Planhacker: Every Australian BYO Contract Cap Plan Compared (Updated)

Prepaid works for casual mobile phone users, but many Australians choose to sign up for a contract plan, either to get better data rates or because they want the cost of their handset subsidised. But which one should you choose? This up-to-date Planhacker listing covers every contract mobile plan (and their month-by-month competitors) available in Australia.

Picture by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Updated 05.07.2012 3pm with Live Connect and TPG listings.

Contract plans have one huge disadvantage: they tie you to a single carrier for an extended period of time. If you move house, or even if the network performance degrades, that can be a major disadvantage. However, the combined lure of a subsidised handset and a fixed monthly price means they remain a popular option.

In the table below, we've listed all the contract plans available from carriers and MVNOs in Australia. We've also included non-contract plans which work in the same way (that is, they give you a set call value which you can use over a 30-day period, rather than working on a pay-as-you-go model). We've only included plans which are listed as available online, and we haven't included limited-time bonus offers.

For each plan, we've included how much you'll pay per month; how long the contract is (1 month indicates no long-term commitment); and how much data is included, and what you'll pay for excess use. Research suggests that many people don't need more than 1GB a month, but if you also tether your phone for data access on other devices, your usage can be much higher.

In terms of calls and texts, plans typically fall into two categories. 'Unlimited' indicates calls can be made to any landline or mobile in Australia (and usually covers texts to Australian numbers as well). These will invariably include a 'fair use' clause to cover extremely excessive usage. The monthly value on unlimited plans is usually available as credit for international calls.

Alternatively, you'll have a fixed amount of call credit which will be charged at a set rate. That rate comprises a flagfall (connection fee) plus a charge per minute (or part thereof). In practice, you need to add the two figures together to calculate the minimum cost of a call.

Many plans charge calls to 13 or 1800 numbers at a different rate, which we've indicated ('standard' indicates that the same rates apply as for regular calls, including flagfalls if applicable). We've also included charges for texts and MMS messages. All call and data inclusions are for Australia; if you roam overseas, you'll pay extra charges. Call rates also apply when you retrieve voicemail, except on unlimited plans or if you're on Virgin Mobile or Red Bull.

All these plans are bring-your-own phone options. Most carriers also offer the same with included handsets, but you'll generally pay an extra handset fee (except sometimes on the highest-value plans). While this will be the model lots of people will adopt, and which phones you can get will be a major factor, comparing the plans purely on their inclusions gives you a better indication of whether they'll fit your needs. BYO plans usually offer 12 month contracts; if you want an included handset, you'll typically be asked to sign a 24-month contract or be slugged with much higher handset fees.

Network coverage will be a vital consideration. There are only three choices: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Telstra generally has the best reputation for coverage, but you can only access its Next G service through Telstra itself and there's a definite price premium. And even Telstra's coverage is not universal — there are locations where you'll get better performance from Optus or Vodafone. The only sure way to know is to check with a handset where you live. Vodafone's reputation has been in tatters for the last two years, but the company has spent a large sum rebuilding its network and is promising high-speed options next year. If a store promises you reception in a given area and you get no service, you should be able to leave the contract (which is a good argument for buying in person rather than online).

The table below lists all the plans we found. Note that you can right-click on the headers to sort and filter the options you want, so you can (for instance) sort by all minimum price, or just pick plans with a particular level of data inclusions. There are notes and comments on each provider below.

Amaysim

If you're happy with the Optus network, Amaysim's plans are good value. Less frequent phone users should be fine with the recently introduced $19.90 Flexi offer; if you want more data or make a lot of calls, the $39.90 Unlimited is good. Not being tied to a contract is also a major bonus. If you're a heavy data user, you can purchase additional data packs. Access to social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn) is free.

Boost

Boost's deal is actually similar to Amaysim's Unlimited deal (right down to using Optus and having the same free social networking access), but with lesser data inclusions and a much higher excess data rate. As such, Amaysim seems the more obvious choice if you want this kind of plan.

Crazy John's

If you're happy with the Vodafone network, Crazy John's has some reasonable deals, and runs 12-month contracts. You get free calls to other Crazy John's customers. The $45 plan includes $100 of credit for international calls and texts, which could make this appealing if you regularly call overseas. You can also add data packs or additional text messages to customise your usage.

Dodo

Dodo's reputation for customer service isn't particularly solid, and there are cheaper deals available that also use the Optus network (Amaysim and Boost), for both call rates and data. Contract terms can be short (6 months), though you'll need a 24-month deal if you want a handset included. Dodo includes separate credit for "Dodo-to-Dodo" calls, but doesn't offer free calls through that scheme (if you want free on-network calls through Optus, Virgin Mobile is a better bet). Access to social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn) is free.

