Telstra executives gathered this week to discuss Telstra2020; a bold vision of the future involving simplified systems, fast 5G and the axing of 8000 jobs. Bold indeed. Intermingled with conversation about its business structure was the news that Telstra will soon make big changes to its mobile phone plans - specifically that it will cut all excess data usage charges.
Known as 'peace of mind data', Telstra will throttle mobile data speeds when customers reach their limits, and finally kill the spectre of the dreaded bill shock.
Of course, plans with no excess usage charges have been around forever: prepaid plans. The best part of prepaid phone plans is that you can never spend more than you expect to each month. You get to choose how much you will spend to recharge your account, and if you need more, you simply top-up.
Prepaid plans have evolved a lot recently, and now offer value on par with most postpaid phone plans. There are never any contracts, and most telcos now offer auto top-up options for your account, so you don't have to manually top-up at the end of each month.
If you plan on grabbing a BYO phone plan, you should check out these plans too.
One of my favourite terms, penned by Scott Adams - the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, is confusopoly. It's basically a market that is designed to obfuscate information from consumers so they can't easily compare services between providers in a market. The mobile phone market is notorious for this.
Note: Our interactive tables may take a few seconds to generate. Thanks for your patience!
Top 10 plans with 10GB or more
With prices starting from about $30 per recharge, these plans offer data-per-data value very similar to SIM Only plans, and in some cases better.
Two things to watch are the length of credit expiry and short term promotions. Credit expiry for 'monthly' recharges vary from 28 days, up to 42 days with some Optus plans. Some providers work on a 30 day cycle, others offer calendar month recharges. It's a bit of a mess when you're trying to do an apples-for-apples comparison, so keep your eyes peeled.
Also, because of the flexible nature of prepaid terms, many providers run promotions discounting prices for the first month, or first few months, after you sign up. These discounts can be really attractive, but remember that you will return to full price recharges sooner rather than later.
Something cheaper: 5GB plans
If you'd prefer to save some money, there are stacks of cheaper prepaid plans available. I wouldn't recommend getting a plan with less than 5GB of data, unless you are pretty confident that you know how much you need.
TPG's 10GB option stands out in both tables as having a good whack of data for a great price. It is a no-frills plan without extras like data rollover or international calls, but will do well for most people.
If you do need to make calls to overseas numbers, check out the options from Lebara Mobile and amaysim. Both have surprisingly good international call inclusions given how cheap the plans are.
Joe Hanlon is Publisher at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. He’s been writing about phones and plans for far too long.