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Telstra, Optus, Vodafone: 5 Tips for Aussie parents to cut costs on mobile phone bills

A SIM card with a smaller, cut-price provider could save you as much as $355 per year compared to the big telcos.

Thousands of Australian parents will be choosing a mobile plan for their kids - many for the first time - as school is poised to return.

Parents are already being slogged with $4,793 back-to-school costs including ballooning education fees, so why not try to save when it comes to sorting a phone plan?

Options range from $120 to over $600 and after getting both my children their first plans, I've identified some common traps. Here's the top 5 mistakes to avoid to cut the cost of your bill.

Optus Vodafone and Telstra phone bills on an Australian currency background.
Mobile phone bills can add up easily, so how can you get the best value when signing up your child? Scroll down for the cheapest Optus, Telstra and Vodafone plans. (Source: Yahoo Finance)

Mistake #1 - Just signing them up with the same telco you're with

It might seem convenient but most of us are with the big telcos and the big telcos don’t do entry-level plans well. If you sign your kid up for a SIM card with a smaller, cut-price provider, it could save you as much as $355 per year compared to the big telcos’ cheapest plans (see table below). 

Mistake #2 - Buying too much data

The ACCC says the average Aussie still only uses 13GB of data per month. Many kids use less because their phones are often connected to school or home WiFi networks. So, don’t pay for a 50GB plan. It’ll cost you twice as much.

If you want to teach kids how to manage their data, a 12-month, long-expiry plan can be a good way to do so - and they’re often the cheapest.

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Mistake #3 - Signing a contract

Flexibility is good. WhistleOut’s experts recommend prepaid, no-contract plans for kids “because of the boundaries and peace of mind they offer. Prepaid mobile phone plans have a hard limit on what can be spent each month”, and on how much data they can use.

Mistake #4 - Not shopping for ‘new customer’ deals

The best deals are usually reserved for brand-new customers, so cash in for your kid. Several telcos now offer half-price plans for the first six months, for example, or big discounts on long-expiry plans (again, see the table below).

Mistake #5. Buying a phone on a plan

Bigger telcos offer phones on a plan you can pay off in installments over 12, 24 or 36 months. But if you can afford to buy a phone outright, you can change their plan or provider anytime without being locked in for one-three years. Buying outright also allows you to take advantage of refurbished devices from retailers like Amazon and telcos such as Belong, Boost and Numobile - these are second-hand phones that have been reconditioned with a one-year warranty and they're ideal if you're a bit concerned your little darling might lose or break their device.

Best mobile plans for kids

I asked the telco experts at comparison site whistleout.com.au to nominate their best 2024 mobile plans for kids and here's what they came up with:

Whistleout’s top 2024 mobile plans for kids

Category

Plan

Cost

Best all-round

TPG 12GB plan

$10/mth for 6mths, then $20

Best long-expiry

Catch Connect 120GB

$119/yr (ends 6 Feb)

Kogan 120GB

$120/yr

Best Telstra plan

Telstra 35GB prepaid (then 20GB after 3 recharges)

$35 for 28 days

Best Optus plan

Optus Flex 40GB (then 20GB after 6 recharges)

$35 for 28 days

Best Vodafone plan

Vodafone prepaid 20GB

$30 for 28 days

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Yahoo Australia