7 ways to conserve your mobile data usage and save money
We’re spending more time on our phones than ever before — and with all those video chats, streaming services, and data-hungry apps, it means we’re using a lot more data on our mobile plans, too. One recent survey projects that the average smartphone user will use nearly 9GB of data per month in 2021!
All this cellular data usage sometimes comes with unexpected overages and bills, too. No one likes those, so that’s why we’re here with some easy-to-follow tips to help you find ways to conserve your data and save some money at the same time.
Connect to WiFi whenever possible
Connecting to WiFi networks consistently can surely reduce the amount of cellular data you use, and this is always our first recommendation for our members. While this tip may seem obvious, it can sometimes be elusive. We’ve seen situations where customers thought they were connected to their home WiFi network while watching Netflix, but unfortunately, they were using cellular data and eating up monthly usage. For reference, streaming HD quality video can use anywhere between 1GB to 3GB per hour.
- To avoid mishap, make sure your WiFi settings are turned on, and you are connected to an available WiFi network. Here’s how to connect to WiFi for iOS and Android.
Turn off Wi-Fi Assist or Smart Network Switch
WiFi Assist (iOS) and Smart Network Switch (some Android models) are built-in settings that try to boost a spotty or slow WiFi connection by using your cellular connection. But, these settings can also use a lot of data, too.
- To turn this setting on or off on your Apple device, go to Settings > Cellular or Settings > Mobile Data. Then scroll down and tap the slider for Wi-Fi Assist.
- On your Android device, go to Settings > Connections > Wi-Fi. Tap the three dots, select Advanced, and tap the slider for “Switch to mobile data.”
Limit monthly data usage (Android)
Keeping an eye on your monthly data usage will really go a long way to prevent unexpected overages.
Android makes it very easy to limit your monthly data usage with a built-in feature allowing you to set up a warning when you’re reaching your data limit — or by actually limiting your cellular data to a set amount based on your billing cycle. Here’s how to set that up (note: these instructions may vary depending on your device):
- Go to Settings > Network & internet > Data usage > Data warning & limit (or Data limit & billing cycle) to set your maximum amount of data you want to use for the month. Or, tap “App data usage cycle” to set the first day of your billing cycle.
Watch your monthly data (iOS)
Apple devices don’t include the same built-in feature to physically restrict your data usage, so you’ll need to keep an eye on your data use in your device’s settings.
- To see how much cellular data you’ve used, go to Settings > Cellular or Settings > Mobile Data. (On an iPad, it may be Settings > Cellular Data)
- You can also reset your data usage for the “Current Period” here every month so you know how much you’re using each billing cycle.
- Alternatively, you can log into your CREDO account periodically to keep an eye on your data usage, too!
Update apps over WiFi only
If you have your apps set to update automatically, they may be draining your data over a cellular network. You can set your device to update apps over WiFi only to save your monthly data.
- On iOS, go to Settings > App Store > scroll to “Cellular Data” and toggle “Automatic Downloads” to the off position.
- On Android, go to the Play Store and tap Menu > Settings > Auto-update apps, then select “Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only.”
Disable app data in the background
Some of your apps will continue to gather data in the background while you’re not using your phone. This is a great feature for, say, a news app to give you the freshest information the next time you load the app, but not every app needs this feature.
- To turn this feature off for your apps on iOS, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Here, you can choose whether you want this feature on or off completely, or just WiFi only. You can also toggle this on and off for individual apps.
- On Android, go to Settings > Data Usage to see which apps are using the most data. Tap on the app you’d like to restrict and disable background data.
Upgrade your data plan
If all else fails, you have the option to upgrade to a plan with a higher monthly data limit — or choose an unlimited data plan. In the end, it may be one of the best options if you need more cellular data than your current plan allows.