Optus has revamped its pay-as-you-use and monthly prepaid plans. Here's our assessment of what's on offer.
Optus has long had an unusual daily prepaid offering where you only pay for plans when you use them -- if you go a day without making any calls, sending any texts or using any data, you don't pay anything at all. Most recently branded as $2 Days, there are now two variants on this scheme. Both adopt Optus' current preferred approach of automatically bumping you up to a new data tier if you exceed the limit -- which is good if you regularly exceed your limit, but expensive if you don't.
- My Prepaid Daily Plus is essentially still the $2 Days deal -- on any day where you use your phone, you can make unlimited calls and send unlimited texts to Australian numbers, along with 500MB of data. The main change is that if you exceed that 500MB, you're automatically charged another $2 and given another 524MB of data (maxing you out at 1GB a day).
- My Prepaid Daily is a cheaper deal: for $1 a day, you get unlimited texts, up to 30 minutes a day and a somewhat derisory 40MB of data. If you use up the data, you're automatically charged another 50 cents for another 50MB of data, up to a maximum of $5. That $5 gets you 430MB of data a day, which is dramatically more expensive than the $2 plan. We're not fans of this.
Both plans have a six-month expiry on credit (the minimum recharge is $10).
For someone who really didn't use their phone much and didn't care about data, the $1 a day might be an OK minimal use plan. However, on a modern smartphone it doesn't take long to power through 40MB, so we're reluctant to suggest that one for most people, especially given the high excess data rates. (The plan does charge per kilobyte, so it could be worse, but it's still messy.)
We've often seen the $2 a day plan cited as a cheap way of accessing 4G data. Over a month, $60 will get you 15GB of data, while $120 will now score you 30GB. That's relatively cheap by 4G data standards, though very expensive compared to current ADSL plans.
If you'd prefer a monthly prepaid plan, there are three choices. All offer unlimited text. $30 a month gives you 1GB of data and up to 350 minutes of calls. $45 gives you 2GB of data and unlimited calls; $60 gives you 5GB and unlimited calls.
Each of those plans also allows you to add on another 500MB of data for $5, and includes some credit for international and premium calls.
On face value, the prepaid daily deals are generally better. For instance, $30 a month on prepaid gets you 1GB of data and 350 minutes of calls; $30 on the $1 a day My Prepaid Daily gets you 1.2GB of data and 900 minutes of calls. The main difference is that you're restricted to a daily limit on the latter plan -- with the monthly plan, you can spread your calls and data usage over different periods (helpful if you tether on a trip).
The $45 plan is the one Optus is likely to promote most heavily. It's not a terrible deal, but we'd suggest that the $40 plan from Amaysim -- with 4GB of 3G data, rather than 2GB of 4G -- still has the edge. The $60 plan actually has considerably less data than paying $2 a day (5GB rather than 15GB), though again you're stuck with a daily restriction on the latter.
Overall, these plans don't change Optus' positioning in the market -- cheaper than Telstra, but less generous than Vodafone. As ever, coverage where you live and work might end up determining your final choice.
The new Optus plans go on sale from next Monday (11 August).