Telstra vs Optus: Where can you find the best phone plan?

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They’re the two biggest giants in the Australian telco landscape – Telstra and Optus. From prepaid to postpaid, SIM-only and bundled phone plans, Telstra and Optus have your mobile needs (and coverage) covered. But although it’s tempting to say that all big telcos are the same, you may be surprised to learn there’s some key differences between the two.

If you’re stuck choosing between Telstra and Optus, or are wondering if your current plan with either provider is really that great of a deal, read on.

Telstra vs. Optus: SIM-only plans at a glance

Below is a selection of comparable postpaid SIM-only plans from Telstra and Optus. A full range of plans from both provider can be found in this guide. This table contains featured products from a referral partner.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$49 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 400 minutes standard international calls to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport data free

min. cost $588 over 12 month plan period

30GBMax Data**/billing period $49Advertised Data^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Small Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $50 over one month plan period

15GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Optus Logo

$59 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport data free
  • 2GB global roaming data

min. cost $708 over 12 month plan period

80GBMax Data**/billing period $59Advertised Data^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Medium Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $60 over one month plan period

60GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

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Telstra vs Optus: Where can you find the best mobile deal?

Telstra and Optus both have a wide variety of mobile phone plans to choose from. Breaking it down into three different categories makes it easier to compare.

  • Phones on a plan
  • SIM-only postpaid plans
  • Prepaid plans

Optus tends to be cheaper than Telstra, but Telstra does offer bonuses unavailable anywhere else. Which provider is right for you will depend on your budget, love of extras, and how much flexibility you want in a plan.

Telstra vs Optus: Phones on a plan compared

We’ve come to the business-end of the market now, where Optus and Telstra are probably two of the strongest providers to offer plans bundled with the latest mobile phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 or iPhone XS. Optus offers its plans on 24-month contracts, while Telstra have switched focus to offer more flexible month-to-month plans which can be bundled with a new device over a 24 or 36-month payment period.

Optus does come off a bit cheaper on comparable plans, however Telstra allows for more customisation and includes some decent extras.

Telstra offers the same four postpaid plans which you can choose to keep as a BYO device plan or add on a device for an additional monthly payment. This means that both postpaid and phone plans are the same, but adding on a device will lock you into a 24 or 36-month contract to pay off your device. You’re free to switch your phone plans (which is great if you need more data one month), but cancelling altogether requires you to pay off the remainder of your handset.

Before you even consider which device you want to choose, it’s worth looking at just what you’ll get for your money when it comes to inclusions on the actual phone plans. The below table includes sponsored links.

Telstra phone plans

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Small Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $50 over one month plan period

15GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Medium Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $60 over one month plan period

60GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Large Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $80 over one month plan period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $80Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Extra Large Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $100 over one month plan period

150GBMax Data**/billing period $100Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Optus 24-month phone plans

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$45 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport data free

min. cost $1,080 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

4GBMax Data**/billing period $45Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$65 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport data free

min. cost $1,560 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

60GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$85 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls & SMS to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport data free

min. cost $2,040 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

80GBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$105 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls & SMS to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport data free
  • 2GB overseas roaming data

min. cost $2,520 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

200GBMax Data**/billing period $105Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$125 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls & SMS to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport data free
  • 4GB overseas roaming data

min. cost $3,000 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

200GBMax Data**/billing period $125Advertised Data^^/billing period

Looking at plan extras, Optus includes data-free Optus Sport streaming, while Telstra offers data-free streaming of Apple Music, and sports including the NRL and AFL. There is unlimited data on offer on all of Telstra’s plans, which will simply cap your data use to 1.5Mbps after you’ve used your monthly allowance of gigabytes.

Telstra vs Optus: Postpaid SIM-only plans compared

When it comes to postpaid SIM-only plans, there are two categories to look out for: postpaid plans without a contract, also known as a month-to-month plan (meaning you can leave when you like) and postpaid SIM-only plans with a 12- or 24-month contract attached. One is not necessarily better than the other, but it’s all about what you prefer.

Telstra offers four postpaid plans only as month-to-month plans, while Optus offers four 12-month SIM-only postpaid plans. Optus does reward you for signing up over 12 months with generous data for your money across all plans. Telstra’s cheapest plan is at $50 with 15GB of data, while Optus’s cheapest is priced at $39 with 10GB of data.

Both telcos offers a range of streaming extras, with Telstra offering data-free Apple Music. Each provider also offers data-free sports streaming: Telstra has access to the most popular leagues in Australia, the NRL and AFL (in addition to AFLW, A League and Netball), and Optus offers Premier League and many of the other European Football leagues.

