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Cut down on your phone bill: How to reduce your data usage on Android or iOS

Remember when smartphone plans were all about the number of call minutes and text messages you got, and the data was unlimited? These days, it’s exactly the opposite. When carriers realized what we really wanted was data, there was a shift to unlimited minutes and texts and data caps — with carriers claiming it was about managing its network.

There is no true unlimited data option unless you’re with T-Mobile or Sprint (and paying for that plan). Every megabyte must be accounted for, or you might find yourself paying an arm and a leg in overage charges, or find yourself throttled at the worst time. Hopefully, here we’ll be able to help you set up limits and alerts to keep an eye on your data usage, along with providing some tips to maximize your data plans and curb unnecessary data usage.

How much data do you need?

You’ll likely overestimate the data you need, so use cold hard facts to make the decision on which data allotment is best for you. Log in to your carrier’s website and review your data usage over the past few months. Select a plan that is higher than the amount of data you used during this period — but as close to that number as possible. A tool like AT&T’s Data Calculator is great to get a rough estimate of what your data usage is, but we recommend basing it on your real world use.

Related: What size data plan is right for you?

Does your carrier offer some type of rollover data option? If so, you might even have extra data to fall back on in an emergency should you use more data than normal in a particular month.

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