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Pre-paid mobile billing practices - fair or not?


From what I’ve read, sounds like Boost. Switched my wife over a month back & recharged a few days ago to a 365 plan - losing a day. All going well so far.


A large number of plans on prepaid do have unlimited calls, SMS, MMS to national numbers both landline and mobile and even like post paid there is the fixed data allocation. Most prepaid plans do not expire on usage of the data however if you need to use data after you have used the included amount then you have to buy a data top up. If you wish to ring or text International numbers then in some cases you need to buy extra credit in the form of a separate payment for that purpose. Post paid plans also have limits imposed and if you go past your allocation they increase the payment drawn from your payment source to cover this. Prepaid these days just gives you the flexibility to change providers as you want and no contract to lock you in.

Pay as you go plans expire on the use of the amount of credit available and was more the case in past years that most prepaid plans had this but this has changed a lot.


I should have said, regarding the losing a day recharge, that that was to retain the rollover of 20GB. The rollover data only lasts another 28 days rather than the full 365 day period.


I should have said 'The supposition behind prepaid used to be that there is…
Today unlimited almost anything changes how we see it. I’m saying in terms of the history of prepaid, the restart of period with recharge had some reason behind it.


Absolutely agree with you on the history and the current unlimited. Even with ALDIMobile you buy a base credit that is used for anything outside the “unlimited” plans eg extra data when the allocated plan amount runs out, calls outside the included plan allowances, when you forget to recharge in time it allows use until the pay as you go credit is used up or you recharge a plan, it pays for international roaming.

The fact that you can auto recharge a service now to keep the plan benefits rolling over and that these auto recharges are planned to cover the anticipated expiry I think should also allow someone to manually recharge early and just add to the plan expiry date rather than overwrite. Data packs or extra credits do not overwrite and they may even add a few extra days to current expiry dates, they just add extra usability for data or non included plan calls and similar so what is so different that causes an early plan payment to effectively wipe days or even weeks of a current plan period. My answer is “nothing” but a grab for profit at the expense of the customer.


Absolutely agree that it is an unfair practice, and should be illegal, but there is competition in the market, so take your business elsewhere unless you are dependent on the Telstra network. I use Yomojo, which operates on the Optus network. They have month by month contracts, which you can change any time or even leave without penalty. The changes apply from the next renewal date, which occurs every 30 days. You pay for 30 days in advance. To me that makes them no different to a prepaid 30 day plan, except I don’t have to remember to renew it at the end of 30 days. The renewal happens automatically until you stop it. The prices are low, and the range of plans they offer has something for everyone, other than those who hardly ever make a call or text or use data, in which case they are probably better off with a long expiry PAYG.
Mobile phone operators aren’t the only ones that use this practice. I have to have fire safety inspections done on some commercial properties, and the Bayside council requires submission of the safety certificates every 12 months. They send a reminder about 2 months early, which is a good idea - it gives you enough time to get the inspection done and rectify any problems by the due date. But if you send your certificates in early, the next 12 months start from the date you submit them. The council fee isn’t much, but the inspection fees are quite expensive. They say it is because the inspections must be done within 12 months, so they can’t give you 14 months next year just because you put your forms in 2 months early. It sort of makes sense, but they don’t tell you this unless you ask.


Only Boost has this. All other rebadged services are Telstra Wholesale. Boost has the same network (and same CSRs, same support services and even billing is through Telstra). Because Belong is essentially a Telstra subsidiary, some think its the full network… it is not. It too is Wholesale. What this means is tht you wont get 4G or 4GX absolutely everywhere. If I lived in the bush where only Telstra was available, I would go with Boost. I’ve switched to them already.


It makes sense to me because each time you pre-pay, you are effectively buying a new 30 days.

Personally, I’ve prefer month-to-month plans (no lock-in contract) instead. Unlimited calls and texts for multiple companies average at $10 or less, with data being the only variable factor in relation to price. Some companies (I know Belong is one) are at that price point and also roll over or ‘bank’ data.

I knew someone who got serious data during a promotional period and pays peanuts. He could take advantage of the offer because he was on a month to month and could change providers at the drop of a hat without penalty whenever something better came along. is a good comparison website. I don’t use much data so I pay about $15pm for 4 gig + unlimited calls/texts.


I use Belong Mobile, which is owned by Telstra. Not a prepaid service, but it’s only $10 per month, which gets taken from your bank on the same date every month, plus you get unlimited calls and texts in Australia with 1gb data per month. $25 per month if you want the 10gb version, or $40 per month if you want the 30gb plan. And if you do run out of data, you don’t get charged through the nose for it. You just have your data speed reduced until the next billing day, or until you top up your data for a fee, plus you can gift data to your friends if they’re also with belong.


Ditto. Belong works for me, because I use most data at home - via a (woeful) NBN…
$10/month is very cheap for a prepaid mobile plan! The only downside with it, is the minor nuisance (when at home) of having to switch from WiFi to 3G/4G network to send or receive a MMS. Otherwise, I am very happy with Belong.


