Planhacker: Voicemail Charges For Mobile Phones

Planhacker: Voicemail Charges For Mobile Phones

Voicemail is one of the hidden traps on many mobile plans, and can cost you quite a lot if you’re a heavy voicemail user. We’ve rounded up the charges for every major player in Australia so you can avoid unexpected charges.

I was inspired to revisit this topic after Virgin Mobile conducted a survey of 1,000 Australians which suggested 97 per cent of us believe that voicemail should be free, but only 12 per cent of us actually know what the charges are. (That’s also the source of the picture above; it is Talk Like A Pirate Day, after all.)

Unsurprisingly, Virgin Mobile is the relatively rare example of a provider which doesn’t charge for voicemail access at all. Based on a finding that the average Australian leaves 1.2 voicemails and receives 1.6, Virgin calculates that the average spend on voicemail per month is $33.

That figure might be somewhat rubbery, but it is worth knowing how much your provider charges, so we’ve rounded up the contract and prepaid charges across the major carriers. The models vary widely: many providers use a connection fee plus a timed charge, but vary over whether it is per 30 seconds or 60 seconds (or part thereof). A handful (Amaysim, Crazy John’s, Optus) don’t always charge a connection fee.

These are domestic charges: if your phone works overseas, you’ll also pay associated roaming fees. In some cases, there are workarounds: Vodafone, for instance, offers a free ringback service (which explains why so few people I know using Vodafone actually have a voicemail inbox).

Amaysim Prepaid: $0.15 per 60 seconds

Amaysim Unlimited: No voicemail charge

Boost: $0.39 connection fee plus $0.89 per 60 seconds; free on Day to Day plans

Crazy John’s Prepaid: FLATchat: $0.10 connection fee plus $0.10 per 60 seconds; Prepaid Caps: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.78 per 60 seconds; Prepaid Basic: $0.15 per 30 seconds

Crazy John’s Contract: Value Plans: $0.40 connection fee plus $0.99 per 60 seconds;

Optus Prepaid: Most Plans: $0.39 connection fee plus $0.89 per 60 seconds; Connect 4 Less: $0.10 per 60 seconds; free on $2 Days

Optus Contract: $0.90 per 60 seconds for $29 and under plans; $0.30 per 30 seconds on higher-priced plans; free on $129 Timeless plan

Red Bull: No voicemail charges

Telstra Prepaid: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.30 per 30 seconds

Telstra Contract: Freedom Connect: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.90 a minute for $59 and under plans; free on higher-priced plans; Mobile Phone Plans: no rate specified on site (!); Casual Plan: $0.30 per 30 seconds

Virgin Mobile: No voicemail charges

Vodafone Infinite: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.25 per 30 seconds

Vodafone Caps: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.90 per 60 seconds; $0.35 connection fee plus $0.30 per 30 seconds on $79 cap; free on $99 cap

Vodafone Prepaid: Flexi Cap: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.89 per 60 seconds; TXT & Talk and 365 Day: Flexi Cap: $0.35 connection fee plus $0.89 per 30 seconds; All-Time: $0.40 connection fee plus $0.80 per 60 seconds

The big lessons? The only pay-as-you-go prepaid plans that offer free voicemail are Red Bull and Virgin, plus the pay-per-day plans from Optus and Boost. Most unlimited caps do, but not all of them (Vodafone’s $79 plan being the key example). Contract plans that aren’t unlimited charge for voicemail in the majority of cases.

While you’re unlikely to choose a carrier solely based on voicemail charges, they are something to take into consideration when buying. Got your own preferred voicemail money-saving strategy? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker’s weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.


  • I’m on an Optus business plan that doesn’t charge for voicemail ($59/month).

    Did Lifehacker only look at personal plans then? A quick look at the Optus site tells me they’re still offering that plan too.

  • $33pm on voicemail? I don’t think so.

    Unless this is the ludicrous ‘only in Australia’ dollar-value nonsense which doesn’t actually equate to anything like what is paid from your price plan.

    Why networks here don’t sell with the far more transparent ‘so-many-minutes per month’ in their plans like the most of the world is beyond me. It should be forced on them by the watchdog even if just in the interest of pricing clarity and simplifying consumer choice.

    And don’t even start me on the fact that traditionally a ‘cap’ is a maximum fee, not a minimum fee…

    Do try to keep up with the rest of the world, Aussie telcos.

  • What about Visual Voicemail? I understand my old Vodafone account carried no extra charges for VV, though I’d concede it’s possible there was a charge that never caused a spike above my monthly cap.

