Econnex provides a free and independently-owned comparison engine that allows you to explore all the different types of mobile plans available on the market. Once you have an idea of what you want in a plan you can use the engine to find plans that best match your needs and compare them.
What to look for in the best value mobile plan
There are essentially three types of mobile plans available, but with many variations within each type. The basic plan types are:
- Pre Paid Plans – where you pay upfront for the services you want and top up when they expire or run out
- Post Paid Plans – with these plans you pay afterwards for the services you have used within a set billing period. Some Post Paid Plans come with a new handset as well.
- SIM Only Plans – plans that allow you to keep your existing phone while upgrading your services and benefits.
Which type of phone plan is best for me?
Before reading about the different types of plan in detail, it’s helpful to ask yourself a few questions, such as:
- Do you use your phone regularly, or rather are you just an occasional user?
- Do you want to use your phone for calls and texts only, or will you need data included as well?
- If you do want data included, how will you use it? Examples include internet browsing, music, videos, games and other apps.
- Do you want a brand new phone with all the latest bells and whistles, or are you happy to keep using your current one or one you buy outright?
- Will this plan be for yourself? Or is it rather for one of your children or for an overseas visitor to Australia?
- Would you prefer to pay upfront for the services you need, or would you rather use now and pay later?
Once you’ve answered these, all the detail about the different types of plan will hopefully make more sense.
Post Paid Plans
These types of plans work in the opposite way to Pre Paid as you pay afterwards rather than in advance – usually at monthly intervals.
Post Paid Plans are contracts or agreements to pay a certain amount of money for a set amount of calls, texts and data. They may also include the cost of a new device depending on the plan.
The contracts are typically 12 or 24 months in length, but they may also be casual (e.g. month-by-month) or as long as 36 months. If you do exceed your data allowance, it will be reflected in your next bill. Likewise, if you exit a plan early you may incur a fee.
Post Paid Plans that come with a new device included in the cost are nearly always at least 24 months in length to allow you time to pay it off. Plans that come with a device are also likely to cost more than those offering services only. With this type of plan, you will have to pay out the remaining balance owing on the phone if you exit the plan early.
Benefits of a Post Paid Plan:
- allows you to use now and pay later;
- offers reliability in that you never have to worry about running out of data and about topping up as you go;
- could be ideal if you would like a brand new phone to use now that you don’t need to pay for outright;
- flexibility in that you get to choose between services-only or a plan with a device;
- can be ideal for medium to heavy phone users;
- committing to a contract can allow you to get fantastic deals and take advantage of specials or promos, which means getting great value for money.
As for Pre Paid, these plans typically offer unlimited standard national calls and texts, but they vary in the amount of data included. They also differ in the level of international call credit on offer.
Pre Paid Plans
Pre Paid Plans are where you pay in advance for the services you want for a set block of time known as the ‘billing cycle’. This is typically 28 or 30 days. However, it may also be as little as 7 days or even as much as 365 days for a long-expiry plan!
With a Pre Paid Plan you can just top up your phone credit when you need to. You may also be able to set up an auto top-up option for when you run out of credit or after a set period.
It’s important to note that this type of plan does not come with a phone included in the price, so you will need to bring your own device.
Benefits of a Pre Paid Plan:
- no lock-in contract puts you in charge of how much you use and when;
- could be a great option if you just want a temporary plan;
- can be great for kids or for visitors from overseas;
- could also be used as an inexpensive option for a spare phone;
- comes with inbuilt flexibility in that you can switch or upgrade plans whenever you like;
- great for testing out plans to see which one you like best;
- can be great for tight budgets, especially as you get to avoid the ‘bill shock’ effect that can come with use-now-pay-later;
- no plan exit fee;
- ideal for light users who want a cheap mobile plan but could also suit heavier users as well.
At one time Pre Paid mobile plans offered limited national calls and texts, but these days most plans offer unlimited amounts of these services. The main points of difference between plans are the level of data offered (usually starting at 1GB) and international call credit.
A SIM Only Plan can be either Post Paid or Pre Paid. With this type of plan you get services only, and you can usually keep your existing number when switching to a new plan or provider.
SIM Only Plans come with a wide range of options. They can come as either casual plans where you pay as you go or comprise a 12-month fixed contract where you pay at the end of each billing period.
While contract Post Paid SIM Only plans offer some fantastic deals, there are Pre Paid SIM Only plans these days that provide great value for money as well.
