How Much Cell Phone Data Do I Need?

If you are going to use any smartphone, you will need a data package with it. This gives you the ability to connect to the Internet using your cellular network so you can check emails, use search engines, share videos and browse social media. Data can become one of the most expensive parts of a cell phone plan, depending on how your plan is set up. The question you have to ask yourself is: How much cell phone data do I need?

Ask about Your Current Usage

If you currently have a data plan, you should contact your cell phone company and ask them to determine your average monthly usage. This varies substantially from user to user, so we cannot accurately tell you what your average should be. Your cell phone provider will be able to look over the last several months to determine what you normally use in data and what your highest amount of usage has been thus far. Then, you can choose a plan that covers your needs.

Know Your Data Package Options

Determine what data packages are available for your current cell phone plan. Chances are you will be able to choose from sets of data that range in gigabytes: 1GB, 2GB, 5GB, etc. Many cell phone providers have done away with their unlimited data options, but there are still a few that have that option for people who use extremely high amounts of data. For instance, if you use your smartphone as a hotspot for your Internet in your house, you will likely go through a lot more data than the average user. Ask your cell phone provider what levels of data you have to choose from; this will give you a better idea of what to do.

Think of Ways to Save on Data Usage

Before you commit to a high dollar data package, you may want to think about ways you can cut back on your data usage. Some common ways to save on data include:

  • Use Wi-Fi when you are at home as opposed to your data. You can still do everything you would normally do with the Internet, but you will be connected to your home broadband instead. This is not wise to do in public due to security issues with Wi-Fi connections, but it should be perfectly fine at home.
  • Avoid watching movies and videos on your phone. This will eat up a lot of your data. If you see something you’d like to watch in the future, download it on your home computer and then upload it to your phone. Or better yet, just watch it on the computer.
  • Try not to use streaming music apps like Pandora on your phone. These apps are great for listening to music, but they eat up a lot of data. If you are going to use something like this, try to do so sparingly or reserve your usage for a time when you are around a secure Wi-Fi connection.
  • Know which apps use data before you use them. Some applications will download on your phone and then only require data when they are trying to update. Others will connect to the Internet every time you use the app. Games that allow you to compete against other players frequently use significant amounts of data. You need to be careful with these.

Try to go a month using these tips and see what it does to your data usage. This may help you save on your data package.

Trial and Error

You may want to get a data package you think will be sufficient and test it out for a couple months. If it turns out to be far more data than you actually need, you can ask your provider to drop your data limits. If it is insufficient, you can increase the amount of data. You could even try out a pay-as-you-go plan that will allow you to only pay for the data you use.

About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue is a PR professional who has worked with the Birmingham Zoo, Coca – Cola , the Alabama Theatre, and the Saenger Theatre. She has covered personal finance issues for 10 years. Lynn can be contacted at [email protected]