How to Check Your Data Usage

Avoid overage charges and use less data

Man using phone as many flies out of it.

SIphotography for iStock/Getty Images Plus

“You’ve used 75% of your 32 GB data plan. We’ll add 1GB if you use all your data before your billing period ends and add it to your next bill.” If you’re on a family plan with kids, this is almost certainly a monthly occurrence. Constant video and music streaming, gaming, sending videos, and endless Instagram scrolling are gobbling hundreds of megabytes of data every day.

Once you know how to check how much data you have left, you can identify easy ways to stay under your data cap.

Your phone and your carrier both provide ways to see how much data you've used is near real-time. But before we get to that, let's find out where all that data is going.

Why Am I Using So Much Data?

Not surprisingly, the apps and activities you spend the most time with are likely the apps that are consuming the most data. Here are some of the biggest culprits:

  • Autoplaying videos on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Snapchat
  • Streaming high definition video on Youtube, Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video
  • Allowing apps to refresh in the background when they're not being used

You’ve got multiple options for checking how many bytes you’ve taken from your data plan, including direct delivery to your phone via text message, and through your carrier's app or website. So if you need to put yourself (or someone else) on a data diet, read on for how to keep track of how much data you’re using.

How to Check Data Usage on Your Phone

Checking mobile data usage directly on your phone is the quickest way to identify which apps are consuming the most data.

Check Android Phone Data Use

  • To view your data usage, tap Settings > Data. You can Set mobile data limit on this screen.
  • For more detail, tap Settings > Connections > Data usage. Swipe up to see how much data your apps use, ordered from most to least.

Check iPhone Data Usage

  • Tap Settings > Cellular
  • Scroll down to see your total data usage for the billing period, along with how much data your apps have used, ordered from most to least.

Checking data on your phone is fine, but you'll only have insights as to what is using data on your phone. If you are part of a family or multi-line plan, you'll need to go a little deeper to see who's using how much.

Check Data Usage With AT&T

The easiest way to check AT&T data usage is by dialing *3282# (*DATA#).  

AT&T will send you a free text message summarizing your next billing data, total data usage, and what data overage (if any) has occurred. If you’re on a family plan, you’ll even be able to see the the usage for each of the numbers on your account.

AT&T app overview screen

The myATT app (available on Google Play and in the Apple App Store) gives you a slick interface to control how your data gets used.

To avoid surprises at billing time, use the myATT app to set up data alerts and receive text messages when a reach a set threshold. The myATT app’s Stream Saver feature lets you limit the resolution on most videos to 480p. You’ll get DVD quality video, which for most uses will be just fine.

Check Data Usage With Verizon

Verizon provides a world of ways to monitor and control your data usage, including a text summary. Dial #3282 (#DATA) to get a text alert summarizing your data use. Verizon will even repeat the information verbally if you stay on the line.

The My Verizon app (available on Google Play and in the Apple App Store) lets you set data usage alerts, see who and which apps are using data, and set limits by app or user.

Verizon app data usage screen

Depending on which data plan you use, the My Verizon app’s Safety Mode will let you keep using data after you’ve reached your monthly allowance, albeit at reduced speeds. It’s a solid way to keep from incurring data overage charges.

Check Data Usage With T-Mobile

As you reach 80% and 100% of your account’s minutes, texts and data, you’ll receive a text message. You can also check anytime by dialing #WEB# (#932).

T-Mobile app data usage screen

T-Mobile’s app does basic data use reporting, along with managing its Binge On feature. When enabled, Binge On optimizes video as you stream it to limit data usage. So plowing through entire seasons on Netflix doesn’t necessarily mean laying waste to the month’s data allowance.

Check Data Usage with Sprint

Dial * 4 to get a verbal summary of your text, data, and message usage. You’ll have the option to receive your usage by text as well.

If you’re using a family plan, the primary account holder will automatically receive alerts when any user reaches 75%, 90% and 100% of their plan’s allowance.

Sprint app data usage screen

My Sprint Mobile (Google Play, Apple App Store) details your usage by billing period, but to access controls to limit user and app data, you’ll need to log in to your My Sprint account online.

Check Data Usage With Cricket

Cricket touts its plans that include unlimited data, so you might not see the need to monitor usage. But there’s a catch.

After a set amount of data (currently 22 GB/mo), Cricket may “temporarily slow data speeds when the network is congested.” So keeping track of precisely how much you’ve consumed at the all-you-can-stream data buffet might be worth it if you’re relying on your phone to stream video.

Cricket app data usage screen

To keep track, use the myCricket app (Google Play, Apple App Store). Or log in to cricketwireless.com/myaccount. Cricket does not automatically send data usage alerts by text.

Check Data Usage With Boost Mobile

Most of Boost Mobile’s plans offer unlimited data usage, and will alert you as to data usage throughout your billing cycle. Like Cricket’s unlimited data feature, however, you have access to a limited amount of 3G-speed data before you’re throttled back to 2G speeds.

Boost mobile app data usage screen

Boost will send notifications as you approach your high-speed data cap. Optionally, you can check usage by logging in to your Boost Mobile account online. Or you can download the My Boost Mobile app (Google Play, Apple App Store). There you can keep closer track of data usage, and review outgoing calls and messages.

Get a Grip on Your Gigs

Now that you know how to check how much data you have used, we’ve got great guidance on how to control where, when, and how your apps share it.

For Android users, we’ve gathered the best tips for cutting down on your mobile data usage.

And instead of simply turning off the data on your iPhone when you start bumping up against your data cars, check out our data saving tips for iOS users.