Planhacker: The Best No-Contract Deal On Each Mobile Network

Contract phone plans are a bad deal: not only are you stuck with the same phone and network for two years, you often end up with smaller data and call allowances than with a no-contract prepaid or month-by-month deal. We've eliminated the also-rans and come up with one firm recommendation for the best value no-contract prepaid deal on each of Australia's mobile networks.

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We last updated this list in May 2015, so it's about time to have a look at the available no-contract plans on the market for this year. This time we've split each viable MVNO provider into their own section for ease of reading, although they will still be organised by network.


The Rules

These are the criteria we applied when selecting plans:

  • The plan had to be a no-contract deal, which means either a classic prepaid arrangement which you recharge every 30 days or a month-to-month deal you can cancel at any time. It also couldn't be tied into buying another service, which eliminates deals that involve having a landline phone or internet service with someone.
  • It had to offer a decent allowance for Australian calling, SMS and data. We're particularly concerned with data, since that's the area where most contract plans are stingy. Ideally, we're looking for 4GB or more a month.
  • It had to be priced at under $50 a month.
  • Ideally, the plan would offer 4G access, but we didn't make that a compulsory requirement (since 4G phones will also end up on 3G some of the time).
  • We made multiple selections for each of Australia's active networks: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Coverage varies, so which network suits you depends on where you live (and travel). However we're not aiming to list every prepaid plan from every single MVNO provider.
  • .

If you need a really large amount of data, or are focused on being able to call overseas numbers, or only want to spend $20 a month, or want a plan that runs for 365 days without expiring, you'll need to do more research and choose a different plan. However, if you're paying $70 a month for a contract deal, you should crunch the numbers carefully. An outright buy and a no-contract plan could well be cheaper when you factor in data allowances, which are typically very low on cheaper contract plans.

For each category, we've highlighted a single plan, but we do also discuss potential alternatives.


Optus

With Optus's Double Data promotion running until May 1, both its prepaid and month-to-month plans are giving some of the cheaper MVNOs a run for their money. A $40 Prepaid Ultimate recharge will include 8GB data (4GB regular + 4GB bonus) plus unlimited calls and SMS, and unlimited international calls to select countries until May 1. The downside to this option is that any recharges after May 1 will return to $40 for 4GB, however Optus will allow you to rollover unused data up to 15GB. Optus also offers a month-to-month SIM only plan that will net you 10GB data for $50 for the life of the plan, with unlimited calls and text and 300 minutes of international calls.

Amaysim

Amaysim's unlimited month-to-month plans on the Optus 4G network provide a good chunk of data at a decent price, just scraping in at better value than Optus's plans without the temporary data bonus. For $39.90 you can pick up 5GB of data with unlimited calls and text. If you are likely to need more data or require more allowance for international calls, the upper end $49.90 plan includes 8GB of data with unlimited calls, text and 300 minutes of international calls.

Jeenee

Jeenee's prepaid plans on the Optus 4G network let you choose a base plan for talk and text and then increase or decrease data for your usage needs. With a bonus data offer currently available, you can get 5GB of data, plus unlimited calls and text for only $35. Without the bonus data 5GB will set you back $40 per month on an unlimited plan, or you can sacrifice talk and text (300 minutes and 3000 messages respectively) to pick up a 5GB data plan for $37.

Telstra

Arguably Testra's best deal is its $40 Freedom Plus prepaid plan — depending on how you use your data. The $40 plan comes with unlimited calls and text, $350 international credit and 3GB data — plus another 3GB bonus data to use between 8pm and 8am. Similarly, the $50 recharge includes 4GB data and another 4GB of night data.

Boost

Timed data offers seem to be popular on the Telstra network, with Boost Mobile's plans also including this concept. The $40 UNLTD plan includes unlimited talk and text, 3GB regular data and 2GB bonus data every weekend — up to 8GB bonus data all up, provided you use each 2GB on its respective weekend, as bonus data doesn't roll over. Boost Mobile uses the Telstra 4G network.

Aldi

ALDImobile plans also have weekend data, though in this case it is 1GB per month that can only be used on weekends. The XL $35 Value Pack provides 43,200 minutes (essentially unlimited) of calls, 50,000 SMS and 20,000 MMS, 90 minutes of international calls and 4GB data plus 1GB weekend data. The XXL $45 Value Pack includes the same, but with 6GB of regular data and 1GB weekend data. Aldi only uses parts of Telstra's 3G network, however, so make sure to check the coverage map before you sign up.

