Best Phone Plans for Kids

Canstar reveals the best mobile phone plans for kids, from tweens with a first phone, to TikTok obsessed teens.

Getting their sticky little fingers on their first mobile phone is a right of passage for kids. For them, it’s a sign of their growing independence. And for Mum and Dad, it affords peace of mind knowing they can be tracked and traced while out of the family home.

Choosing the right phone is the first step – and often the most contentious. Child’s thinking iPhone 13, parents are thinking OPPO A5. We’ll not venture into that murky territory here, except to say whatever phone you choose, it pays to invest in a robust case for it!

Choosing the right phone plan is the second step, and one that needs careful consideration.


In this article: 

Things to consider
Prepay vs monthly plans
Best phone plans for kids
Best shared data plans


What to look for when choosing the best mobile phone plans for kids

When it comes to picking the best features for your child’s mobile plan, you’ll need to consider their age and how they are likely to use their phone.

Younger, tween children aren’t likely to be out and about on their own very often, and away from the family home’s wi-fi. So, they’ll subsequently use less data. Well, as long as you drum into them not to watch HD YouTube videos in the back of the car! Teens, of course, will be more data hungry. While unlimited texts and calls are great to have on a plan, whatever your age.

When choosing a plan, some of the key considerations should be:

  • Unlimited texts: no matter your child’s age, unlimited texts are a really good idea. It means they’ll always be able to reach you in the event of an emergency, and be able to text their friends without exceeding any plan limits.
  • Data limits and costs: a phone plan with at least 1GB of data should be enough for light use of basics such as Google Maps, web browsing and using messaging apps. Heavier data use, especially social media apps with video, such as TikTok, will use a lot more data. Also consider any plans with cheap excess data rates, and with a usage warning system – for example, SMS alerts when 50%, 85%, and 100% of the monthly data allowance has been used.
  • Longer expiry periods: be wary of the expiry period of some cheap prepaid plans, as these are sometimes only 7-10 days. Instead, look at prepaid plans with 28-30 day expiries, as this reduces the risk of your child having no credit to call or text you, while also removing the hassle of recharging regularly. Short-term plans might be cheap, but consider how many times you’ll need to recharge each month, which can really add up.
  • Adding your child to your plan: endless data plans, or ones with large data allocations, come with larger monthly charges. But some providers allow you to add additional family members at a reduced rate.

Best mobile phone plans for kids: prepaid vs monthly plan

The first and most important decision to make in regards to your child’s phone plan is whether you want to go prepaid or sign up to a monthly plan.

Prepaid pros

The best thing about a prepaid phone plan is that your child can only use the fixed calls, text and data that come with their plan. There is no bill shock with prepaid: once your credit is up, that’s it, unless you manually recharge.

This is a great way to help kids understand budgeting. Another positive is that, if you’re short on money one month, or if you need to take your child’s privileges away, you can simply not recharge their plan. With a monthly plan, you would have to cancel the contract entirely.

Prepaid plans also tend to have more options surrounding cheaper plans with less data allowance, which may be ideal for younger children. Whereas almost all monthly plans come packed with data, whether you want it or not.

Prepaid cons

The most significant drawback to a prepaid plan is that once you reach your limits, you can no longer use data, make calls or send text messages. This lack of credit potentially takes away the safety net of your child being able to call you in an emergency.

Prepaid plans also tend to have shorter expiry periods, which could mean you find yourself having to recharge every week or so, or 13 times a year, rather than 12 times. And, as a general rule, prepaid plans lack the same value as monthly plans.

Monthly plan pros

Even the cheapest monthly phone plans offer unlimited calls and texts, so you can rest assured that your child will always be able to contact you. Monthly plans also take away the hassle of having to manually recharge your plan (although some prepaid plans do allow users to auto-recharge). You are also likely to get better value with a monthly plan.

Monthly plan cons

The biggest negative of monthly plans is their cost. While they tend to offer better overall value than prepaid, they have higher starting price points – usually around $40. Plus they require you to sign up to a contract, meaning you’re locked in to the monthly charges, unless you cancel.

