AT&T cell phone plans are numerous, but unfortunately, the features and terms of service are a little confusing for the consumer - in other words, you and me. What do we know about the customer service? How do we switch to AT&T's service from - say - Verizon Wireless? What are the fine print details that are buried beneath the AT&T cell phone plans?
We can assure you that we have all the important details here, to help you gauge whether or not AT&T is a worthy contender, with its 133.3 million customer base as of Q3 2016, for your hard-earned dollar.
With this guide, you find clear-cut information - without any of the garbled mess attached - regarding the wireless plans, coverage, hotspot, deals, and more. Finally, you'll find the cell phone plan comparison tool to help you make an informed decision.
AT&T Wireless Plans
AT&T offers a wide range of cellphone plans, dubbed the Mobile Share Advantage. These plans come with Worry-free data, meaning no overage charges when exceeding the allotted data, truly shareable data, and Rollover Data.
Fortunately, if Mobile Share Advantage is not right for you, the service also offers a set of Prepaid Plans - or no-contract plans, though technically all of AT&T's plans don't exactly require a contract - and Unlimited plans without strings attached.
Unfortunately, these plans are a tad pricier compared to the average carrier, but the quality is comparable with Verizon Wireless' cell phone plans.
AT&T Monthly Plans
Again, AT&T hosts what is known as the Mobile Share Advantage, which grants truly shareable data for up to 10 devices. The most common data packages offered by AT&T are 10GB, 16GB, 25GB, and 30GB, but there are other plans, ranging from 1GB to 100GB.
As mentioned earlier, all mobile phone plans come with no overage charges, meaning that once your high-speed data allotments are exceeded, you will not be charged extra but instead face a "speed penalty." This means that your data speed will slow down to 128 Kbps (2G speed) for the remainder of the billing cycle.
However, if you do not use all of your data within the month, you will instead enjoy the benefits of rollover data, which is data that rolls into the next month for usage. AT&T also offers AT&T Unlimited, but we'll delve into that a bit more in a bit.
AT&T Family Plans
Like other major carriers that integrate family sharing into their plans (like related T-Mobile plans), AT&T does not have a dedicated set of "family plans" but instead has integrated the concept into its Mobile Share Advantage, GoPhone Plans, and AT&T Unlimited plans. Families are able to select a data package that would satisfy their needs.
These packages allow up to 10 devices to connect to the plan, which is more than enough for most families. You can always take a moment to compare family plans offered by AT&T against the competition.
AT&T Prepaid Plans
AT&T has a set of prepaid cellphone plans, under their GoPhone line. These no-contract plans come with an abundance of data, which has doubled since January 2016.
AT&T's GoPhone plans do not require a credit check and are not as pricey compared to its monthly plans.
Similar to the number of prepaid plans made available by the other three major carriers - including the available prepaid T-Mobile plans - there are very few plans to select from, which come with unlimited voice and text in the US and unlimited messaging to over 100 countries. You can choose between just a few GB of data, which provides you with unlimited talk and text, and you'll receive high-speed data until your allotment is used, then your data will be throttled to 128kps.
However, this limited GB plan features rollover data, Stream Saver (allowing you to stream more video on the go with the same data at around 480p), unlimited voice from the U.S. to Mexico and Canada, roaming in Mexico and Canada, but it requires a minimum U.S. usage of 50 percent, and eligibility for the multi-line discount on up to five lines.
And then there is AT&T Unlimited Prepaid, which grants you unlimited data at a maximum speed of up to 3Mbps unless the content is video. If that's the case, speeds and quality will be limited to a max at 1.5Mbps and roughly 480p. Furthermore, after 22GB of data usage, AT&T may throttle data speeds.
With this wireless plan, you'll also have access to unlimited talk from the U.S. to Mexico and Canada, roaming in Mexico and Canada (same rules apply as the limited GB option, however), and eligibility for the Multi-Line Discount on up to five lines.
This wireless carrier also offers a couple of other unique plans. You can enjoy AT&T's service for just a couple of dollars per day (which grants you data allotment of up 100 Mbps, but it's optional) or even for $0.25 a minute. There is also a basic plan that allows you unlimited talk and text for an affordable monthly fee.
AT&T Unlimited Plans
AT&T has introduced a couple of cell phone plans in 2017, dubbed AT&T Unlimited Plus and AT&T Unlimited Choice. This is after the wireless carrier realized it could not fare well with AT&T Unlimited being available only if you've purchased a U-Verse TV or DIRECTV package.
I mean, with cord cutters being prevalent nowadays, how could AT&T do well with the unlimited plan?
Nevertheless, let's first talk Unlimited Plus. With this monthly plan, which is more on the pricier side, you'll find HBO programming included (of course, this is subject to change), 10GB of Mobile Hotspot per line (thought after 10GB, your hotspot speed will slow to a max of 128Kbps), video streaming at 1080p+ (but Stream Saver needs to be turned off), unlimited text from the U.S. to over 120 countries, roaming in, and unlimited talk and text to, Mexico and Canada.
