid SIM only plans these days come on 28-day, 30-day or monthly terms, and some providers might also offer short-term or long-term plans. But the question is, which is the best option? You might want to consider the following:

  • Short-term expiry: These might only last a week or so, making it a good option if you need a plan in the short term, especially for travellers. The downside is you’ll need to recharge more frequently if you plan on using this as your regular phone plan, and the cost could add up.
  • 28 days: Effectively an extra bill per year (13 instead of 12), but makes it easier to budget as it’s four weeks exactly. Data can be used more frequently as plans are recharged more often.
  • 30 days: A solid ‘median’ option with set terms so you can always count the days until your next recharge. Data may be stretched with two extra days to cover.
  • Monthly: This is less common as a prepaid expiry period, and it will include those months that are 31 days. This can mean in February you are billed for 28 days, and in 31-day months your data may need to stretch further.
  • Long-term expiry: Can include plans over 90 days, six months and 12 month/365-day plans. Great if you like to set and forget, but you’ll typically need to keep on top of your usage. Not a great option if you end up chewing through your inclusions long before the plan expires.

Compare phone plans with different expiry periods

Short-term expiry plans

If you’re going on holiday in an area where you know one network is better than the other, or if you’re in Australia for only a short period, a seven-day phone plan may be ideal. Often these are the cheapest prepaid plans on the market, and serve as a good temporary phone plan solution. If you decide to keep a short-term plan as your regular phone plan, you may end up paying more per month — or receive less data for your money — than if you went with a 28 or 30-day plan.

You can find short-term expiry plans from a range of providers including Amaysim and Telstra. These short-term plans typically start from just $10 and run on a seven-day expiry period, with data inclusions varying between telcos.

Here is a selection of seven-day prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then alphabetically. Use our comparison tool for phone plans to see a wider range of offers from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Standard-term (28/30 days) expiry plans

When it comes to prepaid plan expiry periods, the most common plans run over a 28-day or 30-day expiry. A 28-day expiry period might mean you have to recharge your plan 13, rather than 12, times per year, while a 30-day expiry means your inclusions need to stretch an additional two days. You can also find some prepaid plans running on a monthly expiry period. Typically the monthly plans might be run like a ‘subscription’ plan, where you’re paying in advance to access the plan and it will automatically renew on a monthly basis.

Plans on these ‘standard’ expiry periods can be as cheap as $10, and data allowances can get as big as 100GB or even unlimited (albeit at a capped speed, such as in the case of Felix Mobile).

These are perhaps one of the most popular expiry periods for a prepaid plan, and most prepaid providers will offer a plan on one of these expiries. The big three telcos — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone — all offer standard-term prepaid plans. You’ll also find smaller providers, such as Amaysim, Boost, Woolworths Mobile and ALDI Mobile, will offer their main suite of prepaid plans on one of these expiry periods.

Providers such as Felix and iiNet run prepaid plans but on a monthly expiry period, where you pre-pay upfront for your plan, and it will renew each month. This mean your plan will need to last you for a whole month, whether it’s a 28, 30 or 31-day month.

Here is a selection of 28-day, 30-day and monthly prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database for $40 or less, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then alphabetically. However, if you want to see a wider range of plans from other providers, use our mobile phone comparison tool. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Long-term expiry plans

If you’re not a big phone user, or you just want something that lasts a long time, a long expiry plan could be what you’re looking for. These plans are most commonly available as 365-day plans (also referred to as 12-month plans), however some providers also offer long expiry plans over periods such as 90 days or 180 days/six months.

The benefit of a long-term expiry plan is that you don’t recharge as often (maybe only once a year), making it ideal as a low-maintenance plan. The downside is of course that you’ll typically need to monitor your usage to ensure that you haven’t used up your data long before the plan expires.

Many prepaid providers will offer perhaps one or two long expiry plans. If you feel you’d be able to manage and ration your inclusions, you might want to compare the amount of data and cost each month and compare it to the standard-term prepaid plans, to work out if long expiry plans give you better value for money.

Here is a selection of long-term prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance. Use our mobile phone plan comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

How do I choose the right expiry period?

Which expiry period is right for you depends on your needs. First, you’ll need to look at how often you use your phone, and how much data you think you’ll need. Then you’ll want to consider your budget and realistically how much you’re willing to spend. Once you’ve got a clearer idea of how you’ll use your plan and how much you can afford to spend, consider which expiry period will work best for you.

  • The majority of providers offer competitive plans on 28-day, 30-day or monthly plans.
  • Short-term plans are great if you need a temporary plan, but can add up if you’re frequently recharging. These are also a good way to test network coverage without the commitment.
  • Long term, especially 365-day plans, suit those who are low-use customers or those who desire a spare phone with an ongoing connection. Bulk-buying a year’s worth of inclusions can give you extra value for your money.

In any case, with the wide range of providers and prepaid plans out there, there are plenty of choices to a range of users. Make sure that if you are looking at a new phone plan, that you compare plans from a range of providers to ensure you’re finding the best plan to suit your needs.

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