Live Connected

Live Connected (added on the suggestion of readers — the company has kept a low profile!) uses Optus and has, by a fair distance, the cheapest plans on offer if you don't want to sign up for an unlimited deal. Two things to note: excess data rates are relatively high, There's credit include for on-network calls to other Live Connected customers, but if this is an important feature for you, Virgin Mobile (which has unlimited calls between customers) might be a better bet. Access to social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn) is free.

Optus

Optus' MVNO partners (Amaysim, Boost, Dodo, Live Connected, TPG and Virgin Mobile) in several cases have lower rates than Optus itself. Access to social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn) is free. Unusually, excess data rates are cheaper on more expensive plans. The $14 plans includes 500 free texts. . Optus' more expensive Timeless plans are only available with an included handset and a 24-month contract, and if you want a handset, most deals also require a 24-month sign-up and are priced $1 higher.

Red Bull

Red Bull's model is unusual; if you pay up front for 6 or 12 months, you get a discount and a larger monthly data allowance. That set and forget model will appeal to some people, but it limits your flexibility. Running on Vodafone will also be a concern for some customers.

Telstra

Telstra updated its plans this week, and while the coverage is excellent, both call and data rates are among the highest on this table. On the upside, all plans include unlimited texts, and you can make free calls to Australian mobile and landline numbers between 7pm and 7am and across weekends. Telstra also offers data packs if you need additional data.

TPG

TPG is another Optus reseller with a competitive range of plans: its $45 plan has 5GB of data, which is more than you get on the equivalent (but slightly cheaper) Amaysim plan. (Amaysim does offer unlimited calls, however.) Access to social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn) is free. Call rates for 13 and 1800 numbers on cheaper plans are high, but voicemail is free.

Virgin Mobile

Virgin trimmed its plans earlier this week, but still stands out amongst Optus resellers for some features. Virgin doesn't charge for voicemail retrieval, offers free calls and texts to other Virgin users, and rolls over unused credit. Contrary to an earlier version of this post, you also don't have to commit to a contract if you bring your own phone. If you bundle a phone, the minimal extra charge is $10 per month and you're on a 24-month contract.

Vodafone

Vodafone's plans run month-to-month, but if you want a handset you'll need either a 12 or 24-month contract. On plans priced $35 or above, you get free on-network calls and texts to other Vodafone users. Given its reputational challenges and the competitive landscape, the inclusions aren't especially generous. You can add data packs if needed.

Got any additions or corrections to this list? (It's a big table and I don't claim to be 100 per cent error free, though I do my best!) Tell us in the comments.


Comments

    TPG? iiNet?

      You have to be signed up to iiNet with an Internet account (not sure about TPG).
      So it's not a BYO plan that is available to everybody.
      By the looks of it this post are BYO plans that don't require you have another service with the company.

      Will add TPG later today.

        To get TPG mobile you have to have a home internet connection (ADSL) with them. 5Gb of data and $3000 worth of calls for $45 is a good deal. Their ADSL2 connection costs are pretty awesome as well. $60/month unlimited internet and home phone. $70 for the same but with unlimited local and national calls. They're definitely worth it if you need both an ADSL2 connection and mobile plan.

        How About Vaya?

    wrong in reference to virgin... no 24mth commitment on BYO. $10 off AND no commitment when you BYO. i'll be moving to virgin BYO at the end of the month... the Big Plan $29 with the bonus 2gb promo for $19 a month BYO is an absolute winner...

    http://www.virginmobile.com.au/sim-card/

      D'oh! Yep, need to take the $10 off -- will fix shortly.

      Virgin deal was a winner. But the promotion of extra 2g of dats ended 1st of July. I know this because my wife got this deal for only $19 a month with $450 credit. Virgin to my existing Virgin phone free plus 2.25 g of data each month. What more can we ask?

        They extended the 2GB bonus deal until the 31st of July.

          Excellent opportunity Virgin is giving by extending its promotion of 2 GB extra of data until the end of this month. Good bargain!

    +1 for TPG. They have some of the best plans out there and not even a mention...

      + 1 for TPG. I use them for my Tablet - $14.99 per month for 1.5Gb of data, and $550 of included calls. It's on the Optus network, so free Social Network sites.
      Admittedly I have Internet with then - hence the $14.99 rate.

    I've found http://wizard.id.au/spreadsheet/australian-mobile-cap-plan-comparison/ to be helpful in the past for comparing plans. Not sure when it was last updated.

    Telstra $100 isnt unlimited it includes $900 calls they have a $130 plan which is unlimited.

