For a mobile phone that is only used very occasionally, a long expiry prepaid deal makes sense. What choices do you have? Planhacker rounds up the offers on the Australian market with 90 days expiry or longer.
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There are several scenarios where having a long expiry prepaid phone is a wise choice. If you're heading overseas for work but want to hang on to your number for when you return to Australia, it's an easy solution. If your only use for a mobile is for emergency contact or when on the road (a common scenario for some older users), it also makes sense. Under those circumstances, you want to pay as little as possible as infrequently as possible, so the most crucial element arguably becomes the expiry period.
If you do sign up for this kind of plan, the calling rates won't be particularly generous, and data is likely to be a massive rip-off. We've highlighted the relevant rates in the table below, but that's not really the issue for most people; these aren't plans that are designed for anyone who regularly uses their phones or relies on it as their main means of communication.
For each provider, we've indicated which network they use, how long you can go between recharges, the minimum recharge, the flag fall and cost per minute for Australian calls, the cost of sending a text to Australia, any included data, and the rate for data per MB beyond that inclusion. We've also calculated how many 2-minute calls you could make with the included credit, which all providers will eventually have to specify under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection (TCP) code, and noted how much the provider charges for a SIM.
Here's the full table; you can click on the column headers to sort and filter results.
Individual plans offer quirks such as free or discounted calls to users of the same network. Optus-hosted plans don't count mobile browsing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, MySpace or eBay in the total. Crazy John's limits 1 cent texts to 100 per day, and only uses the slow GPRS network for data. Red Bull offers unlimited Australian calls and texts during the expiry period (but charges much more for the privilege).
For full details on these deals, hit the relevant links below:
Additional suggestions? Corrections? (We try hard, but we're not perfect!) Other prepaid strategies? Share them in the comments.
Lifehacker's weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.