4G phone plans that will actually save you money

Summary: Has it been a while since you spoken with your telco? Chances are you're missing on faster speeds and some significant savings.

By atWhistleOut |

If you’ve been on a phone contract for the past couple of years, quite a few things have changed and you’re probably not getting the best bang for your buck.

Specifically, fast 4G networks are now live across the populous parts of Australia and can speed up the internet connection to a 4G-compatible phone by up to roughly 5-times the speed of 3G.

Another significant change is the rise in popularity of SIM-only phone services, like Amaysim. These plans tend to have low monthly fees, generous inclusions and no lock-in contracts. Sometimes these carriers are restricted to 3G, but in recent months even Amaysim has made the jump to 4G.

Luckily, all of this activity has forced a change from Australia’s big telcos, and you can now sign up to SIM only plans with Optus, Telstra, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile, with the same freedom and flexibility, plus a generous discount off standard plan rates.

Telstra recently overhauled its plans to include more data and call inclusions. In some cases the difference is minor, in others it's staggering. We're going to take a look at Phone Plans and the cheaper SIM-only 2.5GB options. These are lower-priced plans; if you want bigger differences in data between the old and the new then you'll need to bump the price up a little. We're here to save money, not to grab wads of data, so 2.5GB will do fine.

Example savings:

Plan


Spend
(Minimum
per month)
+Phone (Stand-alone
phone plan)
Contract
term
Min cost (Over 24 months)

$70
Phone Plan

$70 $1000 for calls/SMS
3GB data*
24 months $1680
$50
SIM-only
$50 $1000 for calls/SMS
3GB data*
1 month $1200
Benefits Save $20
per month
Identical inclusions No long-term
commitment
Save $480 over
24 months

*Includes 500MB 'bonus data'. This deal currently has no set end date, but may eventually disappear.

$35 with 500MB
BYO Plan
$50 with 2.5GB
BYO Plan
$70 with 6GB
BYO Plan


Here is a clear example of where you could be saving money. If you had signed up to a $60 Optus plan with a phone two-years ago (or longer), chances are you are still paying your old rate despite the contract expiring.

In the intervening years, Optus has changed its pricing scheme three times. If you were to switch to a new $45 dollar SIM-only plan, not only would you save money, but you would also get unlimited standard calls and SMS/MMS in Australia, plus you would probably get even more data than you currently do.

Even better, if you go over your monthly data limit you won't be hit by too much bill shock. Instead of expensive per-MB overage fees, Optus now charges you $10, after which it adds another full 1GB to your plan until month's end. After the month is done, your plan's price and data allocation revert to normal.

Example savings: current $60 contract plan vs $45 SIM-only plan

Plan


Spend
(Minimum
per month)
+Phone (Stand-alone
phone plan)
Contract
term
Min cost (Over 24 months)

$60
Phone Plan

$60 Unlimited standard calls/SMS
3GB data
150 minutes international calls
to select countries
24 months $1440
$45
SIM-only
$45 Unlimited standard calls/SMS
3GB data
150 minutes international calls
to select counrties
1 month $1080
Benefits Save $15
per month
Identical inclusions No long-term
commitment
Save $360 over
24 months

Right now Optus is offering bonus data if you sign up online.

$30 with 500MB
Optus SIM Plan
$45 with 3GB
Optus SIM Plan
Optus SIM Plan


The SIM-only advantage on Vodafone is easy to compare — all normal plans have a SIM-only counterpart which has the same inclusions but is a flat $20 cheaper per month.

Right now Vodafone's SIM-only Red plans are offering DOUBLE the normal data each month on the two most-expensive tiers and 1GB bonus data on the lowest $50 plan.

We've only mentioned the base data below, so double that (or add 1GB for the $50 plan) if you're shopping prior to the deal's end on 02/06/15. As an added bonus, if you order online there's an extra 1GB on top of the above extras until 10/06/15, meaning double + 1GB for the top tiers and and extra 2GB total for the $50 plan.

Example savings:

Plan


Spend
(Minimum
per month)
+Phone (Stand-alone
phone plan)
Contract
term
Min cost (Over 24 months)

$70 Red
Phone Plan

$70 Unlimited standard calls/SMS
3GB data
300 minutes international calls
to select countries
24 months $1680
$50 Red
SIM-only
$50 Unlimited standard calls/SMS
3GB data
300 minutes international calls
to select counrties
1 month $1200
Benefits Save $20
per month
Identical call, text
and data inclusions
No long-term
commitment
Save $480 over
24 months
$50 SIM Only
3GB Red Plan
$60 SIM Only
4GB Red Plan
$80 SIM Only
6GB Red Plan


Virgin Mobile plans offer a significant drop in price between its subsidised and SIM-only options. For money value, take a look at the 4GB plans. The next step down is $15 cheaper but for only 1GB per month.

Example savings:

Plan


Spend
(Minimum
per month)
+Phone (Stand-alone
phone plan)
Contract
term
Min cost (Over 24 months)

$80
Phone Plan

$80 Unlimited standard calls/SMS
4GB data
$300 value international
calls and text
24 months $2930
$50
SIM-only
$50 Unlimited standard calls/SMS
4GB data
$300 value international
calls and text
1 month $1200
Benefits Save $30
per month
Identical inclusions No long-term
commitment
Save $720 over
24 months
$35 with 1GB
Virgin SIM Plan

$50 with 4GB
Virgin SIM Plan

$80 with 7GB
Virgin SIM Plan


Switching is so, so simple

From the conversations we've had with people considering a change of plan or telco, the main concern seems to be that the process of switching will be difficult and protracted, when in reality the opposite is true.

  • If you are out of contract there is no penalty for changing
  • Changing plans with your telco will happen almost instantaneously
  • Moving your number to a new telco is surprisingly fast -- within an hour in some cases
  • Your phone service will usually suffer very little interruption while any changes are taking effect

Want to compare more?

There's many options (both 3G and 4G options) from a range of carriers and MVNOs to grab a SIM and BYO phone.

Phone with money image from Shutterstock



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