    Sorry i was wrong you were right 130 if you dont bring your own phone

    This part of the article:
    ".. and you can make free calls to Australian mobile and landline numbers between 7am and 7pm and across weekends."

    I think you mean 7pm and 7am!

    Check out Live Connected - my wife and I pay $18 and $12 per month respectively which includes huge (by comparison to your table) amounts of calls and data

      +1 My brother is on Live connected. It is pretty awesome.

        +2 My wife and I just switched from voda $45 unlimited to live connected $18. Between the phones and contract we now save $50 a month and the switch from vodafone network to optus was obviously superior. The 3g alone is so much faster. I also have more data and $700 just on calls as all mms and sms are free....even international sms and mms. Very happy.

      I too can confirm that Live Connected is awesome! :D

    Yeah virgin big cap 29 or 39 by is the best option by far atm. 10 bucks off for byo and bonus 2gig data as long as you stay on the plan. But the bonus data offer ends at the end of this month

    Y U NO Show Live Connected?

    I'm on the Amaysim Unlimited $39.90 plan and can't complain.
    I've been stung by a few plans where I've gone over my data or call cap.
    With the 4gig data cap and unlimited calls/messages I think that's going to be a thing of the past.

    Is there a reason LiveConnected (http://www.liveconnected.com.au/) isn't included?
    They seem to beat all the plans listed.

      Short answer: because I'd never encountered them before today! Will add them in.

      I've never heard of LiveConnected before either. Their plans look extremely tempting.
      Have you used them and are able to comment on their service?

        LC runs on the Optus network, same quality of service and data speeds as if you went with Optus direct.
        The downfall (or, what makes LC cheap) is that there is no phone service (all support done via tickets/email) and a $16 plan change fee

    Live connected should be number 1.

    I just had a look at LiveConnected dam that 15 month's left on my Vodafone contract

      Hi Nathan,Maybe do your sums and find out what it costs to get out of your Vodafone contract as it will most likely be cheaper to pay out the Exit clause from your Voda contract and jump on a Byo deal.i did that I was paying $49 pm on a Optus plan and believe it or not that was not including any data but unlimited calls.It cost me $350 to to pay the get out clause and now I use TPG for $17.99 with $550 with of calls including international calls,also I now get 1.5 G of Data also.so I save $30 a month and it has already paid made up the $350 I payed to get out of my Contract,Don't be crazy and just pay to get out of your contract.
      Keep away from Telstra,the Rip off and misleading mob they are.TPG OR LIVE CONNECTED ARE THE BEST IN MY OPINION ,and I have never exceeded my usage so I get to call international for the usage I have not used by the Month.
      Cheers,and trust me Ditch the Contract!!

    Exetel have basically the same as Live Connected too

    Add pennytel they have a $35 unlimited plan with 5GB. They also have some plans meant for international calls. I think they are also the cheapest for mobile data ($25 for 14GB).

    Can you add details about international calls/text inclusion for each provider? It'll be buy useful for international students and people who make regular overseas contracts (ie 10,20 mins per day, occasional hour long calls)

    I'm on the Woolworths Mobile $29 prepaid cap, you get 5GB of data and $500 of call and text credit, as well as lasting 45 days rather than 30. It's awesome.

      That $500 is split into $250 all networks other than Optus+Pivotel and the other $250 for Optus. Ok if you know what network your call/txting.

    why is dodo magic sim not mentioned? 1 month contract & currently half price.

      Magic SIM is a prepaid offer, different category of product.

    Other issue with LC Live Connected mentioned on Whirpool quite a bit is if you want to port away or have an issue like can't make or recv calls it can take any where from a few hours to a few days to be fixed or if your unlucky your ticket goes ignored. Other issue if you have a legitimate complaint & its not resolved & you go to TIO they will kick you off the there service with 30 days notice 100% of the time.

      That's because the TIO charges $100s to resolve complaints and it's not worth LC's time. Usually the website is very good and you barely need to contact them. :D

    Hey Angus, any reason why Lebara Mobile is not even mentioned? I just switched from Amaysim and can't review yet. However, in terms or price is the Best Value Unlimited plan. $29.90 http://www.lebara.com.au/unlimited
    Cheers

      Simple reason -- hadn't noticed they had one! I'll look into it.

    What about Kiss mobile ?
    http://kissmobile.com.au/

    Vaya was mentioned in the comments of another post and they seem to have a very good deal going. I now will definitely consider switching to them. http://www.vaya.net.au/?option=Mobile

    Where's Varya? And you should include info on whether data usage allowance is calculated per kb or per mb. Makes a MASSIVE difference.

    Live Connected have relaunched and now cheapest plan is $20. IMHO TPG are now the beat bet under $20 per month for upto 1.5gb...etc!

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