Carrier AT&T family plan with FAN discount - Help me understand Mobile Share Value

pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
Ok, so I've been burned in the past by giving up my unlimited plan on my line, but since then we've added 3 more iPhones to our family plan, got an unlimited texting plan and upgraded a few times. I'm trying to make sense of the new Mobile Share Value plan and see if it's not too good to be true and understand how it will impact us in the future.

We're all locked in at 2GB DataPro right now which is $25 and we get a 25% discount so each smartphone line is $26.25 ($9.99+$25-$8.75) plus tax and dumbphone is $7.49 ($9.99-$2.50).

Our bill today ends up being $176.15 for all 5 lines on the 450 minute plan which we never use all of. So the first question is discount/tax related: Will our bill really be $150 if we switch to the 10GB share plan? If so, maybe we'd just go with the 30GB plan during the current "doubling" promotion for $172.5 (after our discount). (disregard 30GB plan idea)

The second question is related to actually upgrading these devices. I've seen some comparisons and calculations for single plans but these don't seem to take into account that you can sell your device. I've always been able to sell my iPhones since the 1st gen and get roughly enough to get the next iPhone that's available every 2 years. At the same time, other family members are happy with their older iPhones and will just upgrade if they lose or break theirs. Do these new plans have the most benefit if you upgrade every 12 or 18 months and do you get to keep/sell your old device or do you turn it in?

Thanks in advance to anyone willing to weigh in, we're just worried that the new plans are too good to be true and switching is going to come back to haunt us like other things AT&T has done in the past.
 

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Kendo

macrumors 68020
Apr 4, 2011
2,162
626
Ok, so I've been burned in the past by giving up my unlimited plan on my line, but since then we've added 3 more iPhones to our family plan, got an unlimited texting plan and upgraded a few times. I'm trying to make sense of the new Mobile Share Value plan and see if it's not too go to be true and understand how it will impact us in the future.

We're all locked in at 2GB DataPro right now which is $25 and we get a 25% discount so each smartphone line is $26.25 ($9.99+$25-$8.75) plus tax and dumbphone is $7.49 ($9.99-$2.50).

Our bill today ends up being $176.15 for all 5 lines on the 450 minute plan which we never use all of. So the first question is discount/tax related: Will our bill really be $150 if we switch to the 10GB share plan? If so, maybe we'd just go with the 30GB plan during the current "doubling" promotion for $172.5 (after our discount).

The second question is related to actually upgrading these devices. I've seen some comparisons and calculations for single plans but these don't seem to take into account that you can sell your device. I've always been able to sell my iPhones since the 1st gen and get roughly enough to get the next iPhone that's available ever 2 years. At the same time, other family members are happy with their older iPhones and will just upgrade if they lose or break theirs. Do these new plans have the most benefit if you upgrade every 12 or 18 months and do you get to keep/sell your old device or do you turn it in?

Thanks in advance to anyone willing to weigh in, we're just worried that the new plans are too good to be true and switching is going to come back to haunt us like other things AT&T has done in the past.
Base data value which includes text and voice = $150 for 30GB. Then you add $15 for each off-contract phone line but if any are on contract, then you pay $40 per line. Assuming you have all off-contract phones, $15 times 5 plus $150 equals $225 and you get 6GB data each.
 

pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
Base data value which includes text and voice = $150 for 30GB. Then you add $15 for each off-contract phone line but if any are on contract, then you pay $40 per line. Assuming you have all off-contract phones, $15 times 5 plus $150 equals $225 and you get 6GB data each.
Ok, I can see this is going to get complicated so lets stick with the 10GB plan for argument's sake. I've also attached the details from our billing account that show which devices are on and off contract right now.
 

enthusiastic

macrumors regular
Nov 1, 2013
148
119
Some notes:

1. The 25% discount applies only to the price of the data, not to the line charges. That is 10GB plan would be 100*0.75 + 15*No. of lines + NEXT Plan phone charges(see 3). This, of course, assumes that you have the phones either on NEXT plan, purchased outright or you have brought your own.

2. After the 12 or 18 month period you are given the chance to upgrade your phone. However, you don't have to stick to this schedule. You can pay off your phone (after a month I believe) and be eligible to upgrade. So when a new iPhone is released you can pay off the balance amount on your existing iPhone and "own" it. You don't have to turn it in compulsorily.

