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, to 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.

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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.

  • Prepaid plans
  • SIM-Only postpaid plans (both contract, and no-contract)
  • Phones on a plan

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

Telstra vs Optus | Postpaid SIM-Only Plans from $30 Compared

When it comes to postpaid SIM-Only plans, there are two categories to look out for: postpaid plans without a contract (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.

12 Month Plans Compared

Telstra and Optus postpaid SIM-only, contracted plans are some of the more competitive plans in each telco’s lineup. Frequently, Optus ups the value in both call and text inclusions, and for data. Plans start at $25 a month, and straight away Optus offers unlimited calls and texts as well as 3GB of data. Telstra is still behind on cost, with comparable plans fetching around $10-$30 a month more than what Optus has to offer.

Where Telstra shines, however, is at the upper end of the spectrum where it offers upwards of 50GB for under $100. Both telcos offer data-free music streaming, and Telstra continues to include Apple Music subscriptions and Telstra Air data, while also offering Foxtel Now packs periodically with some of its plans. You might still find value in Telstra and its network – particularly handy in rural areas or places with spotty reception – but overall, Optus dominates the budget end of the spectrum.

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

Small

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS

min. cost $588 over 12 month plan period

15GBMax Data**/billing period $49Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Medium

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS
  • Unlimited Calls & Texts to 15 countries
  • ‘Peace of Mind’ data included

min. cost $828 over 12 month plan period

30GBMax Data**/billing period $69Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Optus Logo

$55 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS
  • Unlimited International minutes to 35 countries

min. cost $660 over 12 month plan period

25GBMax Data**/billing period $55Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$65 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS
  • Unlimited International minutes to 35 countries

min. cost $780 over 12 month plan period

40GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Month-to-Month Plans Compared

The no-contract segment is a little smaller – probably because Telstra no longer offers month-to-month SIM-only postpaid plans. Below you’ll find a couple of Optus’ no-contract plans.

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

$55 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS

min. cost $55 over 1 month plan period

15GBMax Data**/billing period $55Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$65 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS

min. cost $65 over 1 month plan period

25GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Telstra vs Optus | Phones on a Plan from $40 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. In this case, comparing plans using the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 as an example, you’ll find that competition between the two has tightened considerably. Each telco now offers both ‘lease’ plans (for selected devices) and traditional, two-year phone plans.

Telstra & Optus Lease Plans

A phenomenon to hit Australian shores recently is ‘lease’ phone plans. What leasing a phone means is that you are basically renting it – like renting a home, it’s not technically yours. This means you’ll have to hand it back at the end of your term or upgrade after a year for a nominal fee. You’ll also be subject to penalties if it’s returned damaged or with the screen cracked. What you get in return for this is usually discounted phone plans and big data bonuses.

Telstra and Optus are the only providers currently to offer ‘lease’ plans and customers can stand to save a bundle. The cheapest Note 9 lease plan here is by Optus, which costs $79 per month ($65 for your 10GB plan, and $14 each month to lease your phone). In comparison, Telstra’s closest offering is priced at $112 monthly: $59 for your 3GB Small plan, and a $53 monthly lease payment. All of Telstra and Optus’ lease options are also available as standard, 24-month plans which will see your own your phone after two years; plans are exactly the same, but your device payment will go up by $10 monthly.

Looking at plan extras, Optus includes data-free music streaming while Telstra is pretty light on features at this price, but does include the standard NRL & AFL streaming plus Foxtel Now on some plans. At higher prices, Telstra ups the ante, and so does Optus; below are several published phone-on-a-plan options from both telcos, not including device costs.

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

$79 Medium

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS

min. cost $1896 over 24 month plan period

10GBMax Data**/billing period $79Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

$99 Large

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS
  • 24 month Foxtel Now subscription to 1 Foxtel Now Starter Pack

min. cost $2376 over 24 month plan period

30GBMax Data**/billing period $99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

$129 Extra Large

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS
  • 24 month Foxtel Now subscription to 1 Foxtel Now Starter Pack
  • 30GB bonus data

min. cost $3096 over 24 month plan period

60GBMax Data**/billing period $129Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Optus Logo

$85 My Plan Flex

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free
  • Stream Music data free
  • Double Data

min. cost $2040 over 24 month plan period

25GBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$105 My Plan Flex

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free
  • Stream Music data free
  • Double Data

min. cost $2520 over 24 month plan period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $105Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$125 My Plan Flex

  • Unlimited National Calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free
  • Stream Music data free

min. cost $3000 over 24 month plan period

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

Telstra vs Optus | Prepaid Plans from $1 Compared

Australia’s two biggest telcos have – not surprisingly – a large range of prepaid phone plans to choose from, ranging from around $1 all the way up to around $100 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 28-day plans, with nominal amounts of data for use.

Optus seems to have the advantage here, generally offering more data and unlimited calls and texts for the same amount of money. The telco also throws in 10GB of streaming data for Netflix, Stan and iView on its Epic Data prepaid plans, as well as data rollover.

To compare, Telstra offers data-free NRL, A-League, netball and AFL Game Pass streaming, plus data-free Apple Music and unlimited Telstra Air hotspot WiFi. Both carriers also include international on selected prepaid plans – so depending on your tastes, one telco may stick out more than the other.

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

Prepaid Extra $30

  • Unlimited national calls & SMS, plus $5 extra credit

min. cost $30 over 28 days

2.5GBMax Data**/billing period $30Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Prepaid Extra $40

  • Unlimited national calls & SMS
  • unlimited calls to 10 countries
  • plus $10 extra credit

min. cost $40 over 28 days

5GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Optus Logo

Epic Data $30

  • Unlimited national calls & SMS
  • 5GB data, plus 10GB to stream
  • $5 extra credit

min. cost $30 over 28 days

5GBMax Data**/billing period $30Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

Epic Data $40

  • Unlimited national calls & SMS
  • 10GB data, plus 10GB to stream
  • $10 extra credit

min. cost $40 over 28 days

10GBMax 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, likely to suit most budgets. They also have the biggest customer bases, so millions of people can’t be wrong. This comparison suggests that Optus has a slight edge over Telstra in terms of basic data, call and text inclusions, but there’s more to it than that.

Telstra does have the most expansive network, so people in rural areas may find that Telstra is the one to go with. Similarly, both have great entertainment packs to consider, especially when it comes to their bundled handset plans. If you’re looking for a prepaid or no lock-in contract postpaid plan, Optus is hard to beat. But if you’re signing up to a new handset plan, you may find Telstra has more of what you’re looking for.

Compare Prepaid Phone Plans

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