Telstra vs Woolworths Mobile: Which telco has the best phone plans?

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There are lots of Aussie telcos fighting it out for your business, but finding the right telco and phone plan for you can be a bit tricky. After all, the right option for one person will be different to the next person — there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to phone plans.

Enter Telstra and Woolworths Mobile. Both of these telcos have pros and cons. While Telstra has built its reputation as Australia’s largest network with a range of plans, phones and extras, Woolworths Mobile has stepped up with its own range of prepaid, postpaid and phone on a plan options, making it one of only a handful of telcos to offer smartphones bundled with a plan.

While both of these telcos have similar offerings, and Woolworths Mobile even uses the Telstra network to deliver its 3G and 4G coverage, there are plenty of differences between the two. So, which telco has the best phone plan for your needs, and how do these plans stack up when it comes to value for money?

Telstra Vs Woolworths Mobile: A quick glance

Telstra is known as Australia’s largest mobile network, covering over 99% of the population. For anyone living in regional and remote areas, the Telstra network is generally the best bet for coverage, although Optus is catching up fast, and even Vodafone now covers a large portion of the population. Telstra is also currently leading the charge when it comes to building its 5G mobile network, with many sites now switched on and several 5G-compatible devices now available.

As for Woolworths Mobile, as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) on the Telstra network, you’ll have access to parts of the Telstra network, but not the full network (including Telstra’s fast 4GX coverage). Currently Boost Mobile (which is owned by Telstra) is the only MVNO to have access to the full Telstra network. So, as a first step when comparing these two telcos, you should check each brand’s website to ensure that one or both of these providers has coverage in your area.

When it comes to what’s on offer from Telstra and Woolworths, there are a few similarities. Both companies offer SIM-only prepaid and postpaid plans, as well as phone plans bundled with a new smartphone. However, Telstra has a much larger range of smartphones available, while Woolworths Mobile only offers devices from a few manufacturers.

The best phone plans from Telstra and Woolworths Mobile

While these two telcos have much in common, plan prices and inclusions are the biggest point of difference. Telstra is generally known for being on the pricier end of the spectrum, however these premium prices tend to come with premium extras. So if you’re looking for the cheapest phone plan on offer from these telcos, Woolies will probably have the better option. However, if you like extras thrown in on your plan or big data allowances, Telstra might be right for you.

To give you a better idea of plan prices and data inclusions, the table below shows the cheapest and most expensive postpaid plans on offer from Telstra and Woolworths Mobile from Canstar Blue’s database listed in order of advertised cost, lowest cost first, then by data allowance. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These tables include products with links to referral partners.

Telstra Vs Woolworths Mobile: Phone on a plan

As already mentioned, both telcos offer a selection of smartphones that can be bundled with a phone plan, with Telstra offering a wider range of phones than Woolies currently does. Woolworths offers a range of Samsung devices (including the latest Galaxy S21 range) and 4G and 5G OPPO phones. Telstra offers a wide range of phones including the latest devices from the big manufacturers Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Google and OPPO.

Another similarity between these two telcos is that both Telstra and Woolworths Mobile separate the device payments from the plan payments. Vodafone was the first telco to introduce this form of phone plan with Woolies and then Telstra following suit.

Both telcos offer you payment length options: 12 or 24 months with Telstra, and 24 or 36 months with Woolworths Mobile. The total cost of the device will be the same no matter which contract length you choose.

Once you’ve selected your device and payment period length, you’ll then need to add on a plan, which are offered as month-to-month postpaid plans from Woolies, and as month-to-month Upfront plans from Telstra (the difference being that Telstra requires you to pay each month in advance via AutoPay).

These plans are no lock-in contract plans (from both telcos) allowing you to switch between data inclusions and monthly prices as needed, however cancelling altogether will require you to pay off the remainder of your device.

The following table shows a range of Telstra and Woolworths Mobile’s Samsung 128GB Galaxy S21 5G 24-month phone plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products including links to our referral partners.

Telstra Vs Woolworths Mobile: Postpaid phone plans

Another similarity between these two telcos is that both SIM-only postpaid plans, and plans bundled with a new phone, feature the same prices and data inclusions. You’ll still pay the same plan price – and receive the same amount of data – on both SIM-only and phone plans, the difference being that you’ll pay an additional phone payment if you bundle with a device.

Telstra has recently revamped its range of postpaid plans, simplifying it into a suite of four no lock-in plans which can be SIM-only or bundled with a new phone and require you to pay each month in advance. Woolworths Mobile, however, offers its range of four plans at the same price points and data inclusions across prepaid, postpaid, and with a new phone — the plan length is the difference.

With Woolies, SIM-only postpaid plans are the same as their phone plan counterparts, with up to 200GB of data banking and unlimited standard national talk and text in Australia. While data inclusions are fairly generous, there aren’t any entertainment extras, and once you’ve used up your monthly gigabyte allowance you’ll be unable to use your data until the next billing period (unless you purchase a data add on). Plans begin at $25 for 18GB of data, up to $45 for 55GB, and all are available month-to-month and contract-free.

Telstra offers no lock-in contracts (with no cancellation fees), no excess data charges and some tempting extras thrown in. You’ll get data-free Apple Music streaming, unlimited international texts, the ability to share data between eligible accounts, and access to the Telstra Plus rewards program. Plus, once you’ve gone over your data inclusion, you can keep using data at the capped speed of 1.5Mbps (fast enough for standard-definition video streaming). The data inclusions are also fairly generous, starting at 40GB and going up to a huge 150GB.

