Moderate mobile users' money-saving tips
General consumer advice
The following information has been compiled in collaboration with the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Consider flexible month-to-month plans. If you own your own handset, most mobile phone companies will offer to connect you to a network on a month by month basis (without a fixed term contract). This can offer you flexibility to change monthly plans or mobile phone company more easily. Because more mobile phone companies are offering network access separate from the purchase of a handset it's possible to shop around for the best network access deal. Some companies offer services without charging access fees, only charging for the time you use. This may be an attractive option for you.
Higher monthly plan cost means lower call rate. There is usually a trade-off between monthly access cost and the cost of calls. The lower the monthly access charge, the higher the call charge. For an average user, there are usually benefits in paying a little bit more in access charges for a lower call cost. Check with your friends and family to see which plan or rate they are on. If this suits their needs, they may have suggestions for you.
Check your billing increment. Calls can be charged to you in several ways. The main two are per second billing and billing per blocks of time (usually 30 or 60 seconds).
Calls can be charged on a per second basis. This means that if you initiate a call that lasts for 13 seconds you will be charged for 13 seconds. If most of your calls are less than a minute, then being charged per second may help to minimise the cost of your calls.
Calls can also be charged to you in blocks of 30 or 60 seconds. This means that if you initiate a call that lasts for 22 seconds, you will be charged for 30 seconds. If you initiate a call that lasts for 38 seconds you will be charged for a minute. The amount you are charged per 30 seconds will vary depending on your mobile phone company and the plan you have chosen.
Check the flagfall. This is an important question because if a flagfall or call connection fee is charged for each call, this can add significantly to your total call costs. Some mobile phone companies charge a flagfall, the cost of which can vary, while others don’t. It is important to factor in this additional cost to ensure you are fully aware of the cost of calls.
Call off-peak during the evening and weekends. Call costs can be cheaper at night and on the weekend. If most of your calls are made in what is known as the "off-peak" period then it may be possible to select a plan and mobile phone company that saves you money. Note: you should confirm with your mobile phone company which days are included in the weekend rates. Some mobile phone companies may charge weekly rates on Saturdays.
Call same-network. If you know the numbers you will usually be calling, it may be possible to get a special deal that allows calls to some numbers to attract a cheaper rate than normal. Some mobile phone companies offer special rates for same network connections, so if your friends or business colleagues are with a particular mobile phone company, you can save on call costs by using that same company.
Coverage questions. Each mobile network has a different coverage area, depending on the number of mobile towers in use, the local terrain and type of technology used (GSM or CDMA). It is important to check that the service you are considering has good coverage where you expect to use it most. This could be not just where you live or work but also where you travel etc. Each mobile carrier has coverage maps available for viewing. Alternatively, check with your friends and family who use the same mobile phone company in the areas you want to use your phone, to confirm that the coverage is adequate.
Overseas Travel. Mobile phone handsets can be used in overseas countries where carriers have established international roaming agreements. Carriers have established agreements in many overseas countries. Keep in mind however, that using your phone overseas can be very expensive. Ask your mobile phone company before leaving Australia about call costs and ways to minimise expensive call charges.
Voicemail. Voicemail is available with most mobile phone services. Some mobile phone companies may offer voicemail at little or no cost, depending on the particular plan. Others may charge when someone leaves a message or when you call to pick up the message.
Security. There are two ways you can protect your mobile phone. The first is to lock the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) to your handset (GSM phones only). This is protected by a Personal Identification Number (PIN) which you create. Once locked, the mobile phone cannot be used with another SIM without the PIN being entered. This means the handset can't be used if it is stolen and another SIM card is inserted.
The second way to increase the security of your handset is to set a PIN on the phone itself (GSM and CDMA). Each time the phone is switched on, the PIN number must be entered before the phone can be used.