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How to save data on your mobile plan and avoid bill shock


How much does it take to really shock an Australian mobile customer? A fair bit according to the latest research which shows users only experience bill shock when it’s more than four times higher than their regular plan cost.

A Finder study of more than 2000 people showed that almost one in four (23.5 per cent) have experienced mobile bill shock – that’s the equivalent of more than five million Australians – in the last two years.

And of these people, more than a third has received a bill of $200 or more.

That’s a massive overspend when you consider the average mobile bill in Australia is $47.60 per month.

But the research shows that mobile bill shock only registers at $214 which is four and half times more than the average plan cost – an overspend of $166.

Finder’s study showed more than 197,000 Australians have received bills totaling more than $1000 in the last two years – collectively an overspend of $197.7 million.

This shows Australian customers have become accustomed to exceeding their plan limits.

Closeup on a man's hands as he is sitting on a sofa and using a smartphone

And not surprisingly, the most common reason for bill blowout (70.4 per cent) is excess data charges.

Most plans today include unlimited talk and text but data is the real battleground for carriers.

Customers exceeding their data limits are slugged with additional charges per extra block of data they use.

Applications like Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube are the main culprits when it comes to chewing through your data but most people are unaware of the impact they are having on their plan’s data allowances.

So what can you do to keep you mobile data under control?

Here are some suggestions:

– Use wi-fi when you can. Rather than burning your own cellular data hook into the nearest wi-fi network at your shopping centre, restaurant, café, hotel or at the airport.

– Monitor your data usage. There are lots of ways to check to see how much data you’ve used whether it’s an app from your carrier or the settings in your phone. Make sure you set yourself alerts so you know when you’ve hit 50 per cent and 85 per cent data usage.

– Don’t let apps run in the background. Many apps continue to use data even when you’re not using them. Close down the apps to save data. On an iPhone, double click the home button and flick up the apps you want to shut down. On Android, you can close all of your recent apps using the function key next to the home button.

– Disable automatic app updates. We all run lots of apps on our device and often they need updating. If you allow this to happen automatically it’s going to smash your data. Turn auto update off and update them manually when you’re on a wi-fi network.

– Turn off autoplay on Facebook videos. Facebook loves to feature video content in you feed and usually this play automatically as soon as you scroll by. This uses up data every time and can be disabled so that you get to choose the videos you want to watch.