Best Telstra network mobile plans: access Australia's best cellular coverage for less

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(Image credit: 10'000 Hours)

It's well known that Telstra offers the widest reaching mobile network in Australia, resulting in the best 4G and 5G coverage of all the major Aussie carriers. That said, it's also the most expensive provider if you choose to go direct to the source.

Thankfully, there is a way to access Telstra's industry-leading mobile network without paying a premium, and that's through mobile virtual network operators (or MVNOs).

MVNOs are smaller telcos which don't have their own network, opting instead to purchase network access from one of the major carriers (i.e. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone) at wholesale prices and then resell it at a more competitive price point.

There are a number of smaller telcos in Australia which offer access to the Telstra network, such as Boost Mobile, Woolworths Mobile, ALDImobile and more — all of which provide mobile plans at reduced prices. Please note, only a handful of these carriers are currently offering 5G access.

To give you an idea of how you can access Telstra's cellular network and save money at the same time, we've taken the liberty of highlighting the best Telstra network mobile plans in Australia, whatever your budget may be. Alternatively, there are also plenty of other cheap mobile plans to check out if you're willing to venture outside of the Telstra network.

Editor's Choice: Best SIM-only plan

Tangerine (32GB Mobile SIM plan) | 64GB data (double data for first 6 months, then back to 32GB) | No lock-in contract | AU$29.90p/m

Tangerine (32GB Mobile SIM plan) | 64GB data (double data for first 6 months, then back to 32GB) | No lock-in contract | AU$29.90p/m

Want loads of data at a reasonable price? Tangerine's 32GB Mobile SIM plan offers just that, with its 32GB Mobile SIM plan providing double data (that's 64GB p/m) for the first 6 months, before dropping back to 32GB p/m. That's still heaps of data when you consider the plan's monthly price of just AU$29.90.

Total minimum cost is AU$29.90 | Total cost for first year: AU$358.80

Best 5G SIM-only plan

Mate (soul mates 5G plan)

Mate (soul mates 5G plan) | 60GB data (250Mbps speed cap) | No lock-in contract | AU$40p/m

Unless you're willing to spend big by going direct to the source, this 5G plan is one of the best you'll find from a Telstra reseller thanks to its faster-than-average speed cap. Get downloads as fast as 250Mbps on Telstra's 5G network and 60GB of data for just AU$40 p/m. Best of all, there are no lock-in contracts.

Total minimum cost is AU$40 | Total cost for first year: AU$480

How we pick the best SIM-only mobile plans

In order to narrow down our list of choices, our team searches for a balance of several factors which we believe most people are looking for from a SIM-only plan. 

Value for money is our top priority — the best SIM-only plans will offer a reasonable amount of data without becoming too expensive. On average, each Australian uses around 12GB of data per month, which is why we've set that amount as the minimum monthly allowance. 

SIM-only plans should also offer unlimited calls and texts to standard numbers in Australia. Even the most affordable options provide this these days, so you should definitely avoid any plan which imposes a limit on either of them.

Network coverage is another important factor to consider when choosing a SIM-only plan. Depending on the telco you go with, all Aussies will get access to either the Telstra, Optus or Vodafone network. 

In terms of coverage, Telstra's network has the widest-reaching 4G and 5G coverage in Australia, with Optus a close second. Vodafone's network size may come in third place, but it's worth noting that its 5G coverage has grown by leaps and bounds, reportedly reaching 85% of the population across 10 major Australian cities and regions.

Additionally, we also take perks into consideration, even if they aren't the main reason for our selections. These can include such things as bonus international minutes, rollover data, access to streaming services and even discounts on your groceries.

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 over a dozen 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 mags and sites as APC, TechLife Australia, T3, FilmInk, AskMen 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, listening to vinyl and other non-hipster stuff.