The Single Best No-Contract Phone Deal For Every Australian Mobile Network

The savagely high prices for contract deals for the new iPhone have reaffirmed our belief that no-one should buy a phone on contract, or sign up for any kind of contract phone plan. But how can you choose between all the different prepaid and month-by-month plans? We've cut through the clutter with one clear recommendation for each of Australia's main mobile networks.

NOTE: This guide has been superseded. Click here for the most recent version.

Beach picture from Shutterstock

Each of these plans represents our choice for a good value, no-commitment deal that should meet the needs of most people. That doesn't mean they'll suit absolutely everyone. If you need masses of data, or are focused on being able to call overseas numbers, or only want to spend $20 a month, you'll need to do more research. However, these deals should work for most people, and we've aimed to find packages costing $50 a month or less.

We've included all three networks (Optus, Telstra and Vodafone) because coverage varies. A phone that doesn't work at your home and your workplace isn't good value. We haven't included every single company that resells on those networks; instead, we've picked the best-value deal available using that network. With that in mind, these are our recommendations.

Telstra

Telstra charges a clear premium compared to other providers, and finding a plan with a decent data and calls allowance that doesn't require a long-term commitment can be tricky. The best option is one we highlighted recently: the $50 Encore Cap with an added Browse Plus Pack, which adds 3GB of data to the 800MB available on the $50 pack. The Browse Plus is nominally priced at $49, but that can be paid for using the "recharge credit" included with the main plan, so there's no extra cost. Yes, that's confusing, but the upshot is you spend only $50 a month for 3.8GB of 4G data and $950 of call credit, as well as free calls between 7pm and 7am. It's a slightly fiddly arrangement — you have to 'buy' a new browse pack each month and can't automate the process — but it's easily the best-value deal on the Telstra network.

Optus

We have two recommendations here, both from MVNOs. If you're not concerned about 4G access, then Amaysim Unlimited is the way to go. For $39.90 a month, you score unlimited calls and texts and 4GB of data from a reliable, well-established provider.

If 4G matters to you, Live Connected's Rapid L plan also costs $39.90 and has unlimited texts, $850 of credit and 2GB of data. If you're willing to spend a little more, Optus $2 Day plan potentially gives you 15GB of data and unlimited calls and texts for $60 a month. It's an unusual plan; check our full writeup for all the details.

Vodafone

It's tough to get a decent amount of data on Vodafone. The $50 Red Plan has unlimited calls and texts, but only 1.5GB of data. Nonetheless, it's the best option we could identify in our price range, and includes 4G access. Pennytel's PennySIM Endless Lite offer is cheap at $35 and includes 5GB of data, but the stability of the company appears to be an issue so we hesitate to suggest it right now.

Which no-contract plans work for you? Tell us (and tell us why) in the comments.


Comments

    I might be missing something but isn't the vodafone one a plan?

    Yeah not too sure about the Voda solution either!!

    And also, I realise the encore plan meets the $50 or less criteria but how does having to add ANOTHER $49 to get more data make it now fit under the $50 cap? I guess because it is an extra it technically doesn't count towards the initial $50 part!!

    But for that matter why not just get Boost instead? $40 for 3Gb and unlimited text and calls kinda beats the encore plan already and it's no contract too!!

      You don't pay an extra $50 -- you have $50 of recharge credit which you can use to pay for the bundle. Boost isn't 4G, FWIW.

        Correct.. a lot of people don't understand the Encore Cap plan.. there was a guy in a phone shop that was trying to sell me a plan and I told him about the Encore Cap.. and he seriously didn't believe me. We even went to the webpage and I explained it to him.. nup.. he wouldn't believe it.

        I've checked with 3 different Telstra reps and that's how it works... it's an awesome and extremely flexible pre-paid option on Telstra.

        I did end up going with Yatango however, as they are just a little bit more flexible and suited me perfectly.

          That's odd, I went to a Telstra shop today to enquire about this, and they told me that this will not work, and that there is no way to add additional data to a pre-paid account? Maybe they don't know what they are talking about...

            They are wrong. I used to be on the Encore Cap and used the recharge $ to buy data.

        I love the encore cap, best thing Telstra has offered. Not only can you use the recharge value to buy data packs. If you are an Android of WP8 user you can use that value to purchase apps as well via the respective app store.

        Moving to prepaid has not only proved to be cheaper, but I get better value.

