In January of this year, AT&T Prepaid basically renamed its flagship unlimited plan to Unlimited Max and made it available at a huge discount exclusively through Walmart.
Walmart shoppers who purchased an AT&T Prepaid phone and activated on the Unlimited Max plan in-store could get it for $45/month when they enabled autopay billing. The plan was also released through other venues like Target, but the price was $50/month with autopay billing enabled when activated in that store. The plan's regular rate was $65/month without autopay.
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Now AT&T Prepaid has updated the plan at Walmart to be $50/month without the need for autopay. However, in-store activation and the purchase of a new phone are still required. The $45/month rate with autopay has been discountinued. So this is effectively a price increase. Without in-store activation, the plan's price will still be $50/month, however, autopay billing will be required to get it. If you don't activate in-store and you don't enable autopay billing the price of the plan is still $65/month.
The $50 Unlimited Max plan with no autopay requirement is being marketed as a Walmart exclusive. If you pick up the plan at Target, you'll still have to enable autopay to get it for $50/month.
If this no autopay stuff sounds familiar to you, it's because two weeks ago, BestMVNO reported that AT&T Prepaid started offering an unlimited plan for $50/month without the need for autopay billing exclusively through its dealer channel. The unlimited plan being offered through the dealer channel vs what's being offered at Walmart are actually two different plans. The dealer-exclusive unlimited plan is a limited-time offer set to expire on 9/6/22 and is an inferior plan compared to Unlimited Max. However, the $50 no autopay unlimited plan sold through dealers may not require the purchase of a phone to get it.
Confused about it all? I don't blame you. Below is a table comparing the two $50 unlimited plans that don't require autopay billing.
|Availability||Dealers only||Walmart, Target*|
|Premium Data||Slowed any time|
network is busy
|22GB then slowed|
when network is busy
|Canada & Mexico|
|Text From USA To|
*The plan is available at Target for $50/mo but autopay billing is required to get it at that rate.
It's interesting that AT&T Prepaid is trying out no autopay discounts required to get the best pricing on their plans. And they are using different channels to try different things out. AT&T Prepaid online requires autopay billing for best pricing on an unlimited data plan, the dealer channel does not, and in national retail it's a mixed bag.
Many providers try and incentivize autopay billing to help be sure their subscribers pay their bills on time to keep cash flow steady and regular, and it may help a bit with customer retention. In the prepaid space, it ensures a full month's revenue for the provider in the event a subscriber leaves for another carrier before their billing cycle ends. But unfortunately, an autopay billing requirement for best pricing may hurt the customers that need a discount the most. Those living paycheck to paycheck may sometimes have to make a difficult decision of what bills they can afford to pay in a given month.