AT&T is the second-largest carrier and is a formidable rival and a great complement to Verizon for us nomads.
There are plenty of locations we have been where the best Verizon can manage is 3G or very weak or overloaded LTE. Sometimes in those locations, AT&T ends up delivering a much better overall experience.
AT&T Prepaid (formerly GoPhone) is AT&T's own prepaid brand and can be obtained directly from the carrier or in select retailers. They offer different monthly smartphone plans, or a pay as you go daily option, as well as data-only hotspot & tablet plans.
Smartphone Plans with Data:
Additional data can be purchased:
- $50 monthly plan – 1GB for $10 or 3GB for $20
- $35 monthly plan – 1GB for $10
- $30 monthly plan – 250MB for $5
AT&T also offers talk and text-only plans with the capability to purchase data as needed on a monthly or daily basis.
Policies & Perks:
- Domestic Roaming: (unconfirmed) - AT&T Prepaid seems to include domestic roaming, and likely has similar limits to postpaid accounts.
- Throttling: Direct AT&T prepaid plans experience full network speeds until the data cap (if any) is reached. Speeds are then throttled to 128kbps for the remainder of the month.
- Network Management: The $65 unlimited plan is *always* subject to network management - the $85 unlimited plan is subject to network management after 22GB of data.
- International: All plans except the 1GB option include unlimited voice, text & full allotment of on-device data in Mexico & Canada. AT&T may cancel your plan for using more than 50% of this service outside the US. The 10GB of hotspot data for the $85 unlimited plan is restricted to the US only.
- Mobile Hotspot Use: Plans with tiered data allow mobile hotspot use. Their more expensive of two unlimited plan options include 10GB of hotspot data. Data is slowed to 128kbps once hotspot data is used up.
- Standalone Hotspot: This is a smartphone only plan - there is no option to add a standalone hotspot or tablet line.
- Data Roll Over: Unused data on tiered plans rolls over to the next month, as long as the account is kept active.
- Overage Charges: There are no overage charges on prepaid plans. Once you use your data, service continues at throttled speeds (128kbps) until your next refill.
- Streaming: No streaming services are provided with prepaid accounts and streaming always uses plan data. All plans except the $65 unlimited options come with Stream Saver which can be turned off for full HD video.
- Device Lock/Unlock Policy: AT&T Prepaid devices are eligible for unlocking after 6 months of active service.
Tablet / Hotspot Plans
AT&T offers separate plans for tablets and hotspots:
- 2GB for $25/month (additional data: 500MB - $10) (hotspot ok)
- 5GB for $50/month (additional data: 1GB - $10) (hotspot ok)
- 8GB for $75/month (additional data: 2GB - $10) (hotspot ok)
- Unlimited Prepaid iPad Plan - AT&T offers prepaid tablet plans for $29.99 - $35/month, but data is only available on the device (no hotspot included).
Testing Status: We do not keep a prepaid AT&T plan in our testing arsenal.
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AT&T Prepaid Ratings
If keeping connected is important to you in your travels, AT&T is a worthwhile part of your setup. Their prepaid plans might be a flexible way to keep the option available.