High-profile horror stories of customers receiving huge, unexpected bills for going over their data allowance has made us all wary of using more data than we’ve paid for. This has led to the majority of consumers opting to pay for a more generous data package than they really need in the hope of saving money.
According to research from Sky, however, rather than saving us money, this is actually costing customers an average of £50 every year.
So what’s the answer to this? Well, the first thing to do is to work out how much data you need and to check your usage with your network.
If you regularly pay for more than you use but you’re wary of opting for less data in case you go over your limit, a plan that includes data rollover might be a good solution for you.
What is data rollover?
Simply put, networks that offer data rollover allow you to take any unused data from one month and use it the following month.
So, for example, if you have a 3GB monthly allowance, but you only use 2GB one month, the remaining 1GB will be rolled over into the next month, giving you a new allowance of 4GB for the next 30 days.
This gives you the option of saving data, so you can give yourself a bit of leeway if you’re concerned about going over, or you can save up if you know you'll be using more data than normal the following month.
Which networks offer data rollover?
Data rollover is a relatively new thing and not all networks offer it. And those that do have different variations of the offer.
Read on and we’ll tell you which networks offer data rollover and exactly how each network lets you save your data.
iD Mobile was the first network to offer a free data rollover service, available to both new and existing iD customers on 12-month, 24-month and one-month SIM-only GoTo plans.
At the end of the month, you can roll over any unused data you have left and use it the following month. There is no limit to the amount of data you can roll over. However, you can only use rolled over data from the previous month, so you can’t stockpile endless data.
Still, because last month’s rolled over data is used first, before your monthly allotted amount, any data that’s left at the end of month can then be rolled over again.
Not wanting to be outdone by iD Mobile, O2 also launched a data rollover scheme for customers from February 2016.
O2's offer allows any customer who buys any additional data through a bolt-on to roll over any unused data to the following month.
O2 has made it very clear that this offer is for bolt-ons only, and is still operating a 'use it or lose it' policy for all other customers.
Virgin Media automatically rolls over any unused data at the end of the month, so you can use it the following month for no additional charge.
The rolled-over data will then be used first. And only after it’s been used up will you start using up your regular monthly allowance.
In contrast to some similar rollover schemes, such as FreedomPop’s, there’s no charge for rolling over data. There’s no limit to the amount you can rollover from one month to another either.
However, you can only roll over data from the previous month, so you can’t stockpile months and months of unused data.
Vodafone is offering data rollover for its Pay As You Go customers on the Big Value bundle.
Like other networks, Vodafone only lets you roll over data from the previous month, which prevents you from saving up endless data.
To roll over data, customers just need to top up to renew their Vodafone Big Value bundle within the 30-day period and any unused data will roll over into the next 30 days.
Freedompop lets customers sign up for data rollover for £1.49 a month. For this, you can roll over a maximum of 500MB per month.
So, if you were on a 2GB plan, for example, and you only used 1GB of data, you could pay £1.49 to roll over 500MB of that data, giving you a total of 2.5GB to use the following month.
You can save anything up to a generous 20GB. However, considering that you can only save 500MB a month, we estimate it would take you over three years to save that amount on their plan.
In terms of data rollover, Sky Mobile offers by far the best deal.
While some of the major networks, such as O2 and Virgin Media, let you roll over any unused data at the end of the month, you can only roll over data from the previous month. This prevents you from stockpiling a huge trove of unused data for a rainy day.
With Sky Mobile, however, you can roll over any unused data at the end of each month and store it in an online ‘piggybank’. That data will be there whenever you want to use it for up to three years at no extra cost, so any data you pay for is yours to keep.
On top of this, families on Sky Mobile can pool all of their data together into one piggybank and share it out whenever a family member needs a bit of a top-up.