I’m sure you have had a mobile phone plan for years and have a pretty good idea of how it all works. In business, your phone becomes a critical tool that must be operational to keep the lights on. What are the differences between a personal plan and a business plan? This guide will help you understand what you should consider before signing up to a mobile phone plan for your business.
One thing for sure is plans change constantly. With around 30 companies offering mobile phone plans there is a lot of choice. If you are a Sole Trader a personal plan may give you a better deal but if you have 10 phones in your business a business plan may be better.
WHY should I consider a Business Mobile Phone Plan?
A well-chosen plan will not only save you money but ensure you have the services to help you facilitate your business when you need them. For example if you have 10 phones you can have them on one bill reducing your administration. A business plan might allow you to share a data pool between your workers allowing you more flexibility.
WHAT you need to know about Mobile Phone Plans
In Australia there are 3 physical mobile phone networks owned by Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. However there are many Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) who resell the offerings of the physical networks. You should take the following into account:
- Network Coverage – Australia is a big country and mobile phones will only work where the main population lives. Does the provider offer the coverage you need where you need it?
- MVNO coverage – Some MVNOs may not have full access to the coverage from their network provider. If you are expecting the same coverage in a rural area you may be disappointed!
- Price – Normally expressed as how much you pay per month. Note some prepaid offers might be for a 28 day period which equates to 13 periods a year instead of 12. Thus a lower ‘monthly’ price may actually add up to a higher amount than you expect over a year.
- Phone plans – Normally means a new phone comes with your plan with its costs built into your subscription fee. There are different ways the network operators do this and may involve subsidies on their part or even a separate lease with conditions like returning the working phone at the end of the agreed period.
- Handset choices – Allows choice of different model handsets as part of your Mobile Plan. The more expensive the handset the more your subscription is likely to be. Be sure to read our essential guide on Mobile Phones.
- Sim Only – A Sim is a small chip transferable between mobile phone handsets that has your phone number associated with it. A Sim-only plan means you do not get a handset with your subscription.
- Contract – Or no contract refers to your ability to change network providers. If you have a contract for 3 years you are locked into your payments unless you pay an exit fee. This is normally associated with a handset where they must recoup its cost.
- Post Paid or Prepaid – As a small business we would expect you would have a postpaid account where you pay monthly as opposed to a prepaid or pay as you go account.
- Data allowance – Accessing the internet from your phone is critical in the business world. Your allowance relates to how much data you have to use in your subscribed period. If you go over your allowance you will pay a high price for excess usage.
- Talk and text allowance – Most plans have moved to unlimited but refer to the number of talk minutes and the number of text messages included in your subscription.
- International call inclusions – If you have overseas suppliers an inclusion in your plan could be a big money saver. Check how many minutes are included in your subscription and to what countries?
- Roaming inclusions – If you travel overseas normally your plan will not allow you to make calls or use data using your Australian subscription allowance. You can still make calls but it can be expensive. Check if there is any inclusion or special deals available.
- 4G or 5G – This refers to the technology behind how your calls and data are sent and received. The key benefit is the bigger the number the faster the data will be. Note this is not your allowance but rather how quickly you can download a large file.
- Value add – Some providers might offer music or video streaming services as an inclusion, for example, sports streaming.
HOW do I make a decision on a Personal vs Business Mobile Phone Plan
Now you understand the factors you need to consider you must decide between the vast range of available business and residential mobile phone plans.
Personal plan benefits:
- A sole trader or a business with only a few staff may find a residential plan is cheaper
Business plan benefits:
- Normally allow a single bill for all accounts making it easier to process and compare users
- Data allowances may be able to share across all users
- The provider might do you a volume discount
- Customer service is normally better, for example, shorter queue times
- Bundling discounts across other services like fixed internet
- Special insurance plans to keep phones operational
If you’re a sole trader, you can use a personal mobile plan and claim work-related mobile use as a tax deduction.
If your business is registered as a company, trust, or partnership, you should check with your accountant or bookkeeper. In general the ATO expectation is you can only claim the proportion the phone has been used for business purposes.
Many people carry two phones, one for personal use and one for business, which is a personal choice. You may wish to keep your lives separate or just have one number for both. Indeed many mobile phone handsets are capable of what is referred to as dual SIM. This means one phone can hold two SIM’s meaning two phone numbers (two Mobile Phone Plans) so you could still have the flexibility of a personal number and a business number but only carry one handset.
SUMMARY – three reasons to choose
To summarise if we were to pick three factors in how you make your decision we would recommend you consider coverage, data inclusion, and value for money.