Planhacker: Where Are The Best Carrier Perks?

So you've found what looks like a great mobile phone plan deal. You compared all your options, and found one with decent inclusions and an affordable price tag. But you check out the carrier benefits that go along with your plan?

Benefits picture from Shutterstock

If you answered "no", that may well be because there aren't any. Despite fierce competition, telcos generally offer pitiful incentives to get you on their billing list, and most of those benefits are in the form of bundles that actually mean you have to spend more money with the carrier. In a few rare cases, however, you can find extra benefits that could make a carrier more worthwhile. We've highlighted some of the main ones here.

Virgin

Most Virgin-branded companies aren't actually part of a larger group (Richard Branson is a master at licensing the brand out), but overlaps often occur. For instance, Virgin Mobile (which is actually owned by Optus) offers benefits from Virgin Money and Virgin Australia. Right now, the most prominent offer on the Virgin Family Perks page is $50 in mobile credit if you purchase car insurance through Virgin Money.

The most notable benefit Virgin has offered in this field has been crediting 10 per cent of the base fare when you purchase a flight on Virgin Australia back to your mobile account. Right now, that benefit isn't visible on the site, but that could well be a consequence of Virgin Australia's own back-end system upgrade. If it does return, it's a solid extra, especially given Virgin Australia's popularity with Lifehacker readers.

Vodafone

Yes, we know: Vodafone. But there are some interesting extras, such as its mobile TV pack. With 4G on the horizon, fast streaming of television shows is a great draw to the carrier. From $8 a month on postpaid services, $16 a month for prepaid accounts, or $2 per episode, you can watch shows from a selection of channels including Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, MTV and CNN.

If you find that TV isn't reason enough to stick with the Vodafone service, you can always invoke its Network Guarantee: within 30 days, pay for what you've used, return your handset with the packaging and seek your mobile service elsewhere.

Telstra

Telstra's approach to perks tends to be entirely bundle-centric, but, like Vodafone, it does have a TV offering in the form of Mobile Foxtel. There are three channel bundles: Value ($8 a month or $2 a week on prepaid), Ultimate ($15 a month or $3.75 a week on prepaid) and Ultimate Pack+Sport ($20 a month or $5 a week on prepaid). All bundles include free access to ABC1 and SBS1.

Telstra's other obvious benefit is the ability to earn flybuys points. However, this only applies to prepaid recharges purchased at Coles, Kmart, Target or Coles Express.

Optus

Optus' plans offer a number of additional perks. One we've discussed before is the ability to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points from your bill. Personal account holders earn 2 points per dollar on each bill (and signing up via Optus avoids the joining fee).

Not much of a flyer? Optus' other bonus offer is 'yes' Tickets. In practice, discount shows and competitions are rare and not always worth the trouble. The main reason you'd bother signing up is for the Movie Rewards. You can purchase $10 movie vouchers for use in a bunch of cinemas across the country, most notably Hoyts theatres. That's a solid saving on existing ticket prices, and there aren't many restrictions (other than sessions after 5pm on Saturdays being blocked).

Guest contributor Kelly Vieira writes for mobile phone comparison site finder.com.au. Lifehacker's weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.


Comments

    That, or you could go with a provider like Amaysim or Kogan that gives you more included data and calls than the 'big four' for way, way less per month. I've been with Amaysim for two months on a $39.90 'unlimited' plan, which gives me enough data for my phone AND tablet, plus it's on the Optus network so much more coverage than (my previous carrier) Vodafone! If anyone is interested, here are the plans, and a link to $10 off: https://www.amaysim.com.au/my-account/friends/422814

      Or for $0.90 less you could sign up at www.vaya.net.au which have the same unlimited plan but with 5gig of data. Or for even less you can try Kogan's new offering of $29 per 30 days with unlimited calls, sms and 6gig of data, plus it's on the (old) Telstra 3g Network.

        Wrong. It is on the same Telstra 3G network, just speed limited to 7.2Mbps and some sites are disabled where Telstra don't have any competition. Their old 3G network has been completely shut down.

    Telstra perks you forgot to mention:
    - unlimited music streaming through the MOG app ($12 per month)
    - unlimited social networking through tribe.telstra.com
    - AFL/NRL access - no idea about NRL but AFL is priced at $50 for the season or $10/month. Naturally the same thing can be achieved with Sport pack on Mobile Foxtel but if your footy is all you want, this is cheaper.
    NRL/AFL live streaming is only available to telstra customers (unlike cricket/tennis where anyone on any network can pay to watch)

    Last edited 17/01/13 12:58 pm

      All data on the bigpond network sites (ie, the "green dot") is also uncapped and not counted towards your data quota.

        Not all of it. Only the stuff at m.bigpond.com is unmetered on your mobile.

        You can't download a linux ISO from the telstra file mirror on your phone and have it be unmetered, it doesn't work like that ;)

        On a PC, the stuff at http://go.bigpond.com/home/index.jsp is unmetered, but any of that stuff is metered for a smartphone. There is a big difference in the content available between the two.

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