Do You Use Your Full Mobile Phone Cap Every Month?

Do You Use Your Full Mobile Phone Cap Every Month?
It’s probably a safe bet that most Lifehacker readers go close to their ISP download limit each month, but are you as efficient when it comes to your mobile phone?

Cap plans — where you pay a fixed amount each month which entitles you to a certain number of calls and texts, and then pay if you go over those totals — have become the dominant option for post-paid mobile phone plans in Australia in recent years. They can represent great value, but one reason phone companies like them is because they can also represent pure profit: many users won’t use anything near their limit, and thus will effectively be paying for more than they actually consume.

Corporate IT departments are very keen these days on ‘pay for what you use’ services, but individual cap plans go in pretty much the opposite direction. So we’re curious: if you use a cap plan, do you carefully monitor your usage? Or are you happy just to pay a fixed fee, even if you don’t always consume it in its entirety? Do you start making more calls on your mobile at the end of the month? Share your experience (and your money-saving tips) in the comments.


  • I’ll give you $10,000/month worth of calls for $10/month.*

    * Calls charged at $100/second with $10 Flagfall

    Cap plans are such a scam. I wish Australia telcos sold mobile plans like the rest of the world, ie x mins for x dollars.

    • Yeh but in other countries they charge you to make AND RECIEVE calls. Eg if you and a friend have 100 min each and they call you for 10 min you both get charged 10 min so the carrier is actually taking 20 min off people for 10 min talktime.

    • I used to be on the same plan (assuming TPG) but I used it all regularly. My Android phone uses around ~2MB/day on standby so I’ve upgraded to $50 / month for 500MB + $1000 worth of calls & data.

  • I have a crappy old phone with no data capabilities, only voice and sms. I have pre paid $30/month cap which is something like $150 value. I usually use it before the month is up and then recharge again.

  • Like Michael, my mobile is voice and SMS only. I still use prepaid, but I use my phone so little that my prepaid $30 top-up — even at the higher rates — always expires before I use it all up!

  • i am on some grandfather plan, whereas i got a $99! plan, but no minimum spend, and have some free minutes to the same network. I am never close to the cap (not anymore)

  • I once had 2G T$ for $20 with $15 of alls included a month. I switched to 3 because I wanted some Internet access on my phone for a GPS program and T$ wanted to charge $22/MB on 2G for that. I got a $29 Cap plan with 3 and the flag fall and per minute rate was less and the minimum spend was $20 which was the same as I was spending previously. (If I “roamed” it used T$ network and data would only cost $2/MB max. Now 3 have T$ NextG roaming and a Roaming rate of $0.50/MB for data (better then $5 pack with a T$ SIM)

  • I’m on 3’s old first on 3 plan which has a $99 cap (with $500 calls at 30c per min) and no minimum spend. My bill barely reaches $5 per month mainly because most of my family/friends are on 3 so i use a good chunk of my 8hrs free calls. I’d say i’m one of 3’s most unprofitable customers!

  • I’m on a $60 per month fleet plan with Telstra, through work. They pay the bills, so I don’t care, but my monthly cost is about $110. It’s made up of calls to non-Telstra mobiles mainly.

    My data plan is 150MB (I use an iPhone) and I’ve never come close to shooting through that. I couldn’t believe how little I use, although it’s probably got something to do with the wireless AP I installed at work specifically for my phone…! My boss and I are the only ones who know it’s there. I also use wifi at home.

  • I am paying only $30 for a virgin mobile cap which allows virgin to virgin unlimited free text and calls. I have my unlocked mobile phone and I am not caught in any contract.

    This deal is the best in the market atleast for me because I have converted the close ones to this cap.

    I was in a contract with 3mobile before and its not worth it to be stuck with their mobile and pay for it separate and their cap has really bad deals.

  • i spend $35 and get $180 a month. Which is better that what i was on before. $30 and get $30 a month. lol

    i dont use up all 180 bucks though. more than half though.

  • I either exceed my cap or go way under it. It is a bit annoying. I wish telcos would offer the option of including internet usage (at a reasonable rate) in the cap. Right now, I pay extra on top of the cap.

  • I don’t mind using up all of my measly 200mb per month. But if I wasn’t scared of getting hit with a ridiculous bill, or if Optus offered data shaping I wouldn’t mind downloading some tunes. Alas, although telco’s who buy data from optus offer data shaping, according to Optus’ very knowledgeable staff, data shaping is not possible with mobile internet.

  • Mobile phone plans are all confusing. They quote their plans with a dollar amount but their call charges are higher.

    You really need to look at how many minutes you get out of that amount or how many average calls you get per month.

    I make a lot of short calls, so to me the connection fee really digs in. So a 25 second call would cost me about $1. So for a $300 plan, I would only get about 300 calls or 10 per day.

    They should rate the plans in various average call durations.

    Like. How many 10 second calls the plan would get or how many 30 second calls the plan gets pr how many 5min calls the plan gets.

    You can graph these and match it up with your own usage.

    Anyway, the phone companies make more money if customers get their plan mismatched to their usage.

  • I have a $39 Optus cap which gives about $200 of calls from memory. I only ever use about $100 of calls, but it’s nice having the extra just in case I get carried away.

    I figure it’s still better value than going on a non-capped plan and making the $100 worth of calls

  • I’m on a $59 iPhone plan with Optus, and get $350 of calls and 500MB of data. For over 6 months I haven’t been even coming close to my limits, so last month I went a bit nuts and started listening to streaming radio on the iPhone rather than pre-downloaded podcasts. Even after all that I just managed to exceed my data limit. I always make a habit of making mobile calls instead of lanline calls at home to try and use up the excess call allocation.

    It doesn’t make sense to drop down to the next lowest plan as the handset repayments then go up and I would only save around $4 dollars a month.

  • I gave up on pre-paid. Pre-paid is actually a cap. Since you pay a minimum of $15 a month. So for my wife’s and mine we paid $30 a month and rarely reached the limit.

    I’ve since switched to a per min plan from our combined mobile bill rarely exceeds $5 a month.

    We mostly call each other when we’re out and it’s free for two minutes and we use the land-line for making calls. Saves a ton of money.

  • This, is the thing, as many of you are saying that you pay, for example $20 and get $300 worth of calls, but these calls are then charged at a rate of about 30cents per 30 secs, with a 25cents flagfall, whereas other countries,such as the UK, where you pay the equvilent of about $10, and get $10, charging at a few cents per minute. This system is a lot better, and much of the world is using this.

  • Im with OPTUS with a 3g iphone. Coming from the UK (no data limits on O2) i thought id better sign my life away with a $59 cap plan for X amount of calls/text (can’t remember how much that gives me!) but it DID give me 250mb data. Now, over the last 6 months i’ve found i only use approx 130mb per month. I call OPTUS up to do down a tariff level and they want to charge me $100 to do this, which in the end will only save me $10 per month! It’ll take me 10 months to break even on this.

    Its a complete fix. I hate cap plans!

    PS, anyone know how to get out of it, or a way to save some cash on it?

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