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Tips to keep your data costs down

Data costs getting you down? Use these tips and tools to make all the difference to your bill. 

24 November 2016
3 minute read

smart phone with apps popping out

South African contract data costs are amongst the highest in the world. And as technology gets bigger, better and faster, and with every new device and service, we consume more data. To help you monitor and reduce your data costs, we’ve brought you some of the best tips and tools from around the web, as well as one big idea that just might change everything.

1.Download a data-tracking appThe first and simplest way to track and manage your data usage is to either monitor your phone’s built in data tracker or download an app for the purpose. MyDataManager is a highly-rated app, available for Apple and Android, that will give you daily alerts about usage and let you know when you have exceeded certain limits and are likely to be charged. Remember, data is money!

Top Tip: Check out your data usage on your Android phone here:

Settings > Data usage



Data-costs- 2


Or on your Apple phone here:

Settings > Cellular (but you may have to reset it to zero at the beginning of each billing cycle)




2. Buy a bigger bundle “Out of bundle rates” are the single biggest data cost that you are probably incurring. Your cell phone contract or pay-as-you go bundle usually gives you a certain amount of airtime bundled with a data package. This data bundle buys you data at a preferential rate. As soon as you have depleted the data bought at this rate, you will be charged significantly more by your mobile operator. If you find that you frequently use up your data bundle, speak to your mobile operator about increasing it – they should be able to recommend the appropriate package for your average data usage. You’ll pay more for the bundle, but far less for your monthly data usage.

Top Tip: Check your remaining balances daily via USSD code so that you know whether or not you are consuming data at out of bundle rates.

3. Turn off mobile data when not at home or the office When you leave your house or office where there is wifi, turn off your mobile or cellular data (Apple: Settings > Cellular. Android: Settings > Mobile Data). You will still be able to make calls and send smses, but you won’t be able to use Whatsapp or other web-based apps, download email, or surf the web. You can obviously turn it back on again if you need it, but that extra step will make you think twice about paying to surf.

4. Biggest shift: Change your mentality about data While these tools and tricks will help you to control and reduce your data bill, the change that really needs to take place is a mental shift.

See if you recognise this behaviour: Your car is stopped at a red robot, so you “just quickly” check your newsfeed. You are at a doctor’s rooms, so instead of picking up a magazine you scroll through facebook. Your bedroom is just out of wifi range at home, so you flip over to mobile data.

Yes? Maybe it’s time to try and resist the pull of technology and let go of your dependence on social media, chat and the myriad other distractions on your smartphone! Sure, we are participating in one of the greatest industrial revolutions and social experiments the human race has ever seen, but it’s costing us a lot of money (not to mention the effect on our attention spans, or our necks and backs). By implementing some of the tools and tips that have already been outlined, you can reduce your data costs, but the real trick lies in accepting, when there is no available free or paid-for data source, to simply do without.

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