Vodafone, or a Vodafone MVNO – where’s the better deal? The answer might surprise you

Vodafone has long had a reputation of being the more affordable of the big three carriers, but for many years it was also plagued with the reputation of being the worst performer. That reputation has been well and truly turned around in recent years; Vodafone’s network can be the fastest in some places, and it has wide-reaching coverage.

One of the most popular benefits of Vodafone’s own plans though is Red Roaming, which allows you to use your mobile plan – including unlimited calls, SMS and data inclusion – when traveling overseas in a supported country (and most are).

It’s for this reason that a lot of people – especially frequent travelers – stick with Vodafone plans, because being able to roam like at home is worth far more than the $5 a day charge that Vodafone levies for the privilege.

While Red Roaming isn’t available to Vodafone MVNO providers, the great value is, and Vodafone MVNOs can be among the most affordable of the big three carrier networks.

Vodafone’s own plans

As you can see below, Vodafone’s plans start at a reasonable $40 a month, but there’s a catch with that and other plans; while Vodafone does offer contract-free options across its range of plans, the data inclusions are often significantly lower.

In fact, that $40 a month plan – not shown in the widget below – comes with just 1GB of data for $40 a month, which is ridiculously low. An extra $10 a month gets you just 5GB.

Where things get interesting are the 12 month contract plans. While the $40/12 month plan isn’t remarkable – just 10GB monthly data – the $50/12 month plan comes with 60GB of data at full speed (i.e. whatever your phone can do), and then unlimited data at 1.5Mbps, enough to browse and stay in touch if you use all your data.

The $60 and $80 plans come with 100GB and 150GB of data respectively, offering incredible value, access to Red Roaming, and of course as much data as you can use (if you use up all of the full-speed data).

Vodafone MVNO plans

There aren’t too many MVNOs that offer post-paid plans on Vodafone; the majority offer plans on a prepaid basis, and this hinders their value proposition somewhat.

The good thing is that there are some damned cheap offerings; just $14.90 for 3GB of data with Lebara or Kogan, making these plans a great way to stay in touch for those on a tight budget. TPG will offer 4GB for $19.99 a month which isn’t bad, but there is a one-off, $10 up front fee.

What if you’re after a bit more data, though?

Vodafone MVNO’s prepaid offerings don’t go to ultra-high data inclusions, but they do offer reasonable amounts without getting too expensive. Lebara offers 24GB for $29.90, which works out much cheaper than Kogan (20GB for $36.90) and Vodafone (20GB for $39.99).

If you want much higher data limits, you’re pretty much cooked on Vodafone MVNOs – there’s only a couple of options, and they’re not cheap.

Lebara will do 56GB for $49.90 a month, which isn’t too bad, whereas Kogan’s 60GB for $99.90 a month seems excessive.

In fact, if you’re going to be spending this amount per month – and are able to commit to a 12-month contract – you’ll get ridiculously more value from Vodafone directly, making the MVNOs a relatively poor choice.

Overall, Vodafone MVNOs offer great value at the bottom end – super cheap plans with minimal inclusions that allow anyone to get (and stay) connected.

However, if you’re after bigger inclusions, Vodafone MVNO offerings really aren’t great – you’re better off with Vodafone direct.

$60 a month might be a bit much for some, but in the scheme of mobile plans its around the middle. For that, the 100GB of data at full speed (and speed-limited, unlimited data after that) is hard to beat, and throw in unlimited calls, SMS, and $5 a day Red Roaming, and it’s a no brainer.

The downside to Vodafone? Well, in some places the network coverage isn’t great, and in others, you’ll be completely without signal while Telstra/Optus customers will be just fine.

Frankly, though, in 2020 those places are few and far between and Vodafone is a compelling alternative to the more expensive Optus and Telstra plans.

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