Mobile data without a monthly plan?

If I buy an iPad with AT&T 4G, does that mean I'm required to sign up for a data plan from AT&T, with a monthly fee, no matter how infrequently I will actually use any cellular data?

At least 98% of the time I'd be using it on WiFi at home or work, and would want to just turn the cellular connection off. But when I travel, I would like to have the option of using cellular data. I'm willing to buy prepaid data service of some kind, but I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out how that works. Would I have to swap out a SIM card? Is this the same as jailbreaking?

And just to further complicate things, I would be buying the iPad in the US, where I live, but one place I may travel and want to use it is western Europe (mainly the UK, Germany, and Italy). Would a solution that works in the US also work there?

2 Answers from the Community

  • Best Answer:

    You can sign up for a data plan in your ipad settings under cellular. You buy however much data you think you will use for the month. The amount you buy is for 30 days and will automatically renew unless you cancel it at least 24 hours before it is set up to renew. Then you can use it or turn it off as needed. However, remember that even if you don't use it, once you purchase it, it expires in 30 days.

    • Answered by Karen L M from Reno
    • Sep 7, 2013
  • Confirm this with AT&T, but here is what I understand the terms to be.

    You can buy data for a month, but you must buy a full month. If you start the data plan after your billing period starts, that will be less than a month, therefore, you will also be required to purchase the next month also.

    If you can plan ahead and start your purchase to coincide with your billing period start date, and the period for which you need the data is during that billing period, then you can call and cancel the plan before the billing period ends - that way you only pay for one month.

    You can't call after the billing period starts and ask to back date the start date to the billing period begin date.

    You can call before the billing period starts and schedule the purchase to begin on your next billing period start date. That way, if your use needs fall completely within that billing period, you can cancel it before the period ends to keep the charge to one full month.

    I have no information on international use.

    • Answered by John C from Choctaw
    • Jul 24, 2014