Cheap mobile plans compared: best Australian options starting from AU$10

best cheap cell phone plans under $40
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As Aussies continue to struggle with the cost of living crisis, the need for a cheap mobile plan has never been more necessary. After all, we can all agree that every dollar counts these days.

While not everyone in Australia loves phones, it's hard to deny that they've become a necessity in this constantly evolving world. Not only do they allow us to stay in touch with friends and relatives, but they also act as an invaluable tool for work and other tasks.

Thankfully, staying connected to the world around you has never been more affordable, thanks to the growing number of cheap mobile plans in Australia. 

While major carriers like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone offer large amounts of data and a wealth of inclusions, all that stuff does come at a significant cost. 

Luckily, there are a number of smaller telcos (or mobile virtual network operators — aka MVNOs) which have leased access to these networks, allowing them to provide phone and data services at a drastically reduced cost. And, with the exception of 5G access, you'll get more or less the same breadth and quality of coverage.

Just how cheap are these phone plans? SIM-only options which offer unlimited national calls and texts, along with a reasonable helping of data, can be found from as little as AU$10 per month. Of course, you'll need to read the fine print, as some of the cheaper plans are usually limited-time deals which go up in price after an initial promotional period.

Ultimately, the amount of value you receive will depend on whether you choose a prepaid or postpaid plan, and what your price limit is. Fortunately, there are plenty of 'no contract' options to choose from — some even offer larger-than-expected amounts of data. Here are the best cheap Australian mobile plans compared.

Best cheap prepaid plan

Kogan (Small Monthly Plan) | 10GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$15p/m

Kogan (Small Monthly Plan) | 10GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$15p/m

One thing you'll notice about most of the cheap mobile plans offered by Aussie telcos is that they always start affordable and then go up in price after a short promotional period. Thankfully, the Small Monthly Plan from Kogan stays the same price always, providing 10GB of monthly data, and unlimited talk and text on the Vodafone 4G Network for just AU$15p/m.

Total minimum cost is AU$15

Best cheap postpaid plan

iiNet (Mobile 8GB Plan) | 8GB data | pre-paid | AU$10p/m (first 6 months, then AU$19.99p/m)

iiNet (Mobile 8GB Plan) | 8GB data | pre-paid | AU$10p/m (first 6 months, then AU$19.99p/m)

iiNet brings terrific value with its Mobile 8GB Plan, which provides 8GB of monthly data and costs just AU$10p/m for the first 6 months. Unfortunately, the price does double after that to AU$19.99p/m. Thankfully, it's pre-paid, so you can simply cancel and move on to another provider once that time is up. Please note, iiNet operates on the Vodafone network. Also, this pre-paid plan will auto renew every 2 months, so make sure you cancel ahead of time if you're planning to make a switch.

Total minimum cost is AU$10

Best cheap big-data plan

TPG (Mobile 45GB Plan) | 45GB data | pre-paid | AU$15p/m (first 6 months, then AU$30p/m)

TPG (Mobile 45GB Plan) | 45GB data | pre-paid | AU$15p/m (first 6 months, then AU$30p/m)

Want stacks of data without paying through the nose? This excellent deal from TPG gives you a whopping 45GB of data per month for just AU$15p/m. Of course, there's a catch — that price is only for the first 6 months, after which the price goes up to AU$30p/m. If that price is too rich for your blood, you can just cancel and switch to another provider. Please note, this offer is only available to new connections.

Total minimum cost is AU$15

Cheap mobile plans: what to look for

Obviously, value for money is essential when considering a cheap mobile phone plan. Seeing as most phone plans these days offer unlimited national calls and text, you're going to want to find a good balance between price and data allowance. Thankfully, those who are willing to pay just a few dollars more can usually score a significant bump in their monthly data limit.

That said, price isn’t the only criteria you should keep an eye on. You'll also want to consider which mobile network your discount carrier runs on. As we touched upon earlier, none of the smaller telcos which offer the cheapest plans actually operate their own network. 

Instead, each of these mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, have leased access to networks built by one of Australia's three major carriers: Telstra, Optus or Vodafone. That means the quality of coverage in your area will likely depend on the mobile network that discount telco runs on. Before selecting any plan, you should always find out which major carrier network it operates on, and check the service in your region.

Our best cheap mobile phone plan search takes into account the merits of prepaid vs postpaid phone service, while also examining whether MVNOs are worth the money.

How we pick the best cheap cell phone plans

We're constantly looking at what Australian telcos offer as part of our research into the best mobile phone plans. That includes examining what's available from the major carriers — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone — as well as from smaller telcos which run on these carriers' networks. We check prices monthly, comparing what different services have to offer.

For our best cheap mobile plans guide, we set a jumping off point of around AU$10 per month, along with a monthly data limit of at least 2GB. Price is of the utmost importance in our rankings, though we've made an effort to steer you away from some very cheap plans which we believe don't offer good value for money. Our decisions take into account how much data each plan provides, and we've even calculated the average daily allowance and price per MB before coming to our conclusions, and we've also taken note of any perks to keep in mind. That can help distinguish two equally priced plans — or even highlight that a slightly more expensive plan offers better value overall.

Because mobile phone coverage can differ from area to area, we try to include a wide variety of phone plans starting from around AU$10 or less, so that you can find the best rate for the wireless service with the strongest coverage in your area.

Stephen Lambrechts

Stephen Lambrechts is the Managing Editor of Tom's Guide AU and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming for the last 15 years. Before Tom's Guide, he spent several years as a Senior Journalist at TechRadar, had a brief stint as Editor in Chief at Official Xbox Magazine Australia, and has written for such publications as APC, TechLife Australia, T3, FilmInk, AskMen, Daily Telegraph and IGN. He's an expert when it comes to smartphones, TVs, gaming and streaming. In his spare time, he enjoys watching obscure horror movies on physical media, keeping an eye on the latest retro sneaker releases and listening to vinyl. Occasionally, he also indulges in other non-hipster stuff, like hiking.