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AT&T Unlimited Plans: Full Comparison and How to Decide Which is Best for You

AT&T offers three unlimited data plans – Unlimited Starter, Unlimited Extra, and Unlimited Premium. With unlimited talk, text and data on the nation‘s largest and most reliable network, these plans provide excellent value. But with differences in price, data speeds, video streaming quality and other features, choosing the right one can get confusing.

This in-depth guide compares AT&T‘s unlimited data options across all key metrics. It also provides tips for selecting the best plan based on your budget, usage needs and priorities. By the end, you‘ll have all the information you need to pick the perfect AT&T unlimited plan.

The Best AT&T Unlimited Plans at a Glance

Unlimited Starter is the most affordable option at $65/month. It includes unlimited talk, text and data on AT&T‘s 5G and LTE networks. Speeds may slow temporarily based on network traffic priority. Video streaming is limited to standard definition.

Unlimited Extra at $75/month offers faster data speeds thanks to 50GB of premium data per month. You also get 15GB of high-speed tethering and standard definition video.

Unlimited Premium is the top tier option at $85/month. It provides truly unlimited high-speed data and mobile hotspot usage. You also get high-definition video streaming, spam call blocking and fraud monitoring.

Comparing the AT&T Unlimited Plans

Here‘s an at-a-glance comparison of the three AT&T unlimited plans:

Feature Unlimited Starter Unlimited Extra Unlimited Premium
Monthly Price (for one line) $65 $75 $85
Talk and Text Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
High-Speed Data May temporarily slow in congestion 50GB premium data per month Truly unlimited high-speed
Video Streaming Standard definition Standard definition High definition up to 4K
Mobile Hotspot Data Not included 15GB high-speed 50GB high-speed
Int‘l Features Unlimited Mexico/Canada roaming
Unlimited texts to 200+ countries
Same as Starter Same as Starter
+ Unlimited calls to Mexico/Canada
Other Perks 5G access
Spam and fraud call blocking
5G access
Spam and fraud call blocking
5G access
Spam and fraud call blocking
Cloud storage

As you can see, Unlimited Premium clearly delivers premium features. But Unlimited Starter and Extra also offer generous unlimited talk, text and data access. Let‘s compare them in more detail across a few key metrics:

Data Speeds and Performance

Unlimited Premium offers the fastest speeds thanks to truly unlimited premium data all month long. No slowdowns or throttling based on usage.

Unlimited Extra gets 50GB of premium high-speed data per month. Once you hit that threshold, your data is prioritized below other customers during network congestion. So you may notice somewhat slower speeds the rest of the billing cycle depending on traffic levels.

With Unlimited Starter, your data speeds may be slowed temporarily at any time if the network is busy. So while Unlimited Starter offers solid performance most of the time, you are more prone to slowdowns than with Unlimited Extra or Premium.

Video Streaming Quality

Unlimited Premium allows for the highest quality streaming with support for gorgeous high-definition 4K video.

Unlimited Starter and Extra are both limited to standard definition quality for videos. So 480p instead of crisp HD. This may be noticeable on larger phone screens.

Mobile Hotspot Usage

Unlimited Premium truly lives up to its name by giving you 50GB per month of uncapped 4G LTE mobile hotspot data. Once you hit that threshold, speeds drop to a still very usable 128kbps.

Unlimited Extra also provides generous 15GB of high-speed mobile hotspot, after which speeds slow to 128kbps.

Unlimited Starter does not include any mobile hotspot data allowance. You can still use your phone‘s hotspot capability but it counts against your overall data usage with speeds reduced after a certain amount of usage.

International Features

All of AT&T‘s unlimited plans include unlimited talk, text and 5G/LTE data when roaming in Mexico and Canada. They also allow for unlimited texts to over 200 countries.

Unlimited Premium takes international calling even further by including unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada from the U.S.

So in summary, Unlimited Premium clearly delivers the best speeds, streaming quality and hotspot usage. But Unlimited Extra and Starter still provide generous talk, text and data allowances sufficient for many users without breaking the bank.

Choosing the Right AT&T Unlimited Plan

With all this in mind, here is some guidance around picking the best unlimited option depending on your needs and priorities:

For Individuals

Unlimited Starter is a great option for individuals who don‘t need a ton of data or hotspot usage. It delivers sufficient speeds for social media, web browsing, music streaming and light video viewing at a very affordable $65/month.

For individuals who stream more high definition video or use more data for gaming or working away from Wi-Fi, Unlimited Extra is a sweet spot. With 50GB of premium data and 15GB of mobile hotspot monthly, it prevents slowdowns for most moderate to heavy individual users.

For Families

Families with several lines should consider Unlimited Premium for the super-fast speeds, HD video quality and generous 50GB of hotspot data which can be shared when users are together. Four lines on this plan cost $40/line monthly.

However, cost-conscious larger families can save with Unlimited Starter. Four lines cost only $30/line monthly. Video viewing may not be HD quality and data is throttled during network congestion. But there is enough talk, text and data for most families.

And combining plans can work too. Parents or heavy data users can opt for Unlimited Extra or Premium while kids or grandparents go with more affordable Unlimited Starter.

For International Travelers

Frequent travelers to Mexico and Canada will appreciate Unlimited Premium‘s included unlimited calling from the U.S. to those countries on top of the unlimited roaming data/text already offered in all unlimited plans when visiting those nations. Occasional travelers are probably fine saving with Unlimited Extra.

