AT&T offering new family plans, claims they'll save you some cash

AT&T is launching new family plans which they claim are their best-ever and will save both new and old customers with multiple lines multiple of dollars a month. AT&T:

As an example, a family of four can now get unlimited talk and text, and 10GB of data – enough for the whole family to share – for $160 a month.

There's an important caveat to keep in mind, however:

Customers who choose to upgrade at the end of their current agreement are required to sign-up for NEXT, bring their own device or purchase a phone a full retail price in order to keep this plan.

So if these plans interest you for your current phones, that's one thing. If your entire family is planning to upgrade to the iPhone 6 it could be another. If you're interested, head on over to www.att.com/mobilesharesavings and do the math.

Some of the feedback I'm seeing on Twitter is that this is saving real geeks real money, but let me know — will AT&T's new family plans save you any money?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 56 comments. Add yours.

paulg1978 says:

It would cost me money, since I upgrade my lines every two years. I also noticed they upped the per line fee to $40 if you are not using Next or BYOD. I currently pay $35 per line (in addition to the data plan). This would only be good for slow adopters.

adammiarka says:

Or people that sell their iPhone every year to make up some of the cost of a full price device. The end of the subsidy is ending in the US! Thank goodness.

Snipperdo17 says:

Thank goodness? You like paying 700 for an iphone instead of 200? Makes sense

GreenDize12 says:

You are still paying $500, $600, or $700+ for a phone, just not upfront. Personally, I am sick of commitments for only a simple crap subsidy. So yes, I'd rather pay $700+ for a phone unfront knowing that I'll get a more realistic cost on my phone bill.

It seems current members who don't wanna upgrade and are still on contract can qualify, so I will be paying AT&T a visit today about this, otherwise we are hopping on the T-mobile bandwagon, even though their network is crap at best.

adammiarka says:

This is exactly what I'm talking about. The phone isn't $200. You are paying well over that over a two year contract. Let me pay for my phone up front and let my monthly payment be lower. You can continue to throw additional money at Att if you want. I don't have to anymore,

iPandorum says:

How are you getting $200? When I sell my iPhone I end up paying the same amount each year for a brand new iPhone . The next plan your paying about $75 for two 32gb iPhones. $900 a year for that no upfront paying for a phone. ( $450 a phone) . I have never been sold on the idea of the next plan. I used to work at one of the top 2 phone companies and I'll never forget the speech at a meeting before these plans came out. That it was our duty to get those unlimited data customers off their plan. I just don't see the value sorry. I'll keep my unlimited data and pay $200 a year or so after selling my device I OWN. Not a device I make payments on like I charged it. Probably cheaper to buy it off bestbuy credit card.

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Dev from tipb says:

General rule if thumb - companies do not design pricing structures to bring in *less* money for themselves.

More specific rule of thumb as an AT&T customer - never trust anything they say.

4catz says:

AT&T basically lies. All our cell companies manipulate the customer. I have 2 gsm iphones, 1 on TMObile and the other on BIG Blue. TMobile's new billing is more honest, I really like their international plan. However, AT&T has much better LTE penetration indoors. Their is no comparison. If Tmobile gets more lower frequency spectrum and stays away from Sprint, I will probably leave AT&T next year.

steeladonis says:

@ tipb: "More specific rule of thumb as an AT&T customer - never trust anything they say."

I agree completely. at&t = liars.

Goodeye says:

FYI the link to ATT is bad, you have it hyperlinked as "www.imore.com/www.att.com/mobilesharesavings"

BenRoethig says:

Its a good enough Value that I'm thinking about paying Verizon their ETF. Also, remember to add about $5mo per phone for taxes and government fees. Competition is awesome!

paulg1978 says:

are more places going to sell unlocked iPhones? I couldn't even find one on AT&T's website.

lets_dance says:

If you're in the US, where it is currently illegal to unlock a phone unless you have the carrier do it for you, it's really up to two things:
1. Does the manufacturer offer a factory-unlocked model of the phone-in-question?
2. Will the carrier sell said model?
If it's an iPhone, you can buy an unlocked one directly from Apple. For other phones, I would say check the manufacturer's Website.

talormanda says:

Still more expensive than what I have.

paulg1978 says:

I just chatted AT&T. They said I can revert back to the subsidized style plan if/when I am ready to upgrade my phone. Why wouldn't I do this until my contract expires and then just flip back?

lets_dance says:

If you're on unlimited data now, any change to your data plan will relieve you of that permanently, since they no longer offer it. If anything, I'd bet one of the reasons they're offering this is to get people to move away from their grandfathered unlimited data plans. Verizon did it, and it pissed off a lot of their users to the point where many of them just paid full price for their phones.

lbaxter says:

I saw this today and switched our 2 line, 4GB shared data plan to the 10GB plan. We went from paying $150/month to $130/month.

