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What is data rollover and which networks offer it?

Data is one of the most important aspects of any phone deal, and knowing how much data you need is an important part of picking the best value plan. But what happens when you’ve over-estimated your usage and end up with extra data allowance at the end of the month? If you’re lucky, your network will offer data rollover, so nothing goes to waste.

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What is data rollover?

Data rollover works like the lottery rollover, anything unclaimed, or in this case, unused, rolls over to the next month for you to use it then. Usually, when you don’t use your data in time, it refreshes anyway and anything not used is just replaced by your new monthly allowance. That’s not an issue with data rollover, meaning you won’t lose anything.

How does data rollover work?

Imagine you’ve signed up to a plan, either on pay as you go or contract, to have 30GB a month. Your plan refreshes every 28th, but by the 27th you have 5GB left, no worries, this will just carry over to your next month. Depending on your network provider, you can keep doing this for as long as three years until your original data is no longer valid. 

Which networks offer data rollover?

The following networks offer data rollover:

  • Sky Mobile

  • iD Mobile

  • Virgin Mobile

  • SMARTY

  • Vodafone

  • EE

  • O2

Not every UK mobile network offers data rollover, and if it does, it doesn’t mean it’s applicable to both pay as you go and pay monthly phone deals. 

Sky Mobile

  • Longest roll-over term

  • Pay monthly customers only

One of the best known providers of data rollover, Sky Mobile lets you keep your data rolling over for up to three years if you’re a pay monthly customer. That means if you know you’re going to be in need of data in a month’s time, say, if you’re going to lots of music festivals, then you can just ration yourself the month (or year) before and build up a nice piggybank of data. You can even cash in your unused data for money off a new phone or new accessories. Unfortunately, Sky does not offer pay as you go rollover. 

O2

  • Pay as you go only

  • Data caps

  • 1-month rollover

An O2  pay as you go sim with rollover will let you enjoy any unused data from one month to the next. You will have to be a Big Bundle customer and have renewed your bundle for the rollover to occur. There is a cap at 12GB though, and you won’t be able to roll over any more data. 

EE

  • Pay as you go and Flex plans

  • 1-month rollover

EE data rollover lets you carry over any unused data as a pay as you go or Flex plan customer. You will need to renew your plan within seven days of its expiry to get your data rollover. Plus, with EE’s free boosts, which reward you for choosing the same data pack three times, you’ll continue to get free data even on top of your rollover. Your rollover will only be valid for one month, though.

Vodafone

  • Pay as you go only

  • 1-month rollover

Vodafone data rollover lets you bring your data from the previous month into your refreshed data plan, but no further. You must refresh your bundle for the rollover to work. 

Virgin Mobile

  • Pay monthly only

  • 1-month rollover

Virgin Mobile data rollover is available for pay monthly customers and lets you move any data from one month to the next, but no further than that. You can rollover as much data as you want, but any extra data you gained as part of a promotion and not as part of your standard plan will not rollover. 

SMARTY

  • Money back for unused data

SMARTY doesn’t use data rollover in the traditional sense, instead, you’ll get money off your next plan for any data you don’t use. The precise value of your discount depends on your plan, but it can be as much as £2, and considering SMARTY’s priciest plan as of May 2020 is £6, that’s a hefty discount. 

Can I downgrade my plan?

If you find that you’re often left with too much data at the end of the month, you might be on the wrong plan. Unfortunately, its very difficult to downgrade a phone contract, especially if you are still within your minimum term.

Data gifting

If you’re struggling to get through your data you might want to look into data gifting options. The following networks will let you set up a sharer plan so you can move your data from your device to a family member:

  • O2

  • EE

What to do with excess phone data

Having more data than you need, knowing you’ve paid for it, is worse than not having enough data, so here are a few ways you can start eating up your extra allowance:

  • Tethering

Using your mobile as a hotspot can help chomp through data, as well as offer a convenient way for your tablets and other devices to get online. Maybe you’re already paying for a data only SIM to power your dongle, if so, you can do away with that and just use your mobile plan. Be sure to check that there aren’t any tethering limits on your monthly plan.

  • Stream in HD

HD streaming eats up a lot of your data allowance, plus if you have a really flash screen like the iPhone 11 Pro Max then you might enjoy showing off its capabilities. 

  • Hotspot your friends

It’s always nice to know someone is benefitting from data that would otherwise be lost, so offer to be the WiFi hotspot for your friends when you’re out and about.

  • Download more

Lots of people try to avoid downloading to prevent using up data, but you can enjoy doing the opposite if you want to use up your allowance. 

  • Message more

Do you take full advantage of the call capabilities of WhatsApp and Facebook? If you have the data to do it, then why not video call instead of messaging?

  • Update all your apps

Good for data usage and good for your phone, take this opportunity to keep your apps up to date and working smoothly.