When searching for the best SIM-only plans, we’d hazard a guess that the most important metric to influence your decision is the amount of included data. Below the headline figure of included data, however, is an important little optional feature that often goes unnoticed – whether you can roll your unused gigs over into the next month. Known as 'data banking', it could be your answer to lowering your monthly fee without any noticeable impact on your usage or service’s inclusions.
On postpaid plans, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found the average Australian uses 15.9GB of data each month on the likes of social media scrolling, photo uploading and general web browsing. If you’re on a postpaid SIM plan, it could certainly be worth checking your monthly statements to see how much data you use versus what you’re paying for. You may find you use a lot less than you expect – and could therefore lower your monthly costs by switching to a cheaper mobile plan.
In the case of some mobile carriers, paying less per month on your SIM plan doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lower the amount of data you can use, and it’s all thanks to data banking.
What is data banking?
You may already be very familiar with the term data banking or data rollover – and it’s relatively self-explanatory – but for the uninitiated, data banking is simply the act of being able to keep and accumulate any unused data from one month of service. Unused data is compiled with the fresh allowance of data in the next month, and unused data from the second month rolls into the third and so on.
How can data banking benefit me?
If you use some but not all of your included monthly data, then there could be a more financially friendly SIM plan for you out there. And if there’s a month you need more data than you would normally use, you’ll have it, because it will be there in your data bank.
Best SIM-only plans with data banking
So, which SIM-only plans have the best data banking deals? We’ve sifted through dozens of options to pick out our favourites and the ones we think are most worth your money. We'd note that none of the plans below come directly from the big three telcos of Telstra, Optus or Vodafone – these larger carriers simply don't offer it. Instead, they come from smaller carriers – or mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) – which buy access to the networks of the big three and resell it, usually at a cheaper cost.
There can be some limitations with going down this route, it should be known, such as capped download and upload speeds. But in return, you get broad access to the respective telco’s network and, of course, data banking.
Tangerine uses the Telstra network for its mobile plans, and this one even grants access to 5G. Download speeds are capped at 100Mbps however, which is also the case for 4G, so you may decide it’s not worth spending the extra when you can’t take advantage of the faster speeds of 5G. We’ve still chosen this plan because it offers you double the regular amount of data for the first three months of the service.
You also get up to 500GB of data banking while you’re connected. Taking the 15.9GB average monthly usage, this means most people would have around 144GB of banked data after three months. Add into the mix you’ll pay nothing for the first two months, and you have yourself a very tidy SIM-only deal.
Belong also uses the Telstra network and while you may receive less data each month compared to Tangerine, you not only pay slightly less, but you get access to slightly faster speeds. Download speeds on 4G and 5G are capped at 150Mbps with Belong, and the mobile carrier also offers unlimited data banking.
The only proviso is that you consistently pay your monthly bill on time in order to receive the unlimited data banking benefits. And, if you’re feeling generous, you’re able to gift any unused data you have to other Belong users.
Australian-owned telco Mate has a similar offer to the two mentioned above. You get double the included data for the first three months, just make sure you enter the code DOUBLEDATA at checkout, and you can bank unused data up to 500GB. After the three months, you’ll revert back to 32GB of monthly data.
As with Tangerine, download speeds are capped at 100Mbps on both 4G and 5G networks (Mate also uses the Telstra infrastructure) but we’ve still selected this plan as it offers a higher amount of data that can be banked compared to Mate’s more affordable plans. It’s also worth pointing out that Mate gets good reviews from customers, with many praising the company’s high level of customer service.
Moose Mobile | 25GB data | 200GB data banking | AU$18.80p/m (for 12 months, then AU$24.80)
Multi award-winning Moose Mobile is offering an attractive deal for anyone who doesn’t care about 5G network access. Moose uses Optus’ 4G network and is currently knocking its plan prices down by AU$6p/m for a full 12 months. That means you can get this SIM plan with 25GB of data for under AU$20p/m. You can also bank unused data up to 200GB and view your usage and banked data details in the companion smartphone app.
Amaysim | 50GB first renewal / 32GB ongoing | Unlimited data banking | AU$15 (first renewal, AU$30 ongoing)
The plans mentioned above all work on a postpaid model, but this Amaysim SIM plan is prepaid, renewing every 28 days. Amaysim uses parts of the Optus 5G and 4G Plus networks, although as with other MVNOs download speeds are capped at 100Mbps on both.
Inclusions and pricing are currently subject to a promotional offer running until February 29, which sees the included amount of data increasing to 50GB from 32GB, and the first 28 days costing AU$15 instead of the regular AU$30. What’s particularly attractive about Amaysim’s plan is the inclusion of unlimited data banking, along with unlimited international minutes to 28 countries.
Many other MVNOs will either charge extra for international calling, or will include minutes but to a smaller selection of countries.
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Max is a digital content writer for TechRadar, covering home entertainment and audio, phones, laptops, gaming and virtually anything else that falls under the consumer electronics umbrella. Hailing from the United Kingdom, Max spent a combined five years writing for What Hi-Fi? and Pocket-lint, before moving to Australia in 2018. After a brief stint writing for men’s lifestyle publications, Max is back to working on his first passion of technology.