What are SIM-Only (BYO) phone plans?
As simple as they sound, SIM-only (or BYO mobile) plans provide you with a SIM card for you to use in any unlocked phone handset you like. SIM-only phone plans are typically cheaper than their traditional counterparts because your plan doesn’t include the cost of paying for your new phone.
The big advantage of a SIM-only plan is freedom because you can choose pretty much any mobile phone on the market. Whether it’s brand new, pre-owned, or your mum’s old Nokia brick with Snake as a game, you’re not limited to the often small range of new phones stocked by the telcos. Of course, buying your own handset means a higher upfront cost, but it allows you to potentially save loads of money by opting for a less expensive model.
By removing the somewhat emotional decision of choosing a phone, SIM-only plans also put the focus back on plan inclusions. So what can you get for your money?
What SIM-Only (BYO) phone plans are available?
SIM-only plans often come with more variations in their inclusions, with a strong focus on data. Pretty much all of Australia’s service providers offer a range of SIM-only plans at several different price points. The best ‘bang for buck’ is often found with smaller Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) you may not have heard of. Generally speaking, you can expect at least 1GB of data on a full term (28, 30 days or monthly) for around $10-$15, while the cheapest unlimited plans usually start at around $20.
Prepaid vs Postpaid SIM-Only Plans
An important factor to consider before you jump into a new phone plan is whether you want a prepaid or postpaid plan. With prepaid, you will simply pay for credit and then receive it for a billing period spanning a certain time, whereas with postpaid you’re automatically billed at the end of each billing period – be it 7 days or more – and will be charged extra for going over your plan’s basic limitations. So now that you know the most obvious difference between prepaid and postpaid, it’s time to delve into what the telcos can offer.
Prepaid SIM-Only (BYO) Phone Plans
Plans $10 and Under
At the supreme budget end of the SIM-only market there are a few carriers that compete heavily with one another. At this price, billing periods are relatively short (around 7-10 days), so total costs over a month may make them more expensive, depending on how you use your plan. Overall you can expect around 500MB to 1GB of mobile data with some fairly modest call and text inclusions from the likes of Vodafone, Optus and Coles Mobile. Boost Mobile has also comes to the game with 1GB of data with unlimited calls and texts. However, you’ll need to remember that all except Optus have short billing periods, with the Optus deal charging you $2 a day once you trigger the inclusions – this could add up a fair bit over a month.
Plans $20 and Under
When you venture over the $10 threshold, you can expect a good jump in data, call and text inclusions. For about $20, you’ll be looking at getting 1GB data. Some providers even offer unlimited calls and texts. Other providers still have dollar values attached to their call and text inclusions. In this price bracket, expect to see more competition from the likes of Kogan Mobile, Yomojo, TPG and ALDI Mobile. Online retail giant Kogan comes out the cheapest for 1GB data here, but TPG and Aldi offer 1.5GB. Aldi is the only one here on the Telstra network, so if you’re partial to a particular network, it pays to look at these details.
Plans $30 and Under
This price bracket sees a serious beefing up in the inclusions department. A lot of providers now offer unlimited calls and texts, plus around 2GB of data to see you through. OVO Mobile and Virgin Mobile are both competitive, but it’s Yomojo that includes a massive 6GB data billed monthly. It helps to keep an eye out for billing periods and whether you’re paying for a 28 or 30 day recharge. It might not seem too significant, but over a year it can make a difference!
Plans $40 and Under
Merely paying $10 more can get you some surprising results. Here in the $30 to $40 range you’ll see the providers have seriously ramped up data inclusions. OVO Mobile here is leading the pack, with the most data for the cheapest price. In hot contention are familiar faces like TPG, ALDI Mobile and Kogan Mobile all offering at least 5GB for under $40, but that’s still some way short of OVO Mobile’s huge 8GB data.
Plans $50 and Under
When you move into the more high-end range of mobile plans, around $50 can get you some hefty data that even the most data-hungry users would be impressed by. In this bracket, you can easily expect at least 5GB of data, but some providers even offer 10GB or more. There are three providers that give you 10GB for less than $50 a month – Yomojo, OVO and Kogan. Amaysim also comes to the game with 9GB of data and benefits from having its SIM cards sold in a variety of stores, which is handy for a ‘quick-fix’ solution. All three of these guys have proven that they pack a punch in the prepaid mobile land.
Prepaid mobile is no longer the plan option for teenage kids and mature-aged consumers who never use their phones. Instead, prepaid now offers some exciting phone plans from MVNOs intent on giving you great value and competitive rates. However, if prepaid is not your cup of tea, then postpaid just might be.
Postpaid SIM-Only (BYO) Phone Plans
Plans $15 and Under
In this bargain-basement end of postpaid land, there are a few providers who all offer similar inclusions. Overall you can expect at least 200MB of data, along with either $200 included value or 200 minutes of calls, plus varying amounts of texts. In this pretty packed segment of the market, the likes of CMobile, Think Mobile, SpinTel and Jeenee Mobile are leading the postpaid pack. The overall leader seems to be Think Mobile which offers competitive inclusions at a cheaper price.
Plans $30 and Under
Spend an extra $10 a month and you’ll likely see data inclusions increase markedly. Many providers are jostling for your attention here, and about 3GB of data, as well as unlimited calls and texts appears to be about the norm. Jeenee Mobile, TeleChoice, Vaya and Dodo offer similar inclusions, but it seems that Jeenee comes out on top with 4GB of data included. It should be noted, however, that Dodo’s plan is on a 12 month contract.
Plans $40 and Under
Postpaid SIM-only plans around $40 a month usually offer great value with hefty data inclusions. In this price bracket you can expect around 5GB for your dollars. The ranks are dominated again by Jeenee, Vaya, TeleChoice and Dodo. Though three out of these four are propped up by data bonuses, and two providers offer their best deals only with 12 month contracts. If you like flexibility, then keeping an eye out for data bonuses and month to month contracts is important here.
Plans $50 and Under
For less than a pineapple, you can expect to be treated to some data delights. At around $50 a month, 10GB included data has become the norm recently, with many providers offering even more than that. Jeenee smashes the rest with 30GB of included data for $50, while Vodafone, TeleChoice and Optus all battle for supremacy in around the 10GB mark. Here you should watch out for bonus data again, and the fact that Jeenee’s Mammoth plan uses Optus 3G instead of 4G.
Which SIM-Only plan is right for me?
After reviewing an array of SIM-only phone plans in a variety of price brackets, you’d be forgiven for being confused as to what to shoot for. There are a few questions you will need to answer for yourself before jumping into a new plan.
- What phone network do I prefer? There are three phone networks in Australia – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, with TPG set to launch its own network in future. Smaller service providers use one or more of these networks to deliver their services.
- What inclusions do I need? There is little point paying for unlimited calls and texts if you’re not going to make the most of them. Likewise, give serious thought to how much data you actually need.
- What is my budget? If you’re bound by a budget like most of us, compare plans in a particular price segment and search for the best value you can get for your money.
At the end of the day, a SIM-only plan is a great choice if you want the freedom to choose your phone or you’re after more variety in plan offerings – the choice of which plan, however, is completely up to you! We hope you find this comparison page helpful.