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.

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 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.

  • 20GB of 4G data on the relatively reliable Optus network. 

The price: $35 per 30 days. You can even get the first month for just $4.90.

If you are willing to prepay for 90 days in advance, the price is $89 which effectively means you are paying $29.67 per 30 days but here is where things get really interesting:

For a limited time, you can get the first three months with unlimited calls and text and 54 GB of data for just $15 (Not per month but for the the ENTIRE 90 days!)

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. Their plans still work on 30 day cycles.

This is much fairer, don’t you think?

OK, I won’t keep ‘teasing’ you any longer.

The provider I am talking about is CatchConnect and specifically their 20GB plan.

CatchConnect is a mobile prepaid service launched in February 2018 by Aussie online retailer Catch which you may know better by their previous name Catch of the Day.

The Catch Group (formerly Catch of the Day) was founded in 2006 by Gabby Leibovich and initially focused, as their original name suggests, on offering one single amazing deal per day.

Here is a story ABC news did on them back in 2011:

Since those early days, Catch of the Day (now the Catch Group) has gone from strength to strength and have grown significantly.

Nowadays, they are one of the biggest and most successful online department stores in Australia, with their biggest local rival being Kogan.

The Catch group is an Australian-owned company and run their operations from Australia with warehouses in Melbourne and Sydney.

Instead of moving offshore, they decided they will use the latest technology, including robots, in order to maintain their competitive edge.

Here’s another story from ABC news taking a look inside their warehouse:

As it became apparent in 2017 that Amazon is going to launch in Australia, Catch of the Day re-branded themselves as Catch and also launched a marketplace where other retailers can offer their products through their platform and take advantage of their existing customer base and distribution channels.

After Kogan relaunched their prepaid mobile service on the Vodafone network and has seen great success with it, the Catch group realised that running their own mobile service as an MVNO (i.e virtual operator) can be a great source of revenue and profits for them.

So, in February 2018 they did just that and launched their own mobile service on the Optus network.

While Kogan Mobile offers pretty competitive plans, I feel that the fact they run on the Vodafone network makes them not feasible for many people, especially those living outside the major cities and regional centres.

Therefore, I was very pleased to see that CatchConnect offers pretty much the same prices and data inclusions (especially on the plans with the higher data allowances) but on the Optus network, which has superior coverage to Vodafone in many cases.

You can check coverage in your local area here and if you’re happy with it, you can purchase the monthly plan or prepay for 90 days to get a lower price per month.

One sneaky thing to keep in mind with Catch Connect is that all their plans (30 day plans, 90 day plans and annual plans) auto-renew.

This is something you can get caught up with because Catch Connect does hold your payment details (credit card, debit card or disposable Visa/MasterCard gift card) as they don’t accept payments by PayPal, BPay or direct bank transfer.

While they don’t apply any card payment surcharges or extra usage charges if you exceed your data allowance (you’ll need to buy additional data yourself), they DO renew your plan automatically when its original term (30, 90 or 365 days) ends unless you turn auto-renewal off.

Saying that, they do make turning off the auto-renewal very easy through the account dashboard as you can see below:

Manage auto recharge with CatchConnect

If you don’t want your plan to be automatically renewed at the end of its initial term, you should turn auto-renewal off.

This is what I personally do myself.

“Optus has rubbish coverage where I live. What’s the best deal on the Telstra network?”

Fair enough. I can definitely understand that.

Despite some significant improvements seen with the Optus and Vodafone networks over the last few years, for some people, Telstra still offers the best coverage (especially in regional Australia).

The best prepaid mobile deal on the Telstra network is currently with Boost

For just $30 per month, you get:

  • Unlimited calls & text in Australia;
  • Unlimited calls & text to 10 countries; and
  • 12GB of data which can also be rolled-over to the next month if you recharge before your current plan expires.
  • 23GB bonus data on the first 5 recharges. This means that for the first five months, your total data allowance is a whopping 35GB for the same price.

If you are willing to pay a bit extra, $40 a month will get you an extra 10 GB of data for a total monthly data allowance of 22GB (as well as everything included in the $30 plan)+ 23GB bonus data on the first 5 recharges (so total data allowance of 45Gb in the first 5 months).

Until 25/02/2019, you can get the first month of the Boost $40 plan discussed above for just $20. 

There is also something unique about Boost that you can’t get with any other virtual operator running on the Telstra network:

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

All the other 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.

One example of what this means in practical terms 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!

This means you should experience better data speeds with Boost compared to any other virtual operator on the Telstra network provided:

  1. You have a smartphone which is compatible with 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 their coverage map.

There is one little snag though with Boost Mobile:

All their 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 any of these options 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.