Mobile phones

Choosing a call plan and handset

Each provider offers a wide range of contracts and call plans. 

You should contact a few different stores from a range of service providers and ask for the best offer that will suit your needs.

Check coverage in your area

Find out which network provider has coverage in the area you will be using the phone.

You can check coverage maps on provider’s websites. 

Choosing a handset

You can buy your own handset outright or a handset may be included in a plan.

You should decide whether you need a smart phone which can access the internet or just a mobile phone for calls and text messages.

The more features your handset has the more it will cost you.

Think about how you use your phone

To find a plan that best suits your needs and gives you the best value for money, consider how you use your phone.

You should think about all of the following:

  • whether you can commit to a long-term plan - if you can't then prepaid would suit you better
  • if you need a new handset
  • if you can get the coverage you need
  • how much time you spend on calls each month
  • how many text messages you send
  • if you need the internet on your phone - some plans do not include internet access
  • if you will use your phone for email or social networking
  • whether you will use other apps, such as mobile TV.

The store should provide a critical information summary sheet that explains the service they are offering in simple terms.

Types of call plans

You can choose from two types of call plans:

  • prepaid
  • postpaid plans, known as contracts.

Take the time to choose a plan as you may have to pay a fee to change a plan in the middle of a contract.

Postpaid plans (contracts) Prepaid plans
Pay for service after you use it - usually a monthly bill You buy credit for your phone before you use it
You often must sign up to a long-term contract, usually 12 to 24 months You don't need to sign up to a long-term contact
Often higher voice call, data and text allowances Often poorer value voice calls, data and text allowances
Often includes a handset as part of the plan Handsets usually need to be bought separately
Excess charges are incurred if you exceed your plan's allowance No excess charges. When you run out of credit you buy more, called recharging. 
Often you have early exit fees You can opt out at any time. Credit will expire if not used within a certain time frame.

Recharging prepaid

You can recharge in any of the following ways:

  • online at your network provider’s website
  • with a voucher bought at a shop such as a supermarket, petrol station or post office
  • through your phone with your credit or debit card.


You will sign an agreement with a network to pay a set monthly fee with agreed costs for extra calls and data used.

Contracts are usually for a fixed term of two years and include the cost of a new phone.

This is called a package deal. However, you can pay for a handset separately and the contract will just be for usage.

Most contracts can be cancelled before the term ends but you will usually need to pay out the balance of the monthly fees remaining, even if your phone is stolen.

Before you sign

Check the contract and critical summary information carefully before you sign.

Make sure it matches what the salesperson has told you.

Critical information summary

Ask for a copy of the critical information summary. It should give you a clear and understandable summary about the service the plan offers.

It should include all of the following:

  • a description of the service
  • how long the contract is for
  • fees for early exit
  • monthly cost of the plan
  • excess charges
  • any exclusions, important conditions or restrictions. 

Don’t sign if you’re not comfortable with the agreement.

You should also do all of the following:

  • check what your rights are if your phone is lost or stolen
  • read the fine print
  • check how long the contract is for
  • take the contract home and don’t rush into signing it
  • keep a copy for reference.

Find out more information about signing contracts.

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Last updated: 11 June 2015

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