Telstra to increase phone plan prices in July: Are they still worth it?

A young and trendy woman uses her mobile phone in her kitchen

Telstra will increase the cost of their Upfront phone plans on July 4, citing increased operating costs. 

It should come as no surprise to existing Telstra customers, as the company announced last year that they’d be doing annual reviews of their prices, in line with the consumer price index (CPI). 

They’re already one of the more expensive options out there. So, is now a good time to compare mobile phone plans and switch, or is it worth sticking with Australia’s biggest telco? 

Well, it really depends on your budget and whether you don’t mind paying an extra $3 to $6 per month, depending on the plan.  

Telstra Upfront mobile plan price change (effective 4 July, 2023)

PlanOld pricing (monthly)New pricing (monthly)
Starter$47$50 (+$3)
Basic$58$62 (+$4)
Essential$68$72 (+$4)
Premium$89$95 (+$6)
Bundle$47$50 (+$3)

You might be wondering if the Telstra price increase means you’ll get more data too. 

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for everyone. 

Only the Telstra Upfront Basic and the Bundle plans will be growing in the data department, with an additional 10GB each.

How does Telstra compare to Optus and Vodafone? 

The difference between the big three telcos, Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, isn’t as straightforward as you might imagine. So, when you compare the ‘big three’ it’s important to make a few key considerations: 

  • Price-to-data ratio 
  • Coverage area
  • Phone plan features 
  • Bonus offers. 

Price-to-data ratio: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone 

If you’re after bang for your buck, then working out how much you’re paying per gigabyte (GB) is a good place to start. 

Comparing Telstra, Optus and Vodafone’s entry-level SIM only plans, Vodafone’s Small SIM Only Plan takes the cake at $0.89/GB, followed by Telstra’s Upfront Basic mobile plan at $0.81/GB. Optus comes in with a lower data offering on their Small Optus Choice Plus plan at $0.61/GB.

Plan PriceData inclusionPrice-to-data ratio
Telstra Upfront Basic$62/month (from 4 July, 2023)40GB$0.81/GB
Optus Small Optus Choice Plus$49/month30GB$0.61/GB
Vodafone Small SIM Only Plan$45/month40GB$0.89/GB

But the value for money extends to more than just how much data you get per dollar. You’ll also need to think about the network’s coverage areas, especially if you find yourself frequenting regional areas. 

Coverage area: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone

If you’re with Telstra due to its extensive network coverage, then that may be a compelling reason to stay. 

Telstra reports covering 99.4% of the Australian population vs. Optus’ 98.5% and Vodafone’s slightly lower 96%. 

However, if the sting of Telstra's July price rise has you reaching for the new-plan ointment, note that there are plenty of smaller mobile phone plan providers out there (known as MVNOs) that piggyback off the Telstra network’s capabilities, often at cheaper prices. 

Phone plan features: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone

From data banking to having the option to add international roaming packs to your Telstra, Optus, or Vodafone plans, there are plenty of extra features to consider that go beyond data inclusions.

PlanExcess data charges?International roaming?International talk and text included?
Telstra Upfront BasicNo. Speeds capped at 250Mbps.Yes. 1GB data for $10/day.Yes. Unlimited standard SMS and 30 mins of calls to international standard overseas numbers.
Optus Small Optus Choice PlusNo. Speeds capped at 1.5Mbps.Yes. 5GB for $5/day.Not included.
Vodafone Small SIM Only PlanNo. Speeds capped at 2Mbps.Yes, enabled by default. As per the plan’s data inclusion.Yes. International standard texts, but no international calls included.

Bonus offers: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone

Bonus offers, deals, and points are also good things to consider when you’re doing a mobile phone plan comparison. 

These bonus offers generally add value, or take some of the initial cost off your mobile plan and can be an incentive to go with one or the other. 

Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone are all running deals at the time of writing. The deals include student discounts and complimentary access to subscription and entertainment services. 

Are smaller telcos better value?

Of course, you don’t need to fork out when it comes to your mobile phone plan. There are plenty of smaller players in the mobile phone plan game that use the big three’s networks, for a fraction of the price. 

Some of these mobile phone plan providers are even 2023 Mozo Experts Choice Award winners and named among the best mobile phone plans in Australia

These guys often run introductory offers that slash the price in half, or even double the amount of data included for a few months, to a year. So, it’s worth doing a comparison of these mobile phone plans if you’re really trying to switch and save, or checking out the latest mobile phone plan deals page for a regularly updated list of some featured offers. 

Check some of them out below!