Buying a mobile phone
Choosing a phone and a plan that's suitable can be confusing. This information can help you choose the best option for you.
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The right plan will depend on the way you use your phone. Do your research. Ask questions about the plan. Think about what you need and compare it to what you can afford.
You will usually:
- get a monthly bill
- have a contract for a specific length of time
- be allocated a usage and data allowance - you're charged for anything over the allowance
- be able to have a phone included in the plan
- have to pay early exit fees.
You will usually:
- buy credit for your phone and recharge the credit as you need it
- not have a contract - credit expires if you don't use it within a certain time
- not have a phone included.
The critical information summary for the plan can give you extra information to help you choose - key information includes a clear description of the service, standard charges and any exclusions, termination fees and information about the contract.
Apps, mobile data and premium SMS
Understanding some of the extra costs when using a mobile device can help you keep your mobile bills under control.
Apps and in-app purchases
'Apps' are small pieces of software that you can use on your mobile device. You can download and use apps for anything from banking and shopping to games.
An app can be free to download but sometimes you need to make in-app purchases for things like extra lives in a game, or to access special content. Set up controls on your device to make sure you and your family are aware when you're spending money:
- set a password for every purchase
- disable in-app purchases
- download apps for parental control.
Visit in-app purchases on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website for more information about controls for your mobile device.
Mobile data allows you to go online using your mobile device. You usually have a data allowance with a plan. If you go over the limit, you'll be charged for the extra use. You can control your data usage by:
- using mobile-optimised websites
- activating Wi-Fi settings when you're home
- checking for free Wi-Fi hotspots when you're out
- checking your usage regularly
- setting a data limit on your phone
- turning off notifications for email and social media.
Mobile premium services
You can buy mobile premium services - 19 SMS - on your mobile. Many premium services are sold as subscriptions, so make sure you check what you're actually buying. 19 SMS services can include:
- news and weather
- age-restricted content
Visit the 19 SMS website for more information, and remember you can text 'STOP' at any time to cancel a service.
Businesses have to give the customer a written repair notice before they start repairs on electronic goods like mobile phones or computers. The notice must say:
'The repair of your goods may result in the loss of any user-generated data. Please ensure that you have made a copy of any data saved on your goods.'
If it's likely that the business will repair using second-hand parts, the notice must say:
'Goods presented for repair may be replaced by refurbished goods of the same type rather than being repaired. Refurbished parts may be used to repair the goods.'
Making a consumer complaint
If you have a problem with your phone, there are some simple steps you can take before lodging a formal complaint.
Making a consumer complaint offers advice and a checklist to guide you through resolving problems with a phone you've bought without a plan.
Contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about issues with mobile phone plans and phones that were included as part of a plan.