Comparethemarket.com has found that 18 million people in the UK are regularly paying for extra data on their mobiles because they’ve gone over their limit. Collectively, the price comparison website claimed, we are paying more than £64 million for an average of 1.72GB extra bolt-on data packages.
While almost one-in-five of us spend over £10 on additional data packages, one-in-ten of us confessed we didn’t know how much we paid for extra data. Young people, it seems, are the most affected when it comes to running low. 69% of 18-24-year-olds said they frequently found they had hit their limit.
Smartphones are an essential tool for the majority of people, and as our lives become more digital our dependence on data will only increase.
The fact that millions of people nationwide are using more data than their contract allows, and paying extra for it, suggests that many may not be on a tariff which is best suited to them.
Unfortunately, it seems that many people still don’t know what they are paying for and this leads to consumer confusion and disengagement.
We feel that mobile providers should take better steps to explain to their customers how much data they will need at the point of purchase. If you find yourself regularly overpaying for, or running out of data, the best way to pay less is often to shop around and switch to a more competitive tariff.- Mubina Pirmohamed: Product Manager, Comparethemarket.com
The survey found that almost 90% of us have never switched to a new tariff because of paying too much for bolt-on data. While a further three quarters have never switched despite knowing they are paying too much for their tariff.
But with a little homework and a readiness to understand our usage there are a number of things we can do to make sure we stay within our limits.
If you are with one of the major networks, you can log into their customer account apps on your phone to check how much you are using and what exactly you’re paying. But there are other means by which you can monitor and control your data usage.
The biggest data users are streaming apps such as YouTube, Spotify or the BBC iPlayer. With these, it is recommended you head to ‘Settings’ and switch-off mobile data so that you will only use a streaming app when connected to wifi. This will prevent it from using up vital data allowances.
A good idea is to switch off automated updates. Instead change settings to manually update, again using it when connected to a wifi.
And if you love to watch Netflix on the go then make sure you use the app’s offline feature. When you search for a show to watch, go to its main page and hit the download button. Search ‘Available for download’ in the menu to discover if you can actually download and simply hit the button.
Generally, though, before signing-up for a new contract know how much data you’re using and what you’re paying for. You can check this in your settings or by looking at your monthly bill.
There are also apps available that can help you stay on top of your usage, such as My Data Manager.
Finally, you can also set-up a buffer to make sure you’re not going over the limit. This sets up data warnings or a cap that will allow you peace of mind.