Telstra Upfront plans explained

Not quite prepaid and not quite postpaid.
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Upfront payment
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Data-free Apple Music and sport

In early 2021, Telstra unexpectedly announced a massive change to its postpaid plans. Namely, scrapping them altogether. Instead, the country’s largest telco replaced its range of postpaid plans with what it calls “Upfront plans”. Unlike traditional postpaid plans, Telstra’s Upfront plans are paid from the first day of the billing cycle, rather than at the end.

Previously, those who were signed up to a postpaid plan through Telstra would receive their first bill at the end of the month of use (and were given a two-week grace period for payments). On these new Upfront plans, however, the monthly bill will be direct-debited automatically at the start of every month.

It’s a similar payment structure to what you may have experienced on a prepaid plan, however, it comes with the benefits that often accompany postpaid plans, like no excess data charges, 5G access (for all except the Telstra Small Upfront plan), data sharing, and more.

Upfront plans won’t impact prepaid customers, and existing postpaid customers will be able to remain on their plan for between 12 and 18 months. However, all new customers looking for a postpaid plan will have to settle for a Telstra Upfront plan.

What’s the difference between Telstra Upfront and Telstra postpaid plans?

The main difference between Telstra postpaid and Upfront plans is the reversed billing cycle outlined above, but there are a few other differences that customers should be aware of. Upfront plans feature data-sharing on up to 10 devices on the one account and also include unlimited SMS/MMS to all international destinations, plus 30 minutes of standard calls to international numbers. Customers can still enjoy the usual post-paid perks of data-free Apple Music streaming (though you will need to pay for a subscription) and data-free live sports through the AFLW, Netball and My Football Live official apps.

The other big difference is that Upfront plans aren’t currently compatible with Telstra Air (Telstra’s free WiFi hotspot network) or eSIM, though Telstra has confirmed eSIM support is on the way.

Here’s a list of every Telstra Upfront plans, sorted by popularity:

Can I get a phone with a Telstra Upfront plan?

Like the old postpaid plans, Telstra Upfront plans can be purchased as a SIM-only plan or be paired with a new device for an additional monthly cost. The only thing that changes is the time of payment for your handset – like your plan, the fees will be direct-debited from your account at the start of the month.

Another thing to note is that if you only want a SIM-only Upfront plan, you won’t need to undergo a credit check with Telstra, as you’re paying for what you’ll use before you’ve used it. However, if you do add a handset to your plan, the credit checks will still apply.

If you’re still keen to go ahead with a device, here are the most popular smartphones right now through Telstra.

Is there an alternative to Telstra Upfront plans?

If you’ve got your heart set on Telstra, unfortunately, your only option other than an Upfront plan is a Telstra prepaid plan, which essentially follows a similar payment system but offers fewer perks, no 5G access and generally poorer value.

That said, if you’re willing to look elsewhere in order to stick with the traditional postpaid billing system, there are great deals to be had with other providers. Here are some of the most popular postpaid SIM-only plans available right now.