The means by which we can connect and keep in touch with our friends and family are increasing and developing every day. It seems like a new app is released every week, claiming to be the next big thing in the social media world – a way to comment and upload and like everything all the time. And on top of this, we travel more, and I for one know how difficult navigation can be at the best of times, never mind in a new and unfamiliar location. So out comes trusty Google Maps.
Yet none of this is without cost. Everything you do online, even downloading a new app itself, requires an internet connection, and for that, you have to have the data allowance that makes that connection possible.
Chances are, no matter what kind of mobile phone contract or SIM you are using, the data you are allowed to use has some kind of cap. Any that don’t have a cap are classed as unlimited, and though this may sound attractive it does come at a price. If you exceed the cap in place, the excess charges are vast. In short, if you’re looking to cut your costs, data is definitely the place to start!
How You Can Cut Costs
So how can you ensure you use less data allowance and reduce the risk of overspending?
- Keep an eye on anything you download. Downloading something means to pull it from the internet onto your phone – taking up precious data. Movie streaming, in particular, will drain your data allowance, so it is best to keep this at a minimum when you are not on Wi-Fi!
- With all this focus on data (3G and 4G) on your mobile phone, we haven’t yet discussed WiFi. WiFi is the saving grace of internet usage, allowing you to go online without cutting into your data allowance, thus saving the data for a time when you really need it (for example, when you’re lost on that winding road in Switzerland with no map and no WiFi!) Free WiFi is becoming increasingly common in public areas from cafes to libraries and should be wholly taken advantage of whenever possible. But remember, public Wi-Fi isn’t always the most secure.
- Switch off automatic updates, for example, mail refresh and news stories on push notifications. These are unnecessary when you’re not using them, and a complete waste of data.
- App refresh is another unnecessary tool that you can definitely do without. Take Instagram for example, app refresh means that your Instagram feed is constantly updating itself even when you’re not directly using the app, resulting in data usage to make changes that you don’t even know are being made. Go into your phone settings and turn off the App Refresh option.
- Data roaming is the one other area where people slip up all too often. If your contract or allowance doesn’t include free data roaming, the expenses for browsing online while abroad are eye-wateringly extravagant. To be on the safe side, unless you are 100% sure that data roaming is included in your existing fees (all EU countries should be free to roam), head into Settings and switch data roaming off. It’s highly likely that your holiday destination will have WiFi of some sort, so you won’t be offline for long…
Opting for the right contract or package will inform the amount of data you have at your fingertips. If data is the main call for your mobile phone usage, then it is probably best for you to steer away from Pay-As-You-Go. Though an excellent option for those hoping to watch what they spend and keep a tight lid on their allowance, this is not a cost-effective way to get a large data allowance as pay as you go is more suited for light usage and you will find you drain your PAYG top-up extremely quickly.
In this case, we recommend SIM-only or a traditional contract with a large existing network. The contract is where you will be best placed to find a deal that offers, if not unlimited, then at least a very high data package, though this does come with a price tag. If you do apply for a contract, don’t be afraid to try haggling and I recommend employing certain techniques in ensuring you get the best deal, including shopping around and bringing comparison costs up with your network. If data allowance is your priority, then ensuring that this is the focal point of your contract will be important to ensure you get the right deal.