How to Choose the Best Mobile Phone Plans For Kids

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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 a 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 12, 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:

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 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, like 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 taking away 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.

cns-msc-mobile-prepaid-2020-small

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 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 deals. 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 2020 Star Ratings for prepaid and monthly plan providers and the figures quoted are correct as of 11/11/202o.

2degrees logo

2 Degrees

Monthly

$40 Plan:

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

Extras: Daily free hour of data, hotspotting


Prepaid

$10 Plan:

Features: 100 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts in NZ – 250MB Rollover

Extras: Rollover calls, daily free hour of data

$19 Plan:

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

Extras: Rollover calls, daily free hour of data

spark_logo

Spark

Monthly

$39.99 Endless Data Plan

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ ­– Unlimited Data (speeds reduce after 3GB)

Extras: Half-price Spotify Premium, free WiFi 1GB per day

$39.99 Rollover Plan

Features: 300 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts in NZ ­– 1GB Rollover + 1GB Bonus Data

Extras: Free Spotify Premium, free WiFi 1GB per day


Prepaid

$19 Plan:

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

Extras: Half-price Spotify Premium, rollover minutes, free WiFi 1GB per day

$29 Plan:

Features: 300 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts in NZ – 2GB Rollover

Extras: Half-price Spotify Premium, rollover minutes, free WiFi 1GB per day

Skinny mobile phone

Skinny

Prepay

$9 Plan:

Features: 100 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts in NZ – 250MB Rollover

Extras: Rollover minutes

$16 Plan:

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

Extras: Rollover minutes

$26 Plan:

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

Extras: Rollover minutes

$36 Plan:

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ ­– Unlimited (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

$12 Plan:

Features: 200 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 500MB Rollover

$16 Plan:

Features: 200 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 1.25GB Rollover

$38 Plan:

Features: 200 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 5GB Rollover

NB: Voice calls do not rollover on Warehouse plans.

vodafone_logo

Vodafone

Monthly

$40 Plan:

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ ­– Unlimited (speeds reduce after 4GB)

Extras: Hotspotting


Prepay

$19 Plan:

Features: 200 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 1.25GB Rollover

Extras: Hotspotting

$29 Plan:

Features: 300 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 2GB Rollover

Extras: Hotspotting

$36 Plan:

Features: 300 Minutes Calls & 500 Texts to NZ & OZ – 4GB Rollover

Extras: Hotspotting

orcon logo mobile phone

Orcon

Prepay

$20 Plan:

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

$25 Plan:

Features: 300 Minutes Calls & Unlimited Texts to NZ & OZ – 2.5GB Rollover

$43 Plan:

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

 

Best mobile phone plans for kids: sharing plans

If you’ve already got a monthly phone plan, it’s worthwhile looking into shared plans. These allow you to add extra family members at a reduced fee. Some share data, while others come with unlimited data. And although shared plans with unlimited data can be expensive, there are cheaper options.

Also while sharing your data with a phone-obsessed teen might seem a risky proposition, share plans often allow the main plan user to allocate and cap individual members’ data allowances.

Here we outline some of the cheaper plans currently available:

2 Degrees

$80/m for 2 people

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ – 10GB Rollover

$120/m for 3 people

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ – 25GB Rollover

 

spark_logo

Spark

$59.99/m for main user, then add up to 4 mobiles for $29.99/m each

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

 

vodafone_logo

Vodafone

$60/m for main user, then add up to 3 mobiles for $30/m each

Features: Unlimited Calls & Texts to NZ & OZ Unlimited Data (Reduced speed after 12GB)


For the full rundown of our mobile phone and prepaid providers, click on either of the buttons below.

Compare prepaid mobile plan providers here!      Compare monthly plan providers here!

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