Mobile contracts cost you lots of money!

(A lot more than what you actually pay each month)

If you’ve been with us for even a short period of time, you would definitely know by now that we strongly advocate against locking yourself with any provider.

What may be good in your personal life, can be very detrimental for you as a consumer.

It’s been referred to by some as the ‘lazy tax’ but personally, I prefer to call it the “loyalty tax” (as I reckon nobody likes to be called lazy).

Whatever you call it, this ‘tax’ is very real and is costing Aussies billions (yep, that’s with a B!) every year.

Other than the direct costs of paying more than you have to for your mobile calls, text and data, there is also the indirect ‘opportunity cost’ that needs to be accounted for.

Opportunity Cost is an economic term which is defined as:

“A benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else”.

In this specific context, it’s the hidden cost of not being able to take a superior deal from a competitor while you are stuck in a lock-in contract.

Therefore, you must always maintain your freedom to choose and getting yourself into a mobile plan with a lock-in contract (no matter how short) is a bad idea!

As a matter of fact, being a loyal consumer is not a wise move in general.

Go with a mobile plan that doesn’t lock you in.

The objection to contracts doesn’t come from some philosophical viewpoint but rather has everything to do with $$$ !

A no contract mobile plan will almost always offer better value than plans which lock you in. This is especially the case when considering the amount of included data.

There are some exceptions to this rule but they usually only apply for very specific usage patterns (e.g. when you wish to create a ‘data pool’ to share across several members of your household).

For everyone else, a no contract mobile plan is the way to go!

In addition to better value, a no contract plan offers you total freedom in the sense that you can give it the flick at any time if you’re not happy or a better deal comes along from a competitor.

Despite what you may think, this is extremely likely!

Many people don’t realise that but Australia is one of the most competitive markets in the world when it comes to mobile plans (if not the most competitive!).

This is mainly because of all the virtual operators (a.k.a MVNOs) which operate here and resell access to the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks. Just take a look at this list and you’ll be amazed with the number of options on offer.

Due to this fierce competition between providers, mobile plans (and especially prepaid mobile plans) are one of only a few types of products and services which have actually become cheaper over the years!

“Will I lose my number if I switch?”

Many consumer surveys have shown that one of the things which worries customers the most about changing their mobile provider is the concern about keeping their existing number. Many people are simply afraid they will lose it if they switch.

However, this concern is unfounded as customers are always able to keep their existing number, if they so choose and this right is protected by what’s known as the “mobile number portability rules“.

Not only that but the process to do so (known as porting) is very easy, requires no technical skills and is completely free.

Porting requests are usually completed within just a few hours at most if you’re moving from one network to another but can take slightly longer if you are moving between different providers on the same network.

“So what is the best mobile plan if I use lots of data and don’t want to be locked-in?”

OK, now that we got the general information out of the way, I’d like to present to you what I reckon is the best mobile plan with no lock-in contract in Australia for those who need lots of mobile data.

With this prepaid mobile plan you get the following every 28 days:

  • Unlimited text and calls to any Australian number. This includes unlimited calls to 13/1300/1800 numbers as well as voicemail access but excludes text & calls to ‘premium numbers’ (which is any number starting with 19).

  • Unlimited calls & text to 20 countries + 100 minutes of calls to another 35 selected countries.

  • 20GB of data on the network with the best 4G coverage in the country – Telstra. Better yet:

    1. If you don’t use up your entire data allowance, you can roll it over to the next billing cycle (e.g if you have 3GB of data left, you will have 23GB of data to use in the next month if you recharge before the end of the current billing period); and

    2. If you like to stream your favourite tunes through Apple Music then you don’t need to worry about your data allowance at all. Stream as much as you want through the Apple Music apps for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Android without using up any of your data.  

All that for just $30 per 28 days (and there is a little trick to make that period even longer. Just keep reading).

Have I got your attention?

Wait, it gets even better! 🙂

Pretty much all the virtual operators on the Telstra network (such as Aldi Mobile, Woolworths Mobile, Belong, Lyca Mobile and others) use the Telstra wholesale network and the standard 4G service.

This provider is the only virtual operator who gets access to the FULL Telstra network which means you can expect the same coverage and data speeds as if you’ve gone with Telstra themselves.

They are also the only provider (other than Telstra themselves) which will give you access to the 4GX Service which is Telstra’s faster 4G service.

While there is little to no difference between Telstra wholesale and Telstra ‘proper’ when it comes to calls and text, there is definitely a difference when it comes to 4G data services on Telstra wholesale compared to Telstra ‘proper’.

