Learn to Avoid Costly Data Charges on a Prepaid Cell Phone Plan

Switch to a non-working APN to stop data charges

Pixelated dollar signs floating over cell phone
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If you have a smartphone and a prepaid or pay-as-you-go plan, you don't want apps connecting to the internet in the background eating up your minutes. Unfortunately, many apps consume data even when you're not using them. News and weather apps, for example, update in the background and automatically refresh every few minutes so they can be current.

When you're on a prepaid plan, you should monitor your mobile data usage using mobile apps and special dial-in numbers, but there's also a settings trick you can use,

APN Settings Trick

Usually, there is no need to touch the Access Point Name (APN) on your mobile device. Your carrier configures it for you automatically. However, a change to a nonworking APN stops the data charges related to apps that connect to the internet in the background. When you change the APN, you can only use these apps when you have a Wi-Fi connection. No apps that require data can take your minutes away. Some phones allow you to program multiple APNs, and you can choose which one to use at any time.

The APN instructs your phone which network to access for data, so by putting in a nonsense APN, your cellphone no longer uses up mobile data. You can also use this setting change when you travel internationally to avoid data roaming charges.

Use Caution

Write down your provider-assigned APN setting before you change it. Changing the APN can mess up your data connectivity (which is the point here), so be careful. Not every carrier allows you to change your APN.