4G Prepaid: So Hot Right Now

4G Prepaid: So Hot Right Now

Prepaid: So Hot Right Now

Here’s a question I field quite often; what mobile plan am I on this time around? Well, the truth is that since the release of revamped plans heading into the launch of the iPhone 5c/5s, and our subsequent analysis of the numbers, plans just aren’t as attractive as they once were.

I found this year—for the first time ever—buying my phone outright and using prepaid was the better deal. Here’s why.


Telstra currently offer a Cap Encore prepaid option on 4G, at a variety of recharge levels. Let me take the $40 recharge level as an example:

Telstra Prepaid Cap Encore

When you recharge at $40, you get three things:

  • $40 ‘recharge credit’
  • $510 calls & texts
  • 600MB data

What’s not well-known is that you can use that $40 ‘recharge credit’ to buy data packs. Let’s have a look at the available data pack options on Telstra:

Telstra data packs on prepaid

So, with your available $40, you can buy one 1GB of data for $39, or better yet, two 700MB packs of data for $20×2. Yep, you can do that.

This gives you a total of 2GB (600MB + 2x700MB) data and $510 of calls on 4G service for $40 per month. Pretty sweet right?


I’m going to use Vodafone’s prepaid $30 cap as an example here:

Vodafone Prepaid $30 cap

When you recharge at $30, you get the following:

  • $450 ‘flexible credit’
  • 500MB data

This ‘flexible credit’ can be used for either calls, texts or data. So again, if we examine their data packs…

Vodafone Prepaid Data Packs

So, with your available $450, you can buy a whole boatload of $8 data packs, right? Not so fast, bucko. If you dig into their prepaid terms & conditions, you’ll uncover the following little caveat:

Vodafone's Terms and Conditions

So, if you’re using ‘flexible credit’ to buy data packs (as opposed to real money) you’ll be charged $16 for 350MB.

Still, that’s not a bad deal; you could buy 10 data packs, spend $160 ‘flexible credit’ and get a whopping 4GB data (500MB + 3.5GB) and still have $290 left over for calls and texts. All for a mere $30 a month.

Update: If you’re an existing Vodafone prepaid customer, you can move to their 4G service right now. If not, you’ll have to wait until around mid-November to migrate across to 4G.


Currently the only 4G prepaid service on Optus is their $2 days offer, which give you unlimited calls, texts and 500MB a day for the fee of –as you may have suspected from the name–$2 per day. So you’ll be paying $60 for a month’s service, but you’d have a theoretical monthly data cap of 15GB (doled out in 500MB increments over the month). No data pack stacking in this offer, I’m afraid.

It’s not a terrible deal, but $60 a month is certainly creeping back up into that price bracket where you’re better off on a plan with a subsidised handset.

What’s the catch?

OK, by now you’re probably thinking this is too good to be true. Well, there’s a few things to be aware of:

  • Prepaid offers can change without notice. You can’t ‘lock-in’ a prepaid offer in the same way you can sign up for a plan with a fixed rate for the two years.
  • You need to own a handset, or buy your handset outright. If you want a new phone, that’s a lot of cash upfront.
  • These three offers have automatic recharges, but don’t offer automatic data pack purchases. You’re going to have to do that manually each month. (On the upside though, Telstra’s unused recharge credit rolls over, so you can bank credit, saving it for data-heavy months.)

In the end, I went with Telstra’s Cap Encore at the $40 recharge level, because their 4G coverage in my area is good. I haven’t given Vodafone’s 4G coverage a chance yet though, so I might port over for a month down the track and see how it goes.

I guess that’s the best thing about prepaid; I can always jump over to another telco if a better offer comes along.