For Business Owners

The Unlimited Premium plan is an amazing value for business owners who rely on being connected and need to use their phones as mobile hotspots for laptops and tablets. With no slowdowns and 50GB of shared hotspot data across compatible devices, Unlimited Premium fuels productivity without worrying about surprises on your cell bill.

What to Expect When Using AT&T Unlimited Plans

From excellent coverage to widespread 5G access to great reliability, AT&T‘s cellular network stands as one of the top options for unlimited data. And all three of their unlimited plans deliver a superb experience:

Fast Speeds
With average download speeds ranging from 35-45+ Mbps on 5G to a still very quick 15-25 Mbps on 4G LTE depending on location, an AT&T unlimited plan will feel speedy under almost all normal usage. Even the "reduced" speeds after hitting high-speed data thresholds on Unlimited Extra/Starter are still enough for most purposes like GPS, email, social media and music.

Great Reliability
AT&T‘s LTE network covers over 300 million Americans. And they have quickly rolled out 5G access to many communities across the country. On AT&T, you‘ll enjoy solid access almost everywhere you go with limited instances of no signal or unexpected drops.

HD Streaming
While only available on Unlimited Premium plans, the ability to stream crystal clear high-definition video over AT&T‘s strong 4G and 5G networks is game-changing. From YouTube to Netflix to live sports, HD video streaming brings your phone‘s display fully to life.

No Surprises
A benefit of all-inclusive unlimited plans means you don‘t have to stress about surprise overage charges or running out of high-speed data mid-cycle if your usage needs increase. Everything is included in your monthly bill on the unlimited plans with optional add on features if you want extras.

So in summary, an AT&T unlimited plan means enjoying an upper tier nationwide wireless network with generous talk, text and data allowances. You just get to choose your ideal tradeoff between high-speed data amounts, video quality, hotspot usage and monthly cost based on the comparison above.

Examining Your Needs

Before choosing one of AT&T‘s unlimited options, take an honest look at how you use your smartphone and what you need most:

Data Usage
Monitor your monthly data usage for a sense of your household or business‘ needs. This will clarify if Unlimited Starter provides enough high-speed data or if Extra/Premium make more sense.

Video Streaming Habits
Do you only occasionally watch videos? Or do you stream high definition content for long stretches? Assess your streaming requirements as Unlimited Premium may be worthwhile for diehard video fans.

Mobile Hotspot Needs
Consider when you use your phone as a mobile hotspot currently and how much data that requires. If you utilize 5GB+ a month for tethering devices, Unlimited Extra or Premium better suit your demands.

Travel Frequency
Note when and where you travel, especially abroad. Unlimited Premium makes the most sense for those traveling to Mexico/Canada even semi-regularly thanks to its unlimited international calling perk.

Asking these questions will guide you towards picking the optimal AT&T unlimited plan that aligns with your networking priorities while maximizing value.

Frequently Asked Questions

What‘s the big difference between Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Premium?

For $10 more a month over Unlimited Extra, Unlimited Premium delivers uncapped premium 4G LTE and 5G data all month long – no 50GB threshold after which your data gets deprioritized. You also get six times the mobile hotspot data (50GB vs 15GB), unlimited calls to Mexico/Canada compared to just texts, higher quality HD streaming, and a few extra perks like cloud storage backups.

So Unlimited Premium removes all high-speed data limits for barely over 10% more in cost. For heavy users or those wanting the best quality streaming/hotspot usage, it‘s easily worth $10 extra. More moderate users can probably save with Unlimited Extra though.

Can I mix and match unlimited plans on a family plan?

Yes! AT&T allows " Unlimited Your Way" family plans which let you customize by assigning different unlimited plan options to different lines based on their usage.

So you could give data hungry teens Unlimited Extra or Premium plans while more basic users get Unlimited Starter. This optimization often saves money versus putting everyone on the top tier plan.

What happens when I use all my high-speed hotspot data?

On Unlimited Premium, your speeds just get throttled to a still usable 128kbps once you pass 50GB of monthly tethering data. On Unlimited Extra, the same 128kbps speed maximum applies after you utilize your 15GB of high speed hotspot. So you can keep using hotspot data, just expect slower speeds suitable for basic web browsing and email rather than HD video streaming or gaming.

Is 5G access included with AT&T unlimited plans?

Yes, all current AT&T unlimited plans come with access to 5G if using a compatible 5G device in an area with 5G coverage. So you‘ll enjoy extremely fast speeds over the newer 5G network standard without any extra fees or charges. AT&T 5G is available in many metro regions with wider rollout continuing.

Can I get a discount on AT&T Unlimited plans?

AT&T offers nice discounts in certain cases. Sign up for paperless billing and autopay to save $10 per month per phone line. Existing AT&T internet, TV or postpaid phone customers also qualify for a $10 monthly discount. Nurses, doctors, military members, veterans first responders also get discounts. The more lines on your plan, the bigger the possible multi-line savings too.

The Bottom Line

While all three plans offer generous unlimited data, calls and messages, Unlimited Premium stands above for those wanting the highest performance thanks to uncapped data speeds all month, 50GB of hotspot usage and superb 4K UHD video streaming. More budget-friendly options still provide solid speeds and allowances for many though.

Hopefully this guide gave you clarity around choosing an AT&T unlimited plan tailored to your usage needs and budget. Their outstanding LTE and growing 5G networks make AT&T a reliable option for unlimited data in America. Enjoy streaming, browsing and more without limits!