Unlimited data mobile plans: which ones are worth it?

The experts at WhistleOut have taken a look at what’s on offer for unlimited and what are the best almost unlimited options out there!

When unlimited data phone plans launched recently many of us were excited, but ultimately we were left asking whether it is, after all, worth signing up for one? Though the promise of unlimited internet was something that many of us have wanted for a long time, these new deals come with a number of caveats and the price of the plans is rather high.

So far only Telstra and Vodafone are offering an unlimited option, and although these plans are feature-packed, you can’t call them truly unlimited. In fact, the ACCC challenged Telstra on the use of the term unlimited, and Vodafone has now changed the name of these plans from unlimited to ‘Plus Plans’.

The reason is that the plans put a limit on how much fast 4G data you can use each month. When you reach this limit your internet connection is slowed down to speeds much slower than old 3G connections. This slow-lane speed is enough to check your emails and a bit of web browsing, but you will definitely feel the need for real speed for the rest of the month.

The major advantage of these ‘not-so unlimited’ plans is that you will never get stung with excess usage charges again. Currently most phone plans automatically charge an extra $10 each time you reach your data cap in exchange for an extra 1GB of data. With ‘unlimited’ plans, your bill will always be the same each month. No more bill shock is a big deal.

But though you might save money on excess usage, you will pay more upfront. Vodafone’s three unlimited data plans cost $60, $80 and $100 per month. Telstra’s single unlimited option is $69 per month. Keep in mind; this is the price just for the plan itself. If you need a new phone this will cost extra again.

So if ‘unlimited’ plans aren’t necessarily living up to the hype, what are your other options?

Practically unlimited alternatives

Obviously these plans are designed for big data spenders, but you don’t need unlimited data plans to get enough data to stream Netflix on your phone all day long. There are plenty of plans with at least 20GB per month included; some with up to about 100GB, and you can get these for a fair bit cheaper than the unlimited plans.

When it comes to high value phone plans, don’t be concerned about taking a punt on one of the challenger phone companies. Often these smaller companies work doubly hard to keep customers happy, and having a smaller customer base means they can keep their customer support teams local.

For example, Jeenee Mobile is a great Sydney-based company that, on top of offering a quality service, also donates free phone and plans to people with living with disabilities. Amaysim, which is also Sydney-based, has nearly one million customers and Australian call centres. Moose Mobile hail from Brisbane and offer some of the best rates in the market.

You will need to bring your own phone to use these plans, but given how good new phones are these days, you probably already own a great smartphone and will save big money by not upgrading before you really need to.

Joe Hanlon 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.