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I have had an AT&T unlimited data plan for longer than I can remember. Those initial unlimited plans eventually ceased being available as AT&T and other carriers opted to instead sell data packages each month with limits and overage charges. However, those with the old AT&T unlimited data plans got to keep them as long as they wished to keep paying for them, though the cost for that privilege continued to increase over the years. If you ever stopped carrying your AT&T grandfathered unlimited data plan, it was gone for good.
In light of all that, I held onto my unlimited plan like it was my job. As I saw flashy low prices for other plans and packages, I held on. As new features and discounts and even free international roaming perks were added to other plans and carriers, I held on. As I knew I was likely over-paying, I held on. I was not going to release something that I knew I could never get back. It was slightly irrational, but it was also comforting to know I never needed to worry about data usage, especially given how frequently we travel away from home.
While we are all on one family plan, Josh and I had the unlimited data plans while my mom did not, and I did not envy her when she would get those “you are over your monthly data limit” texts. No thank you, I’ll keep clutching to my unlimited plan even if I’m probably paying more than necessary for that honor.
Then today as we were trying to get through some tasks before the holidays really kick in, we tried to set up an Apple Watch 3. Everything was going as well as you could expect with a multi-step set-up process when we got to a screen that said we had to call AT&T as our rate plan was not compatible with the Apple Watch. Super duper. I was hoping that wasn’t accurate and it was just a glitch that had to be manually over-ridden.
Getting through to a real human at AT&T was easier than anticipated, but she was the bearer of the bad news that we couldn’t keep our grandfathered unlimited plan and link the cellular feature of the new Apple Watch to my account. A little internet research revealed that that may not have been 100% accurate as there does seem to be another way to do it, but it was a cost-prohibitive solution in my view. After an hour of hemming, hawing, and researching online we finally let our much loved unlimited data AT&T grandfathered plans ride off into the sunset.
The Apple Watch issue may have been what prompted the much-delayed action, but the math supported the decision. The AT&T Unlimited Choice plan looks like utter garbage, but the pricier AT&T Unlimited Plus plan includes about twice as much data as we typically use between all four phones before speeds are potentially throttled. It will cost $40 – $50 less per month for the four lines we currently have on the plan than what we were paying, it will provide free HBO (that we currently pay for), give $15 credit for DIRECTV (that we subscribe to), and there are no fees for talk, text, and roaming in Canada and Mexico, which is great. All in, we should save about $70 per month, should pick up free usage in Mexico and Canada, can now tether and use our phones as a hotspot, and shouldn’t be impacted by the 22GB data limit before we may be slowed down unless our usage really increases.
Perhaps best of all, I finally broke free of the fear to lose my unlimited AT&T grandfathered plan and can now be a phone free agent in the event I need to make another change in the future, as our needs change, the number of phones on the plan grows, or a better option presents itself. We are now not under any contracts or grasping tightly to a now-defunct data plan. Phone freedom, here we come.
I’d love to hear what cell phone plan you have found to offer the best overall deal for your traveling family?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.