Ask Deemable Tech: How To Check Your Monthly Usage On Your Smartphone

Sep 25, 2014

Angela writes, "How can I keep up with my monthly usage on my iPhone? I want to be able to find out how much data and how many texts I have left."

There’s nothing worse than going over your monthly limit and getting slapped with a huge phone bill. Fortunately, checking your usage is easy, so there’s no need for nasty surprises. Virtually all smartphones, including the iPhone, have built-in tools that monitor monthly data usage.

You can see your iPhone usage details under the "Cellular" menu in the Settings app.
Credit Annie Black / WJCT

Just open the Settings app and tap “Cellular,” and you will see your usage. Of course, your iPhone doesn’t automatically know when your billing cycle begins, so you’ll need to reset it at the beginning of the cycle. At the bottom of that "Cellular" menu, there is a button that says “Reset Statistics.” Hit this on the first day of your billing cycle and the tracking on your iPhone should be fairly accurate.

For Android phones, just open up Settings and tap “Data Usage". You can also set your billing cycle on this screen, and you don’t even have to wait until the beginning of the cycle to change this setting.

There’s actually another way to check your usage, no matter what kind of smartphone you have, that is as simple as making a phone call. Each of the major U.S. cell phone carriers has a free service which will automatically send you a text message with your current usage details when you dial a special number. Checking your monthly usage this way may be more accurate in some cases, since the information is coming straight from your cell phone carrier.

For Verizon, dial #DATA.

For AT&T, dial *DATA#.

For T-Mobile, dial #WEB#.

Sprint is the only one that works differently. They don’t send you a text, but there is an automated hotline that will tell you the information. Dial *4 to get to it.

You can keep your monthly data usage to a minimum by waiting until you’ve got a Wi-Fi connection to watch videos or download big apps. When you’re connected to Wi-Fi, you aren’t dipping into your data plan.

Another way you may be able to save data is by using what are called “zero rated” apps, which are now being offered by many carriers. Even though “zero rated” apps use data, they don’t count towards your monthly data cap. For instance, on T-Mobile, music streaming apps like Pandora, iTunes Radio and Spotify are "zero rated" so they won’t eat into your precious monthly data usage. Different carriers have different policies and different apps, so be sure to check with whoever your carrier is.

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