You Asked, We Answered: How Do I Track Data Use On My Smartphone?

UPDATED 01/27/20

Keeping track of your data usage is a simple but important step to make sure you’re getting the most out of your monthly cellphone plan. While you certainly don’t want to use more than what your plan includes, you shouldn’t have to worry every time you send an email or check Facebook. Here are a few easy ways you can avoid surprises.

The best way to preserve your data is simply to connect to Wi-Fi if it’s available. This lets you go online using a wireless Internet connection at home, as well as in many public spots like stores, cafes, restaurants, or hotels. Your phone will use Wi-Fi instead of connecting to your cellular network, meaning you can save your cellular data for those times when you really need it.

It’s also helpful to understand which features and apps on your device are using data. This includes sending and receiving email, browsing the Internet, using social media, and streaming music or video. Some streaming apps will offer an option of downloading content directly to your device when connected to Wi-Fi, so you can listen or watch without consuming any of your data.

One of the biggest data users is GPS. In fact, it consumes far more than most other types of apps. That’s why it’s an especially good idea to turn GPS off completely when you’re not using it. Likewise, downloading new apps will always require either a Wi-Fi or cellular network connection, although the data needed to download and run individual apps will vary. You can find out each app’s specific requirements in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

You can track which apps are consuming your data, and how much, by opening the “Settings” app on your Android or iPhone. On Android, you’ll tap “Data Usage” to get a list of individual items using data; on the iPhone, tap “Cellular” to get this information.

And should you ever find that you simply need more data for your smartphone, don’t forget: you can always upgrade your Consumer Cellular Connect Plan. There’s never a fee for changing your plan. In fact, if you happen to go over your monthly plan, we automatically upgrade you to the next level, so there are absolutely no overage fees and you get the best rate for what you’ve actually used. It’s really that easy!

33 Thoughts on "You Asked, We Answered: How Do I Track Data Use On My Smartphone?"

  1. Christine Oszak says

    Thank you for the automatic upgrade.

    reply to Christine

  2. Catherine Beseler says

    I have to say this in writing now even though I have said it to every representative I spoke to since becoming a new customer… your company is AWESOME! I have dealt with several contractual and non contractual mobile phone companies and in my 53 years I have not had it so professional, knowledgeable, easy and very friendly or down to earth as Consumer Cellular. Trust me, even from day one talking to a live person without being on hold forever or talking to several different representatives for as long as an hour for a very simple request is so common that they should pass a law that ANY company that you call for whatever reason should learn from your company’s example! Consumer Cellular reminds me of the “good ole days” when you ONLY had a landline to take care of business and it was done! Just like that! No long time on hold, no ignorant or unknowledgeable representatives, or worse rudeness! Thank you for EVERYTHING your company does for all of your customers in “old school ” or THE RIGHT way of taking care of the people who contribute to your income. You treat people the way we would all love to be treated in a daily basis. THANK YOU! Keep up the awesome job! ^CAT^

    reply to Catherine

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Catherine. I’m happy to share them with all of our team here at Consumer Cellular. We pride ourselves on having the best people in the business, and it’s wonderful to hear that our customers agree! We truly appreciate you taking the time to share your experience here, and we hope you have a fantastic day!

      reply to Ashley

    • Catherine Shappit says

      I so agree with Catherine!

      reply to Catherine

  3. Laura Burns says

    Very helpfull

    reply to Laura

  4. Bob May says

    Why isn’t our plans Data Usage Detail able to be downloaded in XLS

    reply to Bob

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thanks for posting, Bob. That option isn’t available at the moment, but I’m happy to forward that suggestion to our site development team. You can always view your usage detail in the My CC app, or in the My Account section of the site. And of course, we’re happy to answer your questions over the phone at 888-345-5509 as well. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out to us today!

      reply to Ashley

  5. Sally Radabaugh says

    I bought a tablet from you last week. You tell me I am close to going over my usage. I am trying to figure out the tablet & usage of same – that is why so much usage. If I do go over – how much more is the cost?

    reply to Sally

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for reaching out to us, Sally. First, we recommend connecting to a Wi-Fi network as you get to know your tablet. That way, you won’t use data from your plan. If you do exceed your data plan, we will automatically upgrade you to the next Connect plan. You don’t have to do a thing! We’re also happy to give you tips on settings for your tablet that will reduce the amount of data used if you like. Just call us at 888-345-5509, and we’ll be ready to assist you. We appreciate you posting today, and have fun with your new tablet!

      reply to Ashley

  6. Gary Worzel says

    Will texting when not on wifi count against my data plan. Also, some time I don’t receive texts when I have data off , is this because need it on or because I turned push off?

    reply to Gary

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thanks for posting, Gary! When you send or receive a text message, it will be deducted from your text and data plan, regardless of whether or not you’re connected to Wi-Fi. If you have data turned completely off, you may not receive photo or video messages, which require that type of connection. We’re happy to answer any other question you may have about data or messaging at 888-345-5509. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out to us, and we hope you have a great day!

      reply to Ashley

  7. Steve Isenberg says

    There are plans around that refund unused data (e.g, Google Project Fi). If for example you have a 500MB plan, and go over 500 MB and are upgraded to a 1.5GB plan (thanks for auto-upgrade by the way), you’re charged an extra $10 for the extra 1GB. But suppose you only use 300 MB of that extra 1000MB you’ve paid $10 for (i.e., you’ve used 800MB total). Project Fi will credit you the $7 for the unused 700MB data in the following month. Is Consumer Cellular considering doing this?

