Ditching an AT&T contract for Net10?

A reader Valerie writes,

I am currently under contract with my iPhone 5 through AT&T and I’m thinking about cancelling my contract and going prepaid. It’s a toss up if I should stay with AT&T or go over to Net10. If I stick with AT&T would I need to mess with setting up the data and MMS? And if I went with Net10 would I need both the AT&T and T-Mobile SIM cards to set up data and MMS?

Hi Valerie,

Thanks for writing. You definitely can  save over half the cost of your AT&T plan  by switching to Net10.

First before canceling your contract, you need to find out the cost of the early termination fees for AT&T. Luckily, AT&T has a web page for that. http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/articles-resources/early-term-fees.jsp It costs $325 and you can subtract $10 for each month of service you have completed on your contract. Since the iPhone 5 came out last Septembe, at most you would be subtracting $60-$70. Switching to Net10 could easily save you $40 a month or $480 a year. The payoff for you would really come in the second year. For the first year you would need to subtract your early termination fees from your savings.

I haven’t signed up for the AT&T prepaid service yet. So I don’t know what is required to configure data and mms on their prepaid service.

Best case is you put their SIM card in and it all works. If it doesn’t, configuring data only is pretty easy. You go to a web site and download a configuration file. MMS is a little harder, you need to know the settings needed for MMS and use the SIM swap message to hack around the fact that Apple hid the menu. I’d also note, that many iPhone users send picture messages to other iphone users and end up using iMessage versus MMS without even knowing it.

It’s annoying to configure, but you stand to save a lot of money. Once you get it configured, you don’t really think about it. If you update the software on your iPhone, you may need to set it up again. I’d recommend reading through the post on my blog. I have discussed the pros and cons of Net10, T-Mobile, and StraightTalk.

To make an informed choice, you should have a sense of how heavy of a voice, data, and MMS user you really are. The AT&T prepaid is  1GB of Data for $65 a month. Net10 is 1.5GB for $50. If you live in a city where T-Mobile has upgraded there support for iPhone you can get a great deal on truly unlimited data!

If you are a light data and voice user, there are even cheaper options. Also remember with prepaid, you are only committed for a month. You can jump from service to service until you find one you like.

Feel free to email me if you have more questions.

Best Regards,
Bob

15 Comments

  1. Annetta | | Reply

    I was with AT&T for 3 months and my bill skyrocket to almost 600.00 for two lines. When I requested a payment arrangement with AT&T I was told my account was too new to be eligible. But, you can charge me 15.00 per GB. This was a nightmare. I decided to go to net 10 and see if I could switch my iPhone 5 to net10. At this point I’m desperate and fed up! I went to Walmart and purchased net10 new activation bring your on phone kit. This includes a nano SIM card which is compatible for iPhone 5. I wasn’t sure if I would have issues or not but it was actually easy breezy!!!! I called and I was able to transfer my number and use my phone until my number transferred to net10. Once it did I popped in net10 SIM card and to my surprise it worked perfectly!!!! I didn’t have to configure anything and it’s been working perfect for a month now. I couldn’t be happier so long AT&T I can’t tell a difference in the service except that my bill is only 100.00 a month for unlimited everything!!!!

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Annetta,
      I am glad to hear you found net10 wireless and have lowered your bill by $500. I don’t know how much data you were using on ATT but keep in mind that while your Net10 plan comes with unlimited data they will reduce the speed significantly after you use 5GB in your billing period. When you data speeds are reduced, it will be very slow. You’ll be able to send and receive an email but using the web or apps will not be a great experience.

  2. Jon | | Reply

    Hi, I was thinking of going to net10 and the same issue came up. Is it possible to get an AT&T plan on an iPhone, then switch to net10 and pay no early termination fee??

    Thanks

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Jon,
      I don’t know what happens if you don’t pay the Early Termination Fee with AT&T. They might report it as a bad debt to a collection agency. They might ban the phone from use on the AT&T network, including Net10 but I don’t think so. The locked AT&T iPhone will be compatible with Net10 if they don’t ban it.

      I don’t recommend the approach. Which iPhone would you buy and how much money would you really save? Be a little creative. Buy a used iPhone. Buy a less expensive smartphone and save up for a better phone later. Buy a new unlocked iPhone find a more limited prepaid wireless plan that is less expensive to pay off the difference.

      Regards
      Bob

      • Jon | | Reply

        I have tracfone right now, and I want a better phone, most likely an iPhone, so is there any cheap plan to do so???

        • Bob Thompson | | Reply

          Hi Jon,
          Yes. How much are you spending on your current plan? How much are you willing to spend on a smartphone? what services are important to you talk, text, data, picture messages.
          Regards
          Bob

          • Jon | |

            I am spending about $400 per year for 4 people , and I would spend up to $300 to get a new phone, unlimited talk and text.
            Thanks bob

          • Jon | |

            By the way, I saw that an iPhone 5c is only $50 at target, with a plan like AT&T. I think that AT&T owns net10, but does the two year service plan with AT&T count for net10???

            Best
            Jon

  3. Nelson torres | | Reply

    A&t are thieves there so call plan is a robbery each month billed gets bigger

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Nelson,
      I think it is expensive. I started this site to share info about lower cost alternatives.
      Regards
      Bob

  4. Elizabeth | | Reply

    Hi.

    I have a similar question/issue. I have an iPhone 4S and the AT&T contract will be up in October. I did the math and I would actually save money if I ended the contract now by paying the ETF. My bill is $80/month ($320 until contract is up) and the ETF would be $125 to get out of my contract. However, I am a little nervous about the process of switching. I’d like to not be without a functioning phone and am also a little weary about if the phone has to be unlocked or not and all of my data, picture messaging, and visual voice mail working. Any tips?

  5. Valerie | | Reply

    Thanks Bob! The ETF is the one thing that is keeping me from cancelling quickly, maybe in the next couple months I’ll be able to cancel. When I do cancel I will probably go with Net10. I’m neither both a big data (mostly use wifi) or voice user, so I’ll keep an eye out on other plans that’s available.

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Hi Valerie,
      I’m looking to do a guide on prepaid service for users that are light data and voice users. Just because you dont use a lot of service doesn’t mean that you dont want a nice smartphone. The mobile carriers have been holding customers hostage.

      When you are ready to switch, check back on the site or send me a message. I may be able to guide you to an inexpensive plan.

      Best
      Bob

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