Last updated: April 13, 2020
AT&T has three postpaid, unlimited plans. While all three plans include unlimited minutes, texts, and data, the more expensive unlimited plans come with extra features. AT&T also has two prepaid, unlimited plans. I discuss those prepaid plans on another page.
Differences between AT&T’s unlimited plans
The plan prices listed below include discounts for automatic payments and paperless billing. Taxes and fees are not included.1
|Lines||Unlimited Elite||Unlimited Extra||Unlimited Starter|
AT&T’s unlimited plans come with different monthly allotments of what AT&T calls “Premium Data.”
- Unlimited Starter: No premium data
- Unlimited Extra: 50GB premium data
- Unlimited Elite: 100GB premium data
Subscribers on the Unlimited Starter plan and subscribers who’ve gone beyond their premium data allotments will be subject to deprioritization during periods of network congestion. During busy times, these subscribers may experience slower data speeds than other users on the network.
In most of the U.S., network congestion is relatively rare. However, there are some areas where congestion is relatively common.
Mobile hotspot access
Mobile hotspot allows you to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot for other devices like laptops and tablets. Mobile hotspot allowances vary among AT&T’s unlimited plans:
- Unlimited Starter: No hotspot allowance
- Unlimited Extra: 15GB hotspot
- Unlimited Elite: 30GB hotspot
The Unlimited Starter and Unlimited Extra plans limit video traffic to standard definition (sometimes called 480p or DVD-quality). In my opinion, standard definition video is perfectly watchable, but people who care about visual quality may not like having their video quality limited.
The Unlimited Elite plan also throttles video to standard definition via AT&T’s Stream Saver feature. However, subscribers on the Unlimited Elite plan have the option to turn off the throttling. AT&T pitches Stream Saver as if it is a perk included on the Unlimited Elite plan:3
AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan comes with free access to HBO NOW (regularly about $15 per month). HBO NOW is not included with the Unlimited Extra or Unlimited Starter plans.
The Unlimited Elite and the Unlimited Extra plans permit access to AT&T’s 5G service. The Unlimited Starter plan does not. At the moment, AT&T’s 5G coverage is limited, and few consumers have 5G-compatible devices. Accordingly, 5G access is useless for most consumers at this time.
- The credit for automatic payments and paperless billing is $10 per month on each line. According to AT&T, “Credits will begin in 1-2 billing cycles after enrollment.” Prices came from AT&T’s website on 4/3/2020.
- I’m not entirely confident that users on the Unlimited Starter plan can’t use mobile hotspot at 128Kbps. On 4/13/2020, an FAQ on AT&T’s website at least gave the impression that Unlimited Starter subscribers do not have any hotspot access:
“The AT&T Unlimited Starter plan doesn’t include hotspot data.”
- The excerpt was taken from AT&T’s unlimited plans page on 4/13/2020.