(800) 669-5556


Got a smartphone? You’re probably overpaying for data

CUB Executive Director David Kolata said Illinois smartphone users pay an average of $194 a year for data that goes unused.

Illinois consumers are overspending on cellphone data plans by $1.4 billion dollars each year.

That’s according to a report released today by CUB and wireless research firm Validas. The report, based on an analysis of more than 100,000 wireless bills nationwide, shows that the vast majority of cellphone users are losing money on “wireless waste”—money spent on unused services. For Illinois smartphone users, the damage comes to $194 a year, on average.

Chicago consumer Tim Harrington told reporters that paying for cellphone data should be like paying for gasoline—you pay for what you use. CUB called on wireless companies to offer more pricing options, including pay-per-use data plans.

Illinois wireless data waste.

Statewide, CUB and Validas estimate consumers are overpaying by $1.4 billion a year on bad data plans.

Unfortunately, most consumers, like Tim, are paying for a large package of data each month, but only using a fraction of it. Data from CTIA, the wireless industry group, shows that the average smartphone user consumes about 800 megabytes of data each month—far less than what’s included in most wireless plans.

CUB Executive Director David Kolata shared some tips to cut cellphone bills. He recommended reading bills carefully to make sure you aren’t being overcharged, using Wi-Fi when available to reduce data usage, turning off data-devouring apps and features when you’re not using them, and checking with your carrier and employer about discounts.

But cellphone shoppers looking to cut their costs should begin their search at their current wireless carrier. A free tool by Validas, called SaveLoveGive, allows AT&T, Verizon and Sprint customers to connect to their online wireless accounts and instantly find out if they’re on the right plan. On average, the free tool helps consumers save $300 a year.