Vodafone

Vodafone's 4GB, $50 plan usually wouldn't be worth a mention, but until April 5 Voda is offering a bonus 6GB, bringing the total amount of data up to 10GB. This is along with unlimited calls, texts and international calls to select countries. Until the end of the year you can also take advantage of Vodafone's $5 international roaming in over 50 countries (or free roaming in New Zealand) on this plan.

Lebara

Lebara's prepaid $39.90 mega plan comes with 5GB data and unlimited calls and text, and you can get your first month half price ($19.95). Lebara uses the Vodafone 4G network.


Those are our picks. What would you go with for no-contract plans? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker's Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.


Comments

    Optus also offers a month-to-month SIM only plan that will net you 10GB data for $50, with unlimited calls and text and 300 minutes of international calls. The downside to both these options is that any recharges after May 1 will return to $40 for 4GB or $50 for 5GB respectively.

    That's not correct. The $50 for 10GB month to month plan is 10GB for the life of the plan, not just for one month.

    On prepaid the data can be rolled over into the following month, but you are correct in that recharges after May will add the standard data (to your rolled over data). However by then they will probably have a new promotion.

    Prepaid on Telstra and Optus now rolls over to the following month, provided you recharge before the expiry (which is actually only 28 days so be careful of that)

    Any billed plans do not have the ability to roll over data yet. It might be worth noting that in the article. Having rolled over data maybe useful to people who's usage patters are erratic.

    In regards to Aldi, it's worth noting they use a reduced Telstra 3G coverage footprint, covering 1.3 million square kilometres (not the 2.5 million square kms Telstra covers) and some towns are 2G only coverage (dark grey on the map, instead of orange) until the end of this year when 2G is shutdown.

    Check the coverage maps on Aldi's website before jumping in if you live in a regional area.

    Last edited 05/02/16 11:44 am

      Cheers for that! Definitely meant to include the bit about Optus's rollover but apparently it slipped my mind in the writing process.

        Also you might like to add this:
        http://www.virginmobile.com.au/monthly-mobile-plans/

        Virgin are offering 10GB a month + unlimited calls for $40 per month, no contract (click on I only want a plan). This plan also has the ability to rollover data but the rolled over data expires in the following month, unlike prepaid where the rolled over data never expires so long as you keep recharging.

        Last edited 08/02/16 10:25 am

    No love for the Telstra $50 $1000 calls/5GB BYO plan?

      The BYO plan has a minimum contract of 12 months, hence why it's been left out.

        Actually there is a $50 Casual BYO plan. Current you get 5GB Data (for new customer), $1000 Calls.

        https://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/plans-and-rates

    Anyone know the best plan for a kid, that should only be using a phone for emergency calls?

      Hi - plan ? No I don't know.... My amaysim prepaid credit lasts 3 months. So when i top up, say with 15 dollars, its good for 3 months and rolls over after you put more on before the 3 months is up. What I don't like is that (as far as I can tell) you can't pay for extra Internet data. You can surf the net but the data comes off the phone call credit. If you upgrade to a no contract plan you can get data. Call rates seem very good and this is a huge PLUS, I talk for ages. No data hogs, I dont have social media on the phone so I just stick to calls (with the very occasional email check)

      aldi 15 dollar 12 months,12 cents per min and sms.simple

    I'm surprised Exetel didn't get a mention. 6GB data with unlimited calls, SMS and MMS for $40 on the Optus 4G network.

    Have a look at Amaysim AS YOU GO
    where you pay only for usage.
    https://www.amaysim.com.au/mobile-plans/amaysim-as-you-go?icid=mobile-plans:podium:learn:ayg

    Thanks for the article, really helpful. Just tried to start a new service with Optus and they insisted on me telling them whether I owned or rented the property I was living in as well as my employers name and how long I'd been there. They said they needed this information to do a credit check but it seems a little over the top. I've had many plans and services over the years with a range of carriers (and even sold mobiles for a brief period) and I've never seen those questions asked. Are they normal questions? Would you give your employers name to your telco?

    Vaya has an unlimited voice/message plan with 4GB data for $34 using Optus' 4G network. The customer service can be atrocious at times but I've persevered with it to stay on their cheaper $18 per month plan ($650 calls, unlimited messages, 1.5GB) for a few years now.

    What if you don't give a rat's ass about data?
    You just want a PHONE (like an old Nokia)?

    As I'll be finally leaving the 'contract' scene this month; this article was rather helpful. Thanks, Hayley!

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