AT&T family plan w/unlimited data, eligible for upgrade, help me figure best deal

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by hipnetic, Sep 11, 2014.

  1. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    Hello all. I'm hoping you all can help me figure out the best deal for me as I want to upgrade on day one to an iPhone 6+. Here's my situation: I'm on an older family plan where 2 of my phones have unlimited data, and one (added later) has 2GB data. Now, 2 of my phones are eligible for an upgrade via the normal process (sign new 2-year extension). I definitely want one upgrade for a 6+, and I might even want to get a 2nd iPhone 6 (not sure if 4.7" or 5.5") for my daughter as a 16-year b-day gift. My wife is the one in the family that doesn't mind being behind the times, so this all should work out well.

    Now, as far as the unlimited data plans that we have on 2 of our phones, I'm actually willing to give that up for one of the newer plans, if it made financial sense to do so. While I use quite a bit of data per month (but still usually under 5GB), my wife and daughter use way, way less, so even 10GB/month shared would probably be sufficient.

    But I'm thinking that since I'm eligible for upgrades on 2 lines, and can get subsidized phone prices, that it might make more sense to just stick with the family plan I've already got.

    So, I guess that's my first question: Does it make sense to stick with my current plan and upgrade that way or would it somehow still make more sense to switch to one of the new shared data plans?

    My 2nd question has to do with the trade-in option that AT&T is offering. I believe it's $200 for an iPhone 4S. That's what my wife and daughter are on (I'm using an iPhone 5). If I was to stick with my current family plan, can I take advantage of that trade-in deal, or is that only eligible with Next?

  2. Chargerdan macrumors member


    May 24, 2011
    I'm in the same boat. I've been running the numbers for the mobile share plans and t-mobile. I have all 5 lines on the 700 min family plan.

    With t-mobile you save money but you need to understand the limited coverage. Unless you need more data for everyone you don't save with the att mobile share plans. This conclusion works with the notion that you use the subsidy upgrades every time it's available for, at least, 3 of the 5 lines. If you hold onto a phone longer than 2 years on 3 of the 5 lines the savings start to dry up. The subsidy breaks down to a savings of $410/per line for 2 years. Put that into your numbers to figure out which plan saves you the most amount of money.

    The marketing makes it seem like those of us on the old family plan are paying too much and are losing out. But we aren't. Those subsidies are worth money. We just have to use them by upgrading when we're able.
  3. mr1581 macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2007
    four lines ( 2 basicaly unused) on att family plan 700 min..unlimited data on both lines.....leave it... its the best way to go
  4. hipnetic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    On this note, just to make it clear...I'm not looking for any suggestions about switching to a different carrier. T-Mobile doesn't have very good coverage in my area, and Sprint isn't much better. Verizon is the best, but their monthly rates seem to be clearly higher than AT&T's. Also, I've got 3 lines but am only looking to upgrade 1 or 2 of them. Also, I've already invested in an AT&T Microcell.

    Well, I have 3 lines, not 5. Can you share the specific math formulas you're using so that I can apply them for my scenario?
  5. Chargerdan macrumors member


    May 24, 2011
    Take the total for whatever amount of data you require as your base. Then add $15 or $25 per line depending if you go with 10Gb or higher ($15) or less than 10Gb ($25). Add 10-15% for taxes and fees.

    Take that number and multiply it by 24. Then add $410 per line for the grand total.

    Look at your last bill on the family plan and multiply it by 24.

    This represents the total cost for 2 years for each option. Compare the 2. Whichever one is lower is the plan to go with. On mobile share you can use Next or buy the phone full cost up front it doesn't matter. Don't go with the subsidy on the mobile share plan for data at 10Gb or higher. You can't make the numbers work paying the extra $25/line a month.

    Good luck.

    Just remember this. There's a reason AT&T wants to move as many people off of these old family plans. And it isn't to save the customer money it's to make more for themselves. In your case it could be lower but in the vast majority of cases it's more and when you apply that to millions of accounts the numbers add up fast for a higher profit for AT&T.
  6. hipnetic, Sep 12, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014

    hipnetic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    So I put together a bunch of info and numbers. Based on my calculations, and for my particular situation (I'm currently eligible for upgrades on 2 of my lines), it seems like I would save approximately $15.41/month over a 2 year timeframe if I upgrade one iPhone. But it would cost me $2.86 more per month, if I upgraded two of my iPhones.

