Compare Mobile Prepaid Plan providers in New Zealand at Canstar Blue. Skinny, Warehouse Mobile, 2degrees, One NZ and Spark were compared on Overall Satisfaction, Accessibility of the Provider, Billing, Customer Service, Network Coverage and Value for Money.
Our review compares prepaid providers on customer satisfaction, so you can discover what other Kiwis think about our compared prepaid providers before you sign on with one of them. Think of it like asking hundreds of your closest mates which prepaid provider they think is best!
Canstar Blue surveyed 1728 Kiwis who have an account with a prepaid mobile provider and asked for their feedback on their mobile provider.
Respondents rate their satisfaction with their prepaid providers from zero to ten, where zero is extremely dissatisfied and ten is extremely satisfied. Brand satisfaction was rated by respondents on the following criteria:
The winning brand is the one that receives the highest Overall Satisfaction rating once all the scores from the Overall Satisfaction criteria are combined and averaged.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included, so not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The brands rated in this survey are listed below in order of best overall satisfaction.
Find more information on our Most Satisfied Customer methodology.
Congratulations to Skinny for once again winning Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers | Mobile Prepaid Plans Award. The award has been running since 2015, and Skinny has won it every year.
This year the telco brand achieves another great set of ratings from its customers. It earns a top 5-Star rating for Overall Satisfaction, and further 5 Stars for Billing and Value for Money. Notably, it’s the only prepaid mobile provider to earn 5-Stars in the value category.
Skinny Mobile is a division of Spark that runs over Spark’s 4G and 5G networks. But instead of offering all the extras that Spark bundles with its plans, like free and half-price Spotify, Skinny just concentrates on the basics – calls, texts and data – at a reduced price.
Skinny offers the following great-value prepaid plans. It also offers similar weekly plans, although they work out slightly more expensive:
Second in this year’s ratings, Warehouse Mobile scores a strong set of ratings from Kiwi consumers. But while it earns strong 4-Star ratings for Overall Satisfaction, Value for Money and Billing, it’s rated less highly for the personal service it provides, earning 3-Star ratings for Customer Service and Accessibility of Provider.
Warehouse mobile offers a range of five easy-on-the-pocket prepaid mobile plans. The ability to call beyond NZ and Australia makes it a great option for those looking to stay in touch with family and friends overseas:
*Other destinations include standard landline or mobile numbers in: NZ, Australia, China, England, Scotland, Wales, the US, India, Canada, Germany, Israel, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. Exclusions apply including Alaska and Hawaii.
2degrees’ customers are clearly very happy with the products and service that their prepaid provider offers, awarding the telco a mix of top 4- and 5-Star ratings. 2degrees earns its highest praise for its Customer Service and Accesibility, in addition to a consistent set of 4-Star ratings across all other categories, including Overall Satisfaction.
2degrees offers six prepaid monthly plans, plus three two-week plans. And each comes with a great perk: a free hour of data each day to use at a time that suits your data needs:
NB: All plans offer unlimited calls to other 2degrees mobiles, hotspotting, free voicemail and are 5G ready
One of NZ’s biggest telcos, and the operator of its own network, One NZ scores a strong set of results across all categories: a clean sweep of 3-Star ratings. While not a top rating, 3 Stars still indicate that One NZ’s customers are content with their choice of telco.
One NZ’s MyFlex prepay plans allow you to customise your text, minutes, and data allocations. The plans below are default suggestions, provided by One NZ, but they can all be customised to better suit your needs. However, note that changing the mix of text/talk and data can alter pricing.
For example, reducing the text allowance on the $15 plan to 100 texts, while increasing the data allowance to 1.25GB changes the price to $17.
Spark, too, scores a consistent set of ratings: 3 Stars across all categories. That both Spark, and One NZ, score less highly in our ratings than brands that piggy back on their networks (see below) or, in the case of Skinny, are sister brands, is indicative of consumer perceptions around the idea of value.
Because Spark is a premium brand, consumers expect it to deliver a higher level of service and product quality than a no-frills provider, which affects how they award their satisfaction ratings.
Spark offers four prepaid plans. All come with the offer of half-price Spotify Premium, worth $7.50 per month. Socialiser data is for use on Facebook, Messenger, Twitter and Spotify apps only.
