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As smartphones are getting smarter and networks getting faster, using your phone to stream music or videos and video chats become easier. Each year, the average data usage per person grows exponentially. Between 2012 and 2015, average data usage increased by 900%. In 2018, the average data usage per person is expected to reach 5GB/month.

Depending on where in the world you are, access to unlimited data may be limited. So for most of us who depend on our smartphones to go about our daily activities, watching our data limits is important. For the most part, this is easy to track, as our smartphones provide apps and services to warn us when we’re eating up data. But sometimes, our smartphones eat up precious megabytes without us knowing about it.

Here are five ways to ensure that you prevent unnecessary mobile phone and data costs.

1.    Set data alerts and limits

On Android or iOS devices, you can check your data usage through your cellular settings. This settings page shows you how much data you consume monthly. The problem is, your data stats don’t reset automatically every billing period.

So to avoid hefty costs on data overages, you should reset these stats at the beginning of every billing period. You can even toggle a limit to how much data your phone consumes so it doesn’t eat any precious megabytes you may need.

2.    Use Wi-Fi wherever possible

As networks get faster, accessibility to Wi-Fi networks becomes easier. Avoid unnecessary data usage by connecting to Wi-Fi networks when possible. This is especially important when traveling and data is a precious commodity.

Whenever you go somewhere new, get into the habit of checking free Wi-Fi networks. Most countries will have cafes or public spaces where Wi-Fi is readily available. This will help substantially reduce your data usage. And whenever possible, use your network’s own Wi-Fi. Many phone companies now provide unlimited internet bundles for their customers.

3.    Avoid data roaming charges

When traveling abroad, take special care that your mobile phone is not data roaming. Data roaming comes with a hefty price tag, as using picture-heavy social media sites like Instagram or Facebook eat up a lot of megabytes.

Check with your network provider what roaming fees apply to your plan and what options there are to avoid unnecessary data roaming charges. Most mobile operators will have a cut-off limit to avoid excess data costs. You can also turn off data roaming through your mobile phone’s network settings.

4.    Consuming unnecessary extra minutes

Most mobile phones today carry mobile plans to enhance our data usage experience. But from time to time, the need to make a phone call or check voice mail becomes necessary. Check the fine print of your monthly plan to make sure certain phone calls or accessing your voicemail is included in your plan.

Depending on which mobile carrier you’re with, your phone plan may offer free or discounted calls to numbers on the same network. Some even offer free calls within the network’s mobile coverage. Always check with your mobile phone carrier to avoid any surprises on your bill.

5.    Turn off unnecessary apps

If an app running in the background is draining your battery, there’s a good chance that it’s also draining your data. GPS-enabled apps like Google Maps often work automatically in the background to download data relevant to the GPS. Music streaming apps like Spotify work in a similar manner, consuming a lot of data in the background.

To avoid these background apps from draining your monthly data, check which apps use your Location Services. These can be switched off in the settings menu to avoid hidden costs. Before traveling, download apps that don’t require an Internet connection. This will let you travel with ease without worrying about hidden costs.

While wasted data may not be your fault, it pays to be vigilant. Chances are, you did use the data, but mistakes to do happen. If you feel like it’s an error on the part of your provider, call your provider and ask. Sometimes, inquiring about these with your provider may show hidden errors clearing you of any faults.

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