So, yeah, we're saving $20 already.

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tool022611 says:

Same here. I was paying $160 a month for 3 lines on the 4 gig a month/unlimited calls/texts. Now I am paying $145 for 10 gigs and unlimited calls/texts. Not a bad deal at all, that's about $50 a month after taxes for each line with great service and speed.

klcrow8690 says:

Not bad either! For our plan with 6 lines, we were paying $330 a month (after taxes and extras) for 8GB of data with unlimited calls and texts. Now, we are paying $250 a month (after taxes and extras) for 10 GB of data with the same unlimited calls and texts! I was sold on the plan based on how much we are saving!

We have 3 lines with Roadside Assistance and 1 line with the Mobile Protection pack as our extras.
3 lines are smartphones and 3 are basic phones.

PS> We do not upgrade as often, so the upgrade factor is not a big deal to us. Also, I calculated TCO's for upgrading phones, and I found that with the Next 12 mo. plan, that after the 20 month period is up, you are paying the same amount of money as you are buying the device up front.

scorpiodsu says:

I switched and saved $30. I was on a 6gb shared plan still on a 2 year contract for $160 before taxes and employee discount. With the new plan im now sharing 10gb of data for $130. The reason is because they dropped the per line charge to $15 whereas on the 6gb plan the line charge was $35. So a small increase in the shared plan cost but a huge decrease in the per line charge.

So if you are an existing customer with a contract you can switch and keep your current contract and not have to purchase a phone via next. This should be a good deal for most I existing shared plans. More data for less money. Finally att does something good. Thanks to tmobile. Now no reason for me to even consider switching.

wowsaab says:

I have 4 lines on a shared 10gb plan all under contract. I called AT&T and they said I am not eligible for discount until the phones are out of contract. Is that right?

adammiarka says:

No, that is not right. Read AT&Ts page. Your current contract must have started before 2/2/2024. So unless you bought a a new contract today, you can switch. Call them back until you get a rep that understands the new plan.

wowsaab says:

Thanks - I'll try that. I got a new contract with three new phones in Sept/Oct... $160 would be great for 4 ppl with 10gbs!

wowsaab says:

UPDATE: After calling again - they had me 'change my plan' on att.com. Go to wireless services - change my plan. (Don't use chrome or you won't be able to select the new option). Then hit the new 10GB Mobile share value plan. It will change the plan to $15 lines and $100 for 10GB. Also, choose to have it apply for next billing cycle.

The Reptile says:

Rhetorical question - is AT&T stupid? They're giving away the one thing that keeps folks on AT&T. It's an invitation to save now and walk to another carrier at the end of the contract.

Jazzkevin says:

I changed my plan this morning. This saves me $40 a month (three smartphones and tablet). It also bumps me from 6 gigs to 10 gigs a month and still saves.

verpeiler089 says:

American mobile plan prices... crazy.

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miguelo45 says:

This plan is BS !! I just went to an att retail office and you end up paying more money if you pick the "new plan". Never the less I love att and for me it's the best carrier. Is expensive but it's worth it.

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adammiarka says:

They were looking at the wrong plan then.

Avenged110 says:

This is literally perfect for me. We don't plan on upgrading our phones ever now that iOS 7 is out and switching to it would see an increase of 7.4 GB over our current plan at $45 less. I just can't understand it, AT&T isn't in the business of saving people money...

shafnitz says:

Definitely saving quite a bit of money. I was already on a 10gb plan with two lines. I just switched to these new plans, saving us $50/mo total. Both lines are still under contract. I was thinking of switching to T-Mobile already, but this will delay that, at least until September when the next iPhone comes out. When I upgrade, I'll either jump ship or have to go back to the old plan pricing. But I'll save a total of $400 between now and then.

asuperstarr says:

I think these type if plans is why AT&T has the image that they do. There is never anything in the favor of the customer. It's always in there favor.

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tennockey says:

You're drunk

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Daytona says:

@Rene I just left my local AT&T store today and walked out with one hell of a savings! My bill for two line plus a "ghost" line used to cost me $275 a month and I walked out paying only $145 a month plus was given AT&T's Digital Life Free of charge! I now have unlimited talk, text and 10gb of data to share between two lines and my "ghost" line only cost $7.50 a month.

