Best Value BYO Mobile Phone Plans ($20-35/mth) – Kogan, Lebara, Spintel, TPG, Virgin
A friend recently asked for recommendations for a good value BYO mobile plan. I’ve got a rough idea of the market as I keep in touch, but I thought I’d really dig into it to get a really comprehensive awareness of the current prepaid mobile landscape. I even created a spreadsheet to help me compare all the plans. Just note that the spreadsheet does not factor in promotional bonuses of data or short-term discounts. I understand they play a big part in the value proposition of the plans, but it added complications and requires more maintenance, so I decided to leave it out.
In this post, I simply plan to recommend a small number of plans whilst elaborating on what the highlight features are.
Gone are the days where you have to look carefully at the per minute call charge, flagfall, cost per SMS. These days, Unlimited Calls and Text are expected and offered in basically all plans in this price range. The telcos are now effectively competing purely on data, which is unsurprising given the recent surge in smartphone usage over the last 5 years.
This post will not discuss any 24 month contract which often includes a handset. I may dedicate another specifically to BYO plans vs Phone Contracts with a handset another time.
What can $20-35 get you these days?
Unlimited Calls and Texts, possibly some International Call inclusions, and somewhere between 5-16GB of data.
Summary of Compelling Offers from Telcos (Including Promotional Offers)
- Kogan Mobile, $17.13/mth, 6GB Data, 12 Months Prepay, Promotional Price
- Kogan Mobile, $21.19/mth, 16GB Data, 12 Months Prepay, Promotional Price
- Kogan Mobile, $26.26/mth, 23GB Data, 12 Months Prepay, Promotional Price
- Lebara Mobile, $30/mth, 5GB Data, Month-to-Month, Unlimited Intl Calls to 12 Countries
- Spintel, $24/mth, 6GB Data, $50 Intl Calls, Month-to-Month
- TPG Mobile, $20/mth, 9GB Data, 100 Intl Mins, 6 Months “Contract”
- Virgin Mobile, $24/mth, 5GB Data, $50 Intl Calls, 12 Months, Promotional Price
- Virgin Mobile, $32/mth, 20GB Data, $200 Intl Calls, 12 Months, Promotional Price
Keep in mind there are potentially better short-term deals than these which may only be good for one month. An example of such a deal which is still active is Kogan Mobile with 23GB for one month for $4.90. This is no doubt a superb deal better than all the deals above, but you’d have to be either happy to use a number every month, or be happy to port your number every month as you will not be able to use that to top up your account (although one comment suggests you can).
Looking at the list above, it may appear obvious that Kogan Mobile or TPG offer the best value, and it would be hard to argue otherwise. I have personal experience using Amaysim and Kogan Mobile and have generally found their services to be good. I have also used TPG before, but this was a long time ago when they delivered their service via Optus instead of Vodafone (as they do now).
Read on for more detail.
Kogan Mobile (Vodafone MNVO)
- Great value 12 month prepaid plans
- History of providing existing customers with updated benefits (such as increased data allowances). See examples: March 2017, September 2017, December 2017
- According to comments from Ozbargain, a pretty generous/flexible pro-rata refund policy
- Given the requirement to “prepay” 12 months, it is effectively a 12 month contract. However, numerous comments on Ozbargain suggest that Kogan are happy to issue pro-rata refunds (issued in the form of Kogan credit) for the unused time of service.
- This Kogan credit can be used to purchase anything on Kogan, e.g. another Kogan Mobile service, or an electronic item from their diverse range of products
- Ability to further decrease the cost by doing the following:
- Purchasing (or using, if you already have them) vouchers from other people such as this, this or this to discount your plan further
- Purchasing Kogan Gift Cards from Woolworths using discounted Woolworths Gift Cards
- Kogan Gift Cards get “loaded” into your Kogan account as credit. You can then use this credit to purchase the prepaid plan. Keep in mind the value of the Gift Cards – you probably won’t be able to buy the exact cost of the plan so you’ll either have to under-buy and pay the rest separately, or over-buy and keep the remaining credit for something else.
- Have offered discounted 12 month prepaid plans several times
- There is no option to turn on International Roaming
- Roaming is expensive. I get it. Why would a tight arse want roaming? You only get charged if you use it. I’ve had a handful of situations where I’ve needed a SMS from my bank. Receiving SMS does not cost money, but because Kogan Mobile does not even give you the option of turning on roaming, you will not be able to even receive this SMS.