    reply to Steve

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thanks for posting today, Steve. At this time, we don’t have a “rollover” option, but we do appreciate the suggestion! In our experience, we’ve found that our customers save more by adjusting their plans as needed. That way, they don’t have to pay for any minutes or data they won’t need! If you like, we can talk with you more about this feature at 888-345-5509. Your feedback is very valuable, and it helps us add features to our service that will better serve our customers. Thank you again for taking the time to reach out to us, and we hope you have a wonderful day!

      reply to Ashley

  8. Tammy Coleman tbcoleman says

    Hi, my phone is already set up but in the initial set up I skipped setting up Wifi, how do I add the Wifi to my phone so I can use it when needed?

    reply to Tammy

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Don’t worry, Tammy, we have just the thing! Our How-To video walks you through the process on the Alcatel Pop 3, the same phone you already have. You can watch it here! And of course, we can help you over the phone at 888-345-5509 if you run into any issues. Using Wi-Fi is a great way to save your data for when you really need it! Thanks for posting today!

      reply to Ashley

  9. David says

    Why, when I review my data use, does my online account report that the only use was at 6:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 6:00 PM, and 12:00 AM? I know that I (occasionally) use data, but certainly not at midnight or 6:00 AM.

    reply to David

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      That’s a common question, David. Data is reported by the cellular towers in batches sent at those times. You likely used the data earlier that day, but those time stamps correlate to the reporting times. If we can answer any other questions you may have, we’re always happy to do so at 888-345-5509. Thank you for posting, and we hope you have a great day!

      reply to Ashley

      • Randy says

        I’m having a hard time with the batch answer when a 6 a.m. report shold indicate usage since the last report, which was 12 p.m., a time frame during which I am asleep. Am I not fully understanding this concept?

        reply to Randy

        • I’m happy to clarify, Randy! Depending on a number of factors, usage reporting can be delayed by 24 to 48 hours. The usage we receive every six hours does not always occur within the previous six hours, but it is reported to us and visible to our customers as quickly as possible.

          reply to Jacob

  10. Mark Borrayo says

    I just discovered that I can disable data usage per phone from my account page. Does that take effect immediately?

    reply to Mark

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      It does indeed, Mark! You’ll want to power cycle the device in question to make sure the change takes effect. It’s a great tool for managing your plan!

      reply to Ashley

  11. Herb Williams says

    when i buy a phone from consumer is it an unlocked phone with you chip in it or can it only be used with your system ?

    reply to Herb

    • Hi Herb, thanks for your questions. Phones sold by Consumer Cellular are designed to work specifically on our service. To allow us to make them more affordable for our customers, Consumer Cellular sells them at a price that is actually below cost. To help offset this loss, phones can only be used with Consumer Cellular service for the first six months they are in use. After that, customers may request that the phone be unlocked so long as the device has been paid in full, and the account in question is in good standing.

      reply to Jacob


    I have had Consumer Cellular for many years and have purchased several different phones and can honestly say have never had a problem with billing, purchases. They receive an A+ in my opinion, thank you Consumer Cellular for several years of excellent service.

    reply to SHIRLEY

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for your very kind words, Shirley. It has been our pleasure to serve you, and we look forward to having you as a customer for years to come!

      reply to Ashley

  13. J.Jefferson says

    Sorry, but this topic doesn’t even come close to answering the question. It doesn’t address “tracking” usage. It only comments on managing usage and reducing it.

    All you really need to do is say “text #usage to 1234” or something like that. I just want to know what current usage is.

    reply to J.Jefferson

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thanks for posting, J. It sounds like you’re looking for an easy way to track your overall usage. You can do so with the My Consumer Cellular app, and we also offer free usage alerts that will notify you when you’ve reached a certain percentage of your plan. Our app can be found in the App Store or the Google Play store, and it’s free to download. If you’re interested in the usage alerts, you can adjust these settings from the My Account section of our site, or we can help you set them up at 888-345-5509. Both options are helpful when trying to stay on top of your plan. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out to us!

      reply to Ashley

  14. Joan batten says

    I have been trying to get Consumer cellular app on this new phone with no help. Spoke with two different people and they couldn’t get it on this phone

    reply to Joan

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thanks for posting, Joan. I reviewed your account, and I see that we’ve sent you a link to the app via text message. If that didn’t work, please try searching for “Consumer Cellular” in the app store. Select the option to download, then login just as you would in My Account. We’re happy to walk you through it if you like at 888-345-5509. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out to us!

      reply to Ashley

  15. Michael says

    Hi! What is the best setting/settings to have on our phones when out on the town and wanting to save the most data we can but still want or need to receive texts and calls?

    reply to Michael

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Great question, Michael! One of the easiest things you can do is to turn off location services, or GPS, when you don’t need it. You can always turn it back on if you need to use Google Maps or other features to find your way around. If you want to be extra cautious, you can turn off data altogether. You’ll still be able to make calls and send text messages, and if you connect to a Wi-Fi network at a hotel or cafe, you can check email, go online and use other features without using data from your plan. If you’re not sure how to do this on your phone, we’re happy to walk you through it at 888-345-5509. Thanks for posting, and we hope you have a great time!

      reply to Ashley

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