Telco deals: how to save hundreds on big-data phone plans

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Australia’s biggest three telcos are currently locked in a big-data price war that can see customers save anywhere from $600 to $720 on mobile plans, with or without a new smartphone.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have each cut prices on their respective ‘premium’ postpaid phone plans, with Vodafone even throwing in an extra 350GB of monthly data on top of the hefty discount. All three telcos are offering aggressively lower pricing on selected plans for your first 12 months, after which the plans return to their standard monthly cost – but as all plans are contract-free, there’s no obligation to stick around past the 12-month mark.

Telstra deal: save $600

  • Plan: Extra Large plan with 180GB data
  • Price: $65 per month for 12 months (normally $115)
  • Saving: $50 per month, or $600 in total
  • Offer ends: March 1, 2021

First out of the gate is Telstra, with the company bringing back a competitive price-cut last offered around the time of last year’s iPhone 12 launch. Announced to coincide with the release of the Samsung Galaxy S21 range several weeks ago, Telstra is again offering a $50 monthly discount on its Extra Large postpaid plan for both new and upgrading customers.

Normally $115 per month, Telstra’s Extra Large plan is reduced to $65 monthly for your first year, offering a total savings of $600 over 12 months. The plan includes unlimited standard talk and text in Australia, 180GB of full-speed fast data every month, plus unlimited speed-capped data, with the maximum speed of 1.5Mbps. You’ll also get unlimited and free use of Telstra Air WiFi hotspots, free access to Telstra’s 5G network, plus data-free streaming from Apple Music (although you’ll need a subscription to take advantage of this perk).

Telstra is offering the $50 discount via a bill credit each month, so you’ll need to stick around for 12 months to get the full $600 savings. You can pair this plan with a phone on Telstra’s 12 or 24-month device payment plans, or bring your own phone and go SIM-only.

The following table shows selected published Telstra plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Optus deal: save $648

  • Plan: Optus One plan with 500GB data
  • Price: $65 per month for 12 months (normally $119)
  • Saving: $54 per month, or $648 in total
  • Offer ends: March 1, 2021

Following on from Telstra, Optus has launched its own big-data discount that’s perfect for 5G devices. The telco is offering its 500GB Optus One plan to new and re-contracting customers for $65 per month, cutting $54 off the usual $119 price. This promo price applies for your first 12 months on the plan, after which plan fees revert back to standard costs, but stay for the full year and you’ll save a total of $648.

The Optus One plan features 500GB of fast data each month, plus ‘endless data’ capped at speeds of 1.5Mbps. You’ll also get unlimited standard national talk and text on this plan, plus unlimited standard talk and text to 35 selected countries and 10GB of monthly overseas data roaming in eligible destinations. Optus also includes free 5G network access and free Optus Sport + Fitness content.

As with Telstra, you can pick up this plan on a SIM-only basis, or pair it with a new phone from Optus on a separate 12, 24, or 36-month handset payment plan. While this plan is contract-free, keep in mind that cancelling or changing a paired device payment plan early may mean you lose your remaining discount.

The following table shows selected published Optus plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Vodafone deal: save $720

  • Plan: Infinite Ultra plan with 150GB data, plus 350GB bonus data
  • Price: $60 per month for 12 months (normally $120)
  • Saving: $60 per month, or $720 in total
  • Offer ends: February 24, 2021

Last but not least, Vodafone is coming in strong with not only a 50% price drop on its biggest plan, but also more than double the data for as long as you stay connected. The telco’s Ultra plan is currently on offer for just $60 per month for your first 12 months, down from the normal $120 price (and saving you a massive $720 over a full year).

This plan comes with 150GB of full-speed data, plus a bonus 350GB when you sign up by February 24 – that’s 500GB in total per month. You also get ‘Infinite’ unlimited data, capped at speeds of 25Mbps, plus unlimited standard calls and texts in Australia, unlimited international calls to select countries, and 5G network access. Vodafone is also throwing in three months of free Amazon Prime on this plan when you sign on before 31 March.

As with Telstra and Optus, you can pick up this plan and BYO phone, or pair it with a new device on a Vodafone payment term of 12, 24 or 36 months. You’re free to swap to a different plan once the 12-month discount expires, but be aware that this offer is for eligible new and upgrading customers only.

The following table shows selected published Vodafone plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Which big-data deal is best?

The in-roads made by challenger telcos and smaller brands – including Woolworths Mobile, Circles.Life, Moose Mobile, NuMobile, and Southern Phone – have seen the ‘big three’ providers offer increasingly competitive deals and prices, especially surrounding premium smartphone launches (in this case the Samsung Galaxy S21 series). Customers hoping to grab a new phone on a telco plan can save hundreds of dollars over the life of their repayments just by signing up at the right time.

As for which option is ‘best’, that depends on what you’re looking for in a plan. On paper, Vodafone’s price, data inclusions and plan extras mean it gives you the most data-for-dollars of the three, and some would argue the most value. However, you may prefer the international extras offered on the Optus One plan, or find Telstra’s 4G and 5G network coverage to be superior in your area (especially if you’re teaming your plan with a 5G smartphone).

It’s also important to note that although these plans offer excellent savings if you’re a big data user with a need for hundreds of gigabytes each month, there’s no need to sign up if you’re never going to use each offer’s inclusions. If you’re a low-to-average data user, you can easily get away with a plan around the $20 per month mark, especially if you’re bringing your own phone – you’ll find most providers offer data of around 10-20GB each month at this price point.

If you’re keen for a plan with no excess charges, and more than enough fast gigabytes for Netflix, YouTube, gaming and downloading, these big data offers are absolutely worth checking out. But if you’re looking for something simpler, you’ll find a selection of everyday SIM-only plans below.

The following table shows selected postpaid SIM-only plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

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