However, Telstra’s plans tend to be more expensive, with its cheapest plan starting at $50. These days, there are plenty of cheap phone plans out there, and 20GB of data is easy to find around the $30 mark. That being said, for Telstra, cheap plans have never been its selling point — it’s leading the way with the roll out of 5G technology, has the largest network in the country and through its range of entertainment extras and rewards for customers, there is plenty of value packed into its plans. After all, price might not be the measure of the best phone plan for your needs.

Telstra SIM only plans start at $55 for 40GB a month, and go up to $115 a month for 180GB. Medium, Large and Extra Large plans get 5G access bundled in for free, whereas Small plan customers would need to pay an additional $15 each month to get 5G access.

The following tables show the published Telstra and Woolworths Mobile postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, with the lowest priced plan first. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products with links to referral partners.

Telstra Vs Woolworths Mobile: Prepaid phone plans

This is where we see more difference between the two telcos. Woolworths Mobile’s prepaid plans are the same as the postpaid offerings, however they run on a 30-day expiry period, and in order to maintain your data bank, you’ll need to recharge before your plan’s expiry. The $10 plan is the cheapest on offer and it also runs over a 30-day expiry, unlike many other cheap prepaid plans that tend to run on shorter expiry periods.

You can also pick up three long-expiry prepaid plans, with a 180-day plan for $60 with 12GB of data and two 365-day plans: $150 with 100GB of data, and $200 for 150GB of data. The 30-day plans include up to 200GB of data banking, but you will need to recharge these plans before expiry to take advantage of these inclusions.

Telstra, on the other hand, has several prepaid options. Its Prepaid Mobile Casual plans are ‘pay for what you use’, with long expiry periods (45 to 365 days) – more like the traditional prepaid plan where you load it up with credit, and your calls, SMS, and data use are taken from your balance.

Prepaid Mobile plans, however, come with an included data allowance, and unlimited standard national calls and SMS. The expiry periods start at seven days and go up to 12 months. These plans also include standard international calls and texts, and the ability to bank up to 200GB of data when you recharge before expiry.

The following tables show published Telstra and Woolworths Mobile prepaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, lowest to highest, then data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products with links to referral partners.

Which telco has the best bonuses and extras?

It’s pretty clear that Telstra has some of the best extras around, with very few MVNOs offering the type of bonuses, like data-free streaming, that the big three telcos can offer. If you’re already an Apple Music customer, or have been considering signing up to the music streaming platform, being able to stream data-free is another plus.

With Telstra, you’ll also be able to sign up for Telstra Plus rewards. You’ll receive points which can go towards items in the Rewards Store, along with discounted movie and sports tickets and a range of other perks.

Woolworths Mobile, on the other hand, has more of its focus on being a phone plan provider for the whole family.  Bonus data and discounted plans are also on offer from time to time, and being able to save up to 200GB of data in your data bank is definitely a plus if you’re a sporadic data user and don’t tend to use up all of your data each month.

You might have noticed that international calls are absent from many of these plans. While Telstra does offer some international call inclusions on mobile plans, both telcos require you to pay extra for international call add-ons. This could be a deterrent if you have friends and family overseas, and don’t tend to use web-based chat services to keep in touch.

Telstra Vs Woolworths Mobile — the final word

Overall, it’s hard to say that there is a clear winner, as everyone’s needs are different when it comes to selecting a phone plan. There are plenty of other telcos around that also offer prepaid and postpaid plans – so while we’ve provided you with a snapshot of how Telstra and Woolworths compare, you should still have a look and compare plans from other providers, to ensure you’re signing up for a plan that is right for your needs.

  • Price: If you’re looking for a cheaper phone plan with reasonable data inclusions, Woolworths Mobile does have the edge over Telstra, with plans starting at $25 and going up to $45. The $50 price point is where Telstra introduces its first postpaid and phone plan offer, and the most expensive postpaid plan is at $115 per month.
  • Data: It depends on what your data needs are: if you’re happy with a data inclusion under the 20GB mark, Woolworths has more affordable plans with this inclusion, and overall, Woolies offers reasonable data for your money. If you want the big chunks of data so you can stream HD videos to your heart’s content, Telstra has much more data on offer — up to 180GB per month. Not only that, but Telstra has no excess data charges on postpaid plans, so you can keep using your data at the capped speed of 1.5Mbps.
  • Phones: Telstra does have the bigger range, but Woolworths Mobile still has some of the most popular devices around from Samsung and OPPO. Woolies also stocks some of the more affordable devices on the market, while Telstra has many of the premium devices, including iPhones, as well as 5G-compatible phones.
  • Extras: Undoubtedly, Telstra offers more extras than most telcos, and fairly generous ones too. Woolies skews its extras to more family-friendly offerings, as well as bonus data and plan discounts. However, when you’re comparing phone plans, these bonuses and extras should only come into consideration if you know you’ll actually use them.

While Telstra or Woolworths Mobile might sound like the right telco for you, it’s still worth having a look around at other providers and comparing phone plans before you sign up. Both telcos have strong points, but choosing the right plan really depends on what your needs are: compare what’s available, and hopefully you’ll find the right phone plan for you.

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