3. If you buy a phone on the NEXT plan, the monthly charges for the phone will also be a part of the bill.

4. If you change your data plan in the future (after 10/31) you will lose the ability to change to the double data plans. But if you change to those plans now you can hold on to it until AT&T allows you to.

5. If you have signed the contract before 2/2/14 then you are eligible for the $15 per line price.

If you have more questions, let me know. Veterans, if you find a mistake in this, please feel free to point out.
 
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nrvna76

macrumors 65816
Aug 4, 2010
1,064
1,073
But I assume you get subsidized phones. You have to keep that in mind. You'll pay way more for subsidized phones through mobile share.
 

pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
None of these phones were purchased on NEXT, we are traditional AT&T (formerly Cingular) customers. So the dates you see when the contracts end are 2 years from when the devices were purchased (subsidized of course). If we don't change anything, I basically upgrade to a new phone whenever AT&T says I'm eligible for another discount (looking forward to iPhone 6S at this point) but as I mentioned the rest of my family does not do that.
 

nrvna76

macrumors 65816
Aug 4, 2010
1,064
1,073
It doesn't matter if you're in contract or not. You'll pay 75 for data and 75 for all 5 lines. But when you want new phones you need to use next or buy outright.
 

vipergts2207

macrumors 68020
Apr 7, 2009
2,144
2,630
Columbus, OH
I've been looking into the Mobile Share/Next plans too, since I'm on one of the old Nation 450 plans. I think for us, it makes more sense to stay on these old plans instead of changing. My reasoning is that although we'd pay less now (I've got a 5s on 2-year contract), when we go to upgrade our phones, we'll have to start paying the ~$30/month Next charge. For me, I could pay $65/month instead of $75/month by switching to the 2 GB Mobile Share plan. When it comes time to upgrade to the 6s next year though, I'll have to start paying the Next installment fee. This will completely wipe out my $10/month savings and then some. I assume it would be the same for you.
 

cymolia

macrumors 6502a
Mar 17, 2012
528
20
Orange County, FL
If you have the Mobile share plan and do the 2 year subsidy and or next your bill will go up regardless , add between 30-45 dollars per month for each phone depending on what phone you get.
 

pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
Right now, that one Smartphone line that is off-contract is eligible to pay $40 upgrade fee and get a 16GB iPhone 6 for $199 (new 2-year contract) or get it via NEXT. We might be able to sell the 4S for that amount as it's unlocked, or at least sell it for something. If you have a device with NEXT and decide to upgrade, do they just take the device or do you get to sell it? My feeling is they would not let you keep it.

I am with you right now vipergts2207, not wanting to change our old deal if it's going to limit our upgrade options (even though they say it's better for upgrades) in the future. Plus since we're all on various timelines for upgrade eligibility that makes it even trickier. Should we wait until we're all eligible and then all get 2-year contract pricing and then switch to mobile share or does it make more sense to switch to mobile share if you are all off contract?
 

vipergts2207

macrumors 68020
Apr 7, 2009
2,144
2,630
Columbus, OH
I wouldn't switch to the Mobile share plans at all. It looks like you'd save about ~$35/month. Inevitably though, as you replace each phone, it's going to add another, ~$30/month, every time you replace a phone to finance it through Next. By the time you've replaced all the smartphones you'll be have increased your overall bill by ~$85/month. Over 2 years, that's $2,040. Under the current contract, you would have paid $960 for 4 subsidized phones at $200 each plus $40 each for activation.
 

rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
8,341
4,330
Keep, in mind, that $175/mo for MSVP 10GB will go up to $300/mo with 2-year contract upgrades or $312.50/mo with Next 18 or $337.50/mo with Next 12 ($650 iPhone, only tax upfront w/Next) in case you all have new phones at one point (e.g. year 1: 3 upgraders, year 2: 2 upgraders). The only way MSVP is worth ot for you is if you never upgrade your phones.
 

mhdena

macrumors 6502a
Sep 16, 2009
517
93
No offense to anyone who already did it, but

Next stands for


NEXT SUCKER :eek:

Keep the family plans you have with the unlimited you have.

The mobile share plans have 1 goal, to get as many lines per household as possible, with Next they have a never ending stream of leasers.

The doubling of the data is to get as many to $200 per month as possible.
 

pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
Thanks for the comments, we only have unlimited texts (extra $30/mo), but minutes is essentially unlimited since we never use all 450 and have rollover. It would be nice to have 10GB shared data instead of 8GB (2GBx4 that could each get overage charges), but beyond that it doesn't sound like the math works out if we typically upgrade every 18mo-3 years and get subsidized.

