Why I switched to an AT&T mobile share plan

After having spent the past two years optimizing my AT&T plan for the lowest cost, I bit the bullet and switched us over to a mobile share plan.  I’m not saving the money I had been, but I’ve picked up a few new features that made it worthwhile in my mind.

The mobile share plans change the pricing model around for phone service.  They give unlimited minutes and text messages (finally!), and then they give you a shared pool of data to use for all devices.  You pay a base fee, then an additional fee for each phone or tablet.  Plans start at 1GB, and then go to 4GB, 6GB, 10GB, and so on.

My wife and I are low data users in general, since we spend most of our time in wifi range.  This has allowed us to stay on the old 200MB for $15 plans for months and save tons of money.  I calculated that it was okay to trigger overage charges one out of every three months and still come out ahead in costs, so this has been a good deal.

So why switch now?

First, my wife has traveled multiple times in the last few months, and in the process she has repeatedly tripped the overage charges due to the combination of unusually high need for data and a lack of wifi.  If this were the only issue, we could probably just move her to the 300MB for $20 plan.

Second, the way I am using my phone has shifted, and I have found myself several times wanting to use more data than I do normally.  The radio broke in one of our cars, and I’m not so inclined to pay the hundreds of dollars to fix it since I usually listen to podcasts on my phone.  However, I have found myself eating into my data more heavily than normal when I opted to stream music from pandora.

I’ve also become a big fan of the new Apple turn-by-turn directions.  Mapping mistakes aside, I really like the interface and the fact that it integrates with everything else on the phone.  However, since it does require data, I find myself worrying as I use it that I will start tripping overage charges too often.

The third benefit is that the mobile share plan comes with personal hotspot service included.  Granted, we don’t need this very often, but there have been several times where it would have been really useful.  For example, briefly connecting one of our iPads to the internet for a more comfortable browsing experience or putting my wife’s pc on wifi for just a few minutes so that she can update dropbox to grab a file.

I went with the cheapest plan (1GB), which should still be more than enough for our data needs, and with overages being only $15 for each additional gigabyte, this should be a good fit.

The bill will probably go up by about $40 or so a month, so the savings are definitely wiped out.  However, we are getting three things in return:

  1. Peace of mind (no more worrying about overages)
  2. Broader use of my capabilities of my phone
  3. Personal hotspot

None of these individually are worth it enough for me to shell out the money, but as a total package, I decided it was worth it.

Well, the savings were good while they lasted.  I’ll have to find something else to be cheap about.

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