Dear Lifehacker, I'm currently searching around for a good prepaid mobile plan. However, all the deals I've found have the credit expire after one month. If I wanted that I would go for a postpaid plan! Could you point me in the direction of a provider that offers a prepaid plan that I can top up with however much I like with credit that does not expire (or at least does not expire until a year has gone by)? Thanks, Lost Among The Info
For people who don't use their phone particularly frequently, a long-expiry plan is definitely the best option. You won't get the cheapest rates for calls, texts or (especially) data, but for a less-used phone, only having to top up infrequently can outweight those considerations. Unsurprisingly, this kind of option is very popular amongst older users who don't use a mobile as their main means of communication but do want one available for occasional use.
While most telcos concentrate their marketing on prepaid plans with shorter terms (and ultimately on getting you to sign up to a contract), there are still long-expiry deals out there. Amongst the more notable from the major carriers (including six-month and full-year expiry):
- Crazy John's (Vodafone network): Flatchat. Offers 180-day expiry (with $55 recharge) or 365-day expiry (with $95 recharge).
- Optus: Long Expirt Cap. Offers 186-day expiry, recharge values of $30, $40, $50, $70 and $100.
- Telstra: Long Life. Offers 6 month expiry (or 12 months with a $60 recharge), recharge values of $20, $30, $40, $50 or $60.
- Virgin Mobile (Optus network): Long Expiry. Offers 180-day (on $15 and $30 recharges) or 365-day (on $50 and $100 recharges) expiry.
- Vodafone: 365 Day. Offers 365-day expiry, recharge values of $20, $30, $50, $70, $100 and $150.
Which one you choose from there will depend on your needs, how much you want to spend for a top-up, and whether the carrier in question has good coverage where you need to use it. No-one offers complete flexibility in total recharge value (Vodafone has more options than anyone else, while Crazy John's offers rather fewer).
As usual, we'd advise watching your consumption closely when you switch to a new plan. If you chew through that value really quickly and find yourself frequently topping up, you might be better off with a different shorter-team deal. However, as it's prepaid, your only real risk is the initial up-front recharge value.
One other thing to bear in mind: note down carefully what the expiry date is and make sure you top up before that date. Most plans in this space support rollover, where existing credit is retained if you top up prior to expiry. Miss that date and you'll lose the money.
Good luck choosing a plan. If readers have additional advice or can recommend other plans not listed above, we'd welcome it in the comments.
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