Are you paying too much for data on your monthly plan? Read our helpful guide to find out.

You probably already know that you pay for data plans on a tiered basis. In other words, the more data you use, the more it costs you.

But before you shell out for an expensive data plan that you may not need, stop for a moment and consider how much data you actually need each month.

For example, if you constantly listen to Spotify on the go, or watch live TV while you're out and about, or regularly check out trending YouTube videos, you will almost certainly require a pretty generous data plan, but if that doesn't sound like you, then maybe you're paying too much for data on your plan.

The following guide offers an approximate of how much data a particular activity will require. It’s not 100% precise, but it will give you a good idea of how big or small a data user you actually are.
  1. One text-only email: 3KB - 20KB
  2. One email with a photo attachment: 350KB
  3. One email with a Word document attached: 300KB
  4. Downloading one web page:15 KB - 1.5MB, depending on the complexity of the page
  5. Downloading an app, a game or a song: 3 MB - 4MB
  6. One minute of streaming music: 500KB
  7. Posting a social media update (with a photo): 500KB
  8. Uploading or downloading a high-resolution photo: 1MB
  9. Watching/streaming a video for a minute: 2MB - 5MB

So what can you do with a 200MB data plan?

1,000 text-only emails; 50 emails with photo attachments; 150 emails with document or presentation attachments; around 60 social media posts (including uploading photos); plus viewing around 500 web pages.

Or with a 2GB data plan?

8,000 text-only emails; 600 emails with photos attached; 600 emails with documents or presentations attached; viewing 3,200 web pages; plus 40 minutes of streaming video, downloading 30 apps and 300 social media posts.

What about an unlimited plan?

Most operators now offer unlimited data plans, but before signing up to this, perhaps you should check out our article on what unlimited really means.

Do the sums and save money

If you haven’t yet opted for a particular data plan, doing some sums based on the data usage indications above could prevent you from subscribing to an overly-generous plan that you may not actually need.

If you're already subscribed to a data plan, take a long and careful look at your next bill to see how much data you have actually used in the past month.

Ideally, you should opt for a data plan that gives you enough data each month – so that you're not paying for costly add-ons – but not so much that you're simply paying for data that you’ll never use.

It can be a pain to sit down and work out the sums, but we promise you it could save you a significant amount of money in the long-term.

One final tip

Remember that newer and more complicated apps tend to eat more data, so the data plan that fits the bill today may not be able to keep up with your data needs in a year’s time. Keep a regular eye on your data consumption – and make sure you opt for a data plan that can cope with it.

Check out our article on which apps use most of your data.