Prepaid mobile plans – are there any traps? (smartphone)

Prepaid mobile plans are based mainly on what the main Telcos dictate and should flow to their resellers’ terms. Inclusions are a lot more restrictive than postpaid but provide bill certainty.

Life and Technology listener Lorraine was concerned that 1800, 13, and 1300 numbers (so-called free calls) may cost money outside her prepaid account. Here is our research, valid as of 6 April 2024.


Telstra has general PrePaid Mobile Service Terms in addition to its PrePaid Mobile Plans Critical Information Summary.

It includes calls, SMS, MMS, message bank, to standard numbers (see definition later). Depending on the plan’s cost, it also includes a mobile data allowance (4G and optionally 5G) and limited international calls, SMS and MMS.

Telstra defines standard numbers as

  • National Direct Dial for a landline or mobile service on Telstra, Optus or Vodaphone.
  • 000/012 emergency calls
  • All ‘13’ calls 6 or 10 digits
  • Call diversions to 02, 03, 08 or 04XX mobiles.
  • Message bank within Australia only.
  • National mobile-originating text, picture and video messages
  • There is no mention of 1800 numbers, so we expect they are free as the receiver pays for the call.

As prepaid is a fixed amount every month (Telstra cannot vary this without notice), it bars access to

  • All ‘11” calls
  • 12456 (Directory Assistance Call  Connect 12xxx services are extra).
  • Premium numbers like 19XX or 015X.
  • Third-party content or subscriptions
  • Telstra Air.
  • International Roaming.


As expected, it is largely the same as Telstra, with a more complicated Form of Agreement and Prepaid Terms and Conditions with less specificity in what is excluded.

Essentially, any 19xxxx or 12xxx call, Premium SMS, etc., that incurs a cost cannot be used on prepaid. You can purchase extra ‘My Credit’ to cover the cost of selected Vodafone Prepaid Recharge Products, Premium Services, or selected Vodafone Prepaid Add-On Products.


Similar to Telstra and Vodafone. Its Critical Information Summary excludes any 19xxxx or 12xxx call, Premium SMS, etc. You can pre-purchase Prepaid Add-ons. Its Prepaid terms are here.

CyberShack’s view – Prepaid mobile plans are good to save money but are more restrictive.

Prepaid has a fixed cost and provides bill certainty. It generally does not require a credit check, and the service stops if your credit card or direct debit is refused. Any extras must also be prepaid.

Postpaid is the only real option if you need International Roaming, access to premium numbers, more data, family plans, or want a smartwatch to share the number and data.

More reading

How to save money on smartphone bills

Telstra’s Retail Vs Wholesale mobile plans – the catches you need to know