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Best Mobile Phone Service Providers

These days, mobile phone service providers are offering more and more add-ons at increasingly competitive prices. There’s more to finding a great deal than just going for the cheapest phone plan, but knowing what to look for can help you see past marketing buzzwords to find a provider and mobile phone plan that work for you. Continue reading...

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49 listings

Moose Mobile
  • Award Winner 2021
  • 2020

Moose Mobile

4.7 from 2,022 reviews

Moose Mobile is a multi-Award-winning mobile phone service provider that uses the Optus 4G Plus or Optus 36 Networks. Appealingly, this offers reliable coverage across most of Australia - at a budget price.

  • Uses the Optus 4G Plus and Optus 3G Networks

  • No minimum term or lock-in contracts

  • Flexible payment options on a range of mobile and data-only plans

  • Customer Service
    4.7 (1,159)
  • Value for Money
    4.7 (1,278)
  • Local Reception
    4.4 (1,154)
  • Transparency
    4.6 (1,079)
  • Network UsedOptus
  • International Roaming Offered Yes
C Mobile
  • Award Winner 2020

C Mobile

4.7 from 276 reviews

Latest review: After using CMobile for many years and only moving onto another competitor for a bigger phone plan, I have nothing but praise for CMobile. - Set up was simple. - Competitive pricing. - Perfect for

  • Customer Service
    4.8 (199)
  • Value for Money
    4.8 (203)
  • Local Reception
    4.5 (187)
  • Transparency
    4.7 (190)
  • Network UsedVodafone
  • International Roaming Offered Yes
Pennytel

Pennytel

4.4 from 1,062 reviews

Latest review: Dealing with Pennytel is so easy. You speak to people who are able to immediately answer your query and solve your problem. Great service by friendly staff. I highly recommend

  • Customer Service
    4.5 (761)
  • Value for Money
    4.7 (809)
  • Local Reception
    4.4 (725)
  • Transparency
    4.5 (698)
  • Network UsedTelstra
  • International Roaming Offered Yes
MATE Mobile

MATE Mobile

4.4 from 98 reviews

Latest review: Have not noticed any difference in coverage or download since switching from Telstra. I moved due to more plan options for my business mobile and haven't regretted it at

  • Customer Service
    4.5 (84)
  • Value for Money
    4.6 (90)
  • Local Reception
    4.3 (85)
  • Transparency
    4.5 (74)
  • Network UsedTelstra
  • International Roaming Offered Yes
Hello Mobile

Hello Mobile

4.1 from 135 reviews

Latest review: It is very good plan if i don't use my credit it is rolling over to next month if my credit finish still I can get call which is very in my case because I'm not have a lot of

  • Customer Service
    4.6 (57)
  • Value for Money
    4.4 (52)
  • Local Reception
    4.4 (43)
  • Transparency
    4.4 (51)
  • Network UsedVodafone
  • International Roaming Offered No
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First things first: think about your phone use

A close up of a man's hands using a smartphone on a street in the evening

Before you start comparing mobile phone service providers, you’ll need to consider how you use your phone.

  • How many calls do you usually make a day, and how long are those calls? Multiply the minutes by 30 to get an idea about how many you’ll need your mobile plan to cover.
  • Who are you calling - do you only call local numbers, or will you also be making international calls?
  • How much data do you usually use per month? If you stream music and videos frequently, or download a lot of media, then you’ll probably need quite a few gigabytes.
  • Will you need international roaming for when you travel?

What types of plans can I choose from?

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether or not you want a new phone with your plan. You can either choose to keep your current phone and only pay for usage, or you can buy a new phone, either outright or as part of a plan.

If you plan on using your current phone

  • Prepaid SIM-only plan. You prepay for your usage by buying credit to make calls, send texts, and use data. You usually have a certain period to use your credit (usually 30 days) before it expires - if you run out of credit, you’ll still be able to receive calls.
  • Postpaid SIM-only plan. You receive a certain amount of credit and pay at the end of each month - if you exceed your monthly limit, then you’re charged more for the extra usage.

Prepaid SIM-only plan

Postpaid SIM-only plan

Pros

  • As you only get what you pay for, you won’t be slapped with any surprise charges - this also makes them a great option for parents buying their child’s first phone plan.
  • You’re not locked in to minimum-term contracts.

Cons

  • Your credit usually has a set expiry, so you have to use it or lose it before the period is over.
  • Prepaid plans require you to manually “recharge” your credit.
  • If you’re using up all your credit before it expires, it’s likely you’ll be spending more each year than if you were on a postpaid plan.
  • You could be left without credit when you need to make an important phone call or use your data.

Pros

  • They generally offer better value for money than prepaid deals.
  • Every month you’re automatically billed and your credit is reset, making it more convenient.
  • You’ll always be able to call, text, and use data on your phone, so you won’t be stuck without phone use in an emergency.

Cons

  • Postpaid plans often require you to sign a contract (often 12 months), however there are still plenty of plans that are contract-free and let you pay month-to-month.
  • Costs for going over your usage limit are often quite high.
  • You may need to pay an early termination fee if you want to break the contract.

The bottom line?

Postpaid plans are generally suited to regular phone users who don’t mind committing to a monthly bill, while those who use their phones a bit more sporadically and are comfortable topping up when they need it may find a prepaid plan is better for them.

If you need a new phone

  • Buy a new phone outright. You pay the whole cost of a phone upfront, then choose a prepaid or postpaid SIM-only plan to call, text, and use data on your new phone.
  • Buy a new phone on a plan. You are billed monthly on a contract, spreading out the cost of the new phone. This means that as part of your plan you’ll pay for your phone, your usage, and any excess usage.