* All prices correct as of 01/06/2023. For further details, visit individual providers’ websites.
Not all brands in the market qualify for our ratings (based on minimum survey sample size), but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth considering. Here’s another prepaid provider to check out before making a purchase decision.
Kogan was founded by entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan 25 years ago in Australia as an online own-brand electrical goods retailer. Since then it’s grown into a huge company, selling a wide range of products on its NZ and OZ websites.
Recently, here in Aotearoa, it snapped up home-grown retailer MightyApe.co.nz. However, despite its size, the Kogan Mobile brand is still a small player in the market. But it’s deserving of greater attention, because if you’re after a cheap, no-frills phone deal, Kogan Mobile’s pre-paid deals are some of the cheapest around.
Kogan offers a discount if you pay for a 12-month plan upfront, as shown:
As with all utilities – mobile, internet, power, electricity – they only really come in one flavour: electricity is electricity, gas is gas, and access to a mobile service is pretty much the same whatever provider you use.
The only differences come down to the price and the associated packing of the phone products, for example value-added extras and customer service.
So it’s not surprising to see that for the overwhelming majority of phone users in our survey (38%), satisfaction with their provider comes down to one thing: Value for Money.
Network Coverage is also important, rating slightly higher than Customer Service at 22%. This is interesting, because up until the roll-out of 5G, all three mobile phone networks in NZ were pretty consistent at delivering reliable coverage to around 98% of Kiwis. However, now that 5G is proliferating, big differences in ultrafast network coverage are appearing, as all three networks update to the latest 5G tech.
Here’s the full rundown of what the consumers in our survey say are the main things they consider when rating their prepaid providers.
There are three main mobile networks in the country, which were built by 2degrees, Spark and One NZ (formerly Vodafone). Although both 2degrees and Spark sold off their tower assets recently, they still use the networks they built.
In major centres, there’s very little difference between the three networks. However, in rural and remote areas coverage can vary dramatically. And then there’s 5G, which is more limited in its reach, even in major centres.
Here a rundown of the networks and which other providers use them:
Network reaches 97.5% of New Zealanders (with 4G at around 97%). Spark’s network coverage map can be found here.
Network covers over 98.5% of the population (with 4G at over 96%). One NZ’s network coverage map can be found here.
Network covers 98.5% of the places New Zealanders live and work (with 4G at over 96%). 2degrees’ network coverage map can be found here.
Prepaid phone plans are usually slightly cheaper than postpaid plans. However, if you’re going prepay, you need to be award of billing cycles. 2degrees makes a big deal of the fact that, over a year, if you’re on its prepay, you only have to buy 12 top-ups – this is because each lasts a calendar month.
But other providers have different billing periods:
If you do the math, you can see different levels of value: 28 (days) x 12 (months)= 336. But there are 365 days in a year, meaning on Spark, Skinny, One NZ and Warehouse Mobile‘s prepaid plans, you’ll need to buy an extra pack to cover those missing 29 days.
However, Kogan‘s packs renew every 30 days (30 x 12 = 360) so you’re only losing five days each year.
Prepaid plans are phone plans that require you to prepay for the telco service: i.e. you pay in advance for phone services to use within a set time period. Once that expiry period is over, you need to recharge your plan in order to continue your service. If you use up some of your data/text/talk allocations before the expiry period, you will need to either recharge your plan, wait until your next recharge (and not have certain services until then) or purchase an add-on for an additional cost, such as extra data, if applicable.
Postpaid plans differ in that you pay after using your phone plan allocations. Typically, you receive a monthly bill from your telco, usually on the same date, that you have to pay by a certain date. If you have used more than your plan’s inclusions, you might incur additional charges on your bill.
The main advantage of a postpaid plan is that you’ll never be left unable to make a call, send a text message, or use mobile data to chat online. If a prepaid plan expires, you need to spend extra money immediately to get your service back up and running. However, postpaid plans allow you to keep using your service, and simply settle the bill later.
The main disadvantage of postpaid phone plans is the potential to blow out your budget if you’re not careful. Make sure that you know exactly what you will need to pay for going over your plan’s inclusions, keep an eye on your data use, and make sure that exceeding your monthly allowance doesn’t become a habit. If it does, you could be better off upgrading your plan, rather than paying extra in excess charges.