Benefits of SIM Only Plans:
- ideal if you want to keep using your current device but you want to find a better deal or a more flexible plan;
- great for those times when you are waiting on the release of a new phone and just need a temporary plan in the meantime;
- can offer a perfect solution if you decide to pass your device onto your kids or another family member;
- could be idea if you are not interested in getting the latest phone or in committing to long-term contracts;
- best of both worlds in that you get to choose between casual plans where you pay as you go or fixed contract deals;
- perfect if you suddenly decide to switch providers to take up a better offer.
With SIM Only it’s important to be aware that if you switch providers and want to keep your current device, it will need to be unlocked from your current provider’s network. If your phone is locked, unlocking it may incur a fee depending on the telco and current plan arrangements.
If you need to unlock your phone from your provider’s website, you will first need its IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) 15-digit code. This may be found on the sticker on the back of your phone. If not, you can find it by dialing *#06# from your mobile, which displays the number on your screen.
Using Econnex’s comparison engine
Once you have an idea of what you want in a plan it’s easy to find plans to match your needs using Econnex’s engine. The engine is very simple to use and costs nothing. You just need to select the desired options from each of the comparison engine dropdown boxes, and then use the sliders underneath them to set your maximum spend and minimum desired amount of data. The engine will then select the best mobile phone plans to match your selections. You can use the engine as often as you like.
Business plans can be either Post Paid including a phone or Post Paid SIM Only. Pre Paid is not normally available in a business plan.
Business Plans offer competitive rates on device repayments, extra data allowances, international roaming packs for data and calls, as well as inclusions for application and streaming.
Finding information on Business plans and inclusions is free of charge and very easy when you use the comparison engine. You just need to select the Business (1-9 Connections) option from the comparison engine Connection Type dropdown, select desired options from the other two dropdown boxes, set the accompanying sliders and click ‘Start’.
If it’s time to upgrade your old device, add in more benefits to your plan or switch plans if you’re ready for a change, Econnex can make the first step so much easier. All you need to do is enter your requirements into the search engine above and see what’s in store for you.
Your Guide to Choosing the Best Phone Plan
How do I compare plans with Econnex?
Econnex makes it simple to compare plans. Using the Econnex engine, just input whether you’re looking for a new handset or not, if you prefer post-paid or pre-paid, your typical data and call usage, and if you own a business. We’ll then show you plans suited to your budget and requirements. Best of all, you can sign up on the spot without any interruption to your day.
I am running a business and need many mobile connections, can I get a comparison?
Yes. We can show you all the best new handset or are SIM Only Post Paid plans for business. To find plans that suit your requirements, select the Business option from the comparison engine Connection Type dropdown. You can select up to nine new handsets. You can adjust your preferences from the other two dropdown boxes. Then you need to set the sliders for your preferred data and price ranges, and press ‘Start’ to begin your comparison and to start saving.
What is the difference between SIM and Mobile + SIM plan?
A SIM plan is a mobile phone plan that does not include a handset. If you have a device but you want to find a better deal on your mobile phone plan, you can opt for a SIM only plan. These are cheaper than most mobile + SIM plans, as you do not have to pay off any handset.
How do I know I have the best plan?
The best plan must suit your needs and your budget. Using EConnex and inputting your preferences, you will know if you have the best plan when:
- Monthly price is the lowest
- The features on offer is the highest
- The overall value is “unbeatable” by other comparable plans.
For you, a large amount of data is preferable than unlimited calls. If you can get 10GB of data for $10 instead of 9GB for $15, the first plan would be the best plan for you. This is up to individual preferences according to whether you need a SIM only or a new handset, the variations in many different Android devices such as high-end “flagship” and “budget” devices, where the budget-end uses less powerful processors or cameras.
You also know you’re getting the best plan as Econnex is independent; we don’t take commissions from network operators or MVNOs to skew results in their favour. We also show you savings compared to your own plan in real dollar terms, not in discounts or other deliberately confusing amounts.
What is an MVNO?
MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. MVNOs are small mobile service providers that lease bandwidth from the “Big Three” networks – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. They do not operate the cell towers and network infrastructure like the “Big Three” and can pass on any savings on administration, infrastructure, and operating retail stores on to the consumer. MVNOs can also offer reduced speed 3G plans that may be suitable for those who do not need or want data connections.
