Phone Deal Finder
Plan Finder

Changes To AT&T Contracts Consumers Should Be Aware Of

a hand holding a cell phone

Do you need a new phone, or are you thinking of switching your Internet service to another company? You might consider AT&T. AT&T has a reputation for excellent connectivity and coverage plus great phone deals.

However, AT&T recently changed its phone contracts. Consumers should be aware of these major changes to make informed purchases. Let’s break down how AT&T’s contracts have changed and the future advantages of signing up for AT&T.

Changes to AT&T Contracts

AT&T recently changed its smartphone EIP or "equipment installation plan" contract policy. Specifically, it increased the term for new phone EIPs from two years or 24 months on average to three years or 36 months for most users.

When you buy a new phone from AT&T, you’ll have the option to pay off the total fund balance over 36 months. This has major advantages for new phone purchasers, as they’ll have to pay lower monthly installments over the plan’s term.

However, there is a downside; it takes longer to pay off a new phone, so users have to stay with a provider like AT&T for longer. Whether or not that's worth the trade-off is up to you.

Note that most large cellular service providers, like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, have all adopted this new plan format in response to rising costs for phone manufacturing.

To summarize the major changes to AT&T contracts for consumers:

  • New phone plans offer standardized payment contracts with terms of up to 36 months
  • Retired unlimited wireless plans will face service charge increases in the future. Single-line service plans will see price increases of $6 per month, while multiline service plans will see price increases of $12 per month in total (not per line)

Does AT&T Still Do Contracts?


However, the contracts are no longer for combined cell service and phone purchase. Arrangements are now just for the price of most modern phones.

Modern phone prices can now easily reach over $1000. So consumers can purchase these phones by paying affordable monthly installments rather than footing the bill for a new device upfront.

Does AT&T Charge for Early Termination?


This is one of the potential downsides to signing up for an extended phone payment plan through AT&T.

If you have a smartphone with data service from AT&T, the early termination fee is $325 minus another $10 for every month of completed service. For example, if you have completed 12 months of your 36-month contract, you'll have to pay $205.

If you have a basic tablet, phone, another connected device, AT&T mobile hotspots, or wireless Internet, the early termination fee is $150 minus another $4 for every month of completed service.

What are the Benefits of AT&T Contracts?

  • Great Network Coverage
  • Fast Download Speeds
  • Discounts
  • High Data Caps

Great Network Coverage

AT&T has stellar connectivity around the contiguous US and throughout much of Hawaii. Only a few populated spots, like Las Vegas, suffer from a lack of AT&T cell and Internet coverage. It’s tough to find as good cell coverage from many other providers.

Fast Download Speeds

AT&T further impresses with its average Internet download speed tests. Generally, customers can enjoy download speeds of 522.4 Mb per second or about half of one gigabyte per second. That’s pretty competitive, especially in the crowded Internet service provider market.


Many individuals can enjoy high-quality discounts from AT&T. For example, if you trade in a new device, you could get a new phone from AT&T with up to $800 off your purchase. This discount, of course, depends on the quality and type of phone you trade-in.

Other discounts include:

  • $10 per month off for business employees for wireless phone lines
  • $10 per phone line off via bill credits if you turn on auto-pay and paperless billing
  • $10 per month off on wireless plans for qualified union members
  • Discounts for nurses, doctors, and physician assistants
  • Discounts for veterans, including discounts on phone purchases and Internet or phone coverage plans

High Data Caps

Unlike many other ISPs, AT&T has high data caps for home Internet plans. Currently, these are:

  • 150 GB per month for DSL customers
  • 350 GB per month for fixed wireless Internet customers
  • 1 TB per month for AT&T Internet customers
  • Unlimited data for Internet 100 customers or those with combined TV and Internet plans

What Phones and Plans Do AT&T Offer?

Many people select AT&T because of its wide range of available phones and coverage plans. Here are some of the most popular AT&T phones and coverage plans you might consider signing up for.

AT&T Phones

AT&T offers phones from many major brands, including:

  • The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. This new, ultramodern phone has built-in Google features and many other advantages. Right now, AT&T runs a trade-in offer, or you can get up to $800 off if you trade in an eligible device for this phone.
  • The iPhone 13 Pro Max. This Apple device has a fantastic camera suite, good processing power, and other benefits. You can also take advantage of a trade-in deal and get up to $700 off.
  • The iPhone 13 is a standard but much more affordable device from a few years back. It's a great pick for budget-minded shoppers.
  • The Samsung Galaxy A13 5G is a budget-minded phone with 5G connectivity and fast processing speeds.

Coverage Plan Options with AT&T

AT&T offers many different coverage plans, which are perfect for those who prioritize unlimited data.

For example, the AT&T Unlimited Premium plan offers unlimited high-speed data with 5G connectivity for no extra cost. It even lets you set up a 50 GB hotspot wherever you go. It’s available for $50 a month per line if you have four lines under your plan.

Alternatively, you can try the AT&T Unlimited Starter Plan, which is $35 per month per line when you have four lines under your plan. It includes unlimited talk and text, 5G access, mobile security, and other benefits.

But AT&T offers plans aside from its Unlimited selection, including:

  • The AT&T DataConnect plan. This “pay-as-you-go” plan lets you choose how much data you want to pay for based on your schedule and downloading habits
  • AT&T Prepaid, which is an affordable plan range that lets you get fast download speeds and low costs
  • AT&T Connected Car plans, which let your car act as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot

Should You Go With AT&T?

Ultimately, AT&T is a competitive wireless service provider and phone contractor. It offers many major advantages, like fast download speeds and great coverage around the country. It also provides a significant discount, particularly if you’re a part of certain groups like veterans or healthcare providers. AT&T 5G is now the standard for all compatible devices and data plans.

However, purchasing a new AT&T phone or signing up for an AT&T Internet plan comes with a 36-month commitment. Be sure that you want to sign on with this provider before signing on the dotted line to avoid having to pay an early termination fee.

If you want to keep looking for a provider, Navi can help. Check out our Plan Navigator page to evaluate your current plan and find a new one that’s right for your needs and budget.

Find phone deals based on your
trade-in and carrier
Find a Phone Deal

Phone Deals