2016 Prepaid Phone Accounts

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Are you looking for the best value prepaid deal you can find? Start by comparing mobile service providers with customer satisfaction ratings.

* Overall satisfaction is an individual rating and not a combined total of all ratings. Brands with equal overall satisfaction ratings are listed in alphabetical order. Canstar Blue research finalised in February 2016, published in March 2016.

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2016 Award for Mobile prepaid providers

Most Satisfied Customers | Skinny Mobile

Skinny Mobile has again achieved five-star ratings across the board, including in the most important category, overall satisfaction. It is the second year in a row that Skinny has taken out our prepaid award – a great result in a very competitive market.

Skinny Mobile dials in on second prepaid satisfaction award

If you’re on a budget, or you just don’t use your phone all that much, then a prepaid mobile plan is probably your best option. Prepay is a system whereby phone users are limited by how much credit and data they have purchased in advance. A significant advantage of prepaid is that you only get what you pay for – you can’t go over your cap and you won’t end up with any unexpected bills. This makes it a safe option if you’re looking to control yours or your children’s mobile spending.

Not all prepaid plans are the same though, and neither are all providers. That’s why Canstar Blue has commissioned nationwide research to see how New Zealanders rate their service provider across a number of important factors, including customer service and value for money. After collating the results from more than 1,000 prepaid users, we can announce that in 2016, Skinny Mobile has again achieved five-star ratings across the board, including in the most important category, overall satisfaction. It is the second year in a row that Skinny has taken out our prepaid award – a great result in a very competitive market.

Prepaid vs plans

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to both prepaid and plan mobile options. While prepaid is great for casual phone users, purchasing credit and data as you go can be a little inconvenient and could work out more expensive than getting the same features on a contract. On the other hand, while some mobile plans appeal because of unlimited talk and text inclusions, and larger data allowances, consumers should think carefully about what they really need before signing up to a contract, and whether or not they want to commit to monthly payments. The biggest advantage of prepaid is that if you can’t afford the bill that month, you don’t have to pay it!

What you choose will of course depend on your situation and usage. But again, if you’re not a massive mobile junkie, a prepaid option is probably your best bet. This was reflected in Canstar Blue’s research which found that prepaid users were much less dependent on mobile phones than plan holders. While 57% of those with plans claimed they couldn’t function without their phone, only 41% of prepaid users said the same. As some might expect, these figures jumped to 76% and 63% respectively when we asked Generation Y phone owners.

The brands we rated

Skinny Mobile

Skinny has a number of prepaid ‘combo’ deals on offer with a range of talk, text and data allowances. Prepay combos are offered either monthly or weekly, with prices starting at $8 and $4 per period respectively. Skinny also lets its customers top-up their credit from as little as $5.

2degrees

2degrees offers a range of five data packs: Carryover, talk, text, data and IOU – each tailored to suit different needs. Of course, prices vary depending on the size and type of the pack, so visit the website to learn more.

Spark

Spark offers four prepaid ‘value packs’.  The packs offer a range of talk, text and data deals – as well as Spotify Premium on selected packs. Spark also offers a number of small extra packs to add more usage to your prepaid plan.

Vodafone

Vodafone has four prepaid options on offer, as well as a number of prepay boosts. Prices for prepaid plans start at $9, but Vodafone also offers a pay as you go system. There are also a number of perks and deals, so visit the Vodafone website for more information.

Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to use the ConsumerLink panel to survey 2,500 New Zealand consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who currently have a prepaid mobile phone account and pay the bills – in this case, 1,073 New Zealanders.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.