    The only issue with the Telstra one is that to access voicemail you are charged out of that $50, not the $950 of call credit, so if you only have $1 of that left, it might make it difficult.

      Though of course the $20 browse pack gives you an extra 700mb for a total of 1.5GB, or the $39 browse pack gives you... 1gb I think, for a total of 1.8gb. Probably better off buying 2x $20 browse packs and then having $10 left over for voicemail use.

      You're right there, but there's a trick you can use.

      Instead of calling your voicemail, call your OWN NUMBER. (It'll use your regular cap credit.)
      It'll go straight to voicemail because you're on the phone (of course). Press #, then your mailbox PIN.

      And you're in!

    What about the Woolworths mobile deal, 30 bucks for 5GB of data plus a bunch of calls (can't remember exactly) and you get a discount when you use your everyday rewards card.

      Agree, with discount works out about $17/month for 5Gb and no nasty charges if you go over that, just buy more credit.
      Interested in how much an extra 1Gb would cost on some of theses other plans

      Woolworths has just sent it's customers an email saying they are discontinuing the service.

        They are no longer issuing sim cards, but the service for existing customers is ongoing for now

    My wife and daughter have $20/month (3G) plans through iiNet (1.5Gb data and $450 calls - I think) which is sim only and no contract. I think they now do a $10 or $30 4G plan instead of the $20 one but the $20 deal is great and they have only ever exceeded the limit once early on due to the phone being set to automatically download apps. Since then iiNet have introduced an SMS warning at 50% and 80% but it hasn't been a problem since.

      I am on the IINet plans for Optus $45pm no contract with 3GB of 4G data and about $800 of calls and text.

    What about the Vodafone Prepaid Cap for vodafone?

    Just like Telstra, you can add data packs from your included allowance, but the beauty here is you can keep adding them.

    $30 gets you unlimited text and 500mb data, but $8 out of $450 adds 350mb, so the potential is there to add 19Gb (56 x $8 packs) if you really wanted, but most people would go for 4-5Gb and leave the rest for calls.

    Does not support 4G as yet though.

    Go up to a $50 recharge and you get 1Gb to start you off, plus $1,000 to use.

    Another way to go is a Vodafone Flexible Credit recharge of $49. This gives you 3Gb, plus $350 of flexible credit, so this recharge has the benefit of more data to begin with, then just keep adding on those $8 data packs.

    Last edited 20/09/13 3:19 pm

      I get the 30 cap and get 350mb for $16 out of my flexi credit, so it costs me nothing. My txt are unlimited and I do not make a lot of calls so use my $450 flexi credit to keep up data.

    Dont forget good old Aldi - $35 for an unlimited bolt-on with 5gb

      I'm on the Aldo service and it's the best value for me.
      $35 for 5 GB can't be beaten by anyone + unlimited calls/sms. All on the Telstra network. Sweet.

      Telstra, Voda and Optarse all charge insane amounts per gig for data and 4G isn't available in a lot of suburbs yet anyway (only in the CBD here in Perth so useless for me in the 'burbs).

      Not anymore 2.5Gb thanks to Telstra charging to Aldi they did this to Kogan its the beginning of the end for Aldi

    I have been with TPG mobile on their $19.99 mobile plan (actually paying $17.99 on a legacy price). It is no contract (month by month) has $500 worth of calls including 13 numbers and international calls, and 1GB of Data. Perfect for a lite to medium user like me. Last two phones (HTC Wildfire S and Nexus 4) have been under $400. So all up it's equal to the cost of an iPhone 5c without a plan.

      TPG have now dropped their available plans to one and it has only 250MB of data. They've also sent out (this week) a change to terms and conditions that says in effect "either side can cancel at 7 days notice". Does this mean TPG may be getting out of the mobiles market???

        I wouldn't say this is the case as they have just bought some of the mobile spectrum...

    Regarding the Telstra Encore cap, if I were to use my Telstra credit for Google Play Store purchases would that also be deducted from the $50 of "recharge credit"? If so, would that leave the remaining $950 of cap credit untouched?

    Additionally, upon reviewing the deal on the Telstra website: http://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/prepaid-mobiles/offers-rates/cap-encore/, I believe the free talk and text time is between 6pm- 6am, not 7pm-7am.

    Lastly, is it possible to purchase the Encore pre paid credit online as well as in store/kiosk?

