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


They’re the two giants in the Australian telco landscape – Telstra and Optus. Not only do they offer a suite of broadband plans, they also offer mobile plans. From prepaid to postpaid SIM-Only, to bundled phone plans, Telstra and Optus have you covered. However, which one is better value? They’re the two perennial providers in Australia with wide coverage reaching at least 98 per cent of the population, and chances are you are with them, or a low-cost carrier that uses their vast networks. What might surprise you is that there are some key differences between the two. Let’s review what they offer and see which telco giant offers the best deal for your needs.

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)
  • And bundled plans

Optus tends to be cheaper than Telstra, but what are you compromising on? Telstra may be dearer in price – generally – but you might get some bonuses unavailable anywhere else. Read on to find out how the two really stack up. But first, here is a quick comparison of their cheapest iPhone X plans:

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, so let’s see what’s on offer.

  • Both telcos provide a ‘$1 a day’ deal, but Optus provides 500mb to use, while Telstra musters up 100MB
  • Both 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. However, Telstra’s plans do include 1c texts to other Telstra customers, as well as bonus text and call offers. Seeing that Telstra is Australia’s largest network with a huge customer base, chances are you could get by with these bonuses that Optus often does not have. In this prepaid sector, both telcos are fairly identical in what they have to offer. However, Optus offers data-free music streaming on a lot of plans, while Telstra offers data-free NRL or AFL Game Pass streaming. Depending on your tastes, one telco may stick out more than the other.

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.

Month-to-Month Plans Compared

The no-contract segment is a little smaller – probably because Optus and Telstra want you to stick around for a while – but you can still find pretty solid value. The price range varies from about $35 to over $100 per billing period. Again, Optus seems to outdo Telstra a little bit in terms of inclusions for the price. For example, at $30, Optus offers unlimited calls and text, plus 1.5GB data. Telstra dominates the upper ranks, even offering a massive 30GB for a bit over $100. Both offer data-free music streaming, but Telstra takes it one step further and throws in a free subscription to Apple Music, plus unlimited Telstra Air data.

12 Month Plans Compared

Telstra and Optus postpaid SIM-only, contracted plans are much the same story as the other categories. Frequently, Optus ups the value in both call and text inclusions, and for data. Plans start at around $30 a month, and straight away Optus offers unlimited calls and texts as well as at least 2GB 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 up to 30GB for just under $100. Contrast this with its month-to-month plans, where the same deal costs $10 a month more. Both telcos offer data-free music streaming and Telstra continues to offer 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 Optus dominates the budget end of the spectrum.

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 iPhone 8 (64GB) as an example, you’ll find that competition between the two has tightened considerably. Each other ‘lease’ plans and traditional 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, but is that enough to sway you and be subject to these conditions?

Telstra and Optus are the only providers currently to offer ‘lease’ plans and customers can stand to save a bundle. The cheapest iPhone 8 plan here is by Optus, which costs under $70. Telstra’s closest offering is just under $80. Optus includes data-free music streaming while Telstra is pretty light on features at this price. At higher prices, Telstra ups the ante, and so does Optus.

Telstra & Optus Phone Plans Compared

Using the latest iPhone as an example, you’ll realise there aren’t really any ‘budget’ bundles. Expect the minimum bill per month to be around $80, with plans going all the way up to nearly $200. Expect data amounts over 1GB and unlimited calls and texts for the cheaper plans and around 20GB for plans $100 or more. Plans with 100GB will cost near $200. For these high prices, both telcos offer a fair bit in return. Expect things like data-free music streaming, music memberships and Foxtel or Optus Sport packages to come in bundled from time to time. Both telcos are pretty competitive here, but Optus does tend to offer more data for the price.

Optus and Telstra both have some alluring entertainment packs to sway you over. If the phone plans themselves weren’t enough, the two telco giants are perhaps the frontrunners in the industry to offer lots of entertainment bundles to pique your interest. As for which provider is better for entertainment, it’s a much of a muchness. However, if you’re an English Premier League fan, Optus would have the edge as it has the rights to the EPL. If your sport tastes are more domestic, Telstra has ties with both the NRL and AFL, offering free subscriptions to their respective league passes in many instances. You could also watch games data-free. As far as entertainment and sport goes, Optus and Telstra are pretty neck and neck; it all depends on what type of entertainment and sport you prefer.

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, right? 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 or what you’re looking for.

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