Should I use an MVNO or a network operator?
This decision should be based on personal preference, price, and value. MVNOs lease space on the network so your network quality and speeds will be tied to one of the big three. Other factors you must consider are customer service – some MVNOs do not have onshore or real-time customer service – and prices comparable to connecting with the network directly. These prices and additions are all reflected in the EConnex comparisons.
What is the difference between post-paid and pre-paid?
Post paid means you pay your bills in arrears; that means you pay for your service after you have used it. Your usage is tallied up every month and a bill sent to you to bring your account back into balance. A pre-paid service means paying for your service in advance; you are given a set period or dollar value to use the network and included calls or data and must “top up” or “recharge” when your balance reaches zero.
What does owning a phone “outright” mean?
Owning a phone outright means paying for a handset in full without a contract or lease from a network operator. Most post paid mobile contracts include a handset cost in the package, which pays off the phone over 12 or 24 monthly instalments. Buying a phone direct from a retailer or manufacturer means you only need a SIM card to get it on the network. This means you can choose any network you wish as it will be “factory unlocked.”
What are the differences between the networks?
There are three Australian mobile networks in Australia – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. All three networks cover approximately 99% of Australia’s population with Vodafone being the lowest of the three at 96%. These networks all operate their own network infrastructure independently of each other. Telstra as of November 2019 has been rolling out 5G services in limited city-central test markets such as Sydney and Melbourne.
What is a “contract” plan?
A contract plan is a type of post paid plan that requires you to sign an agreement for 12 to 24 months with a network operator or mobile service provider. This covers your payment schedule, handset costs, and any associated fees for cancelling the contract. Cancelling the contract may mean paying out the remainder of the phone’s value, as most contracts do not allow you to own the phone “outright” until the contract has concluded.
What is Android?
Android is the name of the operating system developed by Google for mobile phones. It is based on Linux, an open source PC operating system that is known for its low hardware requirements and stability. Android is also open source, which means developers and handset manufacturers can modify the system to suit their model of phones. Android is found in tablets and some laptops such as Chromebooks. It is the main competitor to iOS, found exclusively in Apple mobile products.
I already have a mobile phone and want to keep it. Can I get a new plan?
Yes. Those who already have a handset and own it outright can get a new SIM only plan. If you do not own your handset outright, you may want to check with your current provider as to what your obligations are in terms of paying out your contract. Changing your contract without permission may result in early termination fees.
What does SIM cards do? Do I need one to get a mobile?
SIM Cards, or Subscriber Identity Modules, are the small microchips you insert into any cellular mobile device – these could be mobile phones, tablets, or even hotspots and laptops – to identify you (the subscriber) on the network. These allow the network to route calls and data to your device and bill you accordingly. All mobile phones require a SIM card of some type, otherwise you will not be able to connect to the network. SIM cards will also need to be activated by your network before you may use that SIM card.
What is “SIM Card Unlocked” ?
Some post paid plans by providers “lock” a SIM card to a network so it cannot be transferred to another network without authorisation from that network provider. This practice was common in the infancy of the mobile phone market, though most providers will now sell their mobile phones “unlocked” or offer an unlock code for free.
What is 4G? What is 5G?
4G stands for “fourth generation” of cellular network technology, the successor to 3G. 4G refers to the technologies and data transmission speeds one can expect from their cellular network. The peak speed requirement for a 4G network is 100 megabits per second or 12.5 megabytes per second when moving. Stationary speeds should reach 1 gigabits per second. 5G is the next generation of cellular network technology with an expected speed of 2 gigabits per second. 5G is still under research and development in most countries.
I want a post paid plan. Will the provider check my credit?
Yes. A provider will conduct a routine credit check to assess your creditworthiness or ability to pay off a loan, as contracts allow you to take possession of a phone before you have paid it all off to a network operator. You must consent to any credit check a network operator makes on your behalf, as credit checks can affect your credit history.
What is international roaming?
International roaming is the ability for your SIM to connect to networks overseas and be recognised across a cellular network.
International roaming can have extremely high costs compared to using a domestic network. However, the advantage is you can use your mobile in another country without buying a new SIM card. All your calls will be routed to your mobile as if you are still within Australia. Some network operators and retailers offer international roaming bundles or reciprocal network roaming deals that can be purchased as after-market extras. Contact your provider for more information.
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