Mobile contracts cost you lots of money!
(A lot more than what you actually pay each month)
If you’ve been a member 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.
Therefore, you must always maintain your freedom to choose and being loyal to a product or a brand is a bad idea.
Signing up to the ubiquitous 12 or 24 month mobile plan contract goes very much against this core principle!
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 emerges from a competitor.
Despite what you may think, this is very 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.
This intense competition for your business will become even more fierce once TPG joins the three incumbents (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone) and start its own network.
If you think you are spoilt for choice now, just wait and see what happens next! 😉
“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 federal legislation 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.
This is because the government is the ultimate owner of all the phone numbers in Australia (both landlines and mobiles). They don’t belong to either the customers or the phone companies.
“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 our research (and that of others too) has shown to be the best mobile plan with no lock-in contract currently on offer in Australia for those who need lots of mobile data.
This mobile plan offers you:
Unlimited calls to all Australian landlines and mobiles (including 13/1300 numbers & voicemail access)
Unlimited SMS and MMS to any mobile in Australia.
10GB of 4G data on the relatively reliable Optus network.
The price: $36 per calendar month.
For an extra $2 a month, you can also get 200 minutes of calls to 100 countries.
Have I got your attention? 😉
Many providers have recently started charging in 28 day cycles. This effectively means you end up paying for an extra month every year. Nice little trick for them but not so much for us consumers.
This mob doesn’t do it. They also don’t charge you per 30 days.
Instead, their billing cycle is per calendar month (i.e. from the first day to the last day of each month).
This means that for months that have 30 days, you get 30 days to use your plan. For months that have 31 days, you get 31 days to use your plan and every February, you get 28 days to use your plan (except in leap years where you get one day extra).
Simple to understand? For sure!
Fair? I think so.
OK, I won’t keep ‘teasing’ you any longer.
The provider I am talking about is Vaya and specifically their Unlimited 10GB plan.
Now, if you told me only a year ago that I would be recommending Vaya, I would have told you to promptly get your head examined!
As someone who follows the Australian mobile plans scene pretty closely, I have heard of Vaya many times. However, it has always been for the wrong reasons!
Their business practices have been known to be pretty dodgy to put it mildly and they have become quite infamous for their brazen willingness to test the boundaries of Australian consumer law and see how much they can get away with.
So what changed? Why recommend them now?
Well, the change in Vaya started when they were acquired by Amaysim in early 2016.
Amaysim is another provider running on the Optus network and even used to be our recommended provider awhile back when their plans were the best value.
Their plans are still pretty good value today but are no longer the best value (especially since they decided to also adopt the dubious practice of having their plans run on a 28 day cycle).
Amaysim have openly said that the main reason they decided to grab Vaya (which were struggling and rumoured to be going under) was for their existing customer base. Basically, Amaysim wanted to use this acquisition to increase their overall market share.
This means that in order to get their money’s worth from this deal, it was imperative for Amaysim to retain as many of Vaya’s existing customers as possible.
That meant that they had to fix the way Vaya have been doing business till then and how they were treating their customers. Basically, all the ‘monkey business’ had to stop immediately!
As a publicly listed company, Amaysim’s management had an obligation not just to its board but also to their shareholders and had to prove that whatever millions they spent buying Vaya was money well spent. Therefore, they wasted no time and started cleaning up the house.
Since early 2017, we have been getting emails from our members saying that we should really look into Vaya. Their plans have become a lot better value and most importantly, the previous issues with billing and atrocious customer service were a thing of the past.
We looked at Vaya’s plans several times previously and have always been able to find other providers that offered either similar or better pricing. I will also openly admit that I probably had a bit of a personal bias against Vaya due to all the negative ‘chatter’ about them online (I was never a Vaya customer myself so didn’t have any personal experience).
A few months ago, Vaya have again revamped their plans after which they started looking very appealing against the competition.
They also introduced a price beat guarantee where they will beat any non-promotional pricing from any competitor (on any network) with the same amount of included calls, text and data.
Here is a video from Vaya explaining how this works:
I decided to test the water again and send another email to our readership to ask about their personal experiences of being Vaya customers.