- No international calls included
- You must prepay 12 months worth of services
- This is effectively a 12 month contract, but their generous pro-rata refund changes the locked-in nature of this particular “contract” somewhat
- This is a promotional offer and there is no listed expiry date. The usual price of the 12 month prepaid plans increases the monthly price of these services significantly (to a price which is not cheap)
Summary: Kogan Mobile offer amazing value especially on their discounted 12 month prepaid plans. From a data point of view, they offer the best long-term value. However, if you require roaming and/or international calls, you will have to look elsewhere.
You will also need to consider your options in 12 months, but you can also think of it as 12 months that you don’t need to think of your mobile service. Given Kogan’s history, you should be able to find another round of discounted annual prepaid plans within a few months!
Lebara Mobile (Optus MNVO)
- Unlimited International Calls to 12 countries – the cheapest plan (along with Amaysim’s) to include Unlimited International Calls
- Also includes the option of nominating 3 numbers in India for unlimited calls!
- $5 to call other countries – Call Rates.
- A current 10GB activation bonus, but I cannot see an end date
- A 3GB auto recharge bonus, which is currently valid until 28 February 2018
- Not as established as Amaysim, who offer a similar plan
Summary: Great value provided you require Unlimited International Calls. Don’t forget WhatsApp Calls, Facetime, VOIP (e.g. Skype) as alternatives. You also have credit to call other countries.
The short-term auto recharge 3GB bonus and 10GB activation bonus are also nice to have.
Amaysim offer a similar plan and are a more familar name, but there are no included data bonuses and Amaysim do not offer credit to call other countries not part of the Unlimited Calls countries.
Spintel (Optus MNVO)
- $24/mth for 6GB data is the cheapest non-promotional price you can find. The next cheapest (non-promotional) for 6GB+ data is $30, at which you’ll find some other options (Kogan, Jeenee)
- $50 worth of International Calls is an unexpectedly generous inclusion at this price point
- Click on the “Spintel” subheader, then “International” tab to view rates.
- Not one of the more recognised players in the market
- I have read a handful of negative Ozbargain comments about people’s experience with Spintel (around billing), but have not heard in a while
TPG Mobile (Vodafone MNVO)
- Best value for medium data usage of all options in the post (but only for 6 months!)
- The monthly price shown above is only valid for the first 6 months. The price after that will revert to double the monthly price shown
- TPG are the only carrier I know of that charge a port out fee
- This means when you leave TPG (transfer your number to another carrier), you will be charged ($11).
- TPG charge a “setup fee” of $10, which would equate to $1.66/mth over the 6 months. It is however, objectively still cheap.
Summary: Superb value. Even better than Kogan, but TPG do not have a history of offering discounted plans. Even if you saw it discounted again in 6 months, it is likely to be for new customers only, unlike Kogan’s discounts which are simply off an annual recharge (which can be used on an existing account). In addition, TPG charge a port out fee as well as a setup fee – although it should still be cheaper after adding all the costs together.
With that being said, I would only recommend TPG if you are willing to jump again in 6 months!
Virgin Mobile (Optus MNVO)
- Amazing value, especially on the $32/mth 20GB 12 month “contract”.
- The only telco on this list with physical branches (albeit limited)
- Ability to earn Velocity Points (2pts/$) on your monthly plan cost
- Data-free music streaming on Spotify, Google Music and iHeartRadio
- Currently valid until 1 March 2018
- This means data used on these services does not count (and is free/unlimited!) towards your usual data usage
- Inclusion of International Calls
- Data Rollover
- Data Gifting – ability to transfer data to other Virgin Mobile Customers
- 12 month contract, so you’re locked in!
- Promotional prices are only available until 31 January 2018
Summary: Amazing value plans, especially if you require lots of data. Although Kogan is cheaper at 23GB/mth for $26/mth (compared to this, 20GB for $32/mth), Virgin are probably a more recognised brand.
Virgin Mobile have the edge over Kogan as Virgin provide roaming, have data rollover, provide international calls and give customers the option to earn Velocity Points.
If you do not require the features above, Kogan Mobile is still probably a better option since it is cheaper.
I apologise for the lengthy post – this has in fact gone on a lot longer than I intended. However, I hope this post has helped you with making a decision on a good value phone plan!