Millions of mobile phone users left out of pocket as 71% use less data than they purchase


Millions of mobile phone users left out of pocket as 71% use FAR less data than they purchase: We reveal the best Sim-only deals available

  • Millions of mobile phone users overpay for data 
  • Regions that waste the most include Northern Ireland and Wales 
  • We reveal the best Sim-only deals on the market  

Mobile phone users are being left out of pocket each month with 71 per cent using less data than they actually purchase, new research has revealed.

The average user spends £20 a month for 5GB of data but many do not use that much, often because they hook up to wi-fi at home. 

By swapping to a cheaper deal, they could save between £60 and £180 a year, according to data from Lebara.

It found Northern Ireland and Wales were the areas with the highest amount of waste with 84 per cent and 80 per cent not using all their data, respectively.

Those in Northern Ireland and Wales waste the most data, research from Lebara shows

Those in Northern Ireland and Wales waste the most data, research from Lebara shows

Meanwhile, the North East was found to be the best at using all their data with just 62 per cent not using it all each month. However, that means there is still a large amount wasted. 

Overall, the research found just 10 per cent of people use all their data each month. 

It also revealed that 37 per cent of Britons think the most important thing for buying a new phone is sticking to a budget – but many are being stung by expensive data plans that are wasting their money in the long run.

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With 32 per cent stuck in a two year contract, mobile phone owners are potentially losing out on up to £360 for the duration of their phone contract due to wasted mobile data.

Regionally, whilst Northern Ireland was the worst for data wastage, it was closely followed by Wales and the South West.

The research also looked at exactly how much each region wasted finding 22 per cent of those in Northern Ireland overspent by £180 a year – equivalent to 45GB of data but 38 per cent wasted £60 a year, the same as 15GB a year. 

By comparison, the North East was found to be the best at using all their data, followed by Scotland and London. 

Just 29 per cent wasted £60 a year in the North East and only 11 per cent overpaid by £120.  

Meanwhile, 70 per cent of mobile phone users in the capital did not use all their data whilst the number was lower at 65 per cent for those in Scotland.

The majority of respondents said they were on either Sim-only or pay-as-you-go contracts, with 27 per cent saying, once their current phone plan runs out, they will get a new contract in order to get the latest handset.

However, a quarter of those surveyed will keep their current handset and look for the best Sim-only deals on the market.

Most Sim-only deals do not tie customers into lengthy contracts and are cheaper as consumers only pay for the data, minutes and texts they use, not the handset. 

The best plan of action is to compare the total outlay for the handset you want, and then find a cheap Sim-only deal for it – then compare that to the cheapest pay monthly deals available from major networks. 

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Rajesh Dongre, Lebara UK mobile commercial director, said: ‘The British public are wasting up to £180 a year on their data plans, but once they are out of their contracts, they can start to shop around and find a plan that works for them.’

The survey of 2,000 respondents of UK residents that own a mobile phone took place in June this year. 

Customers can save money on their phone bill by moving to a Sim only deal, experts say

Customers can save money on their phone bill by moving to a Sim only deal, experts say

Best Sim only deals on the market

The best Sim-only deal currently available is with Lebara, according to indepdendent data from comparison website Uswitch for This is Money.

The deal gives customers unlimited minutes and texts with 3GB of data for £4.95. 

The second best deal is also with Lebara – again offering unlimited minutes and texts with 10GB of data for £6.95 a month.

Both deals are not on a contract so consumers can cancel anytime.

O2 also has one of the top deals offering unlimited minutes and texts, 12GB of data for £8 a month. 

Consumers will also get 3 months free of Disney+ but the contract is for 12 months. 

Those looking for more data may be best switching to Three as it offers unlimited minutes, texts and data for £16 a month on a 12 month contract.  

BEST SIM ONLY DEALS 
Provider Minutes and Texts Data Additional features Cost per month Contract length
Lebara Unlimited 3GB n/a £4.95 No contract
Lebara Unlimited 10GB n/a £6.95 No contract
O2 Unlimited 12GB 3 months free Disney+ £8 12 months
Vodafone Unlimited 12GB n/a £8 12 months
Three Unlimited 30GB n/a £10 12 months
Smarty Unlimited 30GB n/a £10 No contract
Three Unlimited Unlimited n/a £16 12 months
Source: Uswitch (prices correct as of 19 July 2021)       
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