Having a mobile phone in Australia is a way of life and you won’t need to be in the country for long to realise that many Australia’s simply can’t live without their little mobile friends!
Most Australian mobile phone companies require contracts of at least 24 months for post-pay phones (the type of plan where you get a ‘free’ phone and pay for the bill each month may vary dependent on usage.
With this in mind, it’s likely that you might want to opt for a prepaid phone plan (where you pay for your calls in advance), at least initially anyway.
For a post-pay contract, you’ll require proof of employment and/or residency in order to qualify. The main Australian mobile phone networks are provided by Telstra, Optus, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone.
Keep in mind that Australia is vast in size so in rural area’s it’s not unusual to have little or no mobile coverage at all.
Most mobile providers state that they provide coverage for over 90% of the Australian population. However when you factor in that approximately 90% of the Australian population lives on the coast, this doesn’t leave much room for coverage elsewhere.
Coverage levels vary: good coverage can be expected in the major cities, but if you’re planning to spend most of your time in smaller towns or in the outback, check coverage before you choose a provider. Telstra and Optus are the providers with the best overall coverage however it’s best to check the carries websites before deciding on the most appropriate provider for you. Most Australian Mobile phone providers have ‘coverage maps’ that details the level of mobile phone coverage across the country.
Australian Mobile Phone Rate plans: there’s a headache inducing number of rate plan options; choose the wrong one initially and your cash will have been wasted within days.
In addition to offering text or talk-time focussed plans, there are also occasional use plans where you’ll be charged more per call/text but your credit will last for longer.
Some plans also charge less for calls and texts based on your top-up amount: you pay less for calls and texts when you opt for a higher recharge amount.
A selection of current plans is shown below, showing costs for a $50 top up (each provider offers a number of other plans, omitted for the sake of brevity since they have similarities to at least one of the plans from the same provider). As always, please remember that these plans are updated on a regular basis so check the carrier’s website for the most up to date rates:
Prices are rounded to the nearest cent, and differences in partial minute billing policies are ignored.
*cost per text/call depends on the recharge amount, as bonus credit applies. Cost listed relates only to that recharge amount.
**where no data is included in the plan, operators per MB data charge is listed (cheaper data packs/add-ons may be available).
^some credit is tied to the home network: 60% of Optus Long Expiry is tied to Optus only; 65% of Vodafone Flexi Cap credit is tied to Vodafone calls only.
^^where international call cost to mobiles and landline differs, cost of mobile calls is listed.