How to Use Your iPhone on an At&t Prepaid Plan

by Skylar Woodward

For $50 you can get 1Gb of data, unlimited texts & 250 minutes of calls a month — no taxes, no commitments. There were better deals but AT&T keeps playing bait-n-switch on prepaid plans. :(

Supplies

  • AT&T prepaid SIM card
  • Unlocked or AT&T iPhone
  • Home Internet connection
  • X-acto knife or Micro-SIM punch tool
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    First we'll cover setting up the plan on your iPhone, then cover tips to help keep your data and minutes down to a reasonable amount. To start, you need an AT&T or unlocked iPhone.

    Step 2

    Go to an AT&T store (or website) and sign up for the $25/250 minute prepaid plan (aka GoPhone). Tell them you already have your own phone. Don't tell them you have an iPhone, it confuses things.

    Step 3

    AT&T will sell you a SIM card for $25. No worries — this is a $25 prepaid credit that we will use soon enough.

    Step 4

    Punch out the SIM card.

    Step 5

    If you have an iPhone 4 or newer you'll need to size down the SIM to a micro SIM. Some stores have a punch tool & will do this for you, or you can buy one for $5 online.

    Step 6

    Alternatively, you can carve out a micro SIM with an X-acto knife using your current micro SIM as a template. Make sure all the contacts line up properly and don't cut the chip!

    Step 7

    Now it's time insert the new SIM into your iPhone. Start by turning off your cellular data connection (under Settings > General > Network).

    Step 8

    Nexr, grab a small paper clip and bend out the outer end 90 degrees.

    Step 9

    Use the end of the paper clip to open the SIM tray on your iPhone.

    Step 10

    Swap in the new SIM and insert the tray back in to the phone.

    Step 11

    If all goes well you'll see the AT&T signal meter in the top left of your screen.

    Step 12

    By default, iPhones are not configured to use the GoPhone data proxy. In the next few steps we will update the carrier settings so you can use an AT&T pre-paid data plan on iPhone.

    Step 13

    Open Safafi and navigate to http://unlockit.co.nz/ — you'll see the screen above. Click "Continue".

    Step 14

    On the next screen, choose "Custom APN".

    Step 15

    On the last screen, "United States" should already be selected. Choose "AT&T" for the carrier then click "Create Profile".

    Step 16

    Safari will exit and prompt you to install the custom APN settings. Click "Install" and your phone is all ready for a data plan!

    Step 17

    Now we'll configure your GoPhone account with a data plan and add some credits for calling.

    Step 18

    Visit myprepaidrefill.com

    Step 19

    Log in using your assigned phone number (printed on the purchase receipt for the SIM) and the last 4 digits of the number as your password. (If this password doesn't work, just reset it online.)

    Step 20

    Choose "Add Money/Features".

    Step 21

    Add the 1GB option for $25. This is plenty of data for most usage patterns if you keep downloads and streaming to a minimum while you are on the go.

    Step 22

    You'll be asked to enter a credit card to pay for the data plan. Your account balance should be at zero now.

    Step 23

    Enable cellular data again and you're ready to start using your new plan! And look at that, you even have fancy "4G" (HSPA+) data…

    Step 24

    Reset your Cellular Data counter so you can track your data usage (Settings > General > Usage > Cellular Usage). It'll be less than you think, but here are some tips that'll help keep things in check…

    Step 25

    Keeping Calls & Data Costs Under Control

    Step 26

    First, avoid keeping too much money in your account. AT&T can never take more money than you put in. This is a plus over post-paid where you can be surprised by a nasty bill if you exceed your limits.

    Step 27

    Get a free Google Voice number at voice.google.com and use the app to make calls & send text messages. You can also use Talkatone to make free calls when you are on WiFi! Saves you text & call costs.

    Step 28

    You can make free calls from your Google Voice number using Gmail too…

    Step 29

    …or using a traditional telephone with an ObiTalk box!

    Step 30

    You have 250 minutes free each month. If you go over, calls are 10c/minute. And, no taxes! You also have unlimited text messaging which is handy.

    Step 31

    Streaming video, especially HD video like HBO Go, eats data fast. Watch those at home on WiFi and sync some TED talks or podcast episodes to watch while you're on the go.

    Step 32

    Streaming music isn't so bad but works out to about 15c a song to stream. (Even on traditional plans it's hardly better at 7c/song). Sync playlists for the commute using iTunes or apps like Rdio.

    Step 33

    Also, avoid downloading apps over your cellular connection. Update at home or when you have free WiFi.

    Step 34

    And that's about it. Let me know in the comments how it works out for you!