Once you’ve arrived in Australia one of the first things you will need to do is get your mobile phone connected, which means you will need to work out which mobile plan is best for you.
There are several mobile phone providers and plans out there, and each offers something different. So, if you ask the right questions at your service provider’s store, on their website or over the phone, you can choose the plan that’s right for you during your time in Australia.
To help you get the best deal, we’ve put together a list of must-ask questions before you sign up for a mobile plan.
Does the provider have good coverage in my local area and other places I’ll want to use the phone?
You’ll want to check that your phone can get reception in places you need it most – for example if your university is located in a more rural area. You may even be able to look at your provider’s coverage map if they have one available.
MOBILE PLANS AND COSTS
Can I see a copy of the contract prior to signing it?
A service provider must make the terms and conditions of its plans available on its website – it’s the law. Don’t sign anything until you understand it.
How does the plan work?
First up, ensure you are happy with the monthly cost of the plan and that it will fit within your budget during your time in Australia. Many mobile plans are customisable according to the extras you will and won’t need, so you can try to find a price that works for you.
Providers may offer different lengths of contracts or phone repayment periods. Typically these vary from one year to three years. Base the length of your contract or phone repayments on how long you’ll be staying in Australia. For example, spreading the costs over a longer time is typically cheaper, but some providers will charge you more if you need to cancel early.
Does my service provider offer any discounts?
Some mobile phone providers like Vodafone offer student discounts on certain plans, as well as other bonuses.
Plus, if you know you’ll require broadband internet at your new accommodation or you’re buying a tablet for your studies, you may be eligible for special deals when arranging these through the same provider as your mobile plan.
CHANGING OR CANCELLING A MOBILE PLAN
Can I change or end the plan?
Check how easy it is to change or end plans, just in case your plan no longer fits within your budget or you’d like more out of your plan further down the track.
Most providers will charge an exit fee if you cancel your plan, so make sure you read the terms and conditions of your plan before signing up.
DATA AND CALLS
What’s included in the plan?
Your monthly data allowance is a big consideration when choosing a mobile plan. It’s best to first think about which internet services you’ll be using on your phone – this will help you calculate how much data you’ll need each month so you can choose the appropriate plan. Perhaps you intend to use your mobile phone as a hotspot for your laptop or tablet, or maybe you’ll be watching Netflix on your commute, which may require more data.
Your monthly data and call limits are also important if you’re planning to regularly connect with family and friends back home. You’ll either want international calls included in your plan or a decent data allowance so you can Skype and FaceTime as much as you want.
Some plans include international minutes or unlimited data, so you won’t need to worry if you’re using the internet regularly or making daily calls back home.
What happens if I reach my monthly limit?
Once you’ve used up your value for the month, you may be issued additional charges if you use extra data or make a few more phone calls – you’ll need to check how much these are. Or, there may be other ways your provider deals with customers going over their included value like offering data or call packs. Check with your provider to see what options are available.
All providers should send an SMS or email that warns you about going over your monthly allowances. Make sure you ask your provider how they will notify you.
USING YOUR PHONE OVERSEAS
What will it cost to make voice calls, receive voice calls, send texts and use data overseas?
During your time in Australia, you may go back to your home country for a holiday, or travel internationally during university breaks. So, ensure you do your research on the cost of using your phone overseas. Some providers charge per MB of data, which can become very expensive quickly. Others, like Vodafone, offer special deals on international roaming.
YOUR MOBILE PHONE
Can I BYO phone?
Many mobile providers offer SIM-only plans. This means you bring your own phone and only pay for the calls, texts and data. If you already have a decent working phone and don’t require a new one, see if this is an option with your provider. Note – you’ll need to ensure your phone is compatible with your new Australian SIM card.
Will you own your phone or lease it?
When leasing, you will be given a phone and SIM card, and at the end of your plan, you hand the phone back (damage-free) to your provider. You may also have the option to buy it. Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of leasing before committing to it.