“If you have your cell phone service with AT&T, beware and be wary,” warns money expert Clark Howard. If you are on an older AT&T plan, know that the company is likely going to raise your monthly rates within the next few weeks.
In this article, I’ll share what we know so far about the upcoming AT&T price hikes. I’ll also share alternative phone plans to consider that may be cheaper once your current rate rises.
AT&T Customers May See Price Increases Up to 15%
If you have a standard AT&T cell phone plan, be prepared for a higher monthly payment. For most people, the price increase will start in June. While not every AT&T customer is going to see the new higher rates, many will.
“In an unprecedented move, AT&T is busting the rate plans of people who have been with AT&T for a long time and pushing through increases from somewhat marginal to around 15% in your monthly cell phone bill.”
The price increase seems to be geared toward longtime AT&T customers who have been grandfathered into old plans. The higher prices will not only bring in more revenue for AT&T but may encourage customers to upgrade to one of AT&T’s newer unlimited plans. These plans start at $50 per month for one line.
What’s unprecedented about the price hike is that historically, cell phone carriers leave you alone once you’re on a rate plan. Whatever you signed up for, you keep that price moving forward. But Clark says that there’s nothing in AT&T’s terms of service that prevents the company from breaking that tradition. So now, AT&T is pushing through these increases that range from modest to very large.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to predict how many customers will be affected by the price increase or to know if you’ll be one of them. However, if you have an older AT&T plan, you’ll likely see a higher cell phone bill beginning over the next few weeks.
Cheaper Plans on AT&T’s Network
While you may not be able to prevent the price increase on your current plan, you can always consider a more affordable phone plan. In fact, Clark says this is a great time to make the switch.
“This is a time you should re-shop your cell phone service before the AT&T price increases go in. You don’t want to be someone who just says, ‘OK, come take more money from me.’ No! You may find out that there are much better, cheaper plans available elsewhere or even from AT&T. This is the time that you shop as a free agent.”
If you really like AT&T’s service, there may be a new plan available that works better for you. AT&T recently unveiled the Value Plus Plan (eligible for one line only) that costs $50 per month with unlimited talk, text and data. You can check out the details here and see details on AT&T’s other unlimited postpaid plans.
AT&T also offers prepaid plans beginning as low as $25 per month. The least expensive plan includes 8GB of data each month but requires you to pay for 12 months in advance ($300 upfront). You can also pay three months in advance and get the same plan for $33 per month. You can also get 5GB of data per month for $30 with AT&T Prepaid, 15GB for $40 or unlimited for $50.
If you’re ready to really save on your monthly phone bill but like the coverage you’re getting now, consider switching to one of AT&T’s MVNOs. An MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) is a low-cost service provider that operates on the same towers as one of the big three networks.
Here are a few of the best, most affordable MVNOs that provide access to AT&T’s network:
Boost Mobile offers prepaid plans that work with AT&T’s network beginning at $100 annually. That works out to just $8.33 per month! Of course, you can expect limited data with cheaper phone plans. This plan includes unlimited talk, text and 1GB of 5G/4G LTE data per month.
If you’re shopping for a family plan, Cricket Wireless offers one of the most affordable options: $25 monthly per line for four lines. This plan includes unlimited talk, text and high-speed data, but speeds will slow during network congestion.
You can check out our full list of the best AT&T MVNOs here. If you’re ready to leave the network altogether, check out this guide to see our top picks from all three of the major cell phone service providers.
Even if you’re happy with your current AT&T plan, now is the time to make sure you’re still getting the best deal. If you’ve been on the same plan for a long time, it’s easy to become a creature of habit and not think about switching. In fact, this is what AT&T is relying on with the upcoming price hikes.
“AT&T wants to run your bill way up figuring you’ll just say ‘OK’ and pay more money. No! This is when you go shop your service and see what else is out in the marketplace.”
If AT&T offers the best service in your area, consider the AT&T Value Plus plan or a prepaid plan directly from the carrier. For even more savings, look into a few phone plans from MVNOs that operate on AT&T’s network.
At Clark.com, we have a variety of resources dedicated to helping you find the best, most affordable cell phone plan.
Here are a few quick links to help you get started as you comparison shop and decide whether or not to make the switch: