Every so often, you open your smart phone bill and drop it with an unpleasant yelp of surprise. Data charges and app purchases have a sneaky way of adding up to create a number you were not expecting to see at the bottom of the invoice. Whether you want to avoid that surprise even once, or you regularly seem to be spending more on your smart phone than you want to, taking care with how you use your smart phone and how much data you pay for will help you save on your smart phone bill.
Connect to Wi-Fi Whenever Possible
Data is one of the most expensive components of a smart phone bill, whether you’re paying for a bunch to begin with, or you continuously go over that amount and have to pay extra. The best way to avoid eating up data? Connect to Wi-Fi. Set your phone to automatically join your home’s network so you’re always on Wi-Fi when you’re at home.
When you’re away from home, always see what Wi-Fi options are around. Many shops and public locations offer a Wi-Fi signal, and as long as you’re smart about your usage of public Wi-Fi (like not doing anything that uses sensitive personal or financial information), it’s an effective way to reduce data usage.
Set Data Usage Alerts
You can check your settings to see how much data you’ve used. If you’re on an Android device that runs KitKat or later, such as the new Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, head to Settings > Wireless & Networks > Data Usage. Once you’ve examined how much data you’re using this month, turn on the “set mobile data limit” feature. Your phone will notify you when you’re approaching your data limit, and it’ll prevent you from using data after you hit that limit.
Consider How Much Data You’re Paying For
Gather up your bills from the past few months and check out how much data you’re actually using. Does it roughly match up with the amount you’re paying for? If you consistently go over your limit and your provider charges fees, you have a few options. Switching carriers may provide you with more data for a cheaper option, especially if you’re the kind of person who needs an “unlimited” amount of data. If you’re consistently under your data limit, does the data roll over to the next month? If not, lower your limit so you’re paying for less.
Download Free Apps
App purchases add up fast. You’re browsing the app store, and every so often you buy an app for a dollar or two. If you do this 10 times each month, that’s between 10 and 20 extra dollars on your phone bill. Most apps offer a free version, which usually means you’ll have to deal with ads or you’ll be missing features, but try using it for a while before you pay for the upgrade.
If the app doesn’t offer a free version, scroll through the store to see what else is out there. Chances are, someone’s created a similar app for a lower price, or for free. Very rarely is the paid version of an app the only way you can get a certain service or game.
Don’t Make In-App Purchases
In-app purchases are dangerous, especially if you have children who use your device. It’s one thing to pay a dollar or two for a new app. It’s another thing to pay between three and five dollars every time you run out of some essential piece for playing a game.
A study by Slice Intelligence determined that, in 2015, mobile gamers spent an average of $87 on in-app purchases. You and your kids might not be hardcore mobile gamers, but it’s easy to see how a few four-dollar transactions can add up to amounts you never intended to spend on a game. Restrict or turn off in-app purchases on your device to prevent these bill charges.
Once you get in the habit of being diligent about how you use your smartphone, you’re less likely to open an unexpectedly high bill, because you’ll be very aware of just how much you’re spending on data and apps.