Telstra and Optus might not be the cheapest mobile providers around, but their plans come with a surprising number of perks and bonuses that the telcos don't always do a great job of highlighting.
After all, huge data allowances tend to sound far sexier than cheap movie tickets. At least as far as phone plans are concerned.
So if you've got a plan with Telstra or Optus, or if you're considering a new one with one of these two, here's a look at the freebies you're entitled to.
Telstra has a reputation for being Australia's most expensive telco, but some of the extras included with its plans could make spending extra on your phone bill a bit more palatable.
If you've got a mobile plan or active prepaid recharge with Telstra, you'll get the following:
- Data-free music streaming through Apple Music
- Free access to Telstra Air Wi-Fi hotspots in Australia
- Free access to Fon public Wi-Fi hotposts when overseas
- Customers spending at least $30 per month on their plan or recharge also get AFL, AFLW, NRL, My Football, and Netball Live Passes, which allow you to watch every game of the season live and data-free.
Big T customers also get access to the Telstra Plus perks program, previously known as Telstra Thanks. All Telstra Plus members get:
- $12.50 movie tickets for Event and BCC cinemas, excluding sessions after 5pm on a Saturday, public holidays, and special events
- Free popcorn and drink large combo upgrade when you book a movie ticket through Telstra
- Discounted tickets to select sporting events
- Presale tickets for select concerts and events
You'll need to join Telstra Plus to get these offers.
In addition, joining Telstra Plus means you'll earn 10 points for every dollar you spend on your monthly bill as part of a Frequent Flyer style rewards scheme.
You can spend these points on selected gadgets, or use the points discounts on devices. You won't be able to start redeeming points until July, but Telstra did provide the following example rewards:
- Google Home Mini: 14,000 points
- Netgear Nighthawk M2: 15,000 points + $215
- Telstra TV 3: 40,000 points + $115
- Samsung Galaxy Buds: 44,000 points + $72
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 42mm (4G): 60,000 Points + $240
Telstra is yet to confirm how many points you'll need to spend to get a discount on a smartphone, but we assume we'll get more details on this ahead of July.
As it stands, the point system isn't amazing. To redeem a Google Home Mini, you'd need to spend $1,400 with Telstra.
A Google Home Mini is worth $79 at retail, ignoring the regular discounts and the fact that one sometimes just shows up free with your groceries.
This essentially means every dollar you spend with Telstra gives you about 5 cents in rewards. Thanks, Daddy Telstra.
At the same time, no other telco has anything similar right now. And while Telstra Plus rewards might not be a reason to sign up with Telstra, it’s certainly nice to have if you were thinking about a Telstra plan anyway.
In addition to the points system, Telstra Plus has a tier-based membership system based on your average monthly spend across year.
Silver members (spending an average of $125 month) will be entitled to a once-per-year Telstra Platinum tech support call, $75 of Telstra TV Box Office credit, and a one-month subscription to Kayo basic. Gold members (spending an average of $250 per month) will receive ongoing access to Telstra Platinum, $110 of Telstra TV Box Office credit, and a three-month subscription to Kayo basic.
Platinum is Telstra's premium support service, and encompasses generic tech support issues, in addition to typical Telstra issues like network outages or billing.
If any of these offers sounds enticing, here's Telstra's current range of 12-month SIM-only plans:
Out of these, the best option is a promotional plan that gets you 60GB for $49 per month, which is a $20 per month discount from its regular price.
It also includes slower "peace of mind" data that you can use if you manage to go over your regular allowance. This deal is only available for new customers; if you're already with Telstra, you'll pay $59 per month for the same plan.
If you'd prefer a new phone too, here's a look at some of the phones you can currently get on Telstra:
Optus' perks tend to be entertainment related, and exclusive to postpaid phone plans with a contract of at least 12 months. These include:
- Data-free music streaming through Google Play Music, Spotify, and iHeartRadio (on postpaid plans)
- Data-free video streaming through Netflix, Stan, and ABC iView, although this is limited to standard definition (on postpaid plans). If you signed up to your Optus plan before May 2018, this might be a free part of your plan. If you're a newer customer, you may need to pay an extra $5 per month.
- A free subscription to Optus Sport and free access to the National Geographic app.
Most Optus customers can also get a few bonuses through the Optus Perks program. These include:
- Discounted movie tickets for Hoyts cinemas, starting at $12.50 for an adult ticket or $27 for LUX for any session on any day (including Saturday nights)
- Discounted tickets for "over 3,000 experiences" across Australia and New Zealand, including activities such as jet boating and hot air ballooning
- Presale tickets for concerts and sporting events
- Exclusive contests for concert tickets and more – for example, Optus is currently giving away Childish Gambino tickets and a trip for two to Europe
If these sound like your thing, here's Optus' current range of 12-month contract SIM-only plans:
The best of these is a promotional offer that gets you 80GB for $40 per month. In addition to oodles of data, the plan also comes with 4GB of roaming data per month, which can be used in any of Optus' "Zone 1" countries.
Considering Optus normally charges $10 per 100MB when roaming overseas on a postpaid plan, this offer is an excellent choice for frequent travellers.
Or if you'd prefer a new phone, here's a look at some of the phones you can get currently get on Optus:
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.