Why a data SIM could save you money

Young people are more mobile than ever and to stay connected via our phones, tablets, and laptops when on the move we are using more and more data. Being smart about how you pay for that data could help you save a significant amount of money each month.

4G technology means we can have broadband-like speeds even when sitting on a coffee shop or in the park, but with most people only having a few GB of data included in their phone plan, buying a dedicated data SIM for your tablet or laptop dongle is likely a much better and more cost effective option. It will also save the battery life on your phone, which can disappear rather quickly if you have wireless tethering switched on.

If you like to connect more than one device, however, an even better option might be to buy a mobile WiFi router (MiFi box), which when used with a 4G data sim can give you and your friends a quick and cheap way to connect to the web without paying for data subscriptions for each device. As an added bonus, if you’re travelling abroad on your uni holidays, paying for a roaming data sim for one MiFi box and then connecting all your devices to it could save you hundreds of pounds over the course of a few weeks when compared to paying for roaming data for the handful of devices we all carry with us when on the move.

Just like any other SIM contract, it pays to shop around to find the best deal for your own usage. Maybe you only need a few GB of data per month to read the news and watch a few videos on your iPad, or maybe you are working on the move and need more than 100GB to connect half a dozen devices via a MiFi box – there are deals for everyone. Similarly, some people might only want to use their MiFi box while away on holiday for a couple of months and so a monthly contract would be best, while others will want to use it every day and so having a 12 or 24 month contract could save them money.

In general, it is always a good idea to give yourself a good 25% buffer on the amount of data you expect to use. So if you think you will need 4GB of data, then get a plan offering 5GB, or if you think you will need 80GB then get a plan offering 100GB. Running out of data is annoying at the best of times, and the cost of a few extra GB when choosing your SIM is negligible compared to the cost of going over your contract, with some networks charging as much as £5 per GB or more.

Photograph by Niek Verlaan

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