Sometimes you need a little extra data in the short term. You might be going on holidays and want something to distract the kids, or you may need your own entertainment while you’re traversing the roads. Whatever your reason, the big 4 telcos have short-term no-contract answers for your problem that will help you side-step surprise bill shock.
Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile all have data packs you can add to your current plan and then cancel later, with no long-term commitments or lock-in contracts. They’re all opt-our affairs, so they’ll continue to be added to your monthly account until you give the word to shut it down, but it’s easy enough to call up or cancel online.
There are seven data packs from Telstra, the largest three* of which are only available if you call up and enquire.
You can cancel the data pack either online or through the call centre. Online can take up to 24 hours to clear, but according to a Telstra representative we contacted a request made through the call centre can take around just 2 hours.
If you’re on and Optus My Plan Plus then you don’t need to worry about data packs. Any time you go over your data allowance Optus will charge you $10 and allot you another 1GB for the month. This can be repeated as many times as you like and will automatically reset to your default plan at the next billing cycle.
Anyone on an older plan without the auto top-up has two options. The first is to contact Optus and ask to switch your plan to a comparable My Plan Plus plan. This is free. Better still, according to an Optus representative we spoke with, Optus is willing to switch you over without making you sign a new contract. For example: if you have three months left on your old contract and like the sound of My Plan Plus, then you can make the switch and still have only three months left on your contract.
If you’d prefer the data pack option, then you can still get them but these days you can only purchase one by calling the Optus call centre.
The prices are from an older time, just like your plan, so it’s a little more than $10 per GB. Still, it should be cheaper than paying per-MB overage fees.
Vodafone, like Optus, offers automatic $10 per 1GB top-ups on some of its modern post-paid plans. However, you can still save a bit of cash if you act pre-emptively.
The automatic price is $10 per 1GB, but if you think you’ll be going way over then you can get more bang for your buck.
If you only rely on the automatic top-ups then you are charged $10 every time, so if you use 3GB this way you’ll pay $30. If you buy the data in advance then you would only pay $20.
Virgin Mobile’s Data Value Add-on pricing is straight forward: $10 per GB no matter how much you buy. Packs start at a low 500MB and go up to 6GB.
A word of caution: you’ll need to notify Virgin a full 30 days in advance if you wish to remove the data pack from your next bill.