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Telstra BYO mobile plans: SIM-only and prepaid guide

Armed with an existing mobile phone, you’re ready to sign up for a Telstra BYO SIM-only or prepaid plan.

Nathan Lawrence
Jul 04, 2024
Icon Time To Read4 min read

There are three mobile networks in Australia—Telstra, Optus and Vodafone—and of those, Telstra is the largest. So it’s no wonder that the mobile provider is a popular pick for so many Australians. If you have a mobile phone that you’re happy with and are considering Telstra as a prospective telco, here’s all of the essential info you need to know before signing up for a Telstra BYO mobile plan.

Before we dive into all of that, though, here’s a look at the most popular mobile plans from our comparison engine.

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Telstra BYO

Every mobile provider in Australia offers bring-your-own (BYO) mobile plans. The only difference is that some of them—like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone—may also sell these BYO mobile plans alongside a new mobile phone. Customers who opt for a SIM-only plan with a new mobile phone are also paying a handset-repayment fee. But everyone else is only paying for the SIM-only plan with all of the same features (just minus the phone). Basically, whether you opt for SIM-only or prepaid, there’s money to be saved with a BYO mobile plan. The only disclaimer is you can’t use an older or prepaid mobile phone that’s locked to the Optus or Vodafone network. If you have one of those, unlock the Optus or Vodafone mobile phone before signing up for a Telstra BYO mobile plan.

Telstra BYO mobile SIM-only plans

All recent unlocked mobile phones should be compatible with a Telstra BYO mobile SIM-only plan. Most Aussies use SIM-only plans, so let’s start with those before we get to Telstra prepaid. There are a few Telstra SIM-only plans to choose from, starting at around $60 per month and stretching to just under $100 per month.

The more you pay, the more data you get, with monthly caps starting at 50GB and extending to hundreds of gigabytes per month. Every Telstra SIM-only plan includes access to the Telstra 5G network, as long as you have a 5G-capable mobile phone. There are also no excess data fees, but speeds are capped at 1.5Mbps for the duration of the billing cycle if you burn through your monthly allowance. Note that download speeds on the cheapest Telstra SIM-only plan are capped at 250Mbps.

As is the trend, unlimited standard calls and texts to Australian numbers is standard across Telstra SIM-only plans. For international calls, there are 30 minutes per month to standard international numbers, plus unlimited SMS and MMS to standard international numbers. Telstra also offers international roaming to 80+ destinations for its SIM-only users, with different daily rates depending on the zone.

Telstra mobile plans support physical SIM card or eSIM, so you can get online faster if you have an eSIM-compatible mobile phone. All Telstra SIM-only plans also include access to the Telstra Plus rewards program. The two priciest plans also let users share monthly data with up to five bundled plans.

Below is a look at the popular Telstra SIM-only plans today.

For comparison, here’s a look at the most popular SIM-only plans from our comparison engine.

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Telstra Upfront plans

Typically, SIM-only plans are paid at the end of each monthly billing cycle while prepaid plans are paid in advance of use. Telstra’s SIM-only options are called “Upfront” plans which, like prepaid plans, are paid in advance of use. Outside of the upfront payment, Telstra SIM-only plans are otherwise functionally the same as SIM-only mobile plans from other telcos.

Telstra mobile network coverage

The Telstra mobile network has the most coverage in Australia, available to 99.5% of Australians. While not quite as ubiquitous, the Telstra wholesale network is available to 98.8% of Aussies, which is still ahead of Optus (98.5%) and Vodafone (96%). For the fastest speeds, the Telstra 5G network reaches 87% of Australians. Use the interactive map below for an idea of Telstra 4G and 5G coverage in areas of interest around Australia.

Telstra BYO mobile prepaid plans

Telstra offers a range of prepaid options, including cheaper starter kits and ongoing prepaid ‘monthly’ plans alongside long-expiry prepaid plans. The cheapest Telstra prepaid plan is around $10 and offers a little bit of data with a seven-day expiry. There are a couple of Telstra prepaid options with 28-day expiry, both around $40 with a generous amount of data. If you want a long-expiry prepaid plan, Telstra has two of those: one for six months and the other for 12, both with close to 20GB of monthly data (albeit doled out in a single larger chunk).

Note that all Telstra prepaid plans come with unlimited standard talk and text in Australia, except for a six-month casual plan that has limited call minutes and texts. Download speeds for most Telstra prepaid plans are capped at 150Mbps, though they do include access to the Telstra 5G network. If you don’t use all your prepaid data, you can store up to 200GB via data rollover by recharging before your current plan expires.

While the call minutes vary, most Telstra prepaid plans include an international call allowance, separated into Zone 1, 2 and (where applicable) 3 locations. Speaking of overseas, if you want to use your Telstra prepaid while travelling, Telstra offers international roaming for 35 eligible destinations with a choice of three add-ons that cover three, seven and 10 days, respectively.

Check out Telstra’s popular prepaid plans below.

For comparison, here’s a list of today’s popular prepaid plans from our database.

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Telstra physical SIM card vs eSIM

In recent times, mobile phone manufacturers have introduced a digital SIM replacement for what used to be relegated to physical SIM cards. Called “eSIM”, this digital SIM makes it a faster process to activate a mobile plan with a new telco or switch between multiple plans, which is handy while travelling overseas. Telstra offers both physical SIM cards and eSIM for its SIM-only and prepaid plans. Mobile phones that support eSIM also typically have a physical SIM port, effectively converting them into dual-SIM phones (i.e. one physical, one digital). If you have an eSIM-capable phone and don’t want to wait for a physical SIM card delivery, consider signing up for a Telstra eSIM mobile plan.

Telstra network BYO mobile SIM-only plans

Telstra is one of three mobile network owners in Australia, but it’s not the only mobile provider that operates on the Telstra network. Admittedly, only Telstra customers and Boost Mobile users have access to the full Telstra mobile network. Other mobile providers that use the Telstra mobile network operate on a marginally smaller wholesale network.

We track 30 mobile providers in our comparison engine. Of those 30, there are nine others outside of Telstra and Boost that use the Telstra mobile network:

If you want to save money but still want Telstra network coverage, we advise considering a SIM-only or prepaid plan from one of those providers. Below is a daily updating list of popular SIM-only and prepaid plans on the Telstra network.

Telstra BYO mobile plans frequently asked questions

Does Telstra have a $30 plan?

No, the cheapest Telstra mobile plan starts at $35 for a prepaid plan or $62 for a SIM-only plan.

What is the lowest cost Telstra mobile plan?

The cheapest Telstra mobile plan is $35 for prepaid or $62 for SIM-only (without a SIM-only handset repayment or upfront prepaid mobile phone cost).

What is a BYO plan?

A BYO mobile plan is one where you are content to use an existing mobile phone rather than paying an extra handset repayment fee.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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