Telstra’s all-new phone plans: cheaper, flexible, and contract-free

Note: Telstra’s postpaid phone plans have changed again as of March 2021, and now require you to pay on an upfront basis

If you’re scared of commitment, Telstra’s all-new mobile plans bring flexibility back to buying a smartphone.

The telco has announced a shake-up to its postpaid plan range – namely scrapping both lock-in contracts and excess data charges, and offering free 5G access for the next 12 months.

In an effort to simplify its plan offerings, Telstra has now whittled down its postpaid options to just four base plans. All four plans are month-to-month only, and customers can choose to either bring their own phone and go SIM-only, or pair their plan with a new device.

The following table includes Telstra’s suite of four postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Telstra new plans: what’s changed?

Essentially, there’s five big changes to Telstra’s postpaid plan range:

  • No more lock-in contracts
  • No more excess data charges in Australia
  • Added customisation through plan add-ons (streaming entertainment, international calling, etc.)
  • Option to purchase phones over 24-month or 36-month payment periods (and no more lease plans)
  • 5G network trial until 30 June, 2020

No more contract lock-in

The most obvious change – and one that will address many customer pain points – is the abolishment of the standard 12-month or 24-month phone plan. All four plans listed above are month-to-month only, meaning you’re free to switch between them on a monthly basis with no penalty – even if you’re paying off a new smartphone. This added flexibility is a huge pro for customers who want to avoid being locked down to a single plan long-term, but keep in mind that there is some fine print if you’re buying a new phone.

If you do decide to pair your plan with a new smartphone from Telstra – on either a 24-month or 36-month payment term – you’ll still need to sign a contract for your device payments. This means that, although you’re free to switch between Telstra mobile plans each month, you’re still locked-in to paying off your new phone. If you do want to cancel your Telstra plan, you’ll need to pay out the remaining balance of your new device in full before you can leave.

For SIM-only customers, things are a lot simpler. You’re free to leave at any time, without the burden of early termination fees or device payments – simply settle your final Telstra bill and go.

Goodbye excess data fees

Another welcome change for all customers is the end of excess data charges, thanks to the inclusion of unlimited speed-capped gigabytes on every plan. This feature was previously available on selected Telstra plans, where it was known as ‘Peace of Mind’ data: basically, once your allocated high-speed data runs out, you’ll receive unlimited slower data to tide you over until the next month.

Unlimited data is capped at 1.5Mbps speeds, so it’s significantly slower than your plan’s high-speed gigabyte inclusion (especially if you’re accessing Telstra’s 5G network). However, while speed-capped data isn’t suitable for high-definition streaming or gaming, it should be enough for standard internet usage – just be prepared for the odd slow-loading video or Instagram feed.

If you do run out of fast data, and can’t wait until your next billing cycle, you can move up to a higher plan tier at any time. With $10 data add-ons no longer available, this the easiest way to bump up your fast gigabytes: however, keep in mind that you can only change plans once per billing cycle.

Plan add-ons

Telstra customers have the option of adding extra features to their plan, including international and entertainment extras. An international call pack – including unlimited standard calls and SMS from Australia to 20 popular countries – is available for an extra $10 per month, and international roaming day passes can also be added from $10 per day (or $5 in New Zealand). Countries included in Telstra’s $10 call pack are:

  • Canada
  • China
  • Germany
  • Guam
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Puerto Rico
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • US Virgin Islands
  • USA
  • UK

You’ll also be able to add subscriptions to services including Foxtel Now, Kayo Sports, and Netflix to your account, so you can pay for all your mobile and entertainment plans on a single bill. Other add-ons include accessories such as smart watches and headphones, and additional Telstra services.

New phone payment plans

In addition to offering a new 36-month phone payment term (alongside the existing 24-month plan), Telstra also appears to have dropped its previous Mobile Lease options for premium devices. Instead of leasing your phone over a two-year period (with the option to upgrade after 12 months), you’ll now be limited to a standard payment plan, in which you pay off your handset and own it completely at the end of your contract.

While this could be a bummer for customers who enjoyed upgrading yearly, it does make buying a phone less confusing overall. Regardless of which term you opt for (24 months or 36 months), you’ll pay the same price for your phone overall: you’ll just pay a smaller monthly amount if you decide on a 36-month plan. Customers can decide for themselves if paying more each month is worth owning their phone outright in two years, instead of three.

This also means that you’ll pay the same total price for your phone no matter which mobile plan tier you’re on. Previously, signing on to a higher-priced plan meant the cost of your new phone would be subsidised; the higher the plan, the less you’ll pay for your phone overall. However, as handset payments are now separate from Telstra’s mobile plans, you won’t benefit from signing up for a more expensive data option.

Finally, although you’ll be able to switch between Telstra’s new mobile plans as you pay off your phone, you will be locked into a contract for your device payments. So, if you want to cancel your Telstra account, you’ll need to pay out the remaining balance of your smartphone first.

Free 5G access

Telstra’s 5G network is very much in its infancy, but if you do live or work in an area with 5G coverage – and own a 5G-capable smartphone, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G or OPPO Reno 5G – you’re currently able to access the service at no extra cost.

This 5G trial will be available free on all new postpaid plans until 20 June, 2020. After this date, customers on Telstra’s Small or Medium plans can revert back to 4G-only, or pay an extra $15 per month for continued 5G access. If you’re on a Large or Extra Large plan, good news: 5G is included free on both plans, so you can continue to use the network free of charge.

Are Telstra’s new plans any good?

Telstra attributes its postpaid plan makeover to customer demand, stating that around nine out of ten Australians would prefer a tailored mobile plan that won’t keep them locked down. The telco’s customer research has shown that most of us only want to pay for inclusions we’ll actually need or use; Telstra has addressed this by restructuring certain features (including 5G access in the future) as add-on options, rather than standard inclusions.

A noticeable change is that Telstra no longer offers unlimited high-speed data on mobile. Previously available on its $199 Ultimate Unlimited two-year plan, this feature was unique to Telstra, although far from affordable for many customers. While unlimited slowed-down data is now available on all new postpaid plans, this may be disappointing to Ultimate Unlimited customers who were happy to pay a premium for limitless super-fast data.

Telstra has also removed its international features from all new plans, including unlimited international calls and international data roaming. The inclusion of international calls and SMS on Telstra’s previous plans was a huge plus for many customers; although these features are now available as an add-on pack, you will need to pay an extra $10 per month on top of your plan cost, and only 20 countries are covered. International roaming data has also been scrapped on Telstra’s higher-end plans, meaning travelling customers will now need to add a $5 or $10 per-day roaming pass to their plan in order to access cheaper data overseas.

The good news is that popular plan extras, such as free Telstra Air and Fon Wi-Fi hotspot use in Australia and overseas, are still included. You’ll still get data-free streaming from Apple Music (subscription not included), plus data-free mobile streaming of select sports, including AFL, NRL, football, AFLW and Australian netball. These sports packages are normally worth up to $329.99 per year, so it’s a great plan bonus for sports mad mobile users.

Overall, simplifying these postpaid plans is a great move from Telstra. The separation of phone payments and mobile plans – first pioneered by Vodafone – adds flexibility and affordability, and means Telstra is now the first Australian telco to eliminate lock-in plans and excess data charges across both mobile and broadband.

Telstra’s new plans are available from 25 June, to all new and upgrading customers. However, you’ll need to compare plans for yourself to determine if Telstra is the right mobile option for your needs.

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