Planhacker: The Best Long Expiry Prepaid Deals

Planhacker: The Best Long Expiry Prepaid Deals

If you’re travelling overseas for an extended work or holiday trip and want to keep your phone number for when you return, then moving it to a long expiry prepaid deal is your cheapest option. We’ve rounded up the best offers available from every major carrier in Australia.

Paris picture from Shutterstock

We’re big fans of going prepaid for everyday use, but long expiry plans serve a fairly specific niche. Giving you the ability to “park” a number for an extended period is the most obvious these days. Long-expiry plans are also popular with very light mobile users, who want the ability to be contacted but don’t plan on making many calls, but that’s a less prevalent attitude these days.

Typically, these plans will have relatively expensive rates for calls and data — we don’t recommend any of them if you want to actually use your phone. But as a means of holding on to a number you don’t want to use actively for a while but don’t want to give up, they’re easily the most affordable option. (In that context, the network they use is also largely irrelevant.)

Below we’ve listed the longest-running prepaid plan available from each major carrier, including how long it lasts and the minimum top-up. In cases where the 365-day plan is particularly expensive, we’ve also noted any 180-day plans available. Plans running for less than 90 days aren’t included. Remember that if you don’t top up the plan after expiry, you’ll potentially lose access to the number. (If you’re travelling, you can usually top up via the relevant site from overseas.)

Carrier Cost Expiry period
ALDI Mobile $15.00 365 days
Amaysim $5.00 90 days
Just Mobile $15.00 180 days
Optus $10.00 180 days
Telstra $30.00 180 days
Telstra $70.00 365 days
Virgin Mobile $15.00 180 days
Virgin Mobile $49.00 365 days
Vodafone $20.00 365 days

In pure pricing terms, ALDI Mobile is the one to beat for a 365-day deal. However, migrating your number to a plan with your existing carrier is likely to be a little simpler, and ALDI’s reputation for customer service is variable, so you might want to factor that into your thinking too.

Spotted a plan we’ve missed? (We try our best, but it happens!) Tell us about it in the comments.

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


  • Be sure to monitor the phone status every few months. I parked mine with Telstra with a direct debit, returned after a year and found that they had cancelled the direct debit, allowed the account to go into the red, and then sent my details to a debt collection agency.

    They acknowledged cancelling the direct debit, but were unable to supply a reason. No apology.
    They made no attempt to contact me by phone, email or other means listed on my account.
    The Telstra agent I spoke to also gave me a fake employee number so I couldn’t trace the conversation later (I’m sure Telstra could have if they were honest).

  • Would be good to know how long after the credit expiry period… that the SIM remains active to just receive calls and texts.

    • That’s usually 6 months – ie credit expires, then you can receive calls only for 6 months, then number goes into quarantine before it’s reused.

      With some carriers it might be 3 months. Really though, $15-30 isn’t much money to spend to keep your number active.

    • Late comment for this old article, I know (but might be useful for visitors coming in from a Google search):
      Vodafone prepaid sims also don’t expire for 12 months after your last recharge, which means it costs $0 to keep your number parked while overseas. You’re able to receive text messages for internet banking for this 12 month period too. This is by far the best deal if you don’t need to actually call/text while overseas (I use all the time in the US for Ubank codes).

      Otherwise @jjcoolaus is correct – expiry periods after last recharge differ by carrier/mvno. Telstra is 6 months for example. A quick google search can help you find this information out.

  • I looked in to these recently, as I was leaving Aus to go o/s for an indefinite period of time. Just so I could receive SMS codes for online banking. The Vodafone $20 for 365 days is definitely the best option. The ALDI mobile plan is cheaper ($15 for 365 days), but they don’t have intl roaming. And the Optus $10 for 180 days- the catch with that is that if you ‘use’ the phone on any particular day (i.e. send an SMS, or use any data) then it takes $2 off your credit (this would have been a problem for me, because every time I put my aussie sim in my iPhone it automatically sends a text message trying to activate iMessage). All up, the Voda $20 deal is the best. A pretty good option for being able to keep your number in the long term, and keep that phone available to receive SMS overseas.

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