Our cost of living will inevitably take a big hit this year from inflation. Whether it is at the supermarket, the petrol bowser, or the cost of utilities like electricity or mobile phone plans. We now have multiple subscription streaming services and a mobile phone for everyone in a household older than 12 years of age. All are adding to the cost of living but imagine if you could get a mobile plan for $0.
Telstra has announced that their monthly mobile phone rates will increase by around 5%, depending on your plan. Below we will look at just what options you have to reduce your monthly mobile plan costs and if that change will affect you.
You can easily change providers and keep your existing phone number no matter which company you currently have your mobile phone with. The process takes minutes, with the technical change normally occurring within the hour.
This means you don’t have to stay with your existing provider and potentially save some money if there’s a better deal.
Network coverage refers to where your phone will work. While mobile phone networks claim 90+ % of coverage, this can be misleading. The figure actually refers to the population, not the landmass. In fact, 73% of Australia’s landmass has no mobile phone coverage.
There is no question that Telstra has the best coverage of all networks. It makes sense then that if you live in a remote part of Australia, you should be a Telstra customer. However, most Australians live in capital cities and are unlikely to take advantage of remote mobile coverage. So why pay a premium for coverage if you never use it?
Two other facts concerning Telstra’s coverage are Boost mobile has access to 100% of Telstra’s coverage, and Vodafone has a proposed agreement with Telstra to use its coverage in remote areas (currently under review with the ACCC)
5G is the latest mobile technology that allows data to be transferred much faster. However, for the everyday person, there isn’t a huge practical advantage of speeds faster than what is achievable with 4G. A standard 4G connection normally fast enough to stream video to your phone, which is today’s most common data-hungry thing we do on our phones.
How much data do you use?
This is the most important question. If you are like me and work from home rather than commuting each day, and rarely watch videos unless connected to Wi-Fi, your data usage will be pretty small. I expect to use around 40GB for the entire year. However, a commuter could easily use 60GB a month (720GB a year).
You can check your data usage by looking at an app or account management web page from your mobile vendor. Once you understand your usage, you are now in a strong position to save some money.
You may be able to reduce your data usage not by changing habits but by simply ensuring your smartphone attaches to Wi-Fi when available at home or work, rather than using data from your mobile plan.
Do you call international?
Most mobile plans available in Australia offer unlimited calls and SMS with Australia. If you make regular calls overseas, you should consider plans that include some international calling. Remember to check the country you want to call is included.
If you never call international, why pay the premium? Make sure it’s not part of your mobile plan.
How much money can I save on a mobile plan?
Every month GadgetGuy publishes a list of the cheapest SIM plans available in Australia. You can save yourself some money without changing your mobile number by visiting this page regularly.
Let us look at some specific examples:
From July, Telstra’s cheapest mobile plan is $58 for 40GB a month with 30 minutes of international calls. $696 a year. Boost Mobile on exactly the same Telstra network plus free internal calls to 20 countries for $30 per 28 days. 1 year 13 x $30 = $390. That is a $306 saving plus unlimited calls to 20 countries. Circles Life, which resells the Optus network, offers 50GB for $25 a month. $300 a year, saving $396
One of the biggest ways to save on your mobile phone costs is to prepay for 12 months. Here a user who does not use much data can get a plan from $8.25 a month ($99 a year) with 60Gb of data to use within that year. Coles, which uses the Optus network, offer a 200GB SIM for $169 for 12 months with 200GB of data and unlimited calls to 15 destinations. Kogan, who uses the Vodafone network, offers a 500GB 12 month SIM for $300. (This plan is similar to our earlier Telstra plan saving you $396 a year) If you do run out of data, no problems. Just go and buy a new 12-month subscription because, as they all offer unlimited calls, you are really only paying for the amount of data you use.
Do you want a mobile plan for $0?
Well, not free exactly, but if you buy a Woolworths plan, you are entitled to save 10% off one of your monthly grocery shops. Therefore, if you purchased a 12 month SIM for $200 with 160GB of data for the year, it would cost you $16.67 a month. If you then spent $168 on groceries, you would get a 10% discount equating to $16.80, effectively paying for your mobile plan. Better still, if you spend any more in that same shop, 10% of that extra ends up back in your pocket, helping reduce your cost of living.
It pays to shop around, whether it’s insurance premiums, electricity providers or mobile network vendors. With Telstra increasing its charges and the possibility of others following, you can potentially get the same coverage on the same network with the same data allowance and calls for 44% less each month. Switch vendors, and that saving could be less than half what you are paying now.
Do a large shop at Woolworths at least once a month, and you can save more than the cost of a phone plan from Woolworths, effectively a mobile plan for $0.