What questions should I ask when comparing mobile plans?

Comparing mobile plans is something most of us will do at one time or another, but how do you know you're getting the deal that is right for you?

Asking yourself some key questions will help ensure your mobile plan will fit in with your lifestyle and needs, as well as your budget.

What is the coverage like in my area?

There's little point in looking too closely at a mobile provider unless you're sure you will be able to get a decent signal in your local area.

Head over to the company's website and there should be a tool that enables you to see what signal strength you can expect, allowing you to decide whether it's going to be sufficient for your needs.

How long is the contract for?

Choosing a contract phone can have its benefits, but it's important to take a look at how long the deal will last for and whether you're happy with it.

For example, if you like having the latest handset then a 24-month deal might not be the best option as it'll mean you face exit fees if you want the most up to date phone.

What are the monthly limits?

No matter whether you choose a pre or post-pay phone deal, there are likely to be a certain amount of inclusive minutes, texts and data involved.

Ask yourself whether the limits are likely to cover your level of usage. If not, consider looking at a mobile phone plan that won't see you paying over the odds for any extras you use.

Do I need a handset?

Many contract deals will come with an inclusive handset - but do you really need one? If you've already got a phone then looking at SIM-only offers might be the better option.

You will generally end up paying more over the course of your contract if you have a handset included, so make sure you factor this into your decision.

What extras will I be expected to pay for?

Every mobile provider is different, which means that if you're looking for a new deal, you will need to carry out plenty of homework on exactly what's included in your plan.

Some providers will expect you to pay extra to access your voicemail, for example, while others will include this service as standard.

Will my provider alert me once I've reached my allowance?

Going over your inclusive allowance can be costly, so you may want to look into whether your mobile provider will alert you once you've reached your limit - or are getting close.

This will enable you to change your usage accordingly or think about changing to another plan - either way, it can be a wise financial decision.

What will I be charged for using my phone overseas?

If you regularly travel outside Australia for business or pleasure, it's a good idea to take a look at the charges you'll incur for using your mobile phone abroad.

It's often the case that inclusive calls and texts won't be applicable once you're out of the country, unless you've bought a package that includes international extras.

How will I be charged for my mobile phone?

It's well worth asking your mobile provider how you will be expected to pay for your plan - are payments taken by direct debit? How often will they need to be made?

You may even discover there are discounts for using certain payment methods, which is something you might want to look into if you want to cut the cost of your bills.

Posted by Jeremy Elliott