The Best Prepaid Phone Plans For Students

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Prepaid might seem like a bit of a dirty word, but the latest prepaid recharges can now go toe-to-toe with postpaid plans in terms of value - which makes them very handy if you're a cash-strapped student (or a parent footing the bill.) Here are some excellent 'back-to-school' plans to consider.

Better yet, prepaid plans are fool-proof. Since they have a hard cap, you can’t get caught unawares by excess fees. This is great if you’ve got a fixed budget you want to stick to. It also makes prepaid plans perfect for kids - there's no way your offspring can rack up a massive bill for you to foot.

So if you've finally decided to give your kid their first phone, you're looking for a new plan for them for back to school, or just want to nab a bargain for yourself, we're taking a look at some of the best value prepaid deals around.

Prepaid plans with at least 2GB

Opting for a small plan doesn't mean you can't get a great deal. TPG wins in terms of data-for-dollar, offering 4GB for $19.99 per month. Better yet, you'll get your first six months for just $10. You will however need to pay $10 upfront in setup costs.

It’s worth noting that TPG will automatically take $10 out of your prepaid balance if you go over your allowance, but only if there is balance available. If you've got insufficient funds, your data will become inactivate until you top up or make your next full recharge.

Unlike most prepaid plans, TPG's recharges last the length of the month, rather than a set amount of days. This means you'll only need to recharge 12 times per year, as opposed to 13 as with some 28-day offers.

Spending a little more can double your data: $30 for 8GB on a 28-day recharge through Telstra. Telstra's prepaid plans currently come with a 22GB Data Bank bonus on your first five recharges. These plans let you save up to 200GB of unused data in between recharges, which can then be used when you've exhausted your standard inclusion - provided you have an active recharge. After five charges, that leaves you with a massive 110GB of data you can tap in to at any time.

To get this bonus, you'll need to make your first recharge by February 5 next year, all other recharges by June 30.

Prepaid plans with at least 10GB

$30 per recharge is about the standard if you're after 10GB on a prepaid plan, but there are a few offers worth calling out. Once again, TPG will give you a discounted rate for your first six months. That means you can get 10GB for $15 per month for half a year.

Optus and Boost Mobile are both doing 50% off deals on their starter packs. In the case of Boost, $15 will get you a 12GB plan if you sign up before January 21. On Optus, $20 will get you a 20GB plan. You will however pay full price after your first recharge.

amaysim has a similar promo and will sell you your first 10GB recharge for $10 if you sign up before January 31.

When signing up for a prepaid plan, one thing to keep an eye on is recharge expiry periods as they can vary drastically between providers. 28-day is quite common, which means recharging 13 times per year. At the same time, Vodafone has some higher end plans with 35-day expiries, which can mean recharging as little as 10 times per year.

No-contract SIM-only plans with at least 1GB

And just for a bit of variety, here's a whole heap of contract-free SIM only plans. You're typically looking at $10 for 1GB when it comes to these, but SpinTel will do 2GB for $9.95 per month. These plans will attract extra excess usage charges: if you go over your 1GB limit, you'll typically be charged an extra $10 for each extra gig, which will instantly double the price of your plan. These are for responsible kids – and adults – only.


Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website. He's now had far too many phone plan related dreams.


Comments

    An even better way to save money on prepaid is to shop around each month. Coles, Woolies and even Australia Post have many half price or less deals on starter kits from the major telcos, as well as some of the minor MVNOs. For example, this week Coles has the $30 (30GB) Telstra starter pack for $10, the Belong $25 starter pack for $10 or the Optus $40/45GB starter pack for $15. The idea is that you port your number from Telstra to Optus to Belong to Voda to Catch to Kogan to wherever, based on which cheap starter kits you can find.

    Remember that Mobile providers throw much of their advertising spend at attracting new customers, and little at retaining them (assuming that most people are too lazy to change SIM every month). But as long as you're willing to put 30 minutes of your time into it each month (Monday to Friday during business hours to ensure number porting works), it's very easy to get a significant data/call inclusion prepaid for much less than you'd think.

    The golden rule - recharging is almost always going to cost you more than moving your service.

    Optus offer a long expiry pre paid. $30.00 recharge with a 6 month expiry. I forget the data allowance but it works ok for me.

    Optus won’t voluntarily tell you about this though, you have to ask. Of course this is because they’d rather have your $40.00 per month rather than every 6 months.

    Also worth noting that most comparison sites (eg Compare the Market, Canstar, Whistleout) generally only capture prices direct from the providers who they have click through agreements with - because that is the way that they make their money and provide the free comparison service. So most specials available in retail stores such as supermarkets and the discount stores will not show on comparison sites.

    This applies to all categories (travel, insurance, loans, credit cards etc), not just Mobile services. You'll find it in the fine print on most sites if you look hard enough.

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