    Here's all of the info I put together. Let me know if you spot an errors. One thing I'm not accounting for (I'm not sure if it would make a difference one way or another, but it might) is how the numbers are affected when I want to do another upgrade next year.

    Some heads-up notes:
    - This analysis assumes that I don't mind giving up two unlimited data plans (and a 3rd 2GB plan) for a 10GB total data bucket.
    - There are some additional features you get with Mobile share that I am not allowed on my current plan, such as tethering and FaceTime over cellular.
    - We get an 18% company discount on certain charges (noted). If you want to make use of my analysis, you'll need to remove these discounts or adjust for whatever percent off your particular company discount gets you.
    - Similarly, I'm calculating a 6.35% sales tax rate for the costs of the phones, so adjust that for your specific situation.
    - I have no idea how the various taxes and fees are calculated, so I'm using the same numbers for these for the Mobile share monthly plan, but I imagine they would be different (possibly lower since the mobile plan monthly cost ends up being lower).
    - I'm not taking into account trading in or selling any of my phones. I'm working off of the assumption that I might stagger my upgrades (so that I get a new upgrade every year) and give a hand-me-down phone to someone else in the family.

    On to the analysis. First, the phone costs...

    AT&T iPhone 6 upgrade costs:

    Pricing (2-year commitment price / full price / Next 12 / Next 18)
    iPhone 6 16GB - $199.99 / $650 / $32.50 / $27.09
    iPhone 6 64GB - $299.99 / $750 / $37.50 / $31.25
    iPhone 6 128GB - $399.99 / $850 / $42.50 / $35.42
    iPhone 6+ 16GB - $199.99 / $750 / $37.50 / $31.25
    iPhone 6+ 64GB - $399.99 / $850 / $42.50 / $35.42
    iPhone 6+ 128GB - $499.99 / $950 / $47.50 / $39.59
    If not going Next, add $40 to upgrade price
    * Taxes: For Next, calculate based on full price of phone (e.g., $53.98 for 6+ 64GB based on $850 full price vs $25.40 if upgrading based on $399.99 subsidized price). Based on CT 6.35% sales tax rate.

    Next 12: $0 down, 20 installments, can trade in at 12 month point
    Next 18: $0 down, 24 installments, can trade in at 18 month point
    * Can also opt to pay off in full to upgrade
    * Could I also give my phone to another family member, keep paying installments, but start a new Next installment plan?
    * Does the installment plan look like a new line of credit on my credit report?

    Upgrade cost example (iPhone 6+ 64GB):
    Next 18: $0 + $53.98 tax up front + $850 over 24 months = $903.98 total
    2 year commit cost: $399.99 + $25.40 tax + $40 upgrade fee all up front = $465.39 total
    2-year commit saves me: $438.59 over 2 years (not taking into account 0% finance charge of AT&T Next)
    (or $18.27/month)

    Special offer till 9/30: $200 for iPhone 4 trade-in (good for both regular upgrade 2 yr commit or Next)


    Monthly plan costs:

    Company discount: 18% off certain charges (you’re discount may vary)

    My bill (Family plan 550 w/rollover):
    550 minutes w/rollover: $50 (elig for discount) = $41
    2 additional lines: $9.99 x 2 (*NOT* elig for discount) = $19.98
    Family messaging: $30 (*NOT* elig for discount)
    unlimited data on 2 lines: $30 x 2 (elig for discount) = $49.20
    2GB data on 1 line: $25 (elig for discount) = $20.50
    Surcharges & fees: $7.55
    Govt taxes & fees: $8.35 (good luck figuring how this calculated)
    Total: $176.58


    Mobile share:
    10GB shared data: $100 (elig for discount) = $82
    3 lines: $15 x 3 = $45
    Surcharges & fees: $7.55
    Govt taxes & fees: $8.35 (not sure how calculated)
    Total: $142.90

