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An AT&T Family Share Plan/iPhone 6 cost calculator

In my article on the (possible) vanishing monthly discount for AT&T Family Share Plan users, I included a table with some cost estimates for a given phone and service.

Given the popularity of that article, I’ve done a bit of work to clean up my spreadsheet to make it usable by anyone. You choose which phone, and the size of your shared data plan, and the calculator spits out the results (click the image at right for a large version). As you can see, I’ve added a column for the Next 18 plan, too.

Download the calculators here. The zip archive includes versions for Excel and Numbers. Usage is pretty simple: Click the two red-text cells to set the desired iPhone and your data plan size, and that’s that.

To summarize what I saw in building the worksheet:

  • If you’re on a shared plan with under 10GB of data, going contract will save you a bit of money over two years. You’ll give up flexibility over buying or Next, though.
  • If you’re on a 10GB or more shared data plan, then going Next or buying outright is definitely the way to go. More flexibility, and you save money—assuming you do not upgrade at 12 or 18 months under Next by just sending in the old phone!

Note: I do not vouch for the accuracy of this thing, beyond its role as a “what if” tool. I took the values from AT&T and Apple sites, but those figures could change. Feel free to modify as you wish; it’s a quick and dirty spreadsheet with minimal formatting.

20 Comments

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  1. Huge help. This is the kind of thing Apple and AT&T should provide to help customers. But then again, they make more money when your bill goes up and you can’t do anything about it after you agree to another 2 yr service contract. I’m so glad I read this because if you pre-order the iPhone 6 directly from Apple’s website, the only costs outlined are $299 (for 64GB) and the $40 (ridiculous, but ok) activation fee. Nothing about, “Oh by the way, by choosing a 2 yr contract you’re losing your $25 per month per line family share discount. You might want to consider the Next program to save money.” Anyway, thank you so so so much.

  2. I am coming here after the fact because I had no idea this would happen until AT&T sent the text message about the change in fee. Backhanded to say the least. If consumers had time to study the fine print or keep up with all the marketing tatics of our cable or phone companies, we would likely be called laywers. I have to wonder how many customers AT&T has upset with this kind of beavoir. So now I have to cancel my order and redo and wait even more! Nice job AT&T! btw thanks for the article, even after speaking with an AT&T customer service person I wasn’t sure what my real options were.

  3. Thanks for doing all this work – just wish I would have found it before I placed my order. Called ATT customer care and they told me I could go into a corp store and change from 2 year contract to Next billing and get a refund of my reduced fee and activation (billing credit no doubt…). Going to try that this afternoon…we’ll see how that goes.

    1. I’m not much of a Google fan, but if someone else wants to convert and upload them, it’s fine by me.

      -rob.

  4. Do you know how this compares with the equivalent plans with other carriers like Verizon? I’m thinking of upgrading from my old iPhone 4 to the iPhone 6 and am shopping around.

    1. Sorry, I don’t — you’d have to look at each one yourself. I’m somewhat stuck with AT&T, so I haven’t looked around (though I think all US carriers now offer a similar plan).

      -rob.

  5. Thank you for the excellent cost comparison. I used it as a basis for my own cost comparison and even expanded it to include comparison to Verizon plans too. I ended up choosing the AT&T 2-year contract plan since my shared plan is <10 GB. I wanted to point out one significant omission in your spreadsheet. You are missing the $40 activation fee that AT&T charges for anyone who signs up for a 2-year plan. This is in addition to the $40 upgrade fee and of course the monthly access fee too. Considering this, the 2-year cost difference between a contract and NEXT plan shrinks considerably, but contract still edges out NEXT a little.

    1. I thought the $40 -was- the activation fee … there’s -two- fees? That’s insane!

      -rob.

  6. Hi there – I’m a little dense here this evening, but my question is – where does it factor in that if you are eligible for an upgrade so buying the phone is the smaller, flat fee – e.g. $299 for 64 GB or $399 for 128 GB. Do I change something in the spreadsheet.

    Also when you say, “assuming you do not upgrade at 12 or 18 months under Next by just sending in the old phone!” – you mean give up your phone vs trading it in, right?

    Like I said, a little slow on the uptake here this evening. Spent an hour in the AT&T store and still can’t really figure out the best deal for my family.

    We have three of us on iPhones, a fourth coming soon. We’re on a mobile share plan of 30 GB under the deal that was “double your plan for the same price” – so for $130 / month. What I can’t figure out is if we’re going to pay more for the phone than our upgrade price, even if we trade it in right at the month we can? And, if we are currently passing the phones down to our daughters, that seems like a BAD idea with the Next plan, correct? You sort of have to go “all in” and get everyone on NEXT?

    Thanks for your help –

  7. Very helpful. I walked out of the ATT store with my downtrodden daughter because I was so confused. I’ve been searching prices. The ATT person was so unclear. I am using your table as a reference. Nice job.

  8. Great tool but I think you forgot to include the tax for both cases. I had to pay $45 up front in tax when I went with the Next plan, not zero cost. For the 2 year contract I believe you have to pay about $20 more in tax in addition to the $339 up front cost. Just my 2 cents!

    1. Tax varies by locality … and in my case, living in Oregon, we have no sales tax — so I wouldn’t know how it does/does not apply to the various plans.

      -rob.

  9. I hear ya… but for the majority of us who pay sales tax it does matter. Anyway for reference I am living in Florida and purchased an iPhone 6 64g.

    1. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, but that I don’t even know what I’d show — I have no idea how AT&T charges tax for the various purchase options.

      -rob.

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