Buying outright

Buying on a plan

Pros

  • You can easily switch between plans or providers, as you don’t need to sign a contract.
  • It often works out to be cheaper to buy a phone outright and get a SIM-only plan from a smaller telco.
  • You own the phone straight away.
  • You can opt out whenever you want.

Cons

  • There’s a high initial cost in buying a new phone outright.

Pros

  • There aren’t any upfront costs.
  • Some telcos offer special deals, such as discounts when you bundle your phone plan with other plans (such as your home phone and internet) when you buy a phone from them.

Cons

  • You don’t own the phone until you’ve paid it off - these contracts are generally 12, 24, or 36 months.
  • Ending the contract early will incur extra costs - these are often quite high.
  • The range of mobile phones you can choose from is often limited to popular brands and newer models.
  • Not many MVNOs - which generally offer better value for money - let you buy a phone on a plan.
  • The telco may conduct a credit check before you sign the contract.

Understanding mobile networks

There are only three mobile networks in Australia: Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. If you choose a plan from a different provider, it will still use one of these 3 networks.

These smaller providers - known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) - can often offer cheaper plans because they aren’t paying to manage a network.

Telstra network

Optus network

Vodafone network

  • ALDI Mobile
  • Belong
  • Boost Mobile
  • Lycamobile
  • Pennytel
  • Southern Phone
  • Tangerine Telecom
  • TeleChoice
  • Woolworths Mobile
  • amaysim
  • Coles Mobile
  • Dodo
  • Exetel
  • iiNet
  • Jeenee Mobile
  • Moose Mobile
  • OVO
  • Southern Phone
  • SpinTel
  • Vaya
  • Yomojo
  • Hello Mobile
  • Kogan Mobile
  • Lebara Mobile
  • TPG

Comparing coverage

Not all phone providers offer the same coverage - to choose what’s right for you, you’ll have to consider a provider’s geographic coverage and the strength of this coverage.

Think about where you plan to use your phone - if you travel often around the country, then you should take into consideration the different places you travel, particularly if they’re more remote.

The website of any mobile service provider should have a coverage map, where you can enter a postcode to see the amount and quality of coverage in the area.

Ask yourself the following questions when comparing coverage across mobile providers:

  • Is 3G, 4G, or 5G offered in locations that you frequent, such as home and work?
  • Is the coverage adequate when you’re inside a building?
  • What download speeds can you expect in locations that you frequent?

Some phone companies also offer a coverage guarantee, letting you trial out the service and if you want, cancel and receive a refund within the first month if the coverage isn’t to your satisfaction.

A map of Australia highlighting the areas that Telstra covers Telstra Coverage Map

A map of Australia highlighting the areas that Optus covers Optus Coverage Map

A map of Australia highlighting the areas that Vodafone covers Vodafone Coverage Map

What else should I consider when choosing a provider and plan?

Inclusions

Considering your own phone usage should give you a good idea of how much call, text, and data you need your plan to cover - this will also help prevent you getting a plan with more inclusions than you need.

Unlimited call and text is generally the standard for SIM-only plans costing over $10 per month, so where plans vary more is the amount of data offered.

Some plans also offer data rollover, letting you use unused data in the following billing month, but some providers are more generous than others when it comes to this.

International calls and roaming

The big phone carriers generally offer better value for money when it comes to international usage packages. Vodafone, for example, offers plans with $5 international roaming per day in over 80 countries.

If you call or text international numbers, look up the costs of these. Call prices can also vary between different countries, so make a note of where your overseas friends, family, or colleagues live and check this against any plan you’re considering.

Get the essentials by reading the Critical Information Summary

Before committing to a plan, look at the Critical Information Summary (CSI) - all telcos must provide one for every plan they offer. A CSI cuts through the noise and outlines the nuts and bolts of the plan, such as the price, inclusions, costs, contract length, and early exit fees.

Price

Plans can range anywhere from under $15 a month for the cheapest SIM-only plans to $150 and upwards per month for plans that include a smartphone and accommodate substantial usage.

Work out your budget and the maximum amount you can spend on your mobile plan, noting that this will have to be a higher amount if you’re buying a phone on a plan.

Consider the price per gigabyte if you exceed your data usage - many telcos usually charge around $10 per GB, however this varies across providers. Ideally, you should be spending less than your maximum budget on a plan to allow for a bit of cushion for the months where you may need to go over.

If you’re concerned about paying for extra data, look for a plan that offers data capping - this will suspend your usage when you’ve used up all your data, so you won’t be faced with bill shock at the end of the month.

Will they port my number?

Changing your number is a hassle that most people would prefer to avoid, so if you’d rather keep your digits, check whether the provider you’re considering will accept a ported number. Your current telco is legally required to port your number to your new provider if you ask them to.

Extra perks!

Certain plans offer you sweet deals and discounts if you sign onto their service. For example, Woolworths Mobile offers a discount on groceries bought at Woolworths if you sign up to their service and are part of their Everyday Rewards system.

Some telcos also partner up with airlines to give you frequent flyer points, while if you’re a student, you could be able to score discounts or bonus data on certain plans. Just ensure you read the fine print to check that you’re actually eligible to receive what’s on offer.

Wrapping up

If you’re still having trouble committing to a plan, then reading reviews can be a useful place to start. They can give you a better indication of coverage, how easy it is to reach a customer service operator if you need help, and general consumer satisfaction with a provider or plan.

You should know the ins and outs of a plan before you commit to it. Reading the CSI and considering your phone needs (taking into consideration how these needs may change in the future) and budget will help you know exactly what you’re signing up for and set you up for fuss-free calling, texting, and internet exploring.