    Telsra, OTOH, wants to charge me $5 per month for VV, and I think that sucks dog’s balls.

    • I’m on the $45 Vodafone Infinite plan now, no charges for Visual Voicemail. No charges on the $49 cap plan either, or normal prepaid. I think it just uses your data though, but not a heck of a lot.

      It’s certainly a thousand times cheaper and easier to use than calling up Voicemail. Visual Voicemail is definitely the saviour to the whole concept of Voicemail and it makes it worthwhile keeping.

      A good idea could be for the telcos to set up a mobile site where you can sign in to listen to your voicemails. I know we already have that in the way of Google Voice but something Aussies can actually access.

  • I’m with ‘3’ and I have to say that they are cheeky [email protected] when it comes to accessing voice mail.
    If you have, say, 3 old voice mail messages and you receive a new one, their voice mail system is designed in such a way that you have to listen (or press skip) those 3 old messages before you can listen to your latest received voice mail.
    Also, deleting your old voice mail doesn’t actually delete your voice mail. It still plays each and every message(or press the skip button over and over again) until you get to your latest message.

  • I don’t have voice mail, or any text related missed call reminders. If people have missed me, they’ll either call back later, text or email me. (or i’ll call them back)

  • Does anyone think Voicemail is a good idea? The interface certainly sucks, but mostly the whole idea sucks. If I’m not able to take your call, I’ve got your number and can call you back. If you’re an unknown stranger/telemarketer, drop me an email/sms instead.
    (Finally figured out how to disable that shonky Optus “Missed Call Service” after 3 months 🙂 )

    • If the person is calling from a private number(landline or mobile), then voicemail will come in handy to know the number of the person(provided they tell you to call them back)

    • Visual Voicemail > Voicemail

      You don’t always have the caller’s number. That’s the only problem. Not always possible to just call back a random stranger who wants to call you for some reason.

      And if your boss is calling you up, say to do a shift or something, and you don’t answer, then they can leave you a voicemail. They don’t always have mobile phones to send you a text message.

      Voicemail can get costly and bloody expensive, but Visual Voicemail (notably on the iPhone) is a million miles ahead in terms of what voicemail should be like today. It’s fast, easy to use, and you don’t have to call up a number and listen to a robotic female voice tell you what to do.

    • +1

      I very rarely check my voicemail. If I know the person, I call them back (or assume they will call me back) and if it was a private number I tend to ignore it.

      I also don’t have a voicemail message because I don’t know what to say in it. Hi, you’ve reached April (which you should know, because you rang me), I’m not here at the moment (which you should know, because I didn’t answer), please leave a message after the tone (it’s 2011, please tell me this is not new information).

  • With Vodafone you can setup a voicemail callback service by dialing 1219. If there is a message the voicemail service calls you and you can hear the message. Because it is an incoming call you don’t get charged. You get to hear the messages for free.

  • For Telstra users, dial ##002# and press send.

    This removes all diverts and means you get automatic, free Voice2Text instead of crappy, inefficient Voicemail.

    Read who called you while in a meeting, call them back faster, etc.

    Try it.

  • My partner not caught paying bills for hundreds of dollars because we had a flawed plan. I can call her for free but not vice-versa so when she’d call i’d hang up and ring her back. She’d get directed to voicemail but hang up long before she could leave a message, she’s left me two over 5 years. Turns out that cost her 75c every time that happened. She only recently realised this and her phone company doesn’t seem to care too much.

  • When I was on Telstra Prepaid, the cost of the voicemail would come out of the $30 recharge which you can use on data and extra calls.

    to work around that, i got a VoIP account with mnf and called the 1800 number for free. It used minimal data and didnt cost me a cent.

    Telstra Voicemail: 1800 135 102

  • TPG – Voicemail is FREE

    Yes – on a $14.99 plan – $550 “dollars” value -Voicemail is FREE

    3 are [email protected]@rds with voice mail – that whiney voice runs about 2/3 speed as well…but when you exhaust your plan and you receive a voicemail, it costs a real $1.20 to retrieve it. Appalling trickery by another Telco.

    Did I say TPG voicemail is free on the $14.99 plan?

  • If you’re on Telstra Prepaid (and perhaps a plan, not sure) you can access messagebank pretty much for free (to be exact: the call uses your bonus talk minutes, not your credit pool):

    1. Dial your own number.
    2. Press #
    3. Enter your pin the press #
    4. You’re in messagebank.

    There’s a way of automating this and adding this as a phonebook entry. It should look something like this:


    Where 0400112233 is your mobile number, 112233 is your pin, and a comma (or ‘p’ on some phones) is a pause.

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