    Mobile share saves me: $33.68/month
    x 24 months = $808.32 total over 2 years


    Monthly savings/losses of going with Mobile share plan

    There are savings if I just get 1 new iPhone:
    $33.68 savings/month for service
    -$18.27 add’l cost difference for purchasing phone via Next
    $15.41 savings w/Mobile share

    But there are added costs if I get 2 new iPhones:
    $33.68 savings/month for service
    -$36.54 ($18.27 x 2) add’l cost difference for purchasing phone via Next
    $2.86 extra cost w/Mobile share
  7. hipnetic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    Something else just occurred to me...Could I upgrade 2 of my phones with new 2-year commitments, and *then* switch to the new mobile share plan?
  8. hipnetic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    I think I found the answer to this. I believe that if I switch to the Mobile Share plan any phones that I have that are still under contract would cost me $40/line instead of $15/line. So if I upgraded 2 phones now, then switched to the Mobile Share plan, I'd be paying $50/month ($25 * 2) more, which would defeat any financial to me of switching to Mobile Share.

    The more I mull over these numbers, it seems like it makes the most sense for me to stick with my current plan. I'm also now realizing that if you're under the older plan with 2-year commitment phone subsidies, you want to take full advantage of those subsidies by upgrading your phones as soon as they become available for upgrades.
  9. Chargerdan macrumors member


    May 24, 2011
    Your numbers seem OK but, unless I missed it, you aren't taking into account the value of the current subsidy you're getting. Since you have a 3 line plan that subsidy is worth $1230 ($410/line) for 2 years.

    If you calculate it monthly that's $51.25.

    You have to save this much each month with the new plans and using Next to breakeven.

    Also, AT&T threw a carrot at those of us on the old family plan. If you started your contract before Feb 3rd 2014 you get to use the $15/line charge. But if your contract was after that date or you renew said contract and don't use Next that charge goes to $40.
  10. hipnetic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    I'm pretty sure that I'm factoring that in the first section (the cost of the phone itself). Your number of $410/line for 2 years, would be $17.08/month per line. I came up with a number of $438.59 over 2 years ($18.27/month) per line, but that's because I'm factoring in sales tax. I'm in CT which is 6.35%.

    Yeah, I had heard about that but the numbers didn't make it obviously advantageous for me, since I had 2 lines that would be coming up for renewal this year.
  11. Chargerdan macrumors member


    May 24, 2011
    I see the cost of the phone as the price you're paying ($199, $299...) plus the subsidy of $410 and the upgrade charge of $40. This should equal the full cost of the phone and would be equal to what you would pay if you bought it with cash upfront or used Next and broke it up into monthly payments.

    I should have told you that I don't take the sales tax into my calculations. The reason is because here in California they make us pay sales tax for the entire retail value of the phone even if it's subsdized. Therefore that cost is the same no matter what.

    I do feel your pain. I've been dealing with this for the past couple of months as I planned what to do when the new iPhones came out.
  12. hipnetic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    Well, just for fun I took another look at the other carriers coverage maps and offerings again. T-Mobile's coverage has always looked scarily spotty to me, and it still doesn't look too appealing now. I used Sprint in the past and was actually fairly happy being a customer of theirs (anyone remember the old Sprint SERO plan?), but their coverage map still looks weak compared to AT&T and Verizon. I live in a tough location for cell coverage, where I get maybe one bar on AT&T and Verizon is probably not more than 2, so I'm not sure if switching to Verizon buys me much. I bought an AT&T Microcell a while ago which is great when it works, but my phone occasionally loses its connection to it for unknown reasons, and decides to try to instead connect to the weak tower outside where it gets one bar from.

    That said, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Verizon's newest mobile share plans seem to be nearly identically priced to AT&T's now, which wasn't the case the last time I looked about a year ago. I mentioned that I have 2 lines that have fulfilled their 2-year commitments. My 3rd line is only a few months away from meeting its 2-year commitment. So now I'm struggling with the notion of switching to Verizon. Tough call. Overall coverage is better for Verizon in this area, but I'd still need a microcell for the house, which means shelling out more money. And while Verizon has better coverage in the region, I very rarely encounter dead zones with AT&T. Plus, the AT&T iPhones would work overseas (not that we travel overseas often, but we did have one trip a year ago to Ireland where that turned out to be a bonus).

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