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AT&T Next Plan: Is it Worth it?

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AT&T is offering an interesting financing program for AT&T customers who are unable to afford the latest and greatest phones. These programs have been dubbed AT&T Next and AT&T Next Every Year, and they serve the purpose of spreading the retail price of your new phone across monthly payments.

  • AT&T Next allows you to upgrade to a new smartphone every two years with an eligible device trade in.
  • AT&T Next Every Year allows you to upgrade to a new smartphone each year with an eligible device trade in.

Is the AT&T Next plan good or bad? What exactly are the differences between the two? How are they better than your typical trade-in program? Read on to find out!

AT&T Next Financing Plans

Before opting into AT&T Next or AT&T Next Every Year, you must understand that you are required to sign an installment agreement and will face included monthly charges for your smartphone until the phone's retail price is paid off. You will not be able to cancel AT&T Next plan unless the phone is 100 percent yours.

AT&T Next Explained

If you opt into AT&T Next's program, you'll be spreading your payments over 30 monthly installment payments, but you'll be able to upgrade to a new smartphone every two years - in other words, the typical amount of time other major carriers allow you to upgrade your device.

To be eligible for the trade-in:

  • You may need a down payment of either 30 percent or a range of $0 to $600, depending on a variety of factors
  • You'll need either a financed smartphone or a phone of the same make and model, that is both fully functional and in good physical condition, to make the trade
  • You are required to have, at the minimum, a $45/mo plan - after AutoPay and paperless billing discount
  • You can only upgrade once you've exceeded two years of phone ownership or have paid 80 percent of the device's cost

AT&T Next Every Year Explained

AT&T Next Every Year is similar to AT&T Next, but with a few differences, with the first being that you're able to upgrade to a new smartphone every 12 months rather than every 24 months. Furthermore, you're able to pay off your smartphone in 24 monthly installments compared to 30 monthly installments.

As for eligibility requirements of this program:

  • You'll need an eligible service plan that will cost - at a minimum - $45/mo with AutoPay and paperless billing discounts.
  • You can upgrade when you've had your phone for a year or if you've paid 50 percent of the device's cost.
  • You may need a down payment of 30 percent or a range of $0 to $600, depending on a variety of factors including credit score, etc.
  • You'll need a phone that is either currently financed or a phone of the same make and model as the financed phone, and it must be in fully functional and in good physical condition (no scratches, cracks, etc.).

AT&T Cell Phone Plans

AT&T features a variety of plans that are compatible with AT&T Next, ranging from Unlimited & More to Mobile Share Flex (also known as mobile share value plans).

AT&T Unlimited and More

  • Features unlimited talk, text, and data.Includes over 30 channels of live TV, playing 24/7
  • 480p DVD quality
  • No overage fees
  • Unlimited international texting to 120 countries
  • Unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada
  • Free roaming in Mexico and Canada

AT&T Unlimited & More Premium

  • Includes everything from AT&T Unlimited & More
  • Choose one of seven entertainment perks - HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, VRV, Amazon Music, or Pandora Premium
  • 1080p HD quality, streaming at the fastest 4G LTE speed
  • 15GB personal hotspot

Mobile Share Flex

  • Ranges between 1GB and 20GB (though the 1GB data service may not make you eligible for the AT&T Next financing plan)
  • Features unlimited talk and text
  • No overage charges
  • Rollover data is included (expires after 1 billing cycle)
  • Stream Saver allows you to stream in DVD quality, essentially saving data

Is AT&T Next the Better Option?

So is AT&T Next better than your typical two-year contract? If you'd like to pay overtime, then yes, especially when you need that latest phone. After all, you can choose between 24 months or 30 months to completely pay off your phone (meaning you could be facing lower monthly payments than what the competing wireless provider charges), or you can simply upgrade to the next cell phone once you're eligible - or even whenever a certain percentage is paid off - meaning you don't even have to pay the phone completely off before you can upgrade.

But what about AT&T Next versus AT&T Next Every Year? Well, when it comes to the battle of financing plans, AT&T Next comes out on top over AT&T Next Every Year, simply due to the lack of interest offered. Over time, you can pay less, especially if you have a down payment handy.

Let's break down pricing. If you put down nothing as a down payment for a Samsung Galaxy S9, which sports a full retail price of $789.99 at the time of this writing:

  • Financed Price: $789.99
  • AT&T Next (30 months): $26.34/mo.
  • AT&T Next Every Year (24 months): $32.92/mo.

In other words, you would pay $26.34 per month compared to $32.92 per month, even if it means that you'll take longer to pay off your phone with AT&T Next compared to AT&T Next Every Year. At the end of the day, you're paying the same amount.

Furthermore, while a shiny new phone looks fantastic, you may be better off keeping your current phone until it is completely paid off. AT&T Next Every Year makes it all too tempting to upgrade to the next iteration of phones, which tend to be pricier each year.

Save More by Buying Refurbished and Switching to an AT&T MVNO

While AT&T Next and AT&T Next Every Year are OK financing plans, you are, overall, better off to save your money and purchase a used or refurbished phone. Plenty of phones are available in the used phone industry, and many of them are none too different from the current generation of phones.

To save even more money, you should consider switching to an AT&T MVNO, such as Red Pocket Mobile, ROK Mobile, Consumer Cellular, or Straight Talk. An MVNO leases coverage from the major wireless carriers, and they don't have to worry about overhead fees or marketing costs, so they'll reflect those savings in their plan prices.

Combined with a used phone, you could save hundreds - potentially thousands - of dollars yearly on your cell phone bill.

Let's do the Math!

So how exactly does it add up? We've already told you that AT&T Next is a better deal than AT&T Next Every Year but how do those plans add up next to the cost of buying a refurbished phone outright and switching to an MVNO? Check it out!

iPhone 8 with AT&T Next Plan

Refurbished iPhone 8 with AT&T MVNO

Phone Price Upfront$0$500
SIM Starter Kit$20$0
Total Upfront Cost$20$500
Monthly installment Price$23.00$0
Monthly Next Cost$26$0
Monthly AT&T Unlimited &More Price (one line)$70$0.00
Monthly ROK Mobile 10GB Data price on network$0$55.00
Total Monthly Cost$119.00$55.00
Total Cost for 2 years$2,856.00$1,320.00

Total Cost for 2 years + Upfront Cost

$2,876.00

$1,820.00

Buying a refurbished phone and switching to an MVNO on the same network you already pay for will save you over a thousand dollars over two years. Granted, the AT&T Next will give you the newest version of the iPhone with the upgrade program

Recap

AT&T Next and AT&T Next Every Year are two of AT&T's phone financing plans. While they are good options for financing the latest phones - as they each allow you to either pay off your phone over the time periods of 30 months and 24 months or upgrade to a new phone every two years or every year.

Respectively - you're better off saving hundreds of dollars by purchasing a refurbished, used phone and switching to an AT&T MVNO.

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