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Thread: How ATT prepaid works ?

  1. #1
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    How ATT prepaid works ?

    Just want to get some clarity on the plans. I see ATT refill cards at Walmart that say 90 days, but any plan on the ATT site is monthly. Are those cards only to be used as setting a balance in you account to pay your monthly plan and/or buy extra data against a monthly plan ? How's the 90 days play in ?

    I basically for now want to see how ATT is in my area but also with the intent of using my phone as a HotSpot. I'm on a Verizon MVNO now with my phone and can just swap SIMs to try it. Currently I use as needed a ST/Vzw HotSpot device which works good, but maybe in my area ATT could be better. Having both phone and HotSpot ability in one would save $. I could get a cheap plan like Tracfone/ATT just to try it but no MVNO allows HotSpot phone use. From what I see ATT prepaid does. As would Verizon prepaid, but want to just see if there's any improvement with ATT.

  2. #2
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    If you bought a bunch of $50 cards that couldn't be used in 90 days the unused money would expire unless you added more money to your account before then. But when you have a monthly plan, unless you really stock up , you are probably safe. And if you went overboard, you could just buy $100 cards that expire in a year.

    The expiration is more relevant if you are on a pay per use plan or occasionally use the $2/day plan. Then, you could have to worry about letting it expire.

    I am an example. I bought a discounted phone earlier this year with the plan to unlock it in 6 months and keep as a backup phone. Before I found out that putting the SIM in another phone would reset the clock. So I signed up for a new number. It came with the initial $25 card with my SIM purchase. (<3 months). I then bought a $10 PIN and added it to it just before it expired for another month. Then another $25 plan. For my last month before the last month before unlocking, I'll signup for a monthly plan with the unused money.

    There are people who can get a pretty good balance when they hardly use their emergency phone. A few years, it can be a couple hundred dollars if they keep it active.
    iPhone X is my current primary phone. I have older model iPhones and Moto phones available on other lines. Currently prepaid, though would consider postpaid on right plan.

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    OK thanks but that's even more confusing. Not my question.
    Let me try another way. Is a 90 day card for loading to an account to use to pay your monthly plan or add on data; or can it also be used kind of like PayGo, charged off at x$ per minute, txt, mb ?

    Also, since it's my understanding that ATT(GSM) doesn't care about what your phones IMEI is I assume the comment about resetting the clock by putting your SIM in a different phone had to do with it being a locked prepaid ATT phone(?) and not general rule of thumb. SIM swaps are common.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    OK thanks but that's even more confusing. Not my question.
    Let me try another way. Is a 90 day card for loading to an account to use to pay your monthly plan or add on data; or can it also be used kind of like PayGo, charged off at x$ per minute, txt, mb ?

    Also, since it's my understanding that ATT(GSM) doesn't care about what your phones IMEI is I assume the comment about resetting the clock by putting your SIM in a different phone had to do with it being a locked prepaid ATT phone(?) and not general rule of thumb. SIM swaps are common.
    Yes, it is because I bought a discounted Prepaid phone that I can't unlock it unless I use it for 6 straight months. Some MVNOs is 12 months.

    You apply the full card at one time, and any charges come from the balance you applied. Whether for a monthly plan, or pay per use.

    With pay per use, you don't pay for unanswered calls you receive, or for received text messages. When I purchased the discounted phone, I thought I could just activate it on my main account, then move the SIM back to my primary phone. Then in 6 months unlock it, saving money. And have the phone available in case of need. The account will be 6 months old in October. Unlock it, and let the unneeded number fade away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    OK thanks but that's even more confusing. Not my question.
    Let me try another way. Is a 90 day card for loading to an account to use to pay your monthly plan or add on data; or can it also be used kind of like PayGo, charged off at x$ per minute, txt, mb ?

    Also, since it's my understanding that ATT(GSM) doesn't care about what your phones IMEI is I assume the comment about resetting the clock by putting your SIM in a different phone had to do with it being a locked prepaid ATT phone(?) and not general rule of thumb. SIM swaps are common.

    However, as long as you add money to your account before the expiration date, you will extend the expiration date of your remaining balance. For example, say you had a $10 balance set to expire tomorrow. A $25-$99 refill expires in 90 days, so if you added $25 today, the entire $35 would now expire 90 days from today.