Now that unlimited Australian fixed/mobile call inclusion is the norm, the difference between a monthly auto-recharge prepaid and a no contract monthly plan is minimal, if anything. However, prepaid can give an advantage on long expiry type plans.

For monthly plans, it is often the norm to get more data than required, where as I would advocate on prepaid to get a little less than required. The longer duration prepaid has the further advantage of averaging out the bumps of data usage.

The comparison sites don’t help the consumer here - they do non-monthly plan comparisons very badly. They equivalence 28 day, 35 day, and real month month plans. Advise if there’s a good one please.


I found very few prepaid mobile data plans available in Tas. The usual abdication of responsibility from Telstra staff is a big turnoff - blaming me for the modem not working because it was 4 years old , yet had been sold to me recently by Telstra.
So try anyone else - no service can be worse that Telstra, and Optus network is growing.


What’s good for me or someone else may not be good for you. It depends on your budget, and where you live. I have friends on a farm inland on the south coast and their coverage is spotty no matter who they go with, though I think they ended up with Telstra and a yagi antenna.

I was very happy with the Woolworths prepaid service when they were giving rewards card members a 10% discount. Then, they dumped that, and their cheapest plan, whilst increasing data on the next level up ($20/m) I went with that for a while until Boost put up the 365 day plans. For me on an Age Pension, its always going to be about the monthly cost. The 365 day plan I chose works out at $12.50 per month, and for that I get unlimited local and national calls and texts, as well as unlimited international calls (but not texts, those costs come out of real money rather than the unlimited bucket) to 25 countries.

Optus has recently put up a tower nearby, so perhaps it might be worth my while looking at Optus based plans when its time to renew, but so far, I cant complain about my Boost service.

YMMV. Always.


As far as I know… None of them do this.


Maybe that is meaningful and maybe not. As I regularly post I am about 1km from both Telstra and Optus towers in NE Melbourne suburbs. I have an Aldi SIM (Telstra) and amaysim SIM (Optus). Depending on where I am in and about my house and time of day one or the other will often go missing, I need to be in specific rooms to conduct intelligible (not just intelligent) conversations for each, and sometimes the phone will not even ring just send me a missed call message.

That new tower could be your silver bullet for better services, or it could be akin to a sweet having no nourishment. The only way to tell is to either buy a SIM or invite a friendly face who is already on the Optus network and see how it goes over a day, more than once.

Since you are happy with Boost that is all academic, and I am envious of anyone with good, reliable mobile service in their homes.


Yes and no. Happy with it because its low cost for my use, but if I do have to make or take calls (a rare event, nearly everyone I know has got the message that I prefer texts because of my need to be asleep at various times during the day and texts dont have the immediacy of a call)… if I do have to, sometimes I cannot be heard until I move someplace else in the house.

I’ve lately been considering dropping calls back to 3G


It’s a common issue in our house too! Also for some of the nearer neighbours. Not all have mobiles! Telstra has a tower within 1km but is next to useless. For some reason (planning rules?), it is low and tree bound. There are other Telstra and Optus towers much further away that will connect.

Technically the communication failure is with the connection from the phone outgoing to the tower. It is not uncommon to receive SMS for a missed call (no ring tone) or ringing calls, only to have the call fail on answering.

The mobile phone brand and model might make all the difference, before settling on any plan, fair or not?

At our home.
For Telstra an early model Samsung dumb 3G blue tick flip phone has outshone all others! The one with the little antenna bump on the top of the housing.

For Optus, despite some iPhones getting great reviews, the larger bodied 8XL works a treat all through the house, while a plain iPhone 8 struggles.

This process of discovery involves bribing all visitors to surrender their mobile model details and making a few test calls while they sip tea inside?

The local tradies tend to use Telstra bricks successfully. Optus has no equivalent!


I note that most people here seem to be complaining about loss of data or recharge dates getting shorter. My issue is, because I don’t use a phone for anything but phone calls and not often, if I didn’t recharge more money on top of the remaining credit Telstra stole the remaining credit. They had no option to recharge by direct debit so that didn’t happen. I changed to Optus because they do have that facility. I’m still looking for options that don’t have these lurks attached.


We have 4 or 5 towers of each telecom within 1km. The most usual connected to is 500m away, again with all telecoms. Unfortunately it’s the obstructions - hills & buildings - that get in the road. We can have perfect calls anywhere in the house 70% of the time, then at certain times signals seem to fade away. Which telecom makes little difference. The missed unheard call is a common experience.


You might try turning off LTE but remaining on 4G. As I understand it, standard 4G calls go back to 3G while data stays at 4G
On my phone the setting is called Enhanced 4G LTE Mode. Oddly I have to disable 2 or 3 times before the new setting sticks. Disabling this while retaining Preferred network type as 4G keeps the phone on 4G.