      I'm pretty sure your Telstra credit is for your Telstra service, benjbui. You use it for your calls, texts and data, not for any other online or real-world purchases.

      And yes, you can purchase your credit online. Even if you run out of data allowance, you can always visit the recharge site in which to buy more credit.

        @benbuji Yes you can use the original $50 credit you added to buy anything. It's treated as real money on your account. You can buy Data Packs, Play Store Apps, Mobile FOXTEL Subscriptions, Premium SMS, Ringtones etc just as if it was real money

          Sweet, thanks for the confirmation Baz and stirlo.

    You left out virgin prepaid which is quite mainstream too. If you know other people on it, you can get away with free calls and sms all the time and a lot of data (since credit can't possibly get used up so it can be used on data). Same can't be said for post-paid however.

    no mention of Aldi ....

      Aldi's limits on daily downloads make it a poor choice.

        5 gig over a month averages at 166mb a day. The "daily limit" is 400mb a day so it isn't a prob as long as you aren't sucking down distros.

    What about Boost Mobile? Uses NextG, $40 a month for unlimited calls and texts plus 3GB data

    No mention of ALDI mobile's services. Buying the Unlimited pack gets you unlimited calls and texts plus 5GB of 3G data, however, with the changeover from ISP One, you can now only use 400MB per day.

    I'm on woolworths. Thirty bucks for 45 days isn't bad value.

    ill be keeping my telstra staff and family $39 cap with $10 min spend

    is it really that bad to buy an iPhone via contract. 16gb 5s on Virgin = $69 per month.
    Assuming you would go with an optus plan such as the $40 "rapid L" plan, which has similar allowances to the $69 virgin plan, this prices the phone repayments @ $29 per month... Over 24 months = $696. This is $170 cheaper than buying the phone from Apple direct..... ??? Am I missing something?

    I've been with Amaysim for about 12 months and I'm pretty happy with it. Its the best value deal I've found so far, unlimited calls and texts and 4GB data for $40 per month. I had a HTC One X from a prevous plan with Vodafone but its broken so I'm looking for a plan with a phone, but I want something similar to the Amaysim deal but I'm yet to find it

    My wife and I were on contracts with 3. They got gobbled up by Vodafone which have terrible plans compared to the 3 plans we had. I moved us both over to Amaysim about 5 months ago on their $39.90 Unlimited prepaid plans. Pretty happy with Amaysim although the Optus network they run through isn't as good as I expected and think Vodafone / 3 had improved significantly towards the end of our contracts with them to be better than the Optus network at least in our area (Geelong). Amaysim have an Aussie call centre ( another reason I chose them) so easy to get help on the phone that you can understand. I've set our Amaysim prepaids up to automatically recharge every month so no hassle. I'd recommend them if you already have a phone of your own.

    Stay away from Vodafone (specially locked in contracts) their mobile phone coverage is very poor and has large number of complaints through Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO). Telstra is a consistent & reliable provider. Their rates are not too bad now. Vodafone may advertise cheaper rates but it's useless as you can't actually make calls for the cheap rate to be any use. Be careful as I've been burned. Spread the news too.

    Optus $2 days prepaid. $60-62/m for unlimited calls and texts and up to 500mb of 4G data a day (up to 15 gigs a month).

    I'm on a VF $35 Sim only cap. 2GB data (enough for me) and $550 credit to use including international calls. On the VF prepaid caps you can even use included credit for roaming

    I'm with vodafone at the moment on the $40.00 a month top-up but findthe 1GB runs out way before the end of the month and I often call NZ (just discovered) at $4.00 a minute omg. I'm looking for a provider that will give me at least 2GB a month with a good amount of flexible credit. I don't really understand what the flexible credit is...not really savvy with all the jargon. Thanks for any comments. Looking at Boost and Amaysim at the moment???

    The simple fact is you have no way to check your providers claimed usuage. Asked Telstra to expkain why 1,36gb disappeared and told they do not have the records but they are right. Asked for the meta data politicians bang on about and told Telstra dies not. Who is lying?

    All mobile data options in Australia are extremely expensive with no effective way a user can dispute them. Claim x apps gives a usuage and be told by Telstra that is not proof. Lock your phone up with a falt battery fir three days and do not be surprised Telstra claims usage on those days. Dispute this with the useless Telecommunication Ombusman and be then tokd Telstra can take any amount of time to update the usuage so the actual usuage could be a week or more behind, case closed by the Ombusman.

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