Being a student can be fun, but it is exhausting at times. You’re barely out of your teenage phase and you’re already looking at debt, making tough decisions and trying to organize your time and budget so that you don’t starve, go crazy or fail your exams. Cutting costs and looking for the best deals you can get is incredibly important if you want to live through your student years as comfortably as possible. Housing, tuition, books and transport are some of the biggest expenses, but people often forget about one of the basic modern needs, and that is communication. There is a good chance you will spend a lot of your time on the phone – it’s a good way to stay informed and do some networking, and it is essential for a healthy social life. It is here that we come to an important question: “What are the best mobile plans for students?”, and there is no simple answer to it.
What are students really looking for?
It’s safe to say that any student will need to find the most cost-effective solution to their problems. Buying a new phone is expensive, so paying around $60 a month seems like a good way to pay off the phone gradually, but that $60 can be a strain on an already tight budget and you may not be able to keep up with the payments for the next two years. On the other hand, getting a prepaid card is cheap, but may cause you a bit of inconvenience later on, e.g. when you need to make a call at 3 am and have no credits left. It is all about balancing your needs and your budget.
The first thing students need to take into account when looking at the best mobile plans available to them is how much they actually talk, text and access the net on a day to day basis. An astonishing 74% of Australians never go anywhere without their phone and nearly half our online shopping is done via phone. If you focus on just the student population, those numbers skyrocket. Even a modest phone user will send 3-6 texts and make several calls per day on average, so a student who’s calling home, texting with friends and going online frequently, risks spending too much money, unless they are able to get a good deal. Here are a few good options based on some of the most common types of students and their needs.
With prepaid, you literally get what you paid for, so there is no need to worry about bills and monthly limits. A prepaid SIM card is dirt cheap and there are some good options when it comes to buying a phone along with the card – you can get decent phones for $80-$160 and it’s a one-time investment. The drawback is that you have to keep recharging your balance and this means that you might find yourself unable to make an important call from time to time. Near the end of every month is when your funds will run a bit thin, so you may have to wait for several days before you can recharge the balance. During this period your phone will be mostly useless. Prepaid is a good option for no-nonsense and budget-minded students who prefer to talk in person and only use their phones to send a few texts now and then and only make short calls to arrange meetings, or in case of an emergency.
With this type of plan you pay a certain amount every month and get a set amount of minutes and texts. Some consider these the best mobile plans for students, since you can opt to quit at any time, without paying large termination fees… you pay much less than with most other options and there are some incredible deals. The best offer of this type on the market now is the Amaysim unlimited plan, which provides you with unlimited calls and text in Australia and 4GB of data for merely $40 a month. Amaysim buys minutes from Optus, so they have good coverage and are reliable. If you talk a lot, chances are that you are going to spend at least as much every month, if not more, so it is the perfect plan for very socially active students – those who spend hours talking to their partner, nostalgic students who often call home and those who spend a great deal of time online.
Phone + plan
Some students want and need the enhanced functionality of a modern smartphone, but can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for them. In this case, you can look at a 24 month plans that allows you to get the phone you want and gradually pay it off, a small chunk at a time. If you have a part-time job and you manage to cut costs so you have a bit of money left over each month, you will be able to manage to keep up with the payments without too much trouble. Optus has fairly good deals – great smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S5 start at around $60 per month. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t make a whole lot of calls and you are just looking for a great phone, these basic 24 month plans are a good option – you get unlimited texts in Australia, 300 minutes and 500 MB per month – but if you are a chatty person who is going to put their cool new phone through a lot of use, you are looking at $75-$80 per month to get unlimited national calls and 2-3 MB of data.
The final verdict? Well, month to month options like the Amaysim unlimited plan are tough to beat and they are an excellent overall choice. However, prepaid is by far the cheapest option and this allows you to control how much you’re spending, but if you are after that new smartphone at all costs, you may have to tighten your belt or go with a very basic 24 month plan. Think about what you need and choose wisely.
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