I am now more than happy. I saw your post and went this morning and couldn't thank you more for sharing the news. :)

emersunn says:

I currently have 3 family members on one ATT plan. This "savings" is more expensive than adding one more person to my current plan, and provides less data.

I am out of contract, and there is financially no reason to stay with ATT.

Murphdog456 says:

This is a great plan finally thanks to T mobile putting pressure on AT&T. I have 5 smartphones 10gb mobile share plan and was paying$300 a month now I have the same 10gb share plan now called mobile value share plan but I'm saving $95 a month. It's a no brainer I was going to switch to T mobile but now I'm staying with AT&T because I have great LTE coverage where I live. T mobile is still $20 a month cheaper but there coverage for me is not as good.

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BarnacleWill says:

My next bill cycle is coming up in a few days. I receive a significant "corporate" discount due to the place where I am employed. AT&T only applies this discount to a restricted "chunk" of the bill, so I will have to call their customer service and go over this whole thing with them before I make the jump. In practice, the discount currently just about cancels out the total sales tax + state and federal USF charges on the bill.

I pay for four phone lines plus four tablet plans, I am already on a shared data plan at the same level of service as mentioned: 10 GB of shared data plus unlimited talk+text. It _sounds_ like this will save me money (to the tune of about $60 to $75 per month), but I will not be certain until I review with one of their reps and pin them down on the details.

I wait until the unlocked iPhones are released and then purchase outright from the Apple store, so AT&T's "Next" plan or BYOD prerequisite is not an issue for me. So long as this new plan reduces my total bill by at least $60 per month, it is a wash. Anything greater than a $60 per month savings will be gravy.

How do I get the $60 per month figure? Like this: If I purchase a subsidized phone, I have to renew my contract and pay a $350 ETF to cancel. $350 / 24 mo contract term is approximately $15 per month (ok, $14.58 for those who insist on precision). Four lines x $15 = $60 per month. As it is, since I purchase the phones outright anyway, this new plan might actually give me the monthly "credit" that I should get since AT&T's excuse for the ETF is the cost of the phone subsidy.

After I get the skinny from the service rep, I'll post an update as to how this will work out in reality for my situation.

BarnacleWill says:

Quick update: No, I haven't contacted AT&T yet, but my preliminary "back of the napkin" calculations indicate that my current bill would go from $298 (including taxes and USF charges) down to about $205 (again, including taxes and USF charges) with this change. If that is even close correct, I am definitely going to make the change, I'd be crazy not to!

spades1412 says:

Calculating out your 4 smartphones and 4 tablets, you will be paying $200/month before any discount and fees.

The breakdown looks like this according to the AT&T site:

Mobile Share plan $100/mo.
Device 1 $15/mo.
Device 2 $15/mo.
Device 3 $15/mo.
Device 4 $15/mo.
Device 5 $10/mo.
Device 6 $10/mo.
Device 7 $10/mo.
Device 8 $10/mo.

Since you buy outright, device cost using the Next program or 2 year contract pricing does not apply in your case.

BarnacleWill says:

Your calculations match mine, with the exception of my discount, which only applies to the base plan cost of $100. Also, after totaling everything and subtracting the discount, you have to add the taxes and USF charges in. My grand total _should be in the $215 to $220 range, a very significant reduction for me.

sangs says:

We also get a corporate discount. Is this the reason I am unable to change my plan on the AT&T website? Will I need to call instead? It's telling me that our current plan is the only plan available, which just can't be correct.

BarnacleWill says:

I have never had much success doing _any_ changes on AT&T's web site or through their Android or iPhone app. I just use their online tools to view the current state of my account (and to pull the plug on anyone on my plan who's getting a little too happy with data usage. Lol. I've only had to do that once.). For changes such as this, I've had best results by calling 611. Most of the time my request is done in a few minutes (with my 25 minutes time today being one of a few exceptions to the rule.)

BarnacleWill says:

Update: I have just spent about 25 minutes on the phone with AT&T's customer service. They are VERY busy today switching customers to this new plan! After asking the representative several questions to verify my assumptions and calculations, I pulled the trigger and made the switch. It was hassle-free. The hardest part was the wait in queue (required 15 minutes out of the 25 minute total).

Since I requested that the change be made effective today, AT&T will prorate everything on my next bill (cycle end date is 10 days out). So... My upcoming bill should reflect a savings of about $30. Then, for succeeding bills, I should see my monthly total change from $298 down to about $215, if my estimates of taxes and USF charges are close.

