Auto-playing Instagram videos and convenient push notifications are all fun and games until your happy, worry-free life is disrupted by an unexpected 3-digit phone bill. Yup, we all know what it’s like to have a ‘bill shock’, and if you took a close enough look at your mobile bill, you’d know that the notorious culprit is more often than not expensive excess data charges.
Sure, penning an angry “Dear CEO” complaint letter and posting about it all over social media may be gratifying, but it also takes an awful lot of energy. Furthermore, I’m not sure how effective your tantrum will be, because you’re probably just one of the many, many angry customers they deal with every day.
My suggestion? Pick your battles. Instead of blaming your mobile provider, here are 5 tips to keep your mobile data usage in check so you can avoid those hefty excess charges.
Singtel, Starhub & M1 excess data charges
Before we get to the wise ways of how to not exceed your data limit, here are the excess charges for our local telcos. These charges are capped, but the cap itself may already be several times your expected monthly bill.
|Telco||Excess data charges||Capped at|
|Starhub||$10.70 per GB||$238 per month|
|Singtel||$10.70 per GB||$188 per month|
|M1||$10.70 per GB||$188.32 per month|
Ah, scary right?
5 data-sucking mobile apps to avoid
Now, let’s look at the 5 mobile apps and functions that use the most mobile data… without your knowledge.
Text messaging apps like WhatsApp, Line, and Facebook Messenger
These may be free on the app store, but they sure use some serious data. And it’s not even from the actual texting, but from sending or receiving voice messages, videos and images.
To avoid using unnecessary data, check your settings to make sure the app doesn’t automatically download and save these multimedia messages in the background.
Music streaming apps like Spotify and Apple Music
Unless your mobile plan offers data-free / unlimited streaming, music streaming without Wifi will use up a lot of your data quota.
A hack is to toggle off 4G usage, and download your favourites songs and playlists whenever you have Wifi.
Video streaming apps like YouTube
The only thing worse than streaming music is streaming videos – ’nuff said.
There isn’t really any way around it, you’ll just have to avoid using mobile data to watch videos online.
Downloading and/or updating apps without Wifi
If you’re addicted to apps, the last thing you want to do is download them without a Wifi connection. Don’t let them auto-update without Wifi too!
Mobile gaming apps
Granted, not every game will use up vast amounts of data, but if you’re playing MMORPGs or shooters with 3D graphics, those will come back to bite you in the bill.
3 tips to avoid hefty excess data charges
If even after conscious effort to not commit the above “mistakes” you still find yourself exceeding your data limit, there are several things you can do:
Upgrade to a plan with more data
Be realistic – if your data plan only accounts for 4GB a month yet you’re consistently using 8GB a month, then you obviously don’t have a suitable plan. It’ll be more cost-effective to change to another plan instead of pay exorbitant excess charges.
Use Wifi every chance you get
Use Wifi in the office, at home, at Starbucks… everywhere. Don’t need to feel paiseh; go ahead and put on your tourist pants and ask for the Wifi password wherever you are. It can potentially save you a lot of money!
Set data alerts and keep track of your usage
Local telcos all offer apps that you can download (you’ll use Wifi to download them right?) that’ll help you set alerts and keep track of your data usage so you can avoid any unpleasant surprises when it comes to your monthly mobile bill.
Following the suggestions above will have an immediate impact on your data bill and may save you plenty of cash over time. Think about it – if you’re routinely spending an extra $50 a month by going over your data limit, you’re losing about $600 over the course of a year!
Now wouldn’t you rather that $600 you’re wasting every year go towards something more meaningful, such as investments? #JustSaying.
What are some other ways you can cut down on excess data usage? Share it with us in the comments below!