What about selling the devices? I assume they would only let you keep if you had it paid off.
 

Vertigo50

macrumors 65816
Apr 11, 2007
1,198
131
You're going to end up getting screwed with Mobile Share. There is a reason you can't get the deal you (and I) have anymore. It benefits us more than AT&T. NEXT is a good program for those who want to upgrade their phone every year, but they pay a LOT for the privilege. I'm like you, and I upgrade our phones every other year on a two-year contract basically for FREE. By getting the phone unlocked I can sell it for more than the price of my new phone. I haven't paid for a phone since my first one, the 3G.

Trust me, if you're okay with the amount of data you have and okay with 2-year upgrades, stay where you are.
 

pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
Thanks, that's the missing piece of info from all the "calculators" I've seen out there saying how Mobile Share saves most people money.
 

pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
I won't give up unlimited data for a savings of 20 or 30 bucks per month. Sorry.
Pretty sure I said I don't have unlimited data. Haven't for many years. That's not really the question here.
 
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ftaok

macrumors 603
Jan 23, 2002
6,201
1,221
East Coast
I ran the numbers for you. In your situation, it's a bad deal to go with Mobile Share due mainly to the following reasons.

1. You have an older minutes plan that isn't offered anymore, lowering your base cost.

2. Your 2GB data plans are not offered anymore, lowering your base cost.

3. Your FAN gives you a 25% discount on your 450 minute plan, as well as the $10/line charge and the $25/line data charge. This is typically not available on most FAN discounts.

4. You have a feature phone on your account ... the $7.50 access fee for that phone is lower than the $15 on the MS plan.

Bottom line, due to the way your current account is set-up, it would be foolish for you to switch, especially if you typically upgrade every 2 years. I would be very careful in making any sort of account change as your FAN is very special. If you lose the discount on the $10/line charge and/or the data charge, it would change the numbers dramatically.

----------

If you have a device with NEXT and decide to upgrade, do they just take the device or do you get to sell it? My feeling is they would not let you keep it.
If you upgrade early (either 12 or 18 months) under NEXT, they take the phone back and relieve you of any further payments. If you complete the full amount of payments (either 20 or 24 months) under NEXT, you keep the phone.

Bottom line with NEXT is that you upgrade immediately when you become eligible, or you wait until you've paid the phone off. Anywhere in between, and you lose money.
 

Vertigo50

macrumors 65816
Apr 11, 2007
1,198
131
Thanks, that's the missing piece of info from all the "calculators" I've seen out there saying how Mobile Share saves most people money.
Yep, AT&T is being very shady about the whole $15 or $40 per line fee issue. If you don't believe me, look at all the threads around the time the phone launched with topics like, "My bill just went up $40 a month! What the hell?"

It's obvious AT&T was quoting people how much they could "save" on the Mobile Share plans, but not making it clear that the monthly bill would go up when they upgraded. It's actually pretty damn clever the way they structured it. It might just make me switch to T-Mobile after all if they're going to be that devious.
 

Kendo

macrumors 68020
Apr 4, 2011
2,162
626
Yep, AT&T is being very shady about the whole $15 or $40 per line fee issue. If you don't believe me, look at all the threads around the time the phone launched with topics like, "My bill just went up $40 a month! What the hell?"

It's obvious AT&T was quoting people how much they could "save" on the Mobile Share plans, but not making it clear that the monthly bill would go up when they upgraded. It's actually pretty damn clever the way they structured it. It might just make me switch to T-Mobile after all if they're going to be that devious.
Not really. The base data, text, voice costs whichever tier you pay. For example 10GB is $100, 15GB is $130, etc. That price NEVER changes, you always pay that.

Next up...in order to connect a phone to that base package, it costs you every month for each device. If you bring your own phone (for example an older iPhone 5 or a 4S), the price is $15 per month. So why pray tell would AT&T charge some customers $40 per month? Well if you sign a two year contract and pay only $200 for a $650 phone, someone's gotta pay for that extra $450 right? Well that someone is you buddy.

So if you want to buy a new iPhone 6, you can pay the full price of $650 and be charged a little less per month ($15), or you can pay $200 and be charged a little more per month ($40).

NEXT for all its terminology is simply a 0% financing for 24 months. So if you buy an iPhone 6 on NEXT, $650 divided by 24 is months is $27 per month. That is in addition to the base data package and the $15 you pay per month. So you might say, why do I have to pay an extra $27 per month? Because you have to pay for your phone.
 

