Data rollover used to be a niche feature on phone plans, but we're now seeing it pop up in more and more places. While data rollover isn't too exciting in itself, if you're clever and willing to put in just a little bit of work each month, you can use it to get way more value you out of your phone plan.
Data rollover - also known as data banking - is pretty simple. If you're on a plan that supports it, any unused data at the end of your billing month is stored for later use. The specifics on how data carries over can vary from telco to telco, but in some circumstances, you can use this to your advantage.
Let's take Belong for example. On Belong, you can get 30GB for $40 per month. I only use about 15GB per month, personally, which would leave 15GB after my billing month is over. Belong also has a 1GB plan for $10 per month.
Better yet, Belong lets you change your plan once per month. If your usage is similar to mine and still had a healthy amount left in your data bank, you could drop down to the $10 plan, and just keep using your stored data.
If you were to alternate between the $40 plan and the $10 plan, your effective bill would end up at around $25 per month for 15.5GB. If that were a standalone plan, it would be the best value on the Telstra network by far.
Of course, this method isn’t quite set and forget. In the case of Belong, you'll need to make sure you drop down your plan before the end of your billing cycle, because you don't move on to the new plan until the start of the next billing month. You'll definitely want to set recurring calendar reminders if you're keen to try out this approach.
It's also worth noting that data rollover isn't always the same across telcos. Some have limits around banked data, and in some cases, you may forfeit your data stash if you move onto a cheap plan. Here's a look at how data rollover options across telcos stack up.
Belong is one of the most flexible providers when it comes to data rollover. You can bank as much data as you want, and since the telco's plans are postpaid, you'll only lose your data if you leave your bill unpaid for an "extended period" or leave.
If you're feeling generous and you've got friends or family on Belong, you can also gift spare data to them in 1GB increments.
Here are Belong's plans:
Belong is powered by the Telstra network.
Woolworths Mobile has data rollover on its prepaid plans, and you can bank up to 100GB of data. You'll hold onto your data bank as long as you recharge before expiry.
Here are Woolie's prepaid plans:
The same applies on postpaid, you're just stuck on the same plan for the length of your contract. Here are Woolworths' postpaid plans:
In addition, Woolworths Mobile is one of the few providers that offers data rollover on plans that include a phone. As with its prepaid plans, you can bank up to 100GB on a postpaid plan with a new device. However, since you're picking up a new device, you can't change your plan on a month-to-month basis as you can on prepaid.
Here's a look at some of the devices you can get on Woolworths Mobile:
Woolworths Mobile is powered by the Telstra network.
Telstra has data rollover on its prepaid plans, and you can bank up to 200GB of data. You'll hold onto your data bank as long as you recharge before expiry.
Here are some of Telstra's prepaid plans:
Optus prepaid customers can bank up to 50GB of data. There's no limit on how much data you can bank, you'll just need to recharge before expiry. Note that the streaming data included on select Optus plans doesn't roll over.
Here are some of Optus' prepaid starter packs:
Boost Mobile has data banking if you recharge before expiry, but data rolls over on a month-to-month basis. If you don't use your unused data in the following month, it's gone. You could still alternate between a large recharge and a small recharge to save money, but you can't stockpile data over an extended period of time.
Here are some of Boost's prepaid plans:
Boost Mobile is powered by the full Telstra network.
ALDI Mobile has data banking on its core "Value" prepaid plans, and you can bank up to as much data as you want. The telco is a little more lenient than most - you just have to recharge within 24 hours of your plan expiring. However, you will lose your data bank if your recharge isn't the same or greater valuethanyour current plan :
Here are some of ALDI's prepaid plans:
ALDI Mobile is powered by the Telstra network.
numobile is a telco specialising is second-hand phones, and you can only grab one of its plans if you're picking up a device to go with it. If you do grab a phone through numobile, you'll be able to bank up to 100GB of data. While numobile lets you change your core plan on a monthly basis, you'll lose your data bank if you drop down to a cheaper plan.
Here’s what iPhone 7 pricing looks like on numobile:
numobile is powered by the Telstra network.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.