AT&T is a fantastic service to consider. Not only do they have the second-best coverage in the country, but their plans tend to offer more generous terms and pricing than the likes of Verizon. That said, determining the best AT&T plans can still be pretty confusing because of the number of options available. That's why we've put together this handy guide to clue you in with everything you need to know.
Right now there's plenty of unlimited data plans to consider, both prepaid and postpaid, so you won't be locked into a plan that's not right for you. There are also still options for shared plans - perfect if you're looking to bundle up your phone bill with a family member or loved one.
This guide will also help you out in understanding AT&T's new plan pricing, which can sometimes feel a little convoluted. Right now, A&T charges a fee for a plan, but also access charges for others as well as bundling in eligible discounts along the way. This can sometimes lead to confusion in regards to the final bill, so we'll include any details you need to know just down below in each of the explanations.
If you want to pick up one of the best AT&T phones on an installment plan, be ready to go with one of the company’s unlimited data plans. They tend to be required as part of the deals AT&T offers, according to the fine print.
Whatever you need, we're here to help walk you through the major details of AT&T's plans as well as a lot of the fine print. We've gone through all the plans that AT&T offers to make it easier for you to understand what you're getting from each plan, what perks are included, and what the limitations are. So, get ready to find the best AT&T plan for you.
- Jump straight there: View the plans at att.com
- Choose your phone: The best AT&T phones available this month
- Score a deal: check out the best AT&T deals this month
- See also: TechRadar's roundup of the best cell phone plans available now
AT&T Plans: explained
AT&T's plans can be broken up into three main categories: unlimited data plans, shared data plans, and prepaid data plans.
Unlimited data plans:
AT&T's unlimited data plans offer all the data you could need. They also pair unlimited talk and text with the data, and they come with a number of other features and limitations we'll get into further down.
Shared data plans:
The shared data plans are AT&T's Mobile Share Plus plans. These offer a set amount of high-speed data for the plan, which can be shared between multiple users on the same account.
For both Mobile Share Plus plans and AT&T's unlimited data plans, the cost per line is reduced the more lines you add, which is a cost-saving incentive for families to sign up together.
AT&T's prepaid plans are not very different, offering many of the same features as the postpaid plans but with a notably different payment process.
We'll get into all the fine details as we break down each of AT&T's plans below.
How much data do you really need?
While 1GB of a data might be enough for someone who mostly uses their phone for calling and texting (and the occasional search on Yelp), it may not be enough for most of us data hogs. If you stream a lot of video you may be looking at 10GB plans and up. For a lot of Internet browsing and Instagram use, somewhere in the ballpark of 5GB may be enough. Thankfully, even if you use up all of your high speed data, AT&T continues to provide data at lower speeds, so you can still upload your Instagram photos.
AT&T Next: Device installment and upgrade plan
If the upfront cost of a new phone along with starting a new data plan is too much, AT&T offers an installment plan service to spread the cost of the device over up to 30 months. The Next Up plan also offers a chance to trade-in your phone and upgrade before you've finished paying off the device. Here's how those plans works.
AT&T Installment Plan:
AT&T Next lets you break up your device payments over 30 months. At the end of those 30 months (after the phone is paid off) your monthly payments will drop.
AT&T Next Up:
If you can afford slightly higher monthly payments and want to have a new phone more often, the AT&T Next Up installment plan costs $5 extra each month but lets you upgrade to a new phone after you've paid off half of the cost of your current phone. Once you've paid half, you can trade in your device and switch to a new one.
The best AT&T plans
Now that you know about the types of plans and how to get a device on an installment plan, let's take a look at the plans themselves.
One thing to note here is that we're considering the plans as they're priced when using auto-pay and paperless billing, as these offer discounts to customers. We're also considering them for single lines, so if you're planning to sign up multiple lines, the cost will generally be even cheaper.
Let's take a look at each tier of AT&T's plans and see which one fits your needs the best.
Shared data plans
1. AT&T Mobile Share Plus plan | 3GB data | from $50 per month
For $50 per month, you can get 3GB of high-speed data that includes 480p streaming, mobile hotspot functionality, and unlimited talk and text. Unused data can also be rolled over to the next billing period. After you use up your data allotment, you're not completely cut off, as data speeds simply slow to 128Kbps.
2. AT&T Mobile Share Plus plan | 9GB | from $60 per month
For $60 per month, you can get a plan that includes 9GB of data at 4G LTE speeds. The terms of this plan are the same as the 3GB plan, but you get more data. If you're signing up with multiple lines, this is likely a better allotment to share, and the price per line will go down.
1. AT&T Unlimited Starter Plan | $65 per month
This plan is basic: unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data each month. It includes texting to over 120 countries along with calls to Mexico and Canada, plus roaming in those two countries. This plan does limit streaming to 480p and doesn't allow mobile hotspot usage, though. Also, customers may experience reduced data speeds during periods of network congestion. That price doesn't include taxes and fees, and does include a number of discounts including an AutoPay and paperless billing discount.
1. AT&T Unlimited Extra Plan | $75 per month
This plan upgrades from the Unlimited Starter plan. It has all the same features, but upgrades the high-speed data allotment to 50GB before you'll experience data deprioritization during network congestion. It also includes 15GB of mobile hotspot. That price doesn't include taxes and fees, and does include a number of discounts including an AutoPay and paperless billing discount.
2. AT&T Unlimited &More Premium plan| $80 per month
This plan is a strange holdover from AT&T's previous offerings, and isn't an upgrade from Unlimited Starter, but isn't strictly an upgrade over Unlimited Extra. AT&T's Unlimited &More Premium plan offers all the same features as the Unlimited Extra plan but includes, but allows HD video streaming, and offers access to one of seven music, movie, or entertainment channels, like HBO, Starz, and Pandora. The plan offers 22GB of high speed data before customers are subject to slowed speeds as a result of data deprioritization. That price doesn't include taxes and fees, and does include a number of discounts including an AutoPay and paperless billing discount.
1. AT&T prepaid plans| from $30 per month
If none of the plans have seemed right for you so far, AT&T also offers a number of prepaid plans with a lot of the same perks as the aforementioned plans and reasonable prices. You can get 1GB for $30 or 8GB for $40.
Right now, AT&T also has prepaid unlimited plans. You can get unlimited data for just $45, or the higher-tier unlimited plan for $55 with 10GB of hotspot and Full HD streaming. No contract is required. The 8GB plan and unlimited plans also offer talk, text, and data access while in Canada and Mexico.
If you'd like to see what other carriers have right now, we've got plenty of content to check out. Firstly head over to the best Verizon plans page, where you'll find a similar rundown of AT&T's main competitors offerings. We've also got a fantastic best cell phone plans page, which looks at the market as a whole. Over there you'll find options that could potentially save you hundreds of dollars.