6 Insider Tips To Beat Big Phone Bills

When you’re looking to save bucks on your phone plan, it pays to do a little research — we’ve done the hard work compiling some tips so you don’t have to!

Unlimited data is finally available in Australia, but look a little closer and you’ll see it’s not neccessarily all it’s cracked up to be.

Telstra’s use of the term ‘unlimited’ has been found misleading and deceptive by the Australian Federal Court, proving once again that it’s vital to read the fine print before signing up to any mobile plan.

So when you’re looking to save bucks on your phone plan, it pays to do a little research. If your priority is finding a great mobile plan at an affordable price, you can save thousands by skipping extreme data inclusions, trying a smaller provider, or resisting the temptation to upgrade your phone. Here’s a few easy tips for cutting your phone bill instantly.

You probably don’t need unlimited data

Unlimited data is the hot new thing on the Aussie telco market, but realistically it’s not for everyone. Aside from the fact that you’re not actually getting unlimited fast 4G speeds (Telstra caps high speeds at 40GB per month, Vodafone at up to 120GB monthly), most users don’t need anywhere near this much data.

40GB of monthly data equates to roughly 160 hours of Netflix, 240 hours of high-quality Spotify, and 480 hours of scrolling through Facebook. Basically, unless you’re spending hours each day streaming HD content to your device, 40GB is way too much for the average phone user.

But if you do like having a lot of wiggle room in your plan, there’s plenty of great value big-data options on the market right now. Below is a selection of plans that give you plenty of gigabytes without breaking the bank.

You can use Telstra’s network without joining Telstra

Keen on Telstra’s network coverage, but less excited about Telstra’s prices? Luckily, you can still get access to Telstra’s 4G and 3G networks through smaller, less expensive providers.

All of the below telcos offer coverage on Telstra, but at noticeably lower prices. The downside is that these plans don’t give you access to the Telstra-exclusive 4GX network, but don’t worry: you’ll still get up to 50Mbps speeds on Telstra’s standard 4G service.

…and the same with Optus and Vodafone

In fact, all of the three major networks resell their service to smaller providers. So you can access Optus’ 4G and 4G Plus networks through the following plans, and Vodafone’s 4G service in the second table.


When possible, keep your phone

One of the easiest ways to cut your bills is to hang on to your current smartphone and move to a month-to-month, SIM-only mobile plan. Unless you’re in desperate need of a new device, there’s really no need to keep following the ‘18-months to two years’ upgrade cycle; by holding on to your existing handset for longer, you can save hundreds annually, even with providers such as Telstra or Optus:

Opting for SIM-only plan gives you a lower monthly bill (no phone repayments!), plus added flexibility: unless you’ve signed up on a contract, you’re free to switch plans or leave at any time, without incurring financial penalties. And by keeping your phone and going with a smaller provider (like the ones below), you can potentially save even more money.

Switch to prepaid

It’s pretty obvious, but if you’re looking to save cash and ensure you’re never paying unexpected charges for your mobile plan, prepaid is the way to go. A prepaid plan means you can’t accidentally exceed plan inclusions such as monthly data or international credit, so you won’t be hit with unexpected excess usage costs on your next bill.

It’s also a great option for anyone that tends to forgot to pay bills on time, or if you prefer to set up a monthly autopay option for your service. Below are some great prepaid options, with a variety of data inclusions.


Check for hidden fees

One last pro tip? You should always give the Critical Information Summary a read before signing on to any plan – this document outlines what exactly you’re getting for your money each month, plus any extra charges that might come up.

Some of the hidden extras that telcos have been known to add to your bill include late payment fees, plan change charges, replacement SIM costs, a fee for payments made via credit card, excess data charges, early termination costs, and even a charge for asking for a paper bill sent by mail. So make sure you know what you could be charged for, before signing up.

Tara Donnelly is an editor at Australia’s most comprehensive telco comparison site WhistleOut

* In highlighting particular offers we are not making specific recommendations as this article does not cover all available products and may not compare all features relevant to you. Any advice provided is general in nature and does not take account of your needs, objectives or financial situation. Individuals should consider their own circumstances, and if in doubt seek appropriate advice, before proceeding.