Rein in your phone costs

How can you get the most out of your mo­bile? So­phie Elsworth looks at five ways to help you cut costs

Mercury (Hobart) - - MONEYSAVER­HQ -

WE can’t go any­where with­out our mo­bile phone in hand and it’s no won­der, given there are more than 27 mil­lion de­vices in use na­tion­ally.

Ev­ery month we munch through an av­er­age of 9.1 gi­ga­bytes per per­son – and some of us don’t even look up from our screens when we’re walk­ing down the street.

But the prices of phone deals vary so much, mak­ing it im­por­tant to ex­am­ine ex­actly what we are pay­ing for. Th­ese are five sim­ple ways con­sumers can min­imise their phone costs.

1TRADE OR CASH IN OLD PHONES

Old de­vices – work­ing or not work­ing – are of­ten worth a de­cent chunk of money.

Mo­bile Mon­ster sells and trades in phones in re­turn for cash. Chief ex­ec­u­tive officer Tim Dug­gal said Aus­tralians could have old de­vices in their draw­ers that were worth at least a few hun­dred dol­lars each.

“When the new iPhone 11 came out we had an in­flux of be­tween 150 and 200 de­vices a day from the public sell­ing their old phones,” he said.

Other mo­bile sites where con­sumers can sell old de­vices in­clude eBay and Gumtree.

Mr Dug­gal said an iPhone 7 128GB that was in work­ing or­der was worth $300, while an iPhone X 64GB in good nick was worth $610.

For phones to be in “work­ing or­der” they must turn on and func­tion as nor­mal.

The larger tel­cos – Tel­stra, Op­tus and Voda­fone – all of­fer deals where you can trade in old de­vices and re­ceive a credit.

2CONSIDER SIM-ONLY DEALS

Th­ese deals are the cheap­est on the mar­ket, ben­e­fit­ing peo­ple who al­ready have their own de­vices.

Moose Mo­bile chief ex­ec­u­tive officer Dean Lwin said it was “a great way to save money” with­out hav­ing the bur­den of pay­ing off a de­vice.

“For the vast ma­jor­ity of Aus­tralians, if you are pay­ing any more than $25 a month on a SIM-only deal then you’re pay­ing too much,” he said.

“If you don’t use a lot of data, say just a few gigs each month, you should be pay­ing less than $15 per month.”

Moose runs on the Op­tus net­work and has more than 30,000 cus­tomers. It only of­fers SIM-only deals.

Mr Lwin said for a phone con­tract in­clud­ing a de­vice “you would ex­pect to pay any­thing from $80 to $150 per month”.

“Go­ing on a plan can cost lit­er­ally thou­sands of dol­lars over the con­tract term,” he said.

Telco com­par­i­son web­site WhistleOut found some re­tail­ers of­fer­ing plans that start at 10GB for $19.95 for 30 days.

3NO- LOCK IN CON­TRACTS

Tel­cos are fiercely com­pet­i­tive and some have even rolled out of­fers where cus­tomers can try before they buy and sign up to a few free months. “Tak­ing the no-lock in con­tract op­tion is al­most al­ways the way to go as you have flex­i­bil­ity to move if your cir­cum­stances change or if the pric­ing im­proves,” Mr Lwin said. “You’re ready to take ad­van­tage of it.”

Telco gi­ant Voda­fone has nearly six mil­lion cus­tomers and rolled out no-lock in con­tracts in 2017

Voda­fone chief com­mer­cial officer Ben McIn­tosh said it al­lowed cus­tomers to pay off a de­vice separately while choos­ing a deal that in­cluded talk, text and data.

“It pro­vides the free­dom to pay off your de­vice on your own terms or eas­ily move up or down plans as your us­age habits change,” he said.

“No nasty break fees ap­ply if you need to ter­mi­nate the plan.” As phone plan prices con­tinue to be­come more com­pet­i­tive, this could be an ideal op­tion for phone users.

4USE WI-FI WHEN YOU CAN

Chew­ing through data could re­sult in ex­tra costs if cus­tomers don’t pay at­ten­tion. Tel­cos must alert cus­tomers once they reach 50, 85 and 100 per cent of their monthly data al­lowance. Aus­tralian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­sumer Ac­tion Net­work’s spokes­woman, Melyssa Troy, said “the num­ber one rule for sav­ing data on your mo­bile phone is to con­nect to Wi-Fi where pos­si­ble”.

“How­ever, re­mem­ber that public Wi-Fi is gen­er­ally not se­cure, so shouldn’t be used for things like on­line bank­ing,” she said.

Ms Troy said an­other sim­ple trick was chang­ing video set­tings in apps like Face­book and In­sta­gram “so that videos do not au­to­mat­i­cally start play­ing as you scroll”.

5CHOOSE DE­VICES WISELY

While it’s easy to get sucked into want­ing the new­est and shini­est de­vice, WhistleOut spokesman Kenny McGil­vary said con­sumers should “bend the idea of ‘lat­est hand­sets’”.

“Look at re­cent mod­els from Oppo, Mo­torola or Realme,” he said.

“With Ap­ple and Sam­sung you pay a big pre­mium for brand and there are sav­ings for those who avoid the lure of the big brands.”

He said for mo­bile phone lovers want­ing to get their hands on the lat­est iPhone 11 Pro, buy­ing the hand­set out­right and then sign­ing up to a SIM-only deal was a great op­tion.

“The cheap­est iPhone 11 Pro plan with a min­i­mum of 10GB data we have on site now is Voda­fone’s $45 Red Plus plan with 36 monthly hand­set re­pay­ments, cost­ing $3368 over 36 months,” Mr McGil­vary said.

“Or you can buy out­right from Ap­ple for $1749 and get the Cir­cles.Life 20GB plan and save $971.88 over 36 months.

“Then you also have the flex­i­bil­ity to take ad­van­tage of other SIM plans when­ever they come on to the mar­ket.”

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