We got quite a few responses and all of them without fail were very positive. This surprised me for two reasons:
- I didn’t think that many of our readers were Vaya customers; and
- I didn’t expect the reviews to be so positive. Usually people are more likely to share their experiences if they want to complain, not to praise 😉
(Thanks heaps to all of you who shared your experiences. This is very much appreciated!).
We then had a look to see if we could find more recent (i.e. since Amaysim took over) customer reviews of Vaya and came across this review site which had glowing reviews.
That’s reassuring but personally, I always take these review sites with a grain of salt as they all can (and do!) contain plenty of fake reviews.
So, it was time to do an actual ‘test run’ of Vaya’s service.
Groupon had a pretty sweet 3 month deal on Vaya so I decided to grab it and test Vaya out.
I am happy to say that I had no problems at all.
The order process was pretty smooth and hassle free. The SIM arrived about a week after the order. I ported my number, popped the SIM in and I was good to go.
Coverage was on-par with what I’ve had with any other provider on the Optus network. You can check the expected coverage in your neck of the woods by going here.
One point that kept coming up again and again in the feedback from our readers and that you should be aware of is that Vaya’s plans, while being month-to-month, are all post-paid.
This means that Vaya holds your payment details on file and sends you a bill at the end of each month.
This also means that if you exceed your data allowance, you may be up for pretty nasty bill shock! This is especially the case if you revert to the Pay-as-you-go data rates instead of buying an extra data pack (at a cost of $10 per 1GB).
You can keep tabs on your data usage through your account dashboard (Vaya has no mobile apps) to see how your data usage is faring for the month. Based on our readers feedback as well as my own experience, the data usage is updated pretty quickly (definitely within the same day).
Just keep in mind that there may be discrepancies between the data usage shown by your phone and that recorded by Vaya (which is the one that counts!). Therefore, you may wanna set the limit on your phone to be a bit lower (I personally went with 500MB lower to be on the safe side).
“Not keen on a Postpaid plan. What is the best Prepaid Alternative?”
Fair enough. I can definitely understand that.
Some people prefer to eliminate completely any risk for a bill shock.
Others may not be able to qualify for a postpaid plan due to a poor credit score.
If you’d rather stick with prepaid plans, the next best thing is from Better Life Mobile.
For $35 per calendar month you get unlimited calls, text and MMS in Australia as well as 9GB of data.
(So basically, if you want to stick with a strictly prepaid plan, you pay $1 less per calendar month but also get 1GB less. You are also guaranteed not to be charged more than your monthly plan fee).
Better Life Mobile run on the Telstra Wholesale network which is a slightly stripped down version of their full network (which is available only for people who are with either Boost Mobile or Telstra themselves).
The main difference between Telstra Wholesale and Telstra ‘proper’ is in the availability and speed of 4G. There should be little to no difference when it comes to making and receiving calls and SMS/MMS but you can check the coverage for yourself here.
Like Vaya, Better Life’s plans are all billed per calendar month. A month starts from the day of the first recharge until the same day in the following month. Simple!
Better Life is also the first telco in Australia that has qualified for the B Corp certification which is for companies what the Fair Trade certification is for products like tea, coffee, and other plant-based products you may see at the supermarket.
They are also a 100% Australian owned and operated business and their customers absolutely love them as you can see on their Facebook page.
If 9GB of data is not enough to get you through the month, then you should consider this plan from Vaya’s parent company Amaysim
While you will be paying $4 more per billing cycle compared to Vaya and only have 28 days to use your data, you will also be getting a whopping 15GB of data to play with which is 5GB (or 50%) more than what is on offer at Vaya.
Also, you won’t need to pay anything extra if you need international calls!
As both Vaya and their parent company Amaysim operate on the Optus network, coverage should be absolutely identical in both.
One thing to watch out for with Amaysim is some tricky quirks with their billing system. While their plans are technically prepaid, they enable Auto-recharge by default which means the plan fee gets charged automatically to your debit or credit card when the plan gets renewed.
To avoid this (which is something I recommend you do!), you should change the payment method to “BPay/Vouchers” in your account dashboard as shown below:
If none of the above options takes your fancy or you simply don’t use that much data in a month, don’t worry!
My team prepared a detailed mobile plans report 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:
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