Why you’re probably spending too much on cellular data | Cult of Mac

Why you’re probably spending too much on cellular data


iPhone 12 Pro parts cost shockingly little
You might be wasting money on your unlimited data plan.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Most Americans pay for more cellular data than they need or ever use, according to a recent study. Dropping to a plan that offers less data would benefit 72% of subscribers for an obvious reason: These plans are more affordable.

In short, unlimited data plans usually aren’t a good value.

Unlimited data plans charge extra for peace of mind

Every wireless carrier offers an “all you can eat” unlimited data plan. And it’s the safest choice: There’s no chance of getting hit with a surprise bill from going over your data limit.

That must be what makes it so popular. A surprisingly high 83% of Americans subscribe to an unlimited data plan, according to a new study by WhistleOut.

However, that same study found that about half (46%) of Americans use less than 10GB of cellular data a month. And nearly three out of four subscribers use 15GB a month or less.

Check your data

To find out if you’re getting your money’s worth from your current plan, check your account to see how much data you use every month. “Carriers offer unlimited plans at higher prices because they know customers won’t check their data usage,” notes WhistleOut.

For instructions on how to check current usage from the Big 3 carriers:

It ain’t easy

The three biggest U.S. carriers don’t make it easy to subscribe to anything but their unlimited cellular data plans. Digging around on their websites turns up some details, though.

AT&T offers 5GB of data for $30 per month for a single phone. For comparison, its cheapest unlimited plan costs $65 a month.

T-Mobile offers a 10GB plan for $30, or 5GB for $20. Again, that’s for a single phone. Its cheapest unlimited plan goes for $60 a month.

Verizon’s 5GB plan costs $55 per month. Its most affordable unlimited plan is $65.

All of these prices are subject to taxes and additional fees, very few of which the carriers reveal to prospective customers.

Shop around

Want to save on your wireless plan? Armed with how much cellular data you actually use each month, shop around to see whether you really want to keep your current unlimited plan.

Real savings might require switching carriers, though. That’s especially true for Verizon Wireless customers. One possibility is Xfinity Mobile, which uses Verizon’s network and costs about $20 less per month.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.