Best mobile phone plans for kids: under $40

Once you’ve considered your child’s needs and your budget, you can start your research into the best mobile phone plans for kids. To help, Canstar has compiled a round-up of some of the cheapest mobile plans and prepaid deals currently on offer for under $40 per month. All the providers feature in our 2021 Star Ratings for prepaid and monthly plan providers.

All figures correct as of 24/02/2022

2degrees logo

2degrees

Monthly

$40 Plan:

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ ­– 4GB Carryover Data

Extras: Daily free hour of data (free two hours until March 31), hotspotting


Prepaid: Calendar month

$10 Plan:

Features: 100 Carryover Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ – 250MB Carryover Data

Extras: N/A

$19 Plan:

Features: 200 Carryover Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ – 1.25GB Carryover Data

Extras: Daily free hour of data (free two hours until March 31)

$30 Plan:

Features: 300 Carryover Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ – 2.5GB Carryover Data

Extras: Daily free hour of data (free two hours until March 31)


spark_logo

Spark

Monthly

$15 Rollover Plan

Features: 100 Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ ­– 100MB Rollover data

Extras: Unlimited minutes to Spark mobiles

$25 Rollover Plan

Features: 500 Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ ­– 500MB Rollover data

Extras: N/A

$39.99 Rollover Plan

Features: 300 Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ ­– 3GB Rollover data

Extras: Half-price Spotify Premium


Prepaid: Four-week period

$19 Plan:

Features: 200 Rollover Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ – 1.25GB Rollover data

Extras: Half-price Spotify Premium

$29 Plan:

Features: 300 Rollover Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ – 2GB Rollover + 2GB Socialiser Data

Extras: Half-price Spotify Premium


Skinny mobile phone

Skinny:

Prepaid: Four-week period

$16 Plan:

Features: 200 Rollover Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ & OZ – 1.25GB Rollover Data

Extras: Unlimited minutes to other Skinny mobiles

$26 Plan:

Features: 300 Rollover Minutes & Unlimited Texts in NZ & OZ – 2.5GB Rollover Data

Extras: Unlimited minutes to other Skinny mobiles

$36 Plan:

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ ­– Endless Data (speeds reduce after 4.5GB)

Extras: Hotspotting

NB: Skinny also offers similar weekly plans, although they work out slightly more expensive.


warehouse mobile logo new

The Warehouse

Prepay: 31-day period

$12 Plan:

Features: 200 Minutes & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ (and 13 other destinations) – 500MB Data

Extras: N/A

$16 Plan:

Features: 200 Minutes & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ (and 13 other destinations) – 1.25GB Data

Extras: 2GB free data on the weekends

$38 Plan:

Features: 200 Minutes & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ (and 13 other destinations) – 5GB Data

Extras: 2GB free data on the weekends


vodafone logo

Vodafone

Prepay: 28-day period

$15 Plan:

Features: 100 Carryover Minutes & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 1.0GB Rollover Data

Extras: Hotspotting

$20 Plan:

Features: 200 Carryover Minutes & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 1.5GB Rollover Data

Extras: Hotspotting

$30 Plan:

Features: 300 Carryover Minutes & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 3GB Rollover Data

Extras: Hotspotting

$40 Plan:

Features: 100 Carryover Minutes & 100 Texts to NZ & OZ – 8GB Rollover Data

Extras: Hotspotting


orcon logo mobile phone

Orcon

Prepay: 30-day period

$20 Plan:

Features: 200 Carryover Minutes & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 1.5GB Carryover Data

$25 Plan:

Features: 300 Carryover Minutes & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 2.5GB Carryover Data

$43 Plan ($38 with discount):

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ – 6GB Carryover Data

NB: If your broadband is with Orcon you receive a $5 discount on any of the above plans.


Kogan

Prepay: 30-day period

$15 Plan:

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ – 1.5GB Data

$25 Plan:

Features:

Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ – 4GB Data

$35 Plan:

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ – 15GB Data

NB: Kogan offers a discount if you pay for the plan upfront for a year.


Best phone plans for kids: shared data plans

If you’ve already got a monthly phone plan, it’s worthwhile looking into shared plans for your children, especially if they are data-hungry teens.

