Choosing the best AT&T plan is among the most confusing decision you'll have to make regarding a phone this year, but if you're looking for help to start out the new year since it's now January 2017, you've come to the right place.
Finding a solid network to wholly place your trust in is only half the battle; the real challenge is often picking the plan that fits your needs the best. If you've landed on AT&T, we've done all of the heavy lifting for you. After hours of scrupulously breaking down everything the nation's second largest network has to offer, we've compiled every detail you need to find the perfect AT&T. From the merits of shared plans to the amount of data you need, we've got your back!
- Jump straight there: View the plans at att.com
- Choose your phone: The best AT&T phones available this month
AT&T Plans: Explained
Since the days of waiting until 9:00pm to make a call is far off in the rearview mirror, data is the main selling point for the major networks. Following in the footsteps of Verizon's plans, AT&T sent its various minute-based plan options flying out the window, opting for a more modern and streamlined data sharing option called the Mobile Share Value plan. With this shared data plan, the price is determined by the amount of data you choose to include in your plan, ranging from a measly 300MB to a monstrous 50GB. The perk with this plan is that the data (read: the cost) can be divided amongst as many as 10 devices, which could significantly diffuse a would-be heartbreaker of a monthly bill. The only catch is that every line on the plan is an extra $25/month, which covers unlimited talk and text not only in the United States, but in Canada and Mexico as well. Here's a quick look at what you'll be shelling out month to month for each level of data:
- 1GB: $30/Month
- 3GB: $40/Month
- 6GB: $60/Month
- 10GB: $80/Month
- 16GB: $90/Month
- 25GB: $110/Month
- 30GB: $135/Month
- 40GB: $180/Month
- 50GB: $225/Month
- 60GB: $270/Month
- 80GB: $360/Month
- 100GB: $450/Month
How much data do you really need?
Unless you plan to constantly stream every season of The Walking Dead via 4G LTE, 15GB of data or less should be more than enough for a single-line customer. If you're lucky enough to have some unused data when the phone bill comes around, AT&T's Rollover Data will let last month's internet scraps feed next month's data. The only downside is that it's kept in check by a pretty stingy one month expiration date, meaning you can't keep rolling data over from month to month. Still, having last month's extra data lying around is a pretty handy perk to have, especially for heavier-than-average data users.
AT&T Next: Helping you pay for your phone
Good news, you don't have to pay $800 for the latest and greatest phone, as AT&T has a simpler payment plan by way of AT&T Next. It break up the cost of your device over a set period of time. While the option is always open to put a hefty down payment on your new device, or pay for it entirely before activation, AT&T Next is a reasonable and flexible way to take some of the financial burden from customers, while offering a clear path to trading for a newer device. Extremely well-qualified customers can expect to walk out of AT&T with a brand new phone, and not a penny down. Hard to beat, right? Let's take a look at each level of AT&T Next, to see which one fits your needs the best.
AT&T Next Every Year
This level breaks up your device payment into 30 monthly installments, with the option to trade-in and upgrade after 24 months, or 2 years. This is the lowest monthly fee that doesn't require a downpayment for qualified customers. It was formerly called AT&T Next 24. See this plan on AT&T's website
The next tier parcels out your new handset payment over 30 months, with the option to trade-in and upgrade every two years. Still no down payment for qualified customers, with a shorter obligation and a few more dollars every month. See this plan on AT&T's website
AT&T Next with down payment
Credit not exactly where you want it? No worries. After a down payment of 30% of the device cost, the lowered remainder is spread over 28 months and you've got the opportunity to trade-in and upgrade after a mere 12 months. In other words, it'll sting to put down such a big fee upfront, but you'll save some serious cash every month that follows. Some qualified customers may choose this over zero down payment. Every customer looking for a plan is unique and different in their needs. Only you as a consumer know exactly what your needs are and which financial path on AT&T Next is right for you. Overall, AT&T Next offers some surprisingly flexible payment options for people in all walks of life. See this plan on AT&T's website
The best AT&T plans for you:
Now it's time to get down to brass tacks and break down all of what AT&T has to offer you as a customer. While we've done the tough research for you, it's imperative to understand that every person with a cell phone is different in their needs. Some use data like renewable energy while others treat it as a precious commodity. Thankfully, AT&T has a plethora of pricing options to choose from, whether you're opening one line or looking for a family solution. It's also important to keep in mind that data overage charges have a habit of sneaking onto the monthly phone bill, unannounced. Every GB used beyond what's on your plan amounts to an extra $15 at the end of the month, which can add up surprisingly fast. Depending on your data needs, it might be worth aiming for a larger plan avoid overage charges, especially since AT&T offers one-month data rollover. Let's take a look at each tier of AT&T's Mobile Share Value plan and see which one fits your needs the best.
1. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 1GB data | $30 per month
If you're a moderate or even infrequent data user, this plan is not the one for you. 1GB evaporates quicker than Dasani in Death Valley making this a very specialized tier for users who only use data in a pinch. For most modern mobile users, 1GB is simply not going to cut it these. View this plan at AT&T
2. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 3GB | $40 per month
For only $10 more, the 3GB tier is a much better deal for the average single line. 3GB should be more than enough for those simply using data to peruse Facebook or check up on emails. But for anyone interested in streaming a fair amount of music or video, 6GB might be more your speed. View this plan at AT&T
3. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 6GB | $60 per month
Depending on how much you use data, 6GB would either be perfect for a single moderate user, or two lighter ones. For a couple who can live on just a fair amount of data, this plan is extremely affordable. View this plan at AT&T
4. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 10GB | $80 per month
This brand new AT&T plan fits right in between the otherwise large gap of 6GB and 16GB. Rounding out to 10GB of data could be a perfect fit for a number of situations, ranging from a family of 5 to a Netflix-addicted single line. View this plan at AT&T
5. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 16GB | $90 per month
As we enter the heftier data plans, we begin to see where the "shared" aspect becomes the main player. Although $90/month sounds steep, it's only $18/person if you can split the bill 5 ways, which leaves a little more than 3GB of data per person for an unbeatable price. View this plan at AT&T
6. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 25GB | $110 per month
The same story as the 16GB plan, depending on how you divide this, $110/month for this sizeable chunk of data could save some big bucks. View this plan at AT&T
7. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 30GB | $135 per month
30GB sounds like a lot, until you introduce a family with 4 data-hungry teens. Still, this price, if you can divide it up across 6 or more lines, is cheaper than any single line you can open. View this plan at AT&T
8. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 40GB | $180 per month
This is AT&T's last data plan under $200, and it's the same old song and dance. Depending on how you slice it, even $180/month can come out as the most affordable option. View this plan at AT&T
9. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 50GB | $225 per month
If everyone in a AT&T-invested family of 5 wants 10GB per line, this is the best option. You run less a risk of going over at the end of the month. View this plan at AT&T
10. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 60GB | $270 per month
Adding another 10GB to the previous plan does make the price skyrocket. However, when big families require big data, the price is worth paying without overage fees. View this plan at AT&T
11. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 80GB | $360 per month
This is AT&T's second largest data plan and it includes more data than even heavy users on a 5-person family plan can consume in a month. View this plan at AT&T
12. AT&T Mobile Share Value plan | 100GB | $450 per month
Go big or go home, right? Admittedly, the thought of this monthly bill gives me the nervous fidgets, but for a plan with 7 or more lines, this tier could actually be fairly cost effective. If you max out the allowed devices at 10, each line is allotted and 10GB chunk of data at a surprisingly low price. View this plan at AT&T
AT&T Prepaid options with GoPhone
If none of AT&T's plan options sound like the right fit , you may want to look into GoPhone, AT&T's prepaid service. According to the network, GoPhone allows you to pay for your handset however you're most comfortable, whether that's by the minute, day or month. Although the latest smartphones aren't available for GoPhone, many excellent 4G enabled devices are, including the iPhone 5S. If you're looking to avoid anything that resembles a contract, don't care about having the newest handset and are seeking total control over what your money pays for in your plan, GoPhone is certainly worth a look. Remember, it's not enough to have a great plan -- you need a great phone to go with it. AT&T's entire lineup of phones is available with each plan, including the top of the line iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Each phone on your plan is an additional $20/month, which includes unlimited talk and text in the US, Canada and Mexico.