How Much Cellphone Plan Data Is Too Much?

Woman using her smartphone data
Thomas Andreas /

Unlimited talk and text are so common in cellphone plans these days, it’s actually harder to find a plan that has limits on minutes and messages.

Most of the difference between low-cost cellphone plans and the more expensive ones is in the amount of data that’s included in the plans.

With that in mind, you might be wondering how much data is too much data, and could you be saving money by buying a low-data plan?

A little about cellphone plan data

With unlimited talk and text, things are pretty clear. You get to talk on your cellphone as much as you want and text as much as you want.

For cellular data, things aren’t quite as straightforward. Even a data limit doesn’t mean you can only use up to your data allotment, but unlimited data also doesn’t necessarily mean you have an endless amount of data to use.

Confused yet?

Cellular data limits are usually tied to data speed. This means that if you have a 5GB data limit, it probably means that you can use 5GB of data at full speed. After you use the 5GB, your data will be slowed down.

You can still use data, it’ll just be slowed to a snail’s pace until the next billing cycle — depending on how patient you are, it could be practically unusable. This speed throttling has mostly taken the place of data overage charges — they still exist, but are very rare.

With unlimited data, you theoretically have all the full-speed data you’d want to use, but after a certain threshold, you might find things slowed down only when there is heavy network traffic, then sped back up when the network is less congested.

Some basic unlimited plans do not include that threshold. Instead, your data could be slowed during network congestion at any point.

Is unlimited data worth it?

Unlimited data cellphone plans are the most expensive plans out there, but are they really worth the premium prices?

Really, it depends on how much you value high-speed cellular data. Are you constantly on the go, finding yourself browsing on the internet or watching a show? If so, unlimited data might be right for you.

If you are looking for a great price on an unlimited plan, check out the Visible plan. You’ll get unlimited everything on Verizon’s industry-leading 4G LTE network for just $40 per month.

Going with a limited plan

If you’re really looking to save on your cellphone plan, going with a limited plan is the first step you’ll need to take. How limited really depends on your habits.

A 5GB data limit might be more than enough for one user but feel like next to nothing to another. To get a better idea about how much data you use, check your past few cellphone bills. There should be a breakdown of your data usage for each month.

How to cut down on data usage

You might find that you use a ton of mobile data, but you still want to pay less for your cellphone plan. The best thing you can do is cut down on that data usage and buy one of the cheaper low-limit data plans.

Besides trying to practice restraint by keeping your phone in your pocket, you can cut down on cellular data usage by connecting to secure Wi-Fi whenever possible.

You can also choose lower-quality video or audio streaming on apps like Netflix and Spotify. Also, use tools like your carrier’s app, a third-party app or a built-in feature that tracks data usage for you.

By just keeping an eye on your data usage, you might find it’s easier than you thought to cut down.

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