Arran

macrumors 601
Mar 7, 2008
4,441
3,006
Atlanta, USA
My experience:

In Feb, I had four iPhone 4s-es, all with 7 months still to run on a traditional 2 year contract. All shared 700 rollover minutes (hardly used). All shared unlimited family messaging ($30/mo total) . Two lines had grandfathered unlimited data, one had 3GB data and the other had 2GB data. My regular monthly bill in Feb was $223 with a FAN discount. Often it was $10-20 higher when the limited data lines overran.

In Feb, I dropped the unlimited data I'd clung to for 4.5 years (heaven knows why, since we hardly used 0.5GB on either unlimited line). I then put all four lines on a 10GB family share. Monthly bill dropped to $156 and it has been that way since March. Saved me $400 so far. That's the only difference I've noticed. (I didn't consider Next in Feb because it sounded like a bad deal, back then.)

A few weeks ago, I bought three iP6's on Next. Yes, the monthly bill is flying upwards now but I now have three brand-new phones with plenty of life left in them! And since they're all on AppleCare+, I'm covered for two years. A drawer full of old, working, iPhone 4s-es is my last line of defense. :)

Within a few days I paid off one iP6 via the AT&T mobile app. Did it in 2 minutes. I will pay off the other two next month, once I verify there are no surprises from paying off the first one :) Once that's done, I'll unlock them for free (via the AT&T unlocking website) and I'll be free to jump ship to the next best deal. Freedom is good. I don't like being locked to any supplier.

That's my experience so far.

As far as AT&T's current double data promo goes (an extra $20+ to go from 10GB to 30 GB) ... I'm still thinking about it:

  • Pros: Affordable. The kids can burn more data, so they'll be happy.
  • Cons: It costs more. The kids will get hooked on burning more fast data which will make it harder to reign them in should the bills creep up, and I decide to jump ship to T-Mobile's $100/month offer (Which I'd be fine with but the rest of the family won't!).

Personally, I think AT&T's goal with the "30GB for the price of 15 GB promo" is to give it's customers so much fast data for a "reasonable" price that they forget about the good deals to be had from T-Mobile (and others).
 

Vertigo50

macrumors 65816
Apr 11, 2007
1,198
131
Not really. The base data, text, voice costs whichever tier you pay. For example 10GB is $100, 15GB is $130, etc. That price NEVER changes, you always pay that.

Next up...in order to connect a phone to that base package, it costs you every month for each device. If you bring your own phone (for example an older iPhone 5 or a 4S), the price is $15 per month. So why pray tell would AT&T charge some customers $40 per month? Well if you sign a two year contract and pay only $200 for a $650 phone, someone's gotta pay for that extra $450 right? Well that someone is you buddy.

So if you want to buy a new iPhone 6, you can pay the full price of $650 and be charged a little less per month ($15), or you can pay $200 and be charged a little more per month ($40).

NEXT for all its terminology is simply a 0% financing for 24 months. So if you buy an iPhone 6 on NEXT, $650 divided by 24 is months is $27 per month. That is in addition to the base data package and the $15 you pay per month. So you might say, why do I have to pay an extra $27 per month? Because you have to pay for your phone.
You're sort of missing the entire point of my post. You explaining the plan here in a clear way changes nothing, and I already understand the plan, anyway.

My entire point, which you didn't even address, is that AT&T is obviously not making all of this clear to customers they are talking into making the switch. And it is obvious, because there were numerous threads on here from people who were taken by surprise when they found out their monthly fees were going up. It's pretty clear that AT&T lured them in with the promise of a lower rate, but didn't make it clear that it would go up when they upgraded. So as I said, shady business practices.
 

rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
8,341
4,330
My entire point, which you didn't even address, is that AT&T is obviously not making all of this clear to customers they are talking into making the switch. And it is obvious, because there were numerous threads on here from people who were taken by surprise when they found out their monthly fees were going up. It's pretty clear that AT&T lured them in with the promise of a lower rate, but didn't make it clear that it would go up when they upgraded. So as I said, shady business practices.
For those who swapped via customer service reps, yes, that seems to be case for a lot of folks. I switched my plan online and it was extremely clear that if I sign a 2-year contract and get a subsidized device, I lose the $25/line discount. Either the CSRs weren't properly trained or they were given incentives to switch people to the new plans and are therefore not explaining all the gotchas to customers. That said, it's up to the customer to read at least the basic terms before they sign the agreement.
 
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