Shared data plans typically involve a main plan, with similar plans clipped on at a discounted rate. The largest three telcos (Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees) allow additional members to join shared plans for $30 each.

That means, for example, if you’ve a 40GB Endless Data plan from Vodafone ($80 p/m) your child can get the same plan for just $30 p/m.

You can see a breakdown of shared data plans below:

spark_logo

Spark

Customers on a Spark 100GB endless data plan ($99.99) can add up to three companion plans for just $29.99 each. These companion plans feature 40GB of max speed data, and 50% off Spotify Premium.

For context, a 12GB endless data plan, with 50% off Spotify Premium typically costs $59.99 per month. So the savings can be significant.

Plan features:

  • Endless data – Primary plan has 100GB max speed data and then endless data at 1.2Mbps. Companion plans have 40GB max speed data and then endless data at 1.2Mpbs
  • Entertainment – Leader plans include Spotify Premium, while companion plans get 50% off Spotify Premium
  • Hotspot – leader plans receive 10GB of hotspot data per month, companion plans can add hotspot data for an additional $10 per plan

You can see a breakdown of the costs below:

People Data Talk & Text Cost (per month)*
One person 100GB max speed Unlimited NZ/OZ $99.99
Two people Leader plan: 100GB max speed

Companion plan: 40GB max speed

Unlimited NZ/OZ $129.98

$64.99 per person

Three people Leader plan: 100GB max speed

Companion plans: 40GB max speed

Unlimited NZ/OZ $159.97

$53.33 per person

Four people Leader plan: 100GB max speed

Companion plans: 40GB max speed

Unlimited NZ/OZ $189.97

$47.49 per person

2degrees logo2degrees

2degrees allows customers to add up to three companion plans for $30 each to its endless data plans. Do note, only the 40GB endless data plan can have three companions.

All companion plans are identical to the primary plan, with their own data allowance, so you don’t have to worry about one member hogging all the data.

Plan features:

  • Endless data – all plans have endless data till max speed limit, then reduced to 1.2Mbps
  • Free data hour – all data used during an hour chosen by the customer is free every day (maximum speeds for 40GB per month, then reduced to maximum speeds of 1Mbps)
  • Hotspot – is included with all plans
  • Wi-fi calling – make and receive calls, using minutes (no data)
People Data Talk & Text Cost (per month)*
One person 12GB max speed Unlimited NZ/OZ $60
40GB max speed $80
Two people 12GB max speed Unlimited NZ/OZ $90

$45 per person

40GB max speed $110

$55 per person

Three people 12GB max speed Unlimited NZ/OZ $120

$40 per person

40GB max speed $140

$46.67 per person

Four people 40GB max speed Unlimited NZ/OZ $170

$42.50 per person

vodafone_logoVodafone

Vodafone’s companion plans allow for customers to sign up for a medium, large or extra large endless data mobile plan, and to then add up to three companion plans at $30 each.

Each companion plan receives the entire primary plan, with their own data allowance (be it 12, 40 or 100GB of maximum speed data).

Endless data reduces to a maximum speed of 1.2Mbps after the maximum speed allocation has been used.

Plan features:

  • Endless data – all plans endless data till max speed limit, then reduced to 1.2Mbps
  • 5G – plans are 5G ready
  • Hotspot – is included with all plans
People Data Talk & Text Cost (per month)*
One person 12GB max speed Unlimited NZ/OZ $60
40GB max speed $80
100GB max speed $100
Two people 12GB max speed Unlimited NZ/OZ $90

$45 per person

40GB max speed $110

$55 per person

100GB max speed $130

$65 per person

Three people 12GB max speed Unlimited NZ/OZ $120

$40 per person

40GB max speed $140

$46.66 per person

100GB max speed $160

$53.33 per person

Four people 12GB max speed Unlimited NZ/OZ $150

$37.50 per person

40GB max speed $170

$42.50 per person

100GB max speed $190

$47.50 per person

*Further information on pricing can be found at individual retailer websites. This should be used as a starter guide and not considered an actual quote.


For more details about Kiwis’ phone habits, and the full rundown of our mobile plan providers, click on the button below:

Compare prepaid mobile plan providers here!


author andrew broadley

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an
experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.


 

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