Despite several of the telcos adopting simpler plan structures recently, buying a mobile phone and connecting to a network in Australia is still a test of wits and patience. If you're hoping to avoid a contract with a prepaid phone plan, there are some bargains to be found, but you'll have to do your digging.
Comparing the numerous prepaid options is a minefield of maths and bonus offers — most telcos have half a dozen plans each with a tiered pricing structure to consider, plus a variety of freebies and discounts along the way. The only fair way to find the best plans is to agree on a few fixed elements, like SMS and data usage, and to figure out how many average calls you can make every time you recharge your account. We'll work with 150 SMS messages per month and a data allowance of 100MB.
To find this magic number for all the plans we compare, we're going to:
- Take the total recharge credit
- Deduct the expense of 150 SMS messages and 100MB of data
- Assume the rest of the remaining credit will be spent on calling minutes.
This credit will be broken into two-minute calls (the national average) so that each average call will cost flag fall plus whatever a telco bills for two minutes on the phone.
Simply put: (total credit - 150 SMSes - 500MB data) / cost of two-minute call = number of calls each recharge.
On the next page, we'll compare plans from each of the Aussie telcos up to a value of AU$30 per month. If you think you're likely to spend more than this, we recommend that you apply a similar equation to the higher-value plans that you are looking at.