With AT&T Unlimited Choice, AT&T's much cheaper unlimited plan option, you'll take advantage of a maximum speed at up to 3Mbps, standard definition video streaming at a max speed of 1.5Mbps, unlimited text from the U.S. to over 120 countries, no mobile hotspot usage, roaming in, as well as unlimited talk and text to, Mexico and Canada.
While either Unlimited Data plan is a fantastic option to consider if you are a data hog (or have a family), the Unlimited Data is not 100 percent unlimited. After 22GB of usage, AT&T may slow data speeds, but only if network congestion occurs (network congestion will occur more often than you'd like to think). Yet, 22GB is plenty of data for most families.
Overall, you'll receive unlimited data for all devices on either plan, as well as receive unlimited talk and text including calls to Mexico and Canada.
Of course, feel free to compare and learn more about other unlimited plans with our review of the unlimited data plans.
AT&T Data Plans
Mobile Share - Data only plans exist but are not available for purchase online. These plans include a data amount that up to 10 data-only devices, including tablets, laptops, netbooks, mobile hotspot devices, and gaming devices, can access. You must pay a monthly fee, plus a monthly device access charge for each data-only device. The plans are a little on the pricier side, with the most expensive option, 50GB, being well over a few hundred dollars per month.
To add a Mobile Share - Data plan, you need to either chat with AT&T utilizing the Chat button when available, dial 611 from an AT&T phone, visit an AT&T store or call 800-331-0500. If you're comparing data plans, especially for your tablet, then you should take a moment to review the best tablet data plans available to you.
You can also opt for a DataConnect or DataConnect Pass plans. If you only need 5GB of data, you can purchase the monthly DataConnect plan, but if you prefer paying while on the go, you can instead go for the DataConnect Pass. You can choose either DataConnect Pass or the DataConnect Pass with auto renew feature. Plans for the basic DataConnect Pass range between 250MB for 24 hours and 2GB for 90 days. Plans for the auto renew version for iPad, Tablet, camera, and gaming devices are between 1GB and 7GB for 30 days. Finally, you can purchase a DataConnect Pass with the option to auto renew for computers. Plans range between 100MB and 1GB of data.
You can choose either DataConnect Pass or the DataConnect Pass with auto renew feature. Plans for the basic DataConnect Pass range between 250MB for 24 hours and 2GB for 90 days. Plans for the auto renew version for iPad, Tablet, camera, and gaming devices are between 1GB and 7GB for 30 days. Finally, you can purchase a DataConnect Pass with the option to auto renew for computers. Plans range between 100MB and 1GB of data.
Cell Phones Offered By AT&T
AT&T provides a vast array of smartphones, GoPhone eligible phones, wearables, and tablets. There's even a section on the site dedicated to the latest iPhone. That being said, the selection isn't as grand as Verizon, but the carrier does offer the latest iterations of popular phones.
You can filter the phones by pricing, manufacturer, condition (certified pre-owned or certified like-new), operating system, style, and feature. You can also purchase the phones in full or you can take the monthly installment route. Like other carriers with bring your own phone programs, you may bring your own phone to AT&T.
We have a smartphone comparison tool for you to take advantage of if you're interested in further comparing smartphones and their specifications.
AT&T Phone Insurance
AT&T does issue device protection to its customers, but only if they enroll their devices in a protection plan within 30 days of activation or upgrade. There are three types of insurance plans available:
Mobile Insurance - This $7.99 per month plan protects your smartphone or tablet from loss, theft, physical and liquid damage, and out-of-warranty malfunctions. You'll receive a speedy replacement (as soon as the following day), and if you are claim-free for six consecutive months, you'll receive anywhere between a 25 percent and 50 percent discount on your standard replacement deductible.
Mobile Protection Plan - This plan, which is $10.99 per month, provides coverage for your eligible smartphone or tablet (or any other eligible device) against loss, theft, damage, and out-of-warranty malfunctions. Like the Mobile Insurance, you'll save anywhere between 25 and 50 percent off of the standard replacement deductible if you're claim-free for six consecutive months. However, you'll also receive one-tap access to ProTech support, as soon as next day replacement, and a Protect Plus app, complete with 50GB of secure content storage.
Multi-Device Protection Pack - For a whopping $29.99 per month, you'll receive support for up to three devices - including phones, tablets, and laptops - against loss, theft, damage, and out-of-warranty malfunctions. Similar to the other plans, you'll save between 25 and 50 percent off of the standard deductible if you are claim-free for six consecutive months. Furthermore, you'll only need to enroll one device at the beginning, but you can add others when you need the coverage. Finally, you'll receive access to ProTech support, as soon as next day replacement, and the Protect Plus app, complete with 50GB of secure content storage.
Screen repair is also included with device protection enrollment. With screen repair, a certified technician will actually visit your location (potentially on the same day). However, screen repair comes with a $89 deductible with a one-year warranty.
While cell phone insurance can really help if your phone is damaged or stolen, it is a monthly service you might pay for and never end up using. Is cell phone insurance worth it? You can hear our thoughts on the matter here.