Being on Telstra ‘proper’ means you should experience better data speeds with this provider compared to any other virtual operator on the Telstra network provided:

  1. You have a smartphone which has the 4GX frequency of 700 Mhz; and
  2. The 4GX network is actually available where you are. You can check whether that’s the case or not on the coverage map.

Another important implication of being on Telstra ‘proper’ as opposed to Telstra wholesale is that if you’re living in regional and remote Australia, you may be able to get 4G data speeds where no other provider has them!

OK, I won’t keep teasing you any longer… 😉

The provider I am talking about is Boost and specifically their $30 plan.

A quick history of Boost in Australia:

Boost are one of the oldest virtual operators in Australia (although their plans are marketed mainly to young people in their early 20s) and have been around since the year 2000.

For the first 12 years of their existence, they weren’t actually selling their services directly to consumers.

Instead, Optus were using the Boost brand to sell prepaid plans and phones to what they called the “youth market”.

However, in 2012 Optus decided they would rather push their own prepaid plans (under their own brand) and said they will no longer be using the Boost brand.

This forced Boost to look for a new ‘home’ so to speak and they found this new home at Telstra who were also keen to capture that all important ‘youth market’.

So, in late 2012, Boost has officially become a reseller of Telstra’s faster 3G+ network (known back then as “NextG”) and started selling their own prepaid plans from January 2013.

Boost were actually the first virtual operator on the Telstra network and this was an indication that even Telstra are finally acknowledging the important role virtual operators are playing in the mobile market and how they are a force that they can simply no longer afford to ignore.

Boost and the competition:

Boost’s prepaid plans have been pretty good value pretty much from the get-go compared to what you could get by going with a prepaid plan directly from Telstra, especially given it was essentially the same network.

However, Telstra weren’t sitting still either.

Instead of competing head-on with virtual operators (and eroding their own profits in the process), Telstra has decided to take a very different approach which can be summed up by the sentence:

“If you can’t beat them, join them”

Instead of competing with virtual operators, Telstra decided to embrace them with open arms by creating a new network especially for them – The Telstra wholesale mobile network .

By creating this new product, Telstra was hoping to:

  1. Create a new revenue stream for themselves and profit from the booming virtual operator industry; and
  2. Create a point of difference between the mobile network their own customers are on and the network used by the customers of Telstra’s various resellers.

This proved to be a very smart move because it attracted new virtual operators into the market (as they now had a whole new network they could use which wasn’t available previously) while maintaining Telstra’s own positioning as a ‘premium’ provider.

This also meant that people living in rural and remote Australia now had more mobile providers to choose from other than Telstra themselves.

This is when the likes of Lyca Mobile, Woolworths Mobile and Aldi mobile opened up shop.

Kogan mobile also tried to get in on the action on the Telstra wholesale network but instead of negotiating with Telstra directly, they decided to piggyback off one of the other resellers.

This ended up badly for them and they were forced to shut down their prepaid mobile service for a few years before coming back from the dead in late 2015, this time on the Vodafone network.

While all of that was taking place, it was business as usual for Boost and because they managed to secure a deal with Telstra before they came up with Telstra Wholesale, they were able to remain on the ‘proper’ Telstra network.

This gave them somewhat of an advantage over all the other virtual operators reselling access to Telstra and made their management feel somewhat complacent.

While their founder was focusing on expanding the Boost Mobile brand in America, the other virtual operators started catching up with them.

On Telstra, Aldi Mobile became a fierce competitor and their plans soon became better value than Boost’s, even after taking into account the differences between Telstra wholesale (which Aldi uses) and Telstra ‘proper’ (which is what Boost uses).

When looking at virtual operators running on other networks (like Catch Connect & Ovo on Optus and Kogan Mobile on Vodafone), Boost’s data inclusions started to look pretty average.

Boost are fighting back:

The first indication that Boost have finally realised they dropped the ball and need to get back into the game came in March 2018 when Boost did a complete revamp of the data inclusions across all their plans.

They also redesigned their website and overall branding and came out with a new advertising campaign in which they go back to their original identity of being the ‘cool kid’ offering the young people of today what they want: lots of cheap data on the go.

But Boost weren’t quite done yet.

It seems like they were determined to not just beat their biggest rival on Telstra network – Aldi Mobile, but also the virtual operators on the Optus network and even on Vodafone.

In late February 2019, Boost launched new prepaid plans with prices and data inclusions that have set a new bar for other prepaid providers to try and match.

Boost VS the Competition:

As I said already, the main competition Boost had on the Telstra network was Aldi mobile.

Here is how Boost compares to what Aldi Mobile are offering:

Aldi Mobile Plans

As you can see in the image above, Boost will now give you the same as what you’ll get with Aldi but for $5 less per billing cycle in their $30 , $40 and $50 plans.

