Some phone numbers and text services cost you more than you expect. Always check what numbers are included, and which ones you pay extra for.

  • Premium SMS (e.g. a ringtone or weekly horoscope)

  • Expensive numbers (e.g. directory services from your mobile or 1900 lines)

  • Purchases from inside Apps

  • Credit Transfers between friends

  • Data usage (using the internet)

  • "Free" Apps that have lots of advertising

More information on these services can be found on the LawStuff website.


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The three biggest telcos have spend and usage tools to help you know how much of the different types of services you are using.


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Some providers have special deals available for people in special circumstances. Here are the ones we've heard of.



InContact is a free limited service that offers incoming calls but restricts outgoing calls. Telstra customer service, service difficulties and fault numbers can be called.

PhoneAway Card

Telstra's prepaid calling card allows guests to make calls on a pre-paid basis, with the flexibility of being able to use the card from almost anywhere.

Sponsored Access Program

This aims to provide a phone service for people who seek shelter within emergency accommodation (one service only per property).

Telstra Bill Assistance Program

The program is designed to assist specific householders in maintaining access to a telephone service when difficulties arise.


CentrePay is a direct deduction facility offered by Centrelink to customers, who may choose to pay some household bills and other essential services.

Home Phone Budget

Home Phone Budget offers has a line rental plan that provides a relatively lower line rental price than standard services with higher call prices. It is designed for Telstra residential customers with just one fixed line service who make very few calls.



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Download: docxAvoiding big charges for 13 number calls48.74 KB

Download: pdfAvoiding big charges for 13 number calls334.99 KB

Some long expiry pre-paid and pay as you go mobile plans charge for 13 number calls by the minute. These plans may not be good value if you often call 13 numbers and you may find your credit gets used up quickly.

Here are some plans that charge for 13 number calls by duration (note: there may be other plans on the market that charge for these calls as well):

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Download: docHow to use less data on your smartphone60.5 KB

Download: pdfHow to use less data on your smartphone124.99 KB

Smartphones can chew through your data allowance without you realising it. This can be because data-hungry apps are left open or simply due to default settings on your phone.

It can be very expensive if you go over your monthly data allowance. Our blog post on excess mobile data charges outlines what some of the telcos charge for going over your mobile data allowance.

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Boy using mobile devicesDownload: docHidden costs in free apps  57.5 KB 

Download: pdfHidden costs in free apps  334.2 KB 


While some games or apps cost nothing to download on our smartphones or tablets, they often contain extra elements you can purchase within the game, known as “in-app purchases.” It is easy to make in-app purchases with many parents reporting that their children are buying things within games, not realising that they cost their parents real money through their iTunes, Google Play or Amazon account.

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Young woman upset at receiving high billDownload: docReceived an unexpectedly high bill56.5 KB

Download: pdfReceived an unexpectedly high bill319.78 KB

Many phone providers have a limit on how many calls you can make, texts you can send and data you can use each month. If you go over your limit you could be charged extra fees. These fees can be very expensive and it is best to avoid going over your limit if you can. See our tip sheet on how to avoid smartphone bill shock for more information.

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