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iMobile.com.au - Buyer Guide - Pre-Paid

Reviewed by Lilian Lim
Apr 2000

Pre-pay packs mean not having to sign up to a contract or pay bills and rental every month. It is becoming extremely popular because there is no commitment, no contract and especially, no monthly bills to pay. Most starter packs with handset start below $100, and they are very simple to get connected as everything needed to start up is in the box.

In order to keep the phone connected, users simply buy vouchers (or top-up cards) with airtime call credits.  Each network has it's own pre-pay service, with each offering differing call charges, length of connection time per call credit voucher, extra services and handsets.

Launched originally to aim at people who either could not get a mobile phone due to age or poor credit rating, the pre-paid concept has caught on with people because of their low price.

Below are a rundown of the services and handsets currently available in Australia. 


  U - Telstra  

Telstra’s GSM pre-paid service, U, lets you control what you actually spend without the hassle of credit checks, contracts to sign and ongoing monthly bills. There are two ways of connecting to U. If you already have a digital mobile phone, a U Access Pack is all you need to get started. An Access Pack will get you started for only $34.95. If you do not have a digital mobile phone, you have a choice of three handset options starting from $99, which includes a new mobile phone; an access card and a U Recharge Card with $25 in call credits.
Once your phone is up and running, you can purchase the U Recharge Card in units of $25 (with access period of 2 months), $60 (with access period of 6 months) and $100 (with access period of 12 months).

There are two call rates - ON and OFF. When you connect, your U service is set to the ON rates. Then you choose which option suits you best. ON rates for weekdays, weeknights and weekends are 70 cents per minute. OFF rates for weekdays is $1.00, and 20 cents per minute for weeknights and weekends. There is a special rate called Mates’ Rates, where calls are charged for just 2 cents per minute from one U to another U or any other MobileNet Digital service.

Handset pack 

  • Philips Savy U Pack $99
  • Ericsson A1018s U Pack $129
  • Nokia 5510 U Pack $190

Optus Express

Delivering the same concept as Telstra’s U pre-paid service, Optus Express is aimed at those looking for a service that meets their needs in mobile phone calls. Call charges are on different rate plans than with U. There are 3 rate plans available for the Optus Express service.

The first rate plan, SecureTime charges 50 cents per 30 seconds. It’s a plan to suit those who don’t make many calls, but need to know that they are contactable. The call credits are valid for 90 days under this plan.
FreeTime gives users the flexibility where they make most calls in evenings and weekends. Charges are quite steep, costing 65 cents per 30 seconds during peek hours (7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday), and 15 cents per 30 seconds off peak (all other times). The call credits are valid for 45 days under this plan.

The DayTime plans are for users who make most calls during the day. It charges 30 cents per 30 seconds, with call credits valid for 30 days.

All three plans have an optional VoiceMail service, which costs 15 cents per 30 seconds of messages.

The New Express Time rate is a special rate where between 7pm and midnight every day of the week, you can call any other Optus Express customer for free for the first 20 minutes per call.

For those who already have digital mobile phones, there are two start-up kits to choose from. The first costs $39.95; and it contains, among others, the Optus Express User Guide and personal phone number, the SIM card, and a $30 recharge card. The other start-up kit costs $59.95, and its contents are similar to the first one, except that there is two, $30 recharge cards given instead of one.

To continue using your Oputs Express Service, you can buy your replacement $30, $50 or $100 Recharge Cards from over 3000 Optus outlets and selected retailers.

For those who do not have a digital phone, they could combine the benefits of Optus Express with a brand new digital phone from the range of Optus Express Pre-Paid mobile Packages.

Handset packs - 

  • Bosch 509 Optus Express Pre-Paid Phone Package $99
  • Phillips Savvy Optus Express Pre-Paid Phone Package $99
  • Mitsubishi MTD-30 Optus Express Pre-Paid Phone Package $99
  • Ericsson GA 628 Optus Express Pre-Paid Phone Package $129


Fast Fone - Vodafone 

Vodafone's pre-paid service, Fast Fone, is aimed at a younger market, with much of its features similar to the Optus Express and U services.
Fast Fone has two plans to help you keep your costs down. The Fast Fone Standard Plan is best for those who make most calls after hours. Peak rates are 99 cents per minute, and off-peak rates are charged at 20 cents per minute. The All-Day Plan charges 69 cents per minute, on and off-peak. There is a special off-peak rate of 5 cents per minute for both plans when calls are made to any mobile phone connected to the Vodafone network.

Recharge Cards are sold in denominations of $29.95, with 30 days access period, $49.95, with a 60-day access period, and $99.95, with access period of 90 days.

As with the other pre-paid packages, Vodafone offers 2 choices to get connected to FastFone. If you don’t have own a mobile, the Fast Fone Bundle is affordable from $99 with a wide range of phones to choose from.. yes". For those already with mobile phones, all they need is the Fast Fone Starter Pack, which includes a new mobile phone number and a 30 days’ initial access to Network Vodafone.

Handset packs - 

  • Sagem RC815 Bundle $99
  • Alcatel One Touch Bundle $99
  • Ericsson A1018 Bundle $99
  • Phillips Savvy Bundle $99
  • Nokia 5110 Bundle $179

Pre-Paid Price Guide

Network Recharge Card Values Access Period Peak Calls* Off-peak calls* Specials Minimum kit cost
Telstra Mobilenet 
$25 60 days ON Rate
70 cents 
per minute
OFF Rate
per minute
ON Rate
70 cents 
per minute
OFF Rate
20 cents per minute
Mates’ Rates – special weekend offer of 2 cents a minute for calls made from one U to another U or any other MobileNet Digital service. $99 (including a U Recharge Card with $25 in call credits)
$60 180 days
$100 365 days
Optus Express $30

According to plan:

Secure Plan - 90 days

Free Time - 45 days

Day Time - 30 days

50 cents per 30 seconds 50 cents per 30 seconds Free calls between Optus Express customers 7pm to midnight every night for the first 20 minutes per call $99 (including Start-Up Kit with $10 worth of pre-paid calls)
$50 65 cents per 30 seconds 15 cents per 30 seconds
$100 30 cents per 30 seconds 30 cents per 30 seconds
Fast Fone
$29.95 30 days

Standard Plan – 99 cents per minute

All-Day Plan – 69 cents per minute

Standard Plan – 20 cents per minute

All-Day Plan – 69 cents per minute

Off-peak calls made to any mobile phone connected to the Vodafone network will only cost 5 cents per minute $99 (including 30 days' initial access to Network Vodafone)
$49.95 60 days
$99.95 90 days



Peak Time Off-Peak Time
Telstra Mobilenet U 7am-7pm Monday to Friday Off-Peak 7pm-7am Monday to Friday and 
7pm Friday to 7am Monday
Optus Express  7am-7pm Monday to Friday Off-Peak 7pm-7am Monday to Friday and 
7pm Friday to 7am Monday
Vodafone Fast Fone 6:00am-6:30pm Monday to Friday  6:30pm-6:00am Monday to Friday and
all weekend


Telstra Mobilenet is a trademark of Telstra.
Optus Express is a trademark of Optus.
Fast Fone is a trademark of Fast Fone.
Vodafone is a trademark of Vodafone.

For more information, please visit

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