Ask LH: Where Are The Best Long-Expiry Prepaid Plans?

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

Dear LATI,

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.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    I think the Crazy John's link is incorrect.

    Also none of these plans include data, what use is that? You'll chew through your credit in a day if you pay the ad-hoc data rates using any kind of smartphone.

      That's what I was wondering. I currently use Telstra's Cap+ for our smartphones - it's way cheaper than any contact plan for us, but we usually end the month with wasted credits. Is there a way to get Telstra's long life plan with data? Don't really want to give up the Telstra network...

    I've found Telstras long life prepaid to be the best of value, since I occasionally text, nothing else. Their rates aren't bad either. 25 cents per text (beats optus at 29 cents & vodafone at 28 cents)

    Pay as you go is another option, as soon as my contract is up I'm signing up for TPG's PAYG plan. $1 monthly access and good call and text rates suits how rarely I use my phone.

    Check out amaysim, $10 recharge, 90 day expiry, $0.15/min flat call rate, $0.05/mb data, or you can by a 1Gb data plan. They have the best rates that I have found, and they use the Optus network. Also easy to set up via the web. I have been using them for a while with no dramas.

    I'm with Savvytel, call credit never expires and pretty good call rates. They use the Optus network. Surprised they weren't mentioned in the article already.

    I use the Virgin one. The free voicemail drags that credit out a lot longer and makes it great if you only receive calls.

    I have a SavvyTel "Credit Never Expire" prepaid plan. I never worries about the re-charging before the expiry. Plus, the call rate is quite good too. But I don't know they still have it.

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