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Can’t tell one telephone plan from the next?  You’re not alone. But you might be surprised to learn you’re not actually supposed to.

They call it confusion marketing – and telephone plans are the classic example.

Buzzwords, services that defy comparison and hidden costs are all the hallmarks of this advertising genre.

It all makes buying a new phone a nightmare – and quite often stops you switching to a better deal as confusion makes most of us stay as we are or retreat to trusted brands.

Should you try to buy a phone on a plan, lease or buy it outright? There is no universal “best phone plan” because there’s no “one-size fits all”.

How much data do you need? Do you watch NRL on your phone? Do you watch a lot of soaps on your phone? Is that National Geographic subscription really necessary?

To help you navigate this confusing space, here are six tips to save on your next mobile purchase.

Work out your priorities

Before going into any telco shop, work out what matters to you.  The sales staff will be selling what matters to the company. How much data are you using now – is that sufficient or do you need to upgrade or double the amount (it’s a common fallacy that you always need more).  Do you travel often and use a lot of data? Do you tend to travel to cities only, in which case you probably don’t need to pay more for Telstra’s coverage when Optus and Vodafone are just as good in the city.

Who’s best for data

According to finder.com.au, which has been watching Telcos for years, the best plan for data is Amaysim. It’s top tier $50 a month plan is hard to go past as it offers a whopping 20GB of included 4G data. If 4G isn’t essential, consider Moose 78 which offers 90GB of data at $78 per month.

Avoid leasing a phone if you can

If you can afford it, buy a phone outright. If you sign up to a leasing plan offered by a telco, it is as good as flushing money down a toilet. On the surface, leasing plans appear cheaper by charging you $10 less per month for the same value but you lose the money at the end of the plan. In a regular plan, you own the phone at the end, however, with a lease plan you have to hand your phone back at the end.

Best plan for international calls

According to finder.com.au, the $40 SIM plan from Amaysin gets the nod. You get unlimited standard calls to both mobile and landlines in 10 selected countries – China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, UK and the US – the plan also provides $300 worth of credit for standard calls to 22 additional countries.

Loyalty does not pay

Only 20 per cent of the population will move carriers. This is because most people are too busy or lazy to do so. So call the telco’s bluff and move to another carrier which will offer you a better deal. There’s a misconception that it is hard to move carriers especially if you want to keep your number. This is incorrect as your number can often be ported in just a couple of hours – not the weeks that some people believe it would take.

Extra perks & features to consider

If you bring your own phone to the party, you can be demanding when it comes to extras. After all, there are more than 30 carriers and many plans are over $60 a month – $1,440 over two years. So look for the best value.

For instance: Music streaming

  • Subscription video
  • International calls
  • Other features to consider are rollover data and international roaming.

Don’t get enticed by free content if you don’t need it

Telcos try to win over new customers by offering “free content”.  Make sure you are going to make use of it before signing up. If you don’t need Telstra’s Apple music or Optus English premier league subscription, then you should consider no frills providers like Kogan mobile.