How does one move an unlimited AT&T data plan to a new iPad?
[I wrote this post so that others in my situation won’t have to go through what I did. Feel free to skip the introduction and concentrate on the nitty gritty instructions.]
Possibly boring background and introduction
The original Apple iPad shipped on April 30, 2010, and, that very afternoon one arrived at my rural home. It included an unlimited AT&T cellular data access plan for the sum of $29.99/month. I chose this plan because AT&T advertised that I could turn it off for the months I didn’t need it. Within 30 days, AT&T reneged on this promise and discontinued all unlimited data plans.
Perhaps to avoid a class action suit, the company said that people like me could keep their unlimited plans. So far AT&T has done this, despite announcing in June 2012 that they would throttle all remaining “unlimited” plans after 3GB (3G/4G) or 5GB (4G LTE) or more of data in a billing cycle.
I have been happy with my original iPad, and was not planning to upgrade to a “New” (3rd generation) iPad. But in June the good folks at the annual edACCESS business meeting insisted that the organization buy me a new one. I tried to decline, but they were most insistent. Thank you edACCESSians!
Technical support trials and tribulations
I had heard that I could move my unlimited data plan to a new iPad and called Apple to confirm. Apple said I would need to talk to AT&T and patched me through. The first AT&T tech was unable to answer my questions and I asked to talk to a second. The second AT&T tech told me it was a simple matter and gave me directions that subsequently I found were not accurate.
When I received my new iPad I discovered that what AT&T told me (that I could switch the plan on the new iPad itself) did not work. I called them again and was led through an incorrect procedure that wiped out all my work customizing the new iPad. I still could not transfer the plan!
After wasting far too much time, I finally discovered that you need to go to a special AT&T website (which is not documented on AT&T’s website as far as I can see) to transfer an unlimited plan to a new iPad. To avoid my trials and tribulations, follow these steps, which should take about ten minutes:
The nitty gritty: How to move an unlimited AT&T data plan to a new iPad
- Turn on your new iPad and go through the setup. Don’t bother to restore from a backup of your old iPad at this point.
- Go into Settings->General->About so you can see the IMEI and ICCID fields for your new iPad.
- Fire up a web browser and go to the AT&T iPad Online Account Manager.
- Login with your AT&T account email and password.
- Click on Edit User & Payment Information.
- Click on Update Device Information, enter the new iPad’s IMEI and ICCID numbers and click Next. Then click Submit at the bottom of the user & payment information screen. Click Continue and you’ll be logged out and told to login again in a few minutes.
- Login again and your Data Plan should now show as “Unlimited MB for 30 days – LTE”. You’ve switched your plan to the new iPad, but you’re not done yet. If you check your email at this point, you’ll see a worrying message from AT&T saying that the automatic renewal of your plan has been canceled! Don’t let this happen!
- On the new iPad go to Settings->Cellular Data->View Account and login. Choose Edit User & Payment Information and re-activate automatic plan renewal. You will receive another email from AT&T confirming that your data plan will renew automatically every 30 days. Phew!
- Your old iPad will now have no data plan associated with it. If you want to add a new (limited data) plan to your old iPad do not login with your old email and password (the ones now associated with your new iPad). Instead, on the old iPad go to Settings->Cellular Data->View Account and enter User and Login Information for a new account (one that must use a different email address to login than the one now in use on your new iPad). You’ll then have a range of current data plans from which to choose.
I don’t know how many iPads are floating around with an unlimited AT&T data plan, though Apple sold at least a million iPads of all kinds during the time the plan was available. But I would guess that there are still probably a hundred thousand unlimited data plan iPads around. A quick Google search shows that many people in my situation have been looking in vain for clear directions to transfer their plan to a new device.
AT&T, do your customer service reputation and your tech staff a favor by posting clear instructions on how to do this transfer in a prominent place on your website. I suspect many will thank you. I certainly would have.
49 thoughts on “How to move an unlimited AT&T data plan to a new iPad”
Have you used your new iPad with your unlimited plan as a wifi hotspot? How does at&t treat you when you if you do this? Is it still $29.99.
No I haven’t. I believe that you need to have a “qualified” data plan that includes tethering in order to do this. And I’m pretty sure that it will cost you more than $29.99 a month :-).
Actually, you can still tether – the tethering ability has nothing to do with the plan itself but the type of iPad gen you have and carrier (e.g., iPad 4 vs. iPad 2, etc). If the iPad allows tethering for current plans, then this plan also works with tethering – depends on iPad and carrier, grandfathered plan makes no difference. Great news.
Are you getting LTE speeds, or what? And did your plan cost change, is it still $29.99?
I am still on my unlimited plan, and I have seen LTE download speeds between 30 and 55 Mbps.