The safety net of being able to make calls whenever you need to means that postpaid phone plans are probably a good idea for those who use their phone a lot.
If keeping close tabs on your spending is important to you, then prepaid may be the wise alternative. But when it comes to ease of use and maximum bang for your buck, it’s hard to look past postpaid plans.
This report was written by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce has three decades’ experience as a journalist and has worked for major media companies in the UK and Australasia, including ACP, Bauer Media Group, Fairfax, Pacific Magazines, News Corp and TVNZ. Prior to Canstar, he worked as a freelancer, including for The Australian Financial Review, the NZ Financial Markets Authority, and for real estate companies on both sides of the Tasman.
Always have phone within reach: 66%
Use apps to communicate with others, rather than traditional calls and texts: 64%
No longer have a landline: 55%
Access internet mainly through phone: 50%
Use phone for directions while driving: 47%
Use phone to arrange everyday finances: 46%
Listen to voice messages: 43%
Keep track of plan usage to get value for money: 29%
Regularly use a card loaded onto phone to make contactless payments: 18%
Have switched mobile providers to get better value for money: 16%
Data cap is the major consideration when choosing phone plan: 16%
Have unlimited data: 15%
If you’re looking at switching from your current prepaid plan to another prepaid plan with the same provider, usually it’s fairly easy to switch. If you don’t have automatic recharge enabled on your plan, and you manually choose your recharge value each time the plan expires, it could be as simple as choosing a different recharge amount.
However, if this isn’t an option for you to do yourself through your account, or if you have automatic recharge enabled, you’ll need to get in touch with your provider to discuss your options for switching to a different plan.
For anyone looking to switch from one prepaid telco to another telco, you’ll need to cancel your current plan and sign up to a new plan with your new provider. If you want to keep your mobile phone number, you’ll need to port your number to your new provider. While your new provider will do the work for you, you need to make sure that you sign up to your new phone plan first, and don’t cancel your current plan until your number has been ported.
If you want to switch to a prepaid plan from a postpaid plan or other plan type, you’ll need to follow the same steps as you would switching from one prepaid provider to another. Decide if you want to keep your current mobile number, and then take the necessary steps for porting your number and switching telcos.
Signing up to a prepaid plan can be super simple, especially if you’re using the new phone number provided. You can even buy a SIM card in supermarkets and simply follow the steps to activate your prepaid SIM yourself.
This depends on whether your prepaid service is active or inactive. If you have an active prepaid plan, you can continue to recharge your plan for as long as you want. Some telcos change their plans or recharge options, in which case, you might be moved from your existing plan to a new plan, or the telco could allow you to stay on your existing plan.
If you choose to not recharge your plan when your expiry period is over, your account will eventually be deactivated. How long this takes varies between telcos, so it’s a good idea to check if you plan to leave your account inactive, because you could lose your number and go through the process of opening a new account.
Cancelling your prepaid plan is rather simple. If you don’t have automatic recharge set up on your prepaid plan, you can simply choose to not recharge your plan when it expires. Depending on the telco, if your account is inactive and you don’t recharge it within a set amount of time, the account will typically be deactivated, which can mean you lose your phone number, unless you have already moved your number to another service.
In the case of prepaid plans with automatic recharge, you may need to get in touch with your telco to request your plan be cancelled and the automatic recharge disabled. If you’re unsure how to go about cancelling your plan, it’s best to get in touch with your telco to learn of your options.
SIM-only plans are plans that come with a SIM card only and no phone or device included on the plan. Prepaid plans are typically SIM-only plans as you’ll usually buy just the SIM card and have no phone included on the plan. SIM-only plans can also be postpaid, the key being that you’re paying just for the SIM card and plan, no device.
If you want a new phone with your prepaid plan, you’ll need to buy your phone outright, as prepaid typically doesn’t include a phone that you pay off in instalments. If you’re looking for a phone on a plan, you’ll usually need to sign up to a postpaid phone plan for this option.
The past winners from Canstar Blue’s Prepaid Mobile ratings:
Canstar Blue surveyed 5046 New Zealand consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from respondents who have a prepaid mobile account. In this case, 1728 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 by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criterion.
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