Unlimited Cell Phone Data Plans Are Not Always The Best Choice

Unlimited data plans are all the new rage with cell phone companies, promising to save you big money compared to paying overages on your current data plan.  Mobile phone users that don’t constantly evaluate new plan offerings could miss out big.  For example, a few years ago when we added my wife’s parents to our plan, they went from having limited minutes and texting, and no data to unlimited calling and texting and a 30GB data plan, for HALF the cost.   Wondering if AT&T’s new unlimited data plan would be one of those natural progressions of service that we need to pay attention to, I did some research.

The Hype – Unlimited Data

AT&T’s new data plan offers unlimited data for $115 a month.  They do very plainly state that after 22GB they may slow the data rate.

Price Comparison

First, I compared what we pay now to what we would pay under the new plan.

Current Plan

  • 6 lines (family of 4 plus my wife’s parents) at $15 a month = $90
  • Three tablets utilizing a shared data plan at $10 each per month = $30
  • A few years ago AT&T was running a special to move to the 30GB per month data plan at the 15GB per month price.  It also has single month rollover, which means whatever we don’t use in the current month gets rolled over, and added to the next month.  We pay $130 for this data plan.

Total Price : $250 (before taxes and fees or my corporate discount)

New Plan

  • With the new plan, the per line fee has increased to $20, which means our 6 lines would cost $120 per month.
  • The monthly fee for tablets is now also $20.  Three tablets cost us $60 per month.
  • Unlimited data plan is $115 per month

Total Price : $295 (before taxes and fees or my corporate discount)

Data Comparison

Current Plan

  • 30GB per month with 1 month rollover
  • Average usage is about 20.62 per month
  • With rollover, normally have about 39GB available, with no slowdown

New Plan

  • Unlimited data per month
  • After 22GB, speeds may be slowed

Analysis

While the unlimited data plan is $15 a month cheaper than our current data plan, we’ll pay $5 more per phone and $10 more per tablet each month.   When it’s all said and done, moving to the new plan will cost me $45 more per month.  Also, there’s no benefit from the unlimited data plan because we’re currently not even coming close to exceeding the limits of current data plan.

Moving to the new AT&T unlimited data plan would be a bad move.

Cell phone companies are constantly coming out with new plans, and advertising them as being the best move for customers.  But before switching your plan, do the analysis and make sure that you’re not actually costing yourself more money by switching.

How about you, EOD nation, have you ever moved to a new cell phone plan only to find out it cost more, or gave you less service than you had before?

About Travis

2 Responses to “Unlimited Cell Phone Data Plans Are Not Always The Best Choice”

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  1. Money Beagle says:

    We only use about half of our available data on even the most heavy usage months. To switch to an unlimited plan would cost us more and we’d get no benefit.

  2. Pete Mo says:

    I totally agree with this! I switched to US Mobile and I’m paying $17 per month (!!!). I was on an unlimited plan before and I was paying around $70 per month. Total scam!

    I looked at my usage and then chose 100 min, 250 sms and 500 mb data which is enough for me (I’m connected to a wifi most of the day). US mobile has an a la carte model which really works for me!

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