    In my case, I manage my mom's old .10/min plan. I add $25 every month and the balance carries over another 90 days.
    I'm going to switch it from a flip phone to a smartphone, then change to a regular monthly plan. But to keep the balance ($190+), I still have to add to the balance to keep extending the expiry date. As I understand it.

    https://forums.att.com/t5/More-AT-T-...n/td-p/5245326
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    So, other then the so called $2 a day pay per use thing ATT does not have a classic PayGo which charges off like $.05 per minute, txt, or MB against the card ? The card is then just used to renew your monthly plan or add data to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    So, other then the so called $2 a day pay per use thing ATT does not have a classic PayGo which charges off like $.05 per minute, txt, or MB against the card ? The card is then just used to renew your monthly plan or add data to it.
    They do. I think $0.25/minute or text. You can see it on their web site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    They do. I think $0.25/minute or text. You can see it on their web site.
    Thanks, I think I saw that, $0.25 is nuts. Looks like for my use if I load one of those 90 day cards I'd need to use it to buy/apply to a monthly plan.

  9. #9
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    For my "home" phone that I give out as if it was a landline I use a MVNO with better pay per use prices. Only requires about $10 every 3 months to keep active, and $0.05/minute. Not used much, so I'm up to over $50 in credit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    For my "home" phone that I give out as if it was a landline I use a MVNO with better pay per use prices. Only requires about $10 every 3 months to keep active, and $0.05/minute. Not used much, so I'm up to over $50 in credit.
    Same with me currently on Page Plus. But MVNO's don't allow using your phone as a HotSpot. That's my main objective.
    Plus wanting to see how ATT is in my area.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpz1 View Post
    Same with me currently on Page Plus. But MVNO's don't allow using your phone as a HotSpot. That's my main objective.
    Plus wanting to see how ATT is in my area.
    For my home phone, where I have internet via the cable, I don't need hotspot support. Anyway, my main cell phone, which is currently on Verizon Prepaid, has hotspot in case I need it at work or in a hotel.

    Some MVNOs will allow you to use your data for the personal hotspot. But it can be phone specific. For instance, hotspot may not be available on ATT based MVNOs for iPhones.

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    There are a number of angles to your situation/question. Hopefully this will help narrow that down some. My only experience with the prepaid monthly through ATT is with their low end data only plan (currently $25/mo). But I have used their $2/day and their per minute plan as well. The latter is more classic pay as you go format.

    There are two things going on here. Your *balance* and your *charges*.

    Your balance is what you have on account with ATT. If you are new to them and add a $25 card, you will have a $25 balance on day one. The balances have expiration dates. The $25 is good for 90 days, $10 for 30. $100 gets you a year, etc. So, if you were on the per minute plan and did not use it all up by day 90, you'd need to add to the balance/expiration or lose it. Same if you were on the $2/day plan. From my experience, the monthly plans *draw* off that balance. So you can add those refills to your balance at any time prior to the balance expiration and it will be added to it. But I do think they have an upper limit on how much you can have on balance. Something like $500 or $1000....I forget. Most people never flirt with that end.

    Your charges are what are pulled from your balance. So, if you have a balance of $20 and you're on the $2/day plan with 90 days left, you could theoretically use it no more than 10 days in that period, or your balance would be depleted, even if the balance expiration is still ok. Likewise in the other manner. If you had that balance and never used the phone in that period, you'd just have to make sure to add another refill before expiration or you'd lose the balance.

    If you are on a monthly plan that costs say $45/month and you added a $100 card, the balance would be good for one year, but if it draws off it monthly, you'd only get two months out of the balance before you'd have to add more funds before the 3rd month. Once the monthly plan is purchased (or drawn off your balance), you have 30 days of use of the plan itself. As long as you keep adding the same refill monthly, or keep that amount or more in your balance all the time, it will keep drawing off it.

    So, the refills have expirations based on the amount. This was more pertinent to classic pay as you go, but still applies with all their prepaid options these days. The cards add to your balance.....you just need to keep it above $0 and keep the expiration date in the future. Most of the monthly plans will not encounter a balance expiration due to the values added regularly, but you always have to keep funds in, or add on time. I think you can setup autopay and if you do that with a monthly plan, it might be the least hassle for some. Once you are a prepaid customer and have your online account setup, you can manage almost everything online in there. Including changing plans, etc. But their phone customer support is pretty good and they are very helpful. You can also stop in one of their stores and ask questions as well.

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