All in all, I think that I am going to be fairly pleased with the monthly savings. An $80 per month reduction x 12 months = $960.... Ka - ching! There's the money for my new big-screen iPhablet!!

cohoman says:

I just switched from a 6 GB Shared Plan (with two 2-yr contract smartphones and one iPad Tablet) paying $170/mo to the new 10 GB Family Shared Plan for $140/mo. So that's a $30/mo savings for me. I continue to use my two smartphones until the 2-yr contracts are up, after which I own the phones. So I'm basically paying non-subsidized cell service for my two subsidized phones. Good deal!

Lewis Howles says:

Awful. I don't get how people in North America don't go stir crazy with plans like this.

I pay £15 a month for as near as makes no difference unlimited everything on a SIM-only deal, including unlimited, uncapped, tether-able data, which I can cancel at any time, for free, with only one month's notice.

EE recently did something like this over here but frankly an entire family sharing 10GB? That would be gone in no time flat, which I presume is what they're counting on.

I much prefer our system where you get to choose either a subsidised phone and higher monthly payments, or a SIM-only deal and BYO phone. Having the choice is the best, though with the price wars at the moment the subsidised phones are working out at nearly the same price over the length of the contract.

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douglaswilson says:

Hello Verizon? Are you hearing this??

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Gsarfin says:

This would increase my bill AND I'd lose my subsidy. No thanks AT&T.

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Behshad says:

Anytime AT&T comes out with a "great deal" , there's always a fine print with a catch. lol

BarnacleWill says:

Yep. Read the fine print. Ask questions. Lots of 'em. Understand your bill (I once had a month long exchange of emails to finally get an explanation of how AT&T calculates the USF amounts). Don't change anything until you totally understand the net impact on your bill and long-term costs (including the amount you pay for devices amortized over the life of your usage). Wireless services aren't free with any provider and you need to understand costs vs. benefits and trade-offs. (I realize that I'm probably "preaching at the choir" here! Lol)

S Kravette says:

Just called ATT. We had 10gb plan with 5 phones and 2 iPads. Was paying $120 for data, $30x5 for the phones, and $10x2 for the iPads. Total of $290 plus fees. On the new plan, they moved over all the devices (no additional monthly fees for devices currently on 2 year contracts) for the $100 data 10gb, $15 per phone (x5) and $10 per iPad (x2). New bill is $195 plus fees. Yes, I'll take it. Saved me from switching to T-Mobile. Will buy phones on my own next time around. In the end it costs less that way anyhow,

Behshad says:

get back to us next time you renew your devices and tell us if it still was a great move or not

S Kravette says:

Well, three phones on my plan were not due to expire until mid 2015. Over the next 18 months, this plan change saves me $1710. I think I can buy a few phones cash with no monthly fees for that... And I really wanted to open the door to get out of locked in contracts. This ended up costing much less than moving to T-Mobile, even with their buy-back on contract fee penalties.

Mountaineerfan says:

So I'm wondering if this makes sense. I have the unlimited data plan. However, using the report at ATT.com, I see that the MOST I've ever used is 4.7GB a month. I have two other phones on 300MB plans. My wife never approaches 300, but my daughter almost goes over every month. We are not getting my son a phone for another two years. The savings for me would right now be about $30/month. Is that worth it to drop the unlimited plan?10GB sounds like it would fit us fine. Thoughts?

iPandorum says:

If you don't own the phone expect to pay around 30-35 more a month per phone Bc your not paying for it upfront. Even if you did a 2 year pricing and the contract didn't end yet you owe remaining on the phone. I was going to switch to AT&T until my $130 they advertise went up to $210 somehow

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Dudley228 says:

I got rid of my unlimited a couple of years ago because I could say $20 to $30. I was grandfathered in, but what's unlimited if you have your data speeds throtled. I got two nasty notes about my speed and data usage. Besides the savings, the other reason I got rid of unlimited data is because I wanted to use my phone as a personal hotspot, which allowed me to get rid of the data plan (which I hardly used) for my iPad. I don't regret giving up unlimited data. I have 6GB for three phones and I hardly use even 1GB. I have wireless at my house and business.

I just changed plans today. I have 10 GBs and it looks like I will be saving about $30 a month.

sangs says:

Well that was certainly a no-brainer for us. We just saved $90 and get 4 GB more data per month with this new plan for our five lines. If this is a result of T-Mobile's hard-charging ways, then well done T-Mobile.