AT&T Phone Activation
Curious about activating your new phone with AT&T? There are several different ways to activate a new phone, depending on the circumstance. You can:
- Visit the AT&T activation page.
- Activate via "Chat" with AT&T
- Visit an AT&T store
- Dial 866-895-1099
- (If activating GoPhone) Call 877-426-0525
Read More: You may need to unlock your cell phone before you can activate your phone. Fortunately, we have a primer on unlocking your phone.
AT&T Mobile Hotspot
You can purchase a prepaid mobile hotspot with AT&T, providing you with the Internet on the go. You can connect up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices with GoPhone.
Additionally, if you're an AT&T wireless customer, you will have access to AT&T Wi-Fi Basic, which grants you Wi-Fi access to more than 30,000 hotspots.
However, you don't need to be an AT&T customer if you want to access the hotspots, but you must pay a small fee per session if you want access.
Finally, it's important to note that making your smartphone into a hotspot will cost you if you're not on a Mobile Share Advantage plan or a DataPro 5GB plan. If you have a smartphone and a tethering plan, then you can turn your smartphone into a hotspot for plans starting at $15. If you are indecisive or simply not keen on AT&T's mobile hotspot plans, then you then you can always refer to our review of the best mobile hotspot plans to compare the available hotspot plans.
AT&T SIM Card
When it comes to SIM cards, the tiny cards that contain your subscriber profile as well as details regarding your plan and features, AT&T offers them for free. You can always obtain a new one directly from the site.
We've also taken the time to define the SIM card if you'd like to learn more about them.
AT&T Deals, Promotions & Discounts
Like many carriers, AT&T offers special deals and promotions to either lure in new wireless customers or to create incentives for existing customers. For instance, you could score a $50 bill credit when you bring your own smartphone to AT&T. Of course, these deals and promotions are always subject to change and may be limited to the plan or the phone from the shop.
For instance, in one moment, you could save $200 and receive a free Samsung Gear VR if you purchase the latest Samsung Galaxy phone. Another moment, the deal may expire and you may instead be able to save on monthly installments for your latest Samsung Galaxy. Need another example of a deal? AT&T commonly hosts deals on Android phones, even though the Android phones may not be spectacular, so be on the lookout for them and be sure to read reviews.
There is also a program offered to loyal customers, dubbed AT&T Thanks. There are three tiers available, which depend on the service the customer has. All tiers will receive benefits such as Ticket Tuesdays, Front of the line, and Fullscreen Video on Demand. However, only Platinum customers will receive awesome perks such as priority service.
AT&T also offers employee and retiree discounts. All you need to do is fill out a self-service form, and voila - discount.
AT&T's voice and data cover most of the United States. To compare AT&T's coverage with the coverage of other major wireless carriers, please refer to our review of the best cell phone coverage.
AT&T Customer Support
How does AT&T fare against its competitors in regards to customer support? AT&T isn't the worst, but it isn't the greatest either. In the case that you're seeking customer support, you can contact AT&T utilizing the following routes:
- Customer Service
- Order a New Service
- Check Order Status
- Support for Travel Abroad (Free from Mobile)
- Disability Resources
AT&T also hosts a community forum, a chat box, a Twitter profile, and a Facebook profile. You can also check AT&T's Support Center, which is home to a variety of FAQs that may serve you well when an issue arises. When it comes to customer service, AT&T cares. For example and for businesses, AT&T offers two-step verification to fortify your network.
Yes, AT&T offers what is known as Token Authentication Service, which helps businesses protect themselves from financial losses and other harm associated with data breaches and reduce the risk of unauthorized access. Furthermore, and as a wireless service, AT&T provides users with parental controls. Parental controls help parents locate their children, restrict web usage, implement passcode locks (passcode locks will definitely help with children), and even monitor certain items. But enough about two-step verification and parental controls. I'm here to talk customer service.
Customer reviews and company reputation are two great ways to determine whether or not you might enjoy an AT&T cell phone plan. AT&T scored a 71/100 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, an average score amongst its competitors. Yet, AT&T is an Accredited Business with an A+ score with the Better Business Bureau. However and even more baffling, Trustpilot, a website that ranks companies purely with customer reviews, rates AT&T a 2.1/10. So keep in mind that the experiences of one customer are not representative of the company as a whole, but it is important to spot potential issues you may have with the company early nonetheless.
How to Change Your APN Settings
If you're switching carriers to AT&T, you might need to change your APN settings. You can see the information you'll need below. Don't know how to change your APN settings, go here.
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AT&T overall is a good option, offering a variety of mobile phones, strong coverage that rivals Verizon, and an incredibly speedy service. However, what gives AT&T an edge over its competitors is its Unlimited Data plan. So if you're a data hog and would like to save on DIRECTV's packages, then it may be best to select AT&T.
Curious about how the major competitors fare against one another in terms of overall cell phone plans? Then be sure to read our buyer's guide to cell phone plans.
Additionally, you could be instead looking for a home phone plan such as AT&T U-Verse Voice. If that's the case, you should be referring to our guide to U-Verse Voice.