Plus, their network is superior to the Telstra Wholesale network used by Aldi Mobile.

Here is how Boost compares to what Catch Connect are offering:

CatchConnect Mobile Plans

Putting aside the current promo of $4.90 for the first 30 days, Boost’s prices are either better or the same as Catch.

Also remember that Catch Connect are using the Optus network so it’s not exactly a like-for-like comparison.

For most people, Boost with their access to the full Telstra network offer superior coverage.

This is especially the case for people in regional Australia.

Saying that, Catch Connect does have a promo at the moment where you can get 90 days of unlimited calls and text and 54GB of data for just $15.

Given the $15 price tag is for the whole 90 days (not per month), this may be a superior deal for you if you are not currently with Catch and have decent Optus coverage where you live.

Just don’t forget to turn off auto-recharge after activating your $15 SIM:

Manage auto recharge with CatchConnect

Here is how Boost compares to what Kogan Mobile are offering:

Kogan Mobile Plans

As you can see, Boost even beats Kogan Mobile who compete mainly on price given they are running on the Vodafone network which rules them out completely for a fair chunk of Aussies (especially if they don’t live in one of the capital cities or a major regional city).

Let’s recap what you get with Boost

For $30 per month, you get:

  • Unlimited calls & text in Australia;
  • Unlimited calls & text to 20 countries + 100 minutes of calls to another 35 countries; and
  • 20GB of data which can also be rolled-over to the next month if you recharge before your current plan expires.
  • 15GB bonus data on the first 3 recharges. This means that for the first five months, your total data allowance is a whopping 35GB for the same price.

For $40 per month, you get:

  • Unlimited calls & text in Australia;
  • Unlimited calls & text to 25 countries + 200 minutes of calls to another 30 countries; and
  • 30GB of data which can also be rolled-over to the next month if you recharge before your current plan expires.
  • 15GB bonus data on the first 3 recharges. This means that for the first five months, your total data allowance is a whopping 45GB for the same price.

For $50 per month, you get:

  • Unlimited calls & text in Australia;
  • Unlimited calls & text to 25 countries + 200 minutes of calls to another 30 countries; and
  • 40GB of data which can also be rolled-over to the next month if you recharge before your current plan expires.
  • 15GB bonus data on the first 3 recharges. This means that for the first five months, your total data allowance is a whopping 55GB for the same price.

One disadvantage of Boost Mobile and how to overcome it:

All Boost plans run on a 28 day cycle which means that across a year, you end up paying for almost 13 months instead of 12.

While this sucks, Boost are offering one way (and one way only at this stage!) to avoid the 28 day cycle:

auto-recharge

If you register your credit or debit card with them and agree to have your plan renewed automatically, this will always happen on the same day of the month.

For example: if you activated your plan on the 10th of the month and enabled auto-recharge, your plan will always get renewed on the 10th, regardless of how many days are in the month.

This means your billing cycle will only be 28 days in February (29 if it’s a leap year). In all other months, it will be either 30 or 31 days.

As this is a prepaid service, you can switch providers any time and once you port your number out of Boost, your service with them will be automatically disconnected which means any auto-recharge you’ve put in place should be cancelled automatically as well.

One final thing to be aware about Boost is the fact that if you are currently with Telstra (either a prepaid or postpaid plan) and want to port your number to Boost, the porting process is slightly different for you.

It’s described here.

“Not keen on Boost as I don’t use that much data in a month”

No worries!

We have a detailed report on mobile plans which outlines more options for you to choose from based on your usage patterns and across all the mobile networks operating in Australia (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone).

If you are in the market for a 4G-capable smartphone but don’t want to pay top dollar for some fancy features you most likely will never use (or be forced to go on a contract god forbid!), you can find a few suggestions here.

Before you go:

The Spending Hackers Recommend:

  1. If you are after a no-contract mobile plan with unlimited calls & text in Australia and lots of data – this is your best option.
  2. Your BEST options for broadband with lots of data and no contract.
  3. Smile – Save up to 40% on your dental bill WITHOUT taking private health insurance (or ‘double dip’ if you already have it)!
  4. Vision Direct – The biggest range of designer eyewear on the planet for the lowest price.

Put us to work for you!

The Spending Hacker Concierge service is where we put our skills and combined decades of experience towards finding the absolute best deal for your individual needs & specific circumstances – full details on this page.

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The Spending Hacker Scout service is where we not only find you the absolute best deal for your individual needs & specific circumstances but we also make sure you continue to always be on the best deal. If a better deal becomes available at any point in time, we let you know straight away-  full details on this page.

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