Optus MVNOs: Every provider explained

There’s money to be saved if you try your luck with the 13 Optus MVNOs in Australia.
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When you buy a mobile phone plan in Australia—be it SIM Only, Prepaid or bundled with a handset as part of a Postpaid plan—you’re really buying a service on one of three networks: Telstra, Optus or Vodafone. Telstra MVNOs have access to either the largest or second largest network in Australia (spoilers: they’re both Telstra networks), while Optus MVNOs are sold on the third largest network in Australia.

While Optus and Telstra continue to battle it out with their own respective first-party plans, the Optus MVNO third-party telcos have a chance to entice new sign-ups thanks to more competitive pricing.

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What is an MVNO?

MVNO is a fancy initialism that spells out as Mobile Virtual Network Operator. Because that’s quite the technical mouthful, we use MVNO for short, but what MVNO really means is a telco that operates on one of the big three networks but doesn’t own that network. Telstra MVNOs operate on the Telstra wholesale network, Optus MVNOs work on the Optus network, while Vodafone MVNO’s sell services on the Vodafone network. The ACCC recently urged mobile users to consider an MVNO over one of the big three telcos to help combat rising costs.

Optus MVNO list

At the time of writing, there were 13 Optus MVNOs in Australia, which sell services across SIM Only and Prepaid plans:

  • Amaysim
  • Aussie Broadband
  • Catch Connect
  • Circles.Life
  • Coles Mobile
  • Dodo
  • Exetel
  • Gomo
  • iPrimus
  • Moose Mobile
  • Southern Phone
  • Spintel
  • Vaya

(Note that Amaysim acquired Vaya, then Vaya was later acquired by Optus. Similarly, Gomo is also an Optus sub-brand. Dodo and iPrimus are both owned by Vocus Group.)

Below is a daily updating list of popular plans from Optus MVNO telcos.

Optus MVNO plans: SIM Only telcos

From the list of 13 Optus MVNOs above, seven of them offer SIM Only plans in our comparison engine: Circles.Life, Moose Mobile, Southern Phone, Dodo, Spintel, Vaya and iPrimus.

Below is a daily updating list of popular SIM Only plans from Optus MVNOs.

Optus MVNO plans: Prepaid telcos

Of the 13 Optus MVNOs, only three offer Prepaid plans via the Optus network: Amaysim, Gomo, and Coles Mobile.

Below is a daily updating list of popular Prepaid plans from these three Optus MVNOs.

Optus MVNOs and mobile plans

Southern Phone is the only Optus MVNO that also bundles a handset with a SIM plan, including a couple of handfuls of options from Nokia and Samsung. Below is a list of the most popular handsets that can be paired with a Southern Phone mobile plan.

Optus MVNOs compared

Circles.Life and Gomo are the two highest-rated Optus MVNOs, both sharing 4 out of 5 scores for their respective plan reviews. Gomo is renowned for fast and friendly support as well as great first-year pricing, while Circles.Life offers a stack of data for its more expensive plans, which actually don’t cost a whole lot. Check out their popular plans in comparison below.

Amaysim, iPrimus, Moose Mobile and Spintel all score 3.5s on their respective plan review pages. Amaysim is light on perks but generous with its promotional data and international inclusions, while iPrimus is a similar story. Moose Mobile regularly wins our SIM Only monthly picks for great value pricing, and Spintel separates from the pack by being the only MVNO in Australia to offer 5G plans. There are a lot of plans to choose from across these four providers; check out the most popular picks below.

Coles Mobile, Dodo, Southern Phone and Vaya all score 3s for their respective plan reviews. Coles Mobile is renowned for competitively priced plans as well as international inclusions, Dodo Mobile keeps things simple for existing customers, Southern Phone offers handsets on Postpaid plans, and Vaya has good all-round value. Below is a daily updating list of these providers’ plans pitted against each other.

(Note that Aussie Broadband, Catch Connect and Exetel mobile plans aren’t currently tracked in our comparison engine.)

The best Optus MVNO in Australia

From the breakdown above, it’s clear there are only two contenders for the crown of ‘best Optus MVNO’: Circles.Life and Gomo. When they first launched, both Circles.Life and Gomo made a name for themselves with compelling first-year pricing. Fast-forward to more recent times, and it’s still easy to see why these two Optus MVNOs are popular.

For Prepaid plans, Gomo is still a serious contender because of its ongoing promotional data and pricing. At the time of writing, this meant double the data for the first three 30-day subscription recharges, which helps sweeten the deal on decent regular Prepaid pricing. Gomo Prepaid plans also come allow for up to 200GB of data rollover if you maintain the subscription. You can see a daily updating list of popular Prepaid picks below across all networks (which should include Gomo).

For SIM Only plans, Circles.Life is a constant contender, with the telco seemingly always offering an extended promotion that reduces pricing for six months or the first year alongside bonus data. It’s regularly tricky to keep Circles.Life plans out of the running in our monthly SIM Only picks. While the telco’s cheapest plan is worth a look, it’s the 20GB Monthly Plan and 100GB Monthly Plan that frequently impress, even without promotional pricing, thanks to 3GB of what Circles.Life calls “bill shock” protection.

Below is a daily updating list of popular SIM Only plans across all networks (which should include Circles.Life).

If you don’t care about Prepaid or SIM Only, our pick of the best Optus MVNO in Australia is Circles.Life.

Optus MVNOs vs Optus

So, why would you opt for an Optus MVNO over going with Optus itself? After all, Optus perks include cheap movie tickets while costlier Optus plans come with Optus Sport + Fitness as well as international talk and text.

The big reason to consider an Optus MVNO over Optus itself is plans tend to have better value, combining a mix of great pricing and generous servings of data. Switching telcos is easier than ever, especially because contracts are basically non-existent, meaning you can switch to, from or between Optus and Optus MVNOs (or other networks) basically whenever you like with very little downtime.

Additionally, Optus MVNOs tend to offer fewer support options, most notably a lack of physical stores for in-person assistance, and sometimes those cost savings come at the expense of more meaningful perks.

On the flip side, Optus offers a wide a range of handsets, including newly released options from Apple and Samsung, which can be paid off as part of Postpaid plans. At the time of writing, Southern Phone was the only Optus MVNO offering Postpaid handsets and its range wasn’t as vast as what Optus had to offer.

To put this in context, check out the daily updating list of popular plans on the Optus network, which includes Optus and Optus MVNOs, to get an idea of how people treat the debate. At the time of writing and likely when you’re reading this, Optus was comfortably on top.

Optus MVNOs and 5G

One of the main perks of going with Optus instead of an Optus MVNO is easier access to 5G plans. At the time of writing, while Optus wasn’t offering 5G with any of its Prepaid plans, the telco was including access to the Optus 5G network with all of its SIM Only plans. Granted, those prices start at around $50 a month for 20GB of data.

If you do want to access the Optus 5G network, though, you can also opt to go with Spintel, whose cheapest 5G plan comes with 80GB of data for $50 a month. For comparison, below is a daily updating list of popular Optus network 5G plans.