Switching from Optus? Read this first to avoid getting stung

Optus logo outside retail store
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’ve been impacted by the Optus data breach, you might understandably be looking to switch from Optus. Whether you’ve got a mobile or NBN plan with Optus, this guide aims to provide everything you need to know to make the switch as painless as possible.

First things first: the most important thing to do before switching from Optus is to check the cancellation terms and conditions for your specific service. Here’s a quick summary of what these generally involve, but we’d strongly recommend double-checking:

  • Mobile plans: Cancel at any time but any remaining days in the current month are lost, and any remaining phone instalments must be paid off
  • Internet plans: For NBN and 5G, cancel at anytime but remaining days in the current month are lost, and any remaining modem costs must be paid off
  • 4G internet: If you’re on this plan, you may be locked into a 24-month contract or paying month-to-month, check terms before cancelling

Before you go breaking up with Optus, you should know that there’s really no way to tell if other telcos have similar vulnerabilities. In fact, Telstra’s former CEO David Thodey told the Australian Financial Review that the Optus hack “could happen to anyone”. Still, if you’re ready to say goodbye to Optus, here’s what you need to know.

Optus mobile customers

Potential cancellation fees:

  • Plan + phone: pay off any remaining device instalments (if applicable)
  • SIM-only: forfeit any remaining days left on your current month

For Optus mobile customers looking to switch, we’d first decide if your current plan suits your needs – primarily, that means using your provider’s app or online portal to check how much data you actually use per month. The average Australian only uses about 12GB of mobile data per month, so you may find you can opt for a cheaper mobile plan than the one you’re on.

The second thing that you want to do is find a new plan, and for that we’ve got recommendations in our best SIM-only plans and best plans with a phone guides. If you’re seeking some more advice on which provider to switch to, jump ahead to our section on Optus alternatives.

Switching from Optus mobile – key steps:

  1. Check the terms of your contract
  2. Find a new provider and plan, and sign up
  3. Have your phone number ported over
  4. Cancel service with Optus

Next, if your number is registered in your name, request that your new mobile provider port your existing number over from Optus. It’s important that you don’t cancel your phone plan with Optus before this step. This process typically takes between 1-2 days, but there might be longer wait times than usual following the breach.

If you’re currently paying off a mobile phone with Optus, say the new iPhone 14 or the Samsung Galaxy S22, things become a little trickier. Check your contract to see if you’re paying off your device in 12, 24 or 36 monthly instalments, and see how much time is remaining on your contract.

You can still leave Optus if you’re currently paying off a handset, but you’ll need to pay out the remaining cost of the phone before you can leave. If Optus was offering a discount on the device when you first signed up, you’ll also lose that discount by leaving the contract early, and you’ll have to pay out the full RRP to cancel.

Note also that if you’re a long-time Optus customer, you may be on what’s called a grandfathered or legacy plan – that means it’s a plan that’s no longer offered by Optus. Customers in this boat should contact Optus for the specific details of their plan, and if any cost is involved to switch – if you’re out of contract, there shouldn’t be, but it’s best to be sure.

Optus is also very keen to keep its customers during this time, so by getting in touch before you switch, you may be offered a discount on your current plan – we’ve learned some existing Optus customers have received a 15% discount on their plan for staying.

How to contact Optus

  • Call: 133 937
  • Live chat on Optus website
  • Download My Optus app
  • Visit an Optus store in-person

iPhone 14 Plus

(Image credit: Future)

Optus internet customers

Potential cancellation fees:

  • NBN customers: have to pay off any remaining cost of modem
  • 5G home internet: have to pay off any remaining cost of modem
  • 4G home internet: check if you’re on a month-to-month or 24-month contract

If you want to switch your internet from Optus, the first thing you should do is check your current internet plan and see if it’s working for you. The big factor you’ll want to consider is download speed, and we have a good explainer for understanding speeds in our dedicated NBN plans guide. In general, an NBN 50 plan is what suits most Aussie households.

You might also want to consider switching to a 5G home internet or 4G home internet plan from another telco. These plans use cellular networks to connect you to the internet, rather than the fibre and copper wire mix that’s used for the NBN. Make sure reception in your area is strong before signing up to one of these plans.

Switching from Optus internet – key steps:

  1. Check the terms of your contract
  2. Find a new plan and sign up
  3. Wait until your new provider delivers your new modem
  4. Cancel service with Optus

The current Optus NBN plans come on a no lock-in contract, so you’re able to switch anytime without paying a cancellation fee. However, if you’ve been on the plan for less than 36 months, you’ll need to pay out the remaining cost of your modem, which is AU$252. The amount you owe will be AU$7 multiplied by how many months you have left.

It’s a similar story with Optus’ 5G home internet and 4G home internet plans. If you’re on an Optus 5G plan and you want to leave within 36 months of first signing up, you’ll need to pay out the remaining cost of your modem. That’s AU$576 in total, with the pay-out cost being AU$16 for each month you have remaining.

Optus’ 4G plans are slightly more complicated, because they come on either a month-to-month term, or a 24-month contract. Customers on the month-to-month term will only have to pay off the remaining cost of the 4G modem in order to leave (it’s AU$216, or AU$6 for each month you have left).

If you’re on one of Optus’ 24-month 4G plans, you’ll need to pay out the remaining months on your plan. Depending on how many months you have remaining on your contract, it could cost you up to AU$1,357 to break the contract (that means it’s AU$59 for each month you have remaining).

Long-time Optus customers may also be on what’s called a grandfathered or legacy internet plan, meaning it’s an option that is no longer available to new customers. Check your contract terms before cancelling a grandfathered plan, as exit fees may apply.

Optus may be facing a customer exodus at the moment, and you can potentially use this to your advantage. If you don’t mind sticking with your Optus internet plan, get in contact with the telco to see if you can get a discount on your current plan.

Optus alternatives: which provider should you switch to?

Best mobile alternatives

If you’re looking for an alternative to an Optus mobile plan, the two big options are Telstra and Vodafone. Telstra mobile plans are the most expensive of the three major providers, but they also have the most wide-reaching coverage (it also has the largest 5G network). Vodafone mobile plans are the cheaper alternative, but they operate on a smaller network than both Telstra and Optus, and its 5G coverage isn’t quite as widespread.

A better option, in our opinion, is to consider signing up to a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). These telcos don’t own the network they’re operating on, and instead, they resell access to Telstra, Optus or Vodafone – usually at much lower price point.

Switching to an Optus MVNO will still mean that money is flowing through to Optus, and given reports that Gomo (an Optus MVNO) has also had its customer data compromised in the breach, you mightn’t want to sign up to one of these providers. Below, we have a live-updated list of plans for under AU$40p/m with 10GB+ data from Telstra and Vodafone-based providers.

Best internet alternatives

If you’re in need of a new NBN provider, we reckon Spintel is the best option for most users. It’s our recommended NBN 50 option in our best NBN plans guide, and Spintel is also our pick for provider of the month.

If you want an NBN plan of 100Mbps or above, we also have a guide to the fastest NBN plans which will help you out. Or if you need something more affordable, check out our cheap NBN plans page for recommendations.

Here’s a live widget showing more NBN 50 options for the average internet user.

Jasmine Gearie
Ecommerce Editor

Jasmine Gearie is an Ecommerce Editor at TechRadar Australia, with a primary focus on helping readers cut through the jargon to find the best mobile and internet plans for their needs. She crunches the numbers to maintain dedicated guides to the latest phones, NBN and broadband plans of all types, and covers the important telco industry news. She also hunts down tech deals on laptops, phones, gaming consoles and more, so readers know where to buy the products they want for the cheapest prices.