iPhone owners use a ton of wireless data checking email, browsing the web, streaming music, and using apps. We usually only think about our data use when the phone bill arrives. That’s when we discover the consequences of using too much data: overage charges.
Every iPhone data plan includes a limit on the amount of data that you can use each month. Some phone companies substantially slow your data speed if you exceed that limit.
For others, you get charged an extra fee.
You can try to avoid download speed throttling or extra costs by checking your iPhone data use throughout the month. Here are instructions for finding out how much data you’ve used from each major phone company that offers the iPhone in the U.S. Most of them even offer multiple ways to check.
There are three ways to check your AT&T data use:
- Your AT&T account online
- The AT&T app, which includes data, voice, and text usage (Download at iTunes)
- In the Phone app, call *DATA# and a text message with your current data use will be sent to you
Data Limit: Varies depending on your monthly plan. Data plans range from 300MB to as much as 50GB per month
There are two ways to check your Cricket Wireless data use:
- Your Cricket account online
- The My Cricket app (Download at iTunes)
Data Limit: Varies between 2.5GB and 10GB of high-speed data per month
Overage: Data download speed is throttled to 128 Kbps for the rest of your billing cycle, or you can purchase an additional 1GB of full-speed data for $10
There are four ways to check your Sprint data use:
- Your Sprint online account
- The Sprint app, which includes all usage details (Download at iTunes)
- Call *4 and the following the menus
- Text the word usage to 1311
Data Limit: Unlimited, though at least on some plans Sprint throttles all video, music, and game streaming to HD quality
There is one way to check your Straight Talk data use:
- Text the word usage to 611611 and you’ll get a text back with your current use
Data Limit: The first 5GB per month is at high speed. After that, speeds are reduced to 2G rates (which is slower than the original iPhone)
Overage: There doesn’t seem to be a way to add more data until the next billing period starts
There are three ways to check your T-Mobile data use:
- Your T-Mobile account online
- In the Phone app, call #932#
- Use the T-Mobile app (Download at iTunes)
Data Limit: Depends on your plan. Data plans range from 2GB to unlimited, though customers who exceed their data plans may have their speeds reduced until the next month
There are three ways to check your Verizon data use:
- Your Verizon account online
- The Verizon app, which includes minutes, data, and text messages used (Download at iTunes)
- In the Phone app, call #data and you get a text with usage details
Data Limit: Depends on your rate plan. Available data amounts range from 1GB to 100GB per month
There is one way to check your Virgin data use:
- Your Virgin online account
Data Limit: Depends on your plan. Data amounts range from 500MB to 6GB
Overage: If you exceed your monthly data limit, your download speed will be reduced to 2G speeds until the next billing period
What To Do If You’re Close To Exceeding Your Limit
Most carriers send a warning when you approach your data limit. For instance, AT&T sends a text message when you’ve used 65% and 90% of your monthly data (many other companies do similar things).
If you’re close to hitting your data limit, what you should do depends on where you are in the month. If you’re close to the end of the month, there’s not too much to worry about. Worst-case scenario, you’ll pay $10 or $15 extra or have slower data for a short time. If you’re close to the beginning of the month, call your phone company to see about upgrading your plan.
If you find yourself regularly bumping up against your data limit, you need to switch to a plan that offers more data. You should be able to do that from any of the apps or online accounts already mentioned in this article.
Checking Data Use On Your Phone
Your iPhone also offers a built-in tool to track your data usage, but it has some major limitations. To find the tool:
- Tap Settings
- Tap Cellular
- In the Cellular Data Usage section, you’ll see your data use for the Current Period.
That may seem useful, but the current period is not a billing period. Instead, the current period is, however, long it’s been since you last reset your data stats (there’s an option to Reset Statistics at the very bottom of the screen).
Beneath the Reset Statistics option is the date you last reset the stats. The Current Period data use is all the data you used since then.
You can reset the stats at the start of every monthly billing period to track your data, but there’s no way to do that automatically. You’ll need to know when your billing period starts and reset it manually.