Unlike Optus, Telstra gives customers use of a network of over one million free WiFi hotspots, called Telstra Air (plus access to 19 million Fon Spots overseas). Telstra also has the widest network coverage in Australia, especially in rural areas, but Optus tends to dominate on the budget end of the spectrum.

The following tables list all postpaid SIM-only plans from Telstra and Optus. These tables may include links to referral partners.

Telstra SIM-only plans

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Small Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $50 over one month plan period

15GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Medium Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $60 over one month plan period

60GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Large Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $80 over one month plan period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $80Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Extra Large Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $100 over one month plan period

150GBMax Data**/billing period $100Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Optus 12-month SIM-only plans

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$39 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport data free

min. cost $468 over 12 month plan period

10GBMax Data**/billing period $39Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$49 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 400 minutes standard international calls to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport data free

min. cost $588 over 12 month plan period

30GBMax Data**/billing period $49Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$59 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport data free
  • 2GB global roaming data

min. cost $708 over 12 month plan period

80GBMax Data**/billing period $59Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$79 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport data free
  • 4GB global roaming data

min. cost $948 over 12 month plan period

120GBMax Data**/billing period $79Advertised Data^^/billing period
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Telstra vs Optus: Prepaid plans from $10 compared

Australia’s two biggest telcos have – not surprisingly – a large range of prepaid phone plans to choose from, ranging from around $10 all the way up to around $100 or more per billing period. Prepaid is an easy and fuss-free way to get mobile credit; both Optus and Telstra provide long expiry prepaid plans and standard shorter-term plans, including 28-day plans, with varying amounts of data for use.

Optus seems to have the advantage here: its prepaid plans generally offer more data, plus bonus gigabytes at sign-up. Epic Data, Epic Value, pay-as-you-go, and long-expiry options are available – making Optus a great choice if you like flexibility.

To compare, Telstra offers two ranges of plans: Pre-Paid Max plans, and long-expiry Long Life Plus plans. All of these plans include data-free NRL, A-League, netball and AFL streaming, plus data-free Apple Music and unlimited Telstra Air hotspot WiFi.

Both carriers also include international calls on selected prepaid plans – so depending on your tastes, one telco may stick out more than the other. The below table compares selected prepaid plans from both telcos, and includes links to a referral partner.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Prepaid Max $30

  • Unlimited standard national calls &
  • Unlimited standard calls to 10 countries
  • 17GB Data Bank bonus on your first 5 recharges
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • $5 extra credit

min. cost $30 over 28 day expiry

10GBMax Data**/billing period $30Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Prepaid Max $40

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard calls to 10 countries
  • 15GB Data Bank bonus on your first 5 recharges
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • $10 extra credit

min. cost $40 over 35 day expiry

20GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Optus Logo

Epic Data $30

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Bonus 25GB on first 3 recharges
  • $5 extras credit

min. cost $30 over 28 day expiry

10GBMax Data**/billing period $30Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

Epic Data $40

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Bonus 25GB on first 3 recharges
  • $10 extras credit

min. cost $40 over 28 day expiry

20GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Optus or Telstra — where should you go?

Optus and Telstra are both giants of the telco industry and offer the biggest range of plans, with options to suit most budgets. They also have the biggest customer bases, so millions of people can’t be wrong; whatever your mobile needs, each provider is likely to offer a plan that works for you.

Although this comparison suggests that Optus has a slight edge over Telstra in terms of choice and value for money across some plans, there’s more to consider than just inclusions and extras. Telstra has the most expansive 3G and 4G networks, so people in rural areas especially, may prefer the security and reliability offered by the telco. Plus, Telstra is continually expanding its 5G network and offers a small range of  5G-compatible devices. Optus is relatively quiet on the 5G front with limited product and service.

If coverage isn’t a concern, both Telstra and Optus have great entertainment packs to consider. Consider what you want from your entertainment extras, such as your favourite sports, or which streaming services you already have a subscription to. For example, if you’re already an Apple Music subscriber, you may appreciate the data-free streaming offered by Telstra. Likewise, football fans may be won over by Optus Sport’s Premier League coverage.

Overall, if you’re looking for a prepaid or 12-month postpaid plan, Optus is hard to beat. But if you’re signing up to a new handset plan and like the flexibility of customising your plan, you may find Telstra has more of what you’re looking for.

Compare Prepaid Phone Plans

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