AT&T Prepaid Review

Cheap plans on a great network with tons of data, but you won’t find any perks here

ATT
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
  • Check
    Affordable
  • Check
    Strong network
  • X
    Fewer perks
Easton Smith
Mobile, TV, & Moving Expert
Read More
Published on December 11, 2020
7 min read

There are plenty of discount cell phone providers out there these days. But the new kids on the block can’t really compete with the original big dogs, like AT&T, when it comes to the quality of service.

The only issue for customers is the price tag. AT&T’s standard service plans cost a pretty penny. But there is a way to get the same basic service for less with prepaid plans.

In fact, AT&T is running a bonkers deal right now where you can get the carrier’s premium $75 prepaid plan for just $50 a month. It includes unlimited talk, text, and data, plus 10 GB of hotspot data! Check it out.

If that plan isn’t enough to convince you, then read our whole AT&T prepaid review to see if it’s right for you.

What’s the difference between postpaid and prepaid?
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The obvious difference between prepaid plans and “normal” plans is that with prepaid you pay your bill at the beginning of the month. But that’s not all.

Prepaid plans are almost always cheaper. But the lower price tag means you’ll miss out on some perks, like free subscriptions, mobile hotspot data, and HD video streams.

AT&T prepaid plans

AT&T offers up a great spread of powerful data plans
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Lots of data
  • Strong network performance
Cons
  • Fewer perks
  • Must prepay

What we like

AT&T’s prepaid lineup is pretty robust, with six separate plans ranging in price from $30 to a whopping $300. Yes, that’s three hundred dollars (the plan lasts a whole year)! These plans offer something for almost every kind of user. Let’s dive into the details.

Affordable

AT&T’s pricing tends to be in the middle of the pack when compared to other major providers. It’s not as pricey as Verizon, but it’s not as cheap as T-Mobile (or discount/MVNO providers, like Visible). But the carrier’s prepaid plans are another story.

You can get some great deals if you’re willing to forego a few perks and pay your bill upfront.

For example, compare the AT&T Unlimited Starter plan with the AT&T Prepaid $75 Monthly plan.

The Unlimited Starter plan costs $65 a month and your data can be slowed down (deprioritized) at any time. That’s a lot of money to pay for data that could slow to a trickle while you’re trying to stream or game.

But if you’re willing to go prepaid you can actually get the $75 Monthly Plan for just $50 right now (yes, that’s a 33% discount!). This prepaid plan comes with more full-speed, unthrottled data (22 GB) than the Unlimited Start Plan plus it gives you 10 GB of mobile hotspot data.

That’s a wildly good deal. But there are other deals from AT&T prepaid, too. You can get an unlimited talk and text plan with 8 GB of data for just $33 a month when you pay for three months upfront. Not bad AT&T. Not bad at all.

Looking for an even cheaper way to get on AT&T’s network?
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There are a bunch of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that operate using AT&T’s network but offer discounted plans. Check out our review of all of them.

Lots of data

Most of AT&T’s prepaid plans come with a decent amount of data. Of course, there are the unlimited data plans. But there’s also an 8 GB plan, which will give you plenty of data for scrolling through Instagram, checking your email, and even streaming a few shows.

Even AT&T’s lowest priced prepaid plan gives you 2 GB of data. It’s a great plan for a kid who isn’t (or isn’t supposed to be) online all day.

How much data do you really need?
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The last thing you need is to run out of data while you’re trying to Facetime your parents. Use our handy data guide to figure out just how much data you need, so you never run out again.

Strong network

Verizon takes the gold medal for the best cellular network. But AT&T is right on its heels. It has the second-best nationwide 4G LTE coverage and the fastest data speeds.

AT&T’s fast download speeds make it an ideal carrier for those who use their cellular network for gaming, working, or rigorous social-media posting. Check out our section on coverage below to learn more about AT&T’s network.

What we don’t like

AT&T prepaid offers some awesome deals. But it’s our job to point out the not-so-great features of each carrier, too. So here are the cons you should take into consideration.

Fewer perks

Everyone loves some perks, freebies, extras, bells and whistles, whatever you want to call the free stuff your mobile carrier throws in with your plan. Unfortunately, you’ll miss out on a lot of that with AT&T prepaid.

Some of the things that many normal AT&T plans come with won’t be available on any prepaid plans, like the following:

  • No AT&T Thanks program (which gives you discounts on tickets to concerts and other events)
  • No HBO Max subscription
  • No AT&T Next Up phone upgrade program

AT&T’s $75 prepaid plan (which is just $50 right now), does offer mobile hotspot data, but other prepaid plans do not.

Looking for a plan with tons of mobile hotspot data?
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Check out our review of all the best plans for mobile hotspots.

Must prepay

Let’s not lose sight of the central difference between “normal” plans and prepaid plans: when you actually pay your bill. With prepaid plans you have to pay at the beginning of each month. If you forget to make a payment, you lose service.

You can enroll in autopay or pay up front for several months. This is a convenient way to keep your service on, and you can score some great discounts.

How do AT&T’s prepaid phone plans compare?

You’re not here to find any deal. You’re here to find the best deal for you. We thought that this comparison chart showing how AT&T’s prepaid unlimited plan compares to similar phone plans from the competition might help with that.

