There is nothing worse than receiving a bill at the end of the month, only for it to be more than you expected. That overly pricey bill coming from your mobile data usage, which you (theoretically) have complete control over, is even more frustrating.
For anyone who doesn’t enjoy wasting money, staying under your mobile data limit is crucial life-skill. However, staying under your mobile data limit isn’t always easy.
Luckily, there are a few ways to track your mobile data usage whenever your interest is piqued.
The first, most important and most useful are the text alerts sent to you by your provider. It is mandatory for your provider to send you usage alerts. At 50%, 85% and 100% usage, your provider is required by law to send an SMS to let you know.
Where they get you, totally within the rules, is the 48-hour window between when you hit 100% usage, and when the provider is required to send an alert. During that window, you will be charged (usually heavily) for any mobile data you use.
Checking your Mobile Data Through your Provider’s Phone App
The most efficient, easiest and most accurate way to check your data use is through your phone company’s app. Unless you are with an obscure telco (telephone company) on the planet, the chances are it has an app downloadable on your phone.
Whether you’re the owner of an iPhone or Android phone (Samsung, Google, Huawei), your telco’s app will be able to be downloaded on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store or your phone’s equivalent.
Below are a few SIM Providers and their adjacent phone apps for the Apple and Android Stores. Download them, log in to your account, and you’ll be a few seconds away from instant access to your data use information.
- Optus: Android / Apple
- Vodafone: Android / Apple
- Amaysim: Android / Apple
- Telstra: Android / Apple
- Boost Mobile: Android / Apple
- TPG: Android / Apple
- Moose Mobile: Android / Apple
- ALDI Mobile: Android / Apple
- Woolworths Mobile: Android / Apple
There is every chance your provider does not have a phone app. Be sure to search for their name within the app store. If that’s the case, head to their website and follow the login process. There will be a section dedicated to your data use within your account.
How to check how much data you have left with an iPhone
If you’re the owner of an iPhone, and you don’t mind primarily inaccurate data usage information, then you don’t even need to use a separate application.
Everything you need is waiting for you in the palm of your (iPhone holding) hand.
Follow these steps to access your data usage information from your iPhone settings.
- Open ‘Settings’.
- Find ‘Mobile’ and select it.
- Scroll until you reach ‘Mobile Data’.
- You can also type ‘Mobile Data’ in the search bar and swipe up to reveal the search bar.
Like I said before, these stats are mostly inaccurate. Inaccurate doesn’t mean they are wrong – just not correct. The iPhone doesn’t know when your billing month starts and finishes with your SIM provider. Therefore, it knows how much data you are using, but not when to cut it off monthly and reset it.
Currently, my iPhone is telling me I have used 113GB of Data in my current period. If that were true, I would be living on the streets after paying my phone bill.
There is only one way to make sure the data usage information from your iPhone is accurate. There is an option to ‘reset statistics’ at the very bottom of the ‘mobile data’ page.
If you do this at the start of each billing period, your iPhone’s data usage information is accurate, quick to find and extremely helpful.
How to check how much data you have left with an Android
For all you pesky Android users, with your much cheaper phones that do everything my iPhone does, if not better, with much more freedom – this is for you.
If you want to avoid unnecessary applications on your phone or regularly check through your provider’s website, but want something more accessible, follow the steps below.
If you are a Google Android phone user, follow these steps:
- Open the ‘Settings’ app and select ‘Connections’.
- Select ‘Data Usage’
If you are a Samsung phone user, Follow these steps:
- Open ‘Settings’.
- Find and select ‘Network and Internet’.
- Select ‘Internet’.
- Select ‘Cog’
While these processes are for Samsung and Google phone owners, they should apply to any android phone. While the names differ between manufacturers, it shouldn’t be difficult to decipher.
Mobile plans with no excess data use charges
If you don’t want to have to check whether you’re on track to stay within your data allowance or want to be able to use as much Data as you want without worrying about being shocked by your bill, there are options for you.
Today, there are post-paid plans from several providers that do not charge you for exceeding your data allowance. Instead, your data speeds will reduce when you surpass your mobile data limit. To what extent that speed is reduced depends on the company. For some, it is a usable 1.5mbps. You won’t be downloading anything anytime soon, but you’ll be able to go about your day and use the internet when needed. It will just be annoyingly slow. With others, it will be capped in the kbps, which might be no internet at all.
The second option is a prepaid plan. Pre-paid plans are completely free of surplus charges. If you hit your data limit, you won’t be charged a thing – you’ll just have no more mobile data. With prepaid plans, you pay for what you get. Nothing more or less. So, if you reach your mobile data limit, all you have to do is wait until your next billing period. If you need mobile data immediately and have hit your limit, you can also purchase a top-up or recharge.
Below are a few examples of prepaid plans without excess charges:
|Provider||Price||Data Allowance||Capped Surplus Data Speeds|
|Belong||$35 per Month||40GB||64kbps|
|Vodafone||$40 per Month||40GB||2mbps|
|Optus||$55 per Month||80GB||10mbps|
|Telstra||$55 per Month||$40GB||1.5mbps|
|Telstra||$65 per Month||$80||1.5mbps|
Here are some prepaid choices for you:
|Provider||Price||Data Allowance||Deals/things to know|
|Optus||$30 per 28-day renewal||40GB||Get 40GB in your first three months, then 10GB onwards.|
|Boost||$30 per 28-day renewal||40GB||Get 40GB in your first three months, then 20GB onwards.|
|TPG||$40 per monthly renewal||60GB||Save $10 per recharge with any TPG broadband plan.|
|Coles Mobile||$120 yearly renewal||60GB||One payment for 365 days.|
|Amaysim||$30 per 28-day renewal||30GB||Choose an extra 10GB for your first month or $10 off your first month.|
If you’re looking for a prepaid plan that will save you a pretty penny but also give you a liveable amount of Data:
|TPG||$20 per monthly renewal||12GB||A solid chunk of data for only $20 a month.|
Finally, if you rarely use your mobile data, whether you work from home under wifi or prefer reading, this is the one for you:
|Amaysim||$12 per 28-day renewal||2GB||Get $2 off your first six months|
The fact is, it’s not easy and it’s on you to take charge of yourself. If you really want to know your daily mobile data use, there is only one option.
When you wake up, use one of the processes above to examine your mobile data. Before you go to bed, do the same thing again, and then calculate how much you have used that day.
There are a few reasons your Mobile Data might not be working. Your provider could be having an outage, you could be in an area with poor reception, your recent drop of your phone could have knocked something out of whack or your mobile data could just be turned off.
Follow these quick fixes, moving on to the next if nothing is working.
- Confirm your cellular data (mobile data) is turned on through your phone’s settings or control center.
- Turn ‘Airplane mode’ on and off again.
- Restart your device or turn your phone off and on again.
- Turn your phone off and remove your SIM Card. Place your
- SIM Card back into your phone and turn it back on.
- If none of this works, it’s time to head to your provider’s website to check for any outages. If all else fails, it’s time to call your Mobile Data provider.
This is a question you will have to answer yourself, because it ultimately depends on your lifestyle. If you are within reach of WIFI for 90% of your life, you aren’t going to need much monthly Mobile Data, and vice versa.
According to a report from the ACCC, the average Australian phone user uses less than 15GB of data a month. If you’re someone who plans on streaming or downloading movies, uploading images or videos or regularly video-calling on Mobile Data, you will want to allow yourself more Mobile Data per month than the average Aussie.