Is unlimited data really the best deal for you?

(BPT) - How much data do you really need on your monthly cellular plan?

To hear the big four wireless companies tell it, the answer is simple: Go unlimited. After all, we live in an age where we can stay glued to our smartphone screens nearly every minute for news, email, social media posts, using GPS, video streaming and all the other trappings of the modern digital world.

According to Pew Research, 73% of adults ages 50-64 now own a smartphone, and nearly 50% of those 65+ have adopted them as well. But those who cut their teeth in the pre-digital age are far less likely to live that fully “plugged in” lifestyle. Many, in fact, still prefer classic comforts like a good old-fashioned telephone call over texting or Facebook; or watching news and movies on a big-screen television rather than squinting at a smartphone display. If you count yourself among these old-school, penny-wise baby boomers, you’ll likely agree: spending $75 or more on an unlimited data plan every month just doesn’t make good sense.

The limits of unlimited

Here’s what the big four don’t want you to know: in 2018, the average smartphone user consumed about 4.1 gigabytes (GB) of cellular data each month, meaning many used far less.

In addition, some carriers promising “unlimited data” will actually limit your high-speed data to just a couple of gigabytes per month. Once you use up that allotment, you’ll have unlimited access, but at much slower speeds. This makes it more difficult to load pages quickly, or to stream video, even though you’re paying a premium for “unlimited” access.

Factor in the rapidly growing availability of Wi-Fi, which lets you access a wireless Internet connection without consuming any data from your cellular plan, and this much becomes clear: For many users, “unlimited” plans are far more enticing than they are practical.

Flexible plans keep up with your lifestyle

While the big four keep coming up with creative new ways to encourage you to go “unlimited,” real deals can be found that provide what you actually need. For instance, take a look at Consumer Cellular. This 100% U.S.-based provider offers no-contract cellphone plans including data plans that range from 2GB to 20GB of data per month. Best of all, since your data needs can fluctuate from one month to the next, Consumer Cellular lets you change your data plan anytime you need to without paying any additional fees.

Start saving today

Unlimited anything sounds nice, but in reality, no one wants to buy more of something than they’ll ever use ­— or pay more than they should. But that’s exactly what most people with unlimited cellular data plans are doing.

Cellular competition is fierce, so make sure you’re getting what’s best for the way you really use your data. Check your current bill to find out how much you’re actually using, then shop around. One size never fits all, so with a bit of smart research, you’ll find all the data you really need, and for less.

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