Manage your mobile spend

Here are some tips for managing how much you spend on your mobile:

1. Consider pre-paid

If you are concerned about how much you will spend on your mobile, are not sure what exactly your needs are, and do not want to sign a long-term contract, consider the pre-paid option first.Getting a pre-paid first will help you understand how much you’ll use your mobile. You can always change to a plan at a later date, and your experience using a pre-paid can provide you with useful information to help you evaluate what type of plan would match your needs. Note that some pre-paid plans (often where a handset is included) tie you down for a minimum period of time. This may mean you can benefit from cheaper call , SMS or data costs, but be aware that if you leave before the specified time, you pay a penalty. Look for details in the terms and conditions. You may see the phrase ‘SIM unlock’ fees – this refers to a fee you may need to pay to unlock your mobile so that you can use it on another service provider’s network. Also be aware that pre-paid credit usually has an expiry date and not all providers let you carry unused credit over to the next month.

2. Choose a plan to suit you

Whether you opt for a pre-paid or post-paid contract, you’ll find there’s a huge choice of options available to suit many different needs.

While many plans now offer unlimited voice calls and SMS, you still need to consider the data charges and how much data you will use each billing cycle.

Some plans allow for data sharing between family members or let you carry unused data over, but this is not always the case.

The best advice is to consider how you will use your phone and make sure the plan you sign up for is the one that best matches your usage and needs – which may not always be the one with the lowest monthly rate, but paying for the plan that matches your actual usage will help you avoid any excess data charges.

3. Monitor your mobile spend or credit

Some mobile companies have options to help you keep track of, and manage your spend. They may have a website where you can access your account details and track your usage. Or they may have a number you can text or call to find out how much credit remains on your prepaid service.

In compliance with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code, your service provider will send you an alert when your data usage reaches 50%. 85% and 100% of your data allowance for the billing cycle. Don’t ignore these alerts and contact your service provider before you exceed your monthly data allowance.

4. Call barring

Keep your bill down by limiting the numbers called from your phone by using call barring. For example, you might want to bar international calls, or calls to 19-SMS mobile premium services numbers. Some carriers also allow you to preset certain numbers to allow your phone to be used to call only certain numbers – talk to your carrier about the options.

5. If your phone is lost or stolen call your service provider to cancel your account so that a thief can’t run up charges and block your phone’s IMEI – this will prevent it being used on any Australian mobile network.

8. Don’t ignore a bill! Get in touch and work it out!

If your circumstances change (e.g. sudden job loss or illness) and you find yourself experiencing financial hardship, contact your service provider straight away. They will work with you to come to an arrangement for paying your bill and avoiding any interruption in your service.