Unlimited prepaid plan comparison

AT&T prepaid family plans

Love your plan? Then add your family members and save money!
Pros
  • Discounts on additional lines
  • Good network performance
Cons
  • Fewer perks
  • Must prepay

What we like

What’s better than saving money? Saving even more money, obviously. And you can do it by signing up for multiple prepaid lines with Verizon. Here’s everything you need to know about Verizon prepaid family plans.

Discounts on additional lines

You can have up to five lines on your AT&T prepaid account. If you’ve got a Brady Bunch–sized family, then you might need to get a second family account.

When you add two or three lines, you’ll get $10 off your overall bill every month. When you add four lines to max out at five lines, you’ll get $20 off your bill.

That might not seem like that much of a discount, but when you add it to the already cheap price tag on these prepaid plans, it looks pretty good. Take this three-line unlimited plan, for example.

In this case you get three lines, each with unlimited talk, text, and data (speeds can be reduced after 22 GB), plus 10 GB of hotspot data. That makes it cheaper, and more powerful, than getting three lines on the Unlimited Starter plan.

Still not sold on AT&T’s prepaid family plan?
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Read our article on the very best family plans for some other options.

Good network performance

As we mentioned above, AT&T’s network has great coverage and the fastest data speeds in the industry. This is as true for family plans as it is for individual plans. That means you, your partner, and the kids will all enjoy an awesome connection while you stream, browse, post, and game.

What we don’t like

We’re not here to sugarcoat things. AT&T’s prepaid family plans have a few issues.

Pay early for fewer perks

As with AT&T’s individual prepaid plans, you have to pay for your family plan bill at the beginning of every month. And you won’t get the same perks that “normal” AT&T unlimited data plans offer, like a free subscription to HBO Max.

How do AT&T prepaid family plans compare?

It’s hard to judge cell phone plans in isolation. So let’s take a look at how AT&T’s unlimited data prepaid family plan looks when it’s up against similar plans from other carriers.

AT&T prepaid family plans comparison

AT&T coverage

AT&T’s coverage is good, but its data speeds are even better

We already sang the praises of AT&T’s network, but let’s dive a bit deeper. First of all, take a look at this coverage map.

AT&T offers solid data speeds

AT&T’s averages a 28.9 Mbps download, which isn't quite as fast as Verizon and T-Mobile, but you can still expect speedy downloads . Here’s a look at how the competition stacks up for context.

Fastest Wireless Download Speeds

28.9 Mbps is actually faster than many people’s home internet. That means AT&T customers will get better video quality when Facetiming with friends during a pandemic. It means you won’t lag during your game of Call of Duty Mobile. It means totally seamless viewing and posting content on Instagram and TikTok.

Impressed with AT&T’s cellular network?
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Well, the company’s home internet isn’t half bad, either. Check out our AT&T internet review to learn more.

AT&T prepaid cell phones and devices

Your phone isn’t retro, it’s just busted

If you really want to take advantage of AT&T’s powerful network—including its 5G technology—then you might need to upgrade your phone.

Luckily, you can nab a great deal on a brand new iPhone 11, Galaxy S20, or other device when you’re signing up for a new AT&T plan. Here’s a look at some of the most popular devices that the carrier sells.

AT&T customer service

Let’s just say it could be better

Telecommunications companies like AT&T aren’t really known for their awesome customer service. But some are better than others. Here’s a look at how the American Customer Satisfaction Index rates AT&T compared to other carriers.1

Customer Experience Index

AT&T ranks below the two other major carriers—T-Mobile and Verizon. But it doesn’t rank that much lower.

You can find multiple ways to get in touch with AT&T about your prepaid service on the company’s website.

Recap: Is AT&T prepaid right for you?

AT&T offers some of the best cell phone plans on the market, but they tend to be quite pricey. You can shave off some of that price by going with a prepaid plan. Let’s review the pros and cons of these plans.

  • Plans: AT&T offers a good selection of plans for those who want no data, some data, or unlimited data. The company is offering an amazing deal on its $75 unlimited data plan, which is just $50 right now and comes with 10 GB of mobile hotspot data.
  • Family Plans: You can have up to five lines on your AT&T prepaid account. As you add lines your price will go down. But if you want the cheapest family plan in the industry, then you’ll want to look elsewhere.
  • Performance: AT&T’s coverage map looks pretty great. But its data speeds are even better. You’ll get top-tier performance on the AT&T network.

Other ways to save money on your communications bills

Going prepaid will save you a few bucks on your phone bill. But why stop there? You can save money on your other bills too. We’ve done the research and found out the best affordable home internet plans. Check it out.

Recommended cheap home internet plans

Recommended internet providers
Provider
Monthly price
Download speeds
Data cap
Learn more
Xfinity Internet$19.99$94.99*501200 Mbps11.2 TB
Verizon Fios Home Internet$39.99$89.99200940 MbpsNot Available
AT&T Fiber$35$60300940 MbpsUnlimited
CenturyLink Internet$50$65^100940 MbpsUnlimited
Viasat Internet$30$169.99°12100 Mbps12300 GB
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.
w/ Auto Pay + taxes & equip. charges.
For the first 12 months plus taxes and equip. fee.
^ New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.
° For the first 3 months.

Sources:

Easton Smith
Written by
Easton Smith
Easton has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for several years, reviewing health, lifestyle, and technology products. He has probably read more Terms of Use contracts than any human alive. When he’s not sitting in front of a computer, Easton spends his time camping, climbing, and volunteering with humanitarian aid organizations.

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