Pre-Paid Mobile Plans: Optus Vs Telstra

best telstra optus pre paid plansImage: iStock

Criminals and teens are probably the first two things that come to mind when you're thinking of prepaid plans. And look, fair.

Prepaid plans can be great when it comes to totally legit side-hustles or keeping kids from racking up massive phone bills, but there's more to them than that... imcluding data.

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Prepaid inclusions tend to match postpaid plans these days, so data isn't a problem. In some cases, it's possible to get a better deal on a prepaid plan than it is on postpaid. Since all prepaid plans are contract-free, you can swap provider or change your inclusions whenever you want. And while you might think of prepaid plans as barebones, we’re now seeing fuller featured offers in the prepaid space.

With that in mind, we're going to take a look at how the latest range of prepaid plans from Telstra and Optus stack up.

Telstra Prepaid Plans

Prepaid is currently the cheapest way to get a Telstra plan from Telstra itself. While Big T's SIM-only plans start at $49 per month for 15GB, you'll pay $30 for a 28-day 10GB prepaid recharge. Better yet, you'll get unlimited international calls to 20 countries included at no extra cost, a plan feature that costs an extra $10 per month on Telstra's postpaid range.

Prepaid Max is Telstra's main range of prepaid plans, but they can be a tad confusing. Telstra has five different recharge options, but each has a different expiry. If you're after a low commitment plan, you can choose from a 28-day recharge, a 35-day recharge or a 42-day recharge. If you sign-up before October 28, these plans all include bonus data on your first three recharges.

For example, the $30 28-day recharge typically has a 10GB inclusion, but this is bumped to 20GB for your first three recharges, provided you're a new customer. Here are Telstra's Prepaid Max plans:

If you don't mind making a long-term commitment to Telstra, you could choose a 6-month and 12-month recharge option. The 12-month plan comes with 150GB for $300, which works out at 12.5GB for $25 per month. Meanwhile, the 6-month plan comes with 60GB for $150, which works out at 10GB for $25 per month. That is excellent data-for-dollar value and a great option if you trust yourself not to blow your entire allowance in your first month.

Telstra's Prepaid Max plans also let you bank up to 200GB of data for later use provided you recharge before expiry.

On top of that, Prepaid Max plans come with all of the typical Telstra inclusions: data-free streaming on Apple Music, free access to Telstra Air public Wi-Fi, the Telstra Plus perks program, and live passes for AFL, NRL, AFLW, and more.


Optus Prepaid Plans

If you're after an Optus prepaid plan with a decent data allowance, you should be considering the Epic Data range. Especially if you're after a cheaper entry-level plan. Optus' SIM-only plans start at $39 per month for 10GB on a 12-month contract. Alternatively, you can pay $30 for a 28-day 10GB prepaid recharge with no lock-in contract.

Most Epic Data plans have a good chunk of data, unlimited international calls to 15 countries, and a 28-day expiry. In addition, you'll get 10GB of streaming data per month. Streaming data can be used to watch Netflix, Stan, and ABC iview without eating into your regular allowance. It is however worth noting that streaming data isn't usable if you've burnt through your standard data cap.

As with Telstra, Optus is offering bonus data on your first three recharges. For example, the $30 recharge typically has a 10GB allowance, but this is bumped to 35GB for your first three recharges, provided you're a new customer. Here are Optus' 28-day Epic Data plans:

Optus Epic Data prepaid plans let you bank up to 200GB of data for later use as long as you recharge before expiry. Streaming data doesn't rollover, however. In addition, if you recharge before expiry, any remaining days you've got left on your plan will be added onto your new recharge. You can extend your expiry up to 84 days.

Optus also has a range of prepaid plans dubbed Epic Value, but the actual value proposition is debatable. These plans tend to have longer expiries and smaller allowances when compared to the Epic Data range. For example, $30 gets you 2GB on a 42-day expiry, or $40 gets you 10GB on a 42-day expiry. You're just not quite getting enough data for your money with these.


Telstra vs. Optus: Which should you pick?

If you're tossing up between Telstra and Optus for your prepaid plan, there are a couple of important considerations to make.

First and foremost, there's coverage. Telstra's network covers 99.4% of the Australian population, while the Optus network covers 98.5%. That might sound insignificant, but it can make a difference when it comes to regional and rural Australia.

When it comes to data, Optus' Epic Data plans come with more data thanks to bonuses on your first three recharges, but are about on par after your that. For example, both the Telstra and Optus $30 recharge have a standard allowance of 10GB.

The same holds true at $40 and there's only a 2GB difference at $50. Telstra's plans have a longer expiry however, so it becomes a question of how you’re using your data.

If we take the $40 plan, you'd need to recharge roughly 13 times per year on Optus. That gets you 260GB over the course of the year, at a cost of $520. On Telstra, you'd be recharging 10.5 times per year thanks to the 35-day expiry. That gets you 210GB over the course of the year, at a cost of $420.

To break it down further, on Optus you’d get the equivalent of 21.6GB for $43.30 per calendar month, while on Telstra you’d get 17.5GB for $35 per calendar month.

It is of course worth remembering that Optus' Epic Data plans come with a bonus 10GB of streaming data each month, which alone could be worth it if you love to watch Netflix or Stan on the go. Telstra's perks aren't bad either, especially if you're regularly watching sport on the go.


Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.


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