Prepaid vs. post-paid mobile broadband: breaking down the difference in cost

  • Big value on postpaid mobile data
  • Speeds up to 21Mbps
  • Vrgin, Vodafone, Optus and Telstra

If you’re curious about the price difference between prepaid and post-paid mobile broadband plans, then read on. When you opt for mobile broadband you pay more per gigabyte than what you would with a fixed line broadband service like ADSL or ADSL2+, and even more per gigabyte when you choose prepaid over post-paid.

While mobile broadband operates at a slower speed, you pay more for the pleasure of accessing the internet on the go, whether it be on the train, in the park or sitting in a cosy cafe (unless of course the cafe is offering free Wi-Fi).

See all Mobile Broadband plans.

Sure, with a prepaid service you’ve got flexibility, but you’ll also notice that most mobile broadband providers now offer month-by-month broadband plans, which offer flexibility in terms of cancelling your contract or changing your plan at anytime. Prepaid also has the advantage of never exceeding your data allowance, so no nasty surprises on your monthly bill. But mobile broadband providers such as Optus (1300 768 194), Virgin (1300 106 571) and Internode (1300 106 571) don’t charge for excess usage anyway – they just slow your speed down or put restrictions on your service until your new billing cycle begins. So, in some situations it can beg the question – why go prepaid if it costs more?

And don’t use the argument that prepaid means you can use your data whenever you like, which of course would suit occasional internet users whose download sessions are delivered in sporadic bursts. Because even with prepaid, there’s an expiry date on your data recharges. Usually this date is 30 days ahead, but when you purchase more gigabytes at once, it may come with a much more palatable 365-day expiry. So for very occasional users who are prepared to pay more upfront, prepaid may be a more appropriate option.

Breaking down the costs – prepaid vs. post-paid:


Virgin Mobile prepaid vs. post-paid


Prepaid: 4GB = $50 ($12.50 per GB)
Post-paid: 4GB = $29 ($7.25 per GB)

Prepaid: 12GB = $149 ($12.42 per GB)
Post-paid: 12GB = $49 ($4.10 per GB)

For more on Virgin mobile broadband plans, call them on 1300 106 571.

Going by the figures above, prepaid broadband can be three times the cost of post-paid plans. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of a new mobile broadband modem if you need one. On Virgin’s 12-month post-paid plan, a Wi-Fi mobile broadband modem is included at no extra cost. On a prepaid plan, the same modem costs $99. So if you stick with Virgin prepaid for 12 months, then the modem adds an extra cost of $8.25 per month. This widens the gap between the cost of prepaid and post-paid mobile broadband even further.

Vodafone prepaid vs. post-paid


Prepaid: 4GB = $50 ($12.50 per GB)
Post-paid: 4GB = $29 ($7.25 per GB)

Prepaid: 12GB = $149 ($12.42 per GB)
Post-paid: 12GB = $49 ($4.10 per GB)

A pocket Wi-Fi modem is included with 12-month plans, however on month-by-month or prepaid plans, the modem can be purchased for a minimum of $79, which includes 3GB of data with a 30-day expiry.

If you’re interested in any of the Vodafone mobile broadband deals, call us on 1300 106 571 and we’ll let you know more.

Prepaid broadband may still be better suited to your needs, but just be aware if cost is your deciding factor, post-paid mobile broadband is going to be far cheaper when you’re chugging down those gigabytes from month to month.