The tricks your telco won't tell you about
BUYING a new phone is hard. It really sucks. Telcos try to confuse you with buzz words, hide costs and pretend they're giving you things for free when they're really hiding how you're paying for it.
There are so many different telcos, plans, and options to choose from. Whether you buy a phone on a plan, you lease it, or buy it outright. How much data do you need? What does your coverage need to look like? Why am I still stuck on an old plan? And do you really need that National Geographic subscription?
Fear not. With a little bit of planning and research it can become easier to navigate this confusing space.
LOCKED IN A PLAN? ASK TO HAVE YOUR DATA UPGRADED
If it's too early for you to upgrade your plan, that doesn't mean you need to suffer for the older data limits that your original plan had. For example, if you signed up on launch day for a 32GB iPhone 7 on its $85 plan you'd currently be receiving 7GB of data. However, Optus' $85 plan right now currently offers double that data at 14GB.
Doesn't seem fair that you're paying the same for less, right? It's not. Which is why if you ring your telco to ask to have your data allowance matched to current plan levels they will often agree to upgrade you.
This isn't usually advertised, as telcos can hit you with those 1GB data pack add ons for $10. If you're someone who often goes over their old cap, this move could potentially save you a lot of money.
LOYALTY DOESN'T PAY
If you've ever seen a social media post from a telco, you'll often see that customer comment asking why new customers are able to get this great deal, but they, someone who has been a loyal customer does not. The answer is simple - the telco knows you're locked in, and more often than not can't be bothered or are too scared to change.
The telcos work on a rough premise that only about 20 per cent of the population will move carriers - mostly due to the fact we're lazy. As a result, they don't waste their money trying to win you over because they figure there's an 80 per cent chance you're going to stay.
So call their bluff and move to a carrier that will offer you a better deal.
There's a common misconception that this is a hard thing to do, especially when you want to keep your number, but it's actually quite easy. Your number will often be ported in just a couple of hours, not days or weeks like some people think.
Your wallet will thank you.
WORK OUT YOUR PRIORITIES
Do you travel a lot? Use lots of data? Just want a mobile as a last resort? Live in a country town?
Work out what matters most to you before going into any shop or start comparing plans. If you never go overseas, Vodafone's $5 day roaming is useless. If you never watch NRL, why bother paying extra for that Telstra plan?
First thing to work out is your data - how much do you use now? How much has that gone up in the last year? Double that rate of growth, and factor that into the data plan you're looking for now. If you were using 6GB of data, up from 3GB a year before that - aim for 12GB for your new plan to factor in for growth.
Only ever travel throughout the city? Don't pay more for Telstra's coverage, when Vodafone and Optus' is just as good in the city.
If you work out what you use your phone for, you'll be able to work out what plan suits you best.
DON'T GET SUCKERED IN BY FREE CONTENT IF YOU DON'T NEED IT
Telcos have an obsession with content at the moment to try and win customers over. Similar to the above point, really think if you're going to use it before signing up - the telco may tell you it's free - but that Netflix subscription is being paid by someone, and it's not the telco.
If you work out you don't need that Optus English Premier League subscription or Telstra's Apple Music, try looking at one of the smaller no frills providers like Amaysim or Kogan Mobile.
They use the same mobile networks as the big guys, but often come with more generous data allowances for less due to the fact they're not trying to stuff in "free" subscriptions with their mobile plans.
AVOID LEASING A PHONE, TRY AND BUY OUTRIGHT IF YOU CAN
The single biggest way to flush money down the toilet right now is to sign up to a leasing plan by a telco.
On the surface, leasing plans appear cheaper by charging you $10 less per month for the same value, however you lose big money at the end of the plan. In a regular plan, you own the phone at the end, however with a lease plan you need to hand your phone back at the end.
While you might save $240 on the life of the plan leasing, that 64GB iPhone 6s you signed up for two years ago is now worth $500 on the second hand market. Meaning you're $260 worse off.
Plus - happen to put even a scratch on your phone screen? You'll have to payback hundreds of dollars more as a repair fee.
Regular plans are better than these in the long run, however the best is to still buy a phone outright. This way you can pair it with a cheaper sim-only plan, and can move providers every month if you wanted to for the best deal.