Report: Unlimited data plans are a waste of money

(MoneyWatch) One of the most coveted possessions for some mobile workers isn't their netbook, e-pass for toll roads or a free-refill coffee mug. It's the unlimited data plan they clung onto when their carrier stopped offering such plans and moved new customers to metered rates for their smartphones and slates.

But if you are still grandfathered into and paying for an unlimited data plan for your smartphone, Consumer Reports has some eye-opening news for you.

According to a recent article in Consumer Reports, a full half of AT&T (T) customers currently using unlimited data plans would save money by switching to a metered plan.

It's not as sexy knowing that you have a data ceiling, but the reality is that most people don't come even close to using the amount of data they get with even the lowest price tiered data system.

Specifically, Consumer Reports had this to say:

The usage data, provided to us by Validas, a company that tracks wireless data coverage, shows that about 48 percent of AT&T unlimited-plan subscribers, who pay $30 a month for their data service, use no more than 300 megabytes of data a month, on average. AT&T's 300MB-a-month data plan costs $20 a month. So subscribers who use little data could save more than $100 a year by switching to it.

You certainly don't have to guess how much data you are using. It's easy to visit your carrier's website, log in to your account and find out your usage month over month.

That said, note that if you do switch plans, you'll almost certainly lose the ability to switch back to an unlimited plan later. That might be important to you if technology changes or you find that you need access to sites, services or tools that consume more data than you're currently using. So consider carefully before you pull the trigger on such a change.