Data Plan Overages and How to Avoid Them

While waiting for my new iPhone 5 to ship, I’ve been pushing the envelope with my current iPhone 3GS and mobile apps. I downloaded the Podcast app to keep up with my favorite shows on the road. A few days later, I got a warning from AT&T Msg: You have used 90% of your 200MB data plan allowance. Any overage bills @ $15/200MB. Tip: Mobile Data is unlimited over Wifi. Learn more at I quickly went into damage control.

Wifi versus Data Plan

Since I was dangerously close to going over, whenever possible I would look at my Wifi and Data Plan indicator. If you have an iPhone, in the top upper left corner right on the right hand side of AT&T you can see either three lines representing sound waves. This means your phone is connected to a wifi device. If you have 3G appearing instead of the sound waves, you are burning some of your included data plan monthly allocation, in my case 200MB.

Streaming Media and Directions

I stopped listening to podcasts from my iPhone in case I was streaming it from the publisher’s website. I avoided watching videos from YouTube as well. I also did my best to get directions before I drove somewhere I was unfamiliar with. Since I was nearing my data limit, I would only use my map app if I was totally lost and in a crunch for time.


From the get go, I configured my email (Exchange, Yahoo, and Gmail) to check manually rather than have the device poll mail servers every so often. This will quickly drain your data plan especially if you have a lot of work email with attachments.

Final Thoughts

To round things out, wait till a wireless access point is available to check on your stock prices, the weather, and social media apps. Perhaps this data limit warning is a blessing as it prevents me from messing with my phone at traffic lights.

What tips do you have for avoiding data plan overages?

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2 Responses

  1. If you use Google Maps, predownload the area where you usually drive. So it will not use data for maps downloading.

    Furthermore, use software which will shut down internet after transferring preset number of Mb of traffic.

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