Awesome tutorial-worked great! Thank You!
Happy to help 🙂
Awesome. Worked perfectly. Your description was the only one I could find to deal with this question. Looks like we are part of a minority group that still has an unlimited data plan with them. Thanks for the info! And yes, with IPad 3/4 you can tether, regardless of data plan. If you reach 3GB, AT&T will simply throttle as noted.
I’m so glad my experience was useful for you. And thanks for the information about tethering—that’s good to know!
I have unlimited data plan on my ipad 3… can move ipad 4 and mini?
Presuming you already got the answer, for others with the same question, it can be moved to one of them, but not to both simultaneously. One of the two will require a new plan if you want both on cellular data at the same time.
Worked great, but I never got the emails in the end. I also had to restart my new ipad before the LTE took effect. Also the automatic renewal was already in place without having to mess with anything in settings. All in all very useful tutorial and now my worrying of being able to keep my unlimited plan is over. Thanks so much!
Glad this was helpful Becky!
I had the same experience switching from 1st generation iPad to iPad Air, i.e., no emails, need to restart, and auto renew in place ( I hope. I’ll let you know in 4 days when my plan expires.)
You deserve a consulting fee from AT&T. Thanks so much for the straightforward instructions.
That was an extremely helpful guide. Thanks for the pain & suffering you went through to figure it out. Best suggestion on web for this
Will this work if you have never had an ipad on the unlimited data but want to purchase an ipad and put it on the unlimited data?
Sadly, AT&T discontinued unlimited data plans for the iPad in 2010 🙁
It seems AT&T saw your post because this doesn’t seem to work. After putting in the new codes and clicking next a message now tells you that your old data plan is not available. Any suggestions?
“The plan you had on your original device is not available on your new device.” This is the message I get after put in the new numbers and clicking next. The “submit” button never appears
I’d call AT&T and ask them what to do. If you had an unlimited data plan it should be transferable to your new device. Sorry I can’t be more helpful 🙁 Good luck!
I just used this to transfer my unlimited from an old ipad to my newer one. Worked like a charm, thank you!
As of Oct 2013, You can still do this except now you have to go into the att store and tell them you need swap your new lte sim for your old sim.
After they do this; log onto your account and enter your imei number. Your account will still show the 3g data plan. You can now select the unlimited LTE on the next page.
If you try it without going to the store the page tells you that you must upgrade to a new plan that is not unlimited.
Thanks for the update JD!
Thanks a lot!!!!
Got the new iPad Air and your instructions were perfect, transferred my unlimited plan from the original ipad…thank you
I did the same steps as you did, all up and running without issue. One question for you though, have you ever tried stopping the service for a couple of months then trying to reinstate it? By “Cancel” do they mean disconnect or do they mean really cancel the account? I’d love to not pay the fee monthly but I’ve kept it going just to avoid falling foul of their terminology! With just about any other plan you can do this but I suspect they want to keep getting their $29.99 regardless!
When AT&T introduced this plan, they said they would allow exactly what you described—the ability to stop and start the plan month by month without penalty. Thirty days later, sadly, they yanked this option. If you ever cancel the plan—no matter how briefly— you will not be allowed to sign up for it again.
Thanks, thought that might be the case. I’ll keep it current – it’s a good deal to stay with!
You sir, are a rock star. I just used your tutorial to transfer my unlimited data plan to my new iPad Air in record time. I think it took me longer to find your page than to actually complete the migration. However, I never received an email from AT&T (at least not yet) about the cancellation of my plan. I logged into the new iPad Air and it still had my payment information.
Either way, thank you!!!!
Has everyone that posted still have unlimited data through AT&T?
I still do. AT&T will reduce your data throughput speed if you use 3GB or more in one billing cycle on a 3G or 4G device, or 5GB or more in one billing cycle on a 4G LTE device. The company will text you if/when the first time you reach 95% of these limits, and again if you exceed them. See http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB410284&cv=820#fbid=mE1ntm708O7 for more information.
they only limit it for the iphone, they have never limited me on my ipad and i’ve done more then 5gb every month
Joey, my understanding is that after 5GB/month you can still use your plan, but your throughput speed is reduced. Have you seen this?
It can possibly be useful tips and info’s that is so wonderful to know from your content. Thanks for informing us all regarding these helpful stuffs that you had wrote from your blog.
THANK YOU!!! You’re me tech hero of the week!!
AT&T wasted so much time pretending to help me do this but never coming thru over 3 phone calls and 4 live chats- This worked perfectly…
does this still work? anybody?
20th of may, 2014
Now if I have the original unlimited data from an iPhone can I put the SIM card into the iPad and still have unlimited data?
I’m not an expert on this, but AFAIK the SIMs are not compatible. You can, however, currently still transfer your unlