Mobile Showdown: Belong Vs Telstra

Fun fact: Belong is quite literally 'budget Telstra'. Telstra runs Belong as its discount mobile and internet brand, and in many cases, undercuts its mainline products. Belong even has some of the cheapest plans available on the Telstra network, with options starting at $10 per month. Here's how each plan compares.

At the same time, "cheap" and "Telstra" aren’t normally two words you see next to one another. It might seem too good to be true. To help, we’re going to look at how Belong’s cut price plans compare to what you’d get with Telstra itself.

Coverage

Belong is powered by Telstra, but it doesn’t have access to the full extent of the Telstra network. Belong uses the Telstra wholesale network to deliver its plans, which reaches 98.8% of the population. The full Telstra network reaches 99.4%.

While that’s only a difference of 0.6%, it can drastically affect coverage in remote, regional, and rural areas.

Here's how the full Telstra network compares to Belong (the Telstra wholesale network).

Plans

Belong's range is dead simple: you’ve got a choice of three no-contract SIM-only plans. No prepaid, no phones, nothing else.

In terms of data you can get 1GB (for $10 per month), 10GB (for $25 per month), or 40GB (priced at $40 per month). A $5 per month bolt-on adds international talk and text for the first two plans, but these are included as standard on the $40 plan. Belong’s plans are as follows:

Telstra has broader options, ranging from a 2GB seven-day prepaid recharge all the way to a 150GB SIM-only plan. These are Telstra’s no-contract SIM-only plans:

These can also be paired with a new phone, on a 24-month or 36-month repayment term. These are some of the most popular devices you can get with Telstra right now:

Telstra also has a few prepaid plans. "Prepaid Max" is Telstra's core offering, but it’s a little different to other prepaid plans on the market. The more you pay, the longer your recharge. When it comes to shorter recharges, $30 gets you 20GB on a 28-day term, $40 gets you 35GB on a 35-day term, or $50 gets you 43GB on 42-day term.

Excess Fees

If you manage to go over your Belong plan’s monthly data allowance, you won't be charged any excess fees. Instead, the telco will cap your service to speeds of 256kbps for the remainder of your billing month. While not paying excess fees is nice, you’ll almost certainly struggle to do much more than check your email or send a message on speeds that slow.

You can however purchase extra data if you need it. Belong charges $10 for a 2GB top-up, which is a bit more generous than the industry standard of $10 per GB.

As with Belong, Telstra doesn't charge any excess fees on postpaid plans. If you go over your data allowance, your service will be capped at speeds of 1.5Mbps. That's slow, but a whole lot more usable than the capped speeds you'd get on Belong. You can’t add any extra data on Telstra postpaid plans.

If you go over your data allowance on a Telstra prepaid plan, you'll need to purchase a data top-up or recharge early. Top-ups start at $5 for 1GB.

International Calls

You can add on international inclusions to Belong's 1GB and 10GB plan for an extra $5 per month, but these come standard on the 40GB plan. No matter which option you pick, inclusions are the same: you'll get unlimited talk and text to over 30 countries. These include:

Austria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam.

Telstra no longer has international call inclusions on postpaid plans; you need to pay an extra $10 per month if you want to call or text overseas on a regular basis.

Your $10 per month gets you unlimited calls to Canada, China, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, US Virgin Islands, the USA, and the UK. If you want to call a country not on this list, PAYG rates will apply.

Telstra's Prepaid Max plans have international inclusions out of the box, however. These plans include unlimited calls to Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam.

International Roaming

Belong plans don't have international roaming, so if you're hoping to use your phone overseas, you'll need to grab a travel SIM or a local SIM when you arrive at your destination.

Some Telstra postpaid plans used to include international roaming as a standard feature, but this is no longer the case. Instead, you'll pay $10 per day, which gets you 200MB of daily data and unlimited talk and text in more than 70 countries. Note that this data expires at midnight AEST, rather than in the time zone of the country you’re visiting.

If you're travelling to New Zealand, you'll only pay $5 per day.

If you go over your 200MB of daily data, Telstra will bill an extra $10 and a further 500MB of roaming data to your account. This data has a 31-day expiry and can be used on subsequent days whenever you go over your initial 200MB.

Bonuses

Belong plans are fairly simple, but there are a couple of bonuses worth mentioning. Firstly, you can bank or rollover any unused data you have. Any gigs you don’t burn through are kept for later use, for an indefinite period of time (unless you leave a payment overdue for an extended period).

If you manage to build up a bit of a stockpile, you can always drop down to Belong’s $10 per month plan to save some cash while you work your way through your data bank.

In addition to saving unused data for yourself, you can gift it to any friends also using Belong. You can send spare data to any Belong user in 1GB increments, as long as you’ve got at least a gig left in either your monthly allowance or your data bank.

Telstra postpaid customers can't bank data, but Telstra prepaid customers can. If you're a Telstra prepaid customer, you can save up to 200GB of unused data provided you recharge before expiry.

Most Telstra plans also come with a bunch of extras. To start, every Telstra mobile customer gets the following with their plan or recharge:

  • 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

If you’re spending at least $30 per month on your plan or recharge you’ll also get AFL, AFLW, NRL, Netball, and My Football Live Passes, which allow you to watch every game of the season live and data-free.

Telstra customers also get access to the Telstra Plus perks program. This includes:

  • $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
  • The ability to earn points which can then be redeemed for free devices or discounts on pricier gadgets

Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.


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