Mobile phone “parking”

When you go on short holidays, you continue paying your phone bill as per usual. But when you plan to go on extended trips this doesn’t seem like the smartest thing to do. The money you are spending on your phone service, that you aren’t using while overseas**, is money you could be spending on other things. If, like me, you have had your mobile number for ages and really like it then you are faced with the problem how to keep it without paying a huge amount of money. I think of this as “parking” your number.

So in terms of parking a number, what should you look for?

  • Support for porting your existing number
  • Cheap
  • Long expiry (365 days if possible)
  • International Roaming – I like to have the option to roam with the phone service but switch data roaming off
  • Something which doesn’t require you to be in the country in order to “recharge”, preferably something that will actually recharge automatically
  • Cost to receive SMS, MMS or Phone calls (receiving calls, even voicemail, usually costs)
  • I don’t pay a great deal of attention to call rates, because I have no intention to make proper use of the service – I only want to receive SMS and send the occasional SMS

In my search for the best plan, I came across a site called whistleOut which provides great comparisons of products and deals. This is where I gathered most of my information. I then picked the options I considered feasible and contacted the various companies via their website or directly.

The table below summarises the options I personally would consider suitable for phone parking.
Be aware that I am based in Tasmania – and we have fewer phone providers than mainland Australia. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other options.

PROVIDER PRODUCT NAME CREDIT EXPIRY COST (CREDIT + SIM) RATES & INCLUSIONS FEASIBLE OPTION
 Vodafone Pay-as-you-Go-Plus 365 day

NB. if the period expires, the sim remains active for an additional 365 days without credit.

 $10 + $1

Credit rolls over if you recharge before expiry.

Rates:

Calls within Aus
35c flagfall + 89c/min

SMS 28c (Aus)
SMS 28c (International)

MMS 50c (Aus)
MMS 75c (International)

Data $2 per MB for additional data

 Yes.

$10 per year + one off $1 for SIM

No auto-recharge, you must remember to go online or call to recharge before the period expires.

 ALDI Go15 365 day  $15 + $5

I think unused credit expires

Rates:

Calls within Aus
0c flagfall + 12c/min

SMS 12c (Aus)
SMS 25c(International)

MMS 35c (Aus)
MMS 75c (International)

Data 5c per MB

 Yes

$15 per year + one off $5 for SIM

 Optus

**Optus changed their offers in Sep 2016 – this is no longer a feasible solution

My Prepaid Daily 6 months  $30

Credit rolls over if you recharge before expiry.

Rates:

SMS 50c – $1 (International, based on what country you are in)

MMS 75c (International)

Inclusions within Australia:
Up to 30mins Calls
Unlimited SMS and MMS

40MB Data per day

(These are with the $1 daily level – if you use more, you are auto bumped up to the $1.50 level and get unlimited calls and an extra 40MB of data)

Yes.

$60 per year

More frequent recharge, but it can be set up to auto-recharge.

 Amaysim As You GO 3 months $10 + $0

Credit rolls over if you recharge before expiry.

Rates:

Calls within Aus

0c flagfall + 12c/min

SMS 12c (Aus)
SMS 25c (International)

MMS 49c (Aus)
MMS 75c (International)

Data 5c per MB

$40 per year

Maybe ~ but it is more costly than the other options

While it looks like ALDI is the cheapest, we don’t have ALDI in Tasmania and I would rather go with a company that I am more familiar with.

For me, the choice is between Optus and Vodafone, they work out to be an equivalent cost. So looking at the nitty gritty, Optus have cheaper call rates and offer an auto-recharge service.

** If you are using your normal phone number overseas, then I’d like to suggest you rethink it. The roaming charges are excessive.
Whenever I visit a foreign country for any more than a week or two I buy a local cheapie sim card. I look for the ability to text and use data, and some call credit.
I do still take my own sim with me and put it in my phone from time to time, just to receive any missed text messages, so that I can email or text my current number to whoever hasn’t already got it via the facebook update that says something like “My number while I am in Canada is …”

NB: Research completed in February 2015.

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