As Telstra and Optus hike mobile prices, now's the perfect time to go for the cheap option

The iPhone 6s goes on sale
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Telstra recently increased all its postpaid mobile plan prices and, soon after, Optus followed suit. While each telco did increase the data offered on its plans, the fact remains that many Australian customers will be hit with bigger bills during a cost-of-living crisis.

However, one of the silver linings of this price and data cap increase is that the smallest (and hence, cheapest) plans from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have now become a much more suitable proposition for a vast majority of Aussies.

Let's get real

The most recent Communications Market Report from the consumer watchdog – the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – found that Australians were using, on average, just 11.8GB of data per month on their mobile plans.

If we look at the cheapest plans on offer from the big three, Telstra and Vodafone now provide 40GB of data, while Optus provides 30GB – all well over double (or even triple) the average usage.

What's more, all three of them come with 5G connectivity, and many of the arbitrary limitations that used to be associated with the cheapest plan tiers have since been lifted.

While there will definitely be Aussies going well over that 11.8GB average, we think it's a good idea you take a look at your actual data usage and see what you use each month, because you may be paying much more than is needed. Most simply, this can be done via your telco's online account, app or bills, but you can also set up your Android or iOS phone to track this usage if the telco option isn't available.

There may still be that lingering fear for Aussies going over their data limit that they'll be charged through the nose for every megabyte, but one of the saving graces of most modern mobile plans (and indeed, all plans from the big three), is that you will simply have your download speed slowed down, rather than being charged extra for any excess usage – and even if you do find yourself regularly going over, you can always step up to the next plan up.

For students, Vodafone's AU$40p/m plan nets you a massive 80GB of data, while those seeking the extra coverage and bigger brand name can get Telstra's 40GB plan for AU$58p/m.

Friendlier alternatives

Of course, you don't need to go with Telstra, Optus or Vodafone – these days, the market is brimming with solid alternatives, and they almost always offer better bang-for-buck than the major telcos (albeit, often at the expense of losing 5G coverage).

If you're looking to save some dosh, we've hand-picked some of our favourite offers below:

Moose Mobile | 25GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$16.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$23.80p/m)

Moose Mobile | 25GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$16.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$23.80p/m)

We’re recommending Moose Mobile as our best overall SIM-only plan because it has an epic discount over your first 12 months. You’ll initially pay just AU$16.80 for 25GB of data, and that welcome discount holds for one year. After that, it only climbs to AU$23.80p/m. This small telco launched in 2017, and it’s well-loved by its users – just check out Product Review. Moose Mobile secures its good coverage with the Optus 4G Plus network.

Total minimum cost is AU$16.80

Belong200GB dataNo lock-in contractAU$45p/m (100GB of data after first year)

Belong | 200GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$45p/m (100GB of data after first year)

Belong is offering double the data on this SIM-only plan for your first 12 months, so you’ll initially pay just AU$45 a month for 200GB of data. Your monthly data will drop down to 100GB after your first year on the plan, but because Belong offers unlimited data banking, you can stock up on any unused gigabytes. Belong uses the Telstra 4G network, and it’s 100% carbon neutral.

Total minimum cost is AU$45

Spintel | 80GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$40p/m (first 6 months, then AU$50p/m)

Spintel | 80GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$40p/m (first 6 months, then AU$50p/m)

Currently, the local telcos that offer 5G mobile coverage are Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Aussie Broadband and Spintel, and we’re recommending Spintel here because it’s got a generous amount of data for a reasonable price. For your first six months on this plan, you’ll pay AU$40 a month for 80GB of data, after which your bill will increase to AU$50 a month. Spintel is on the Optus 5G network – just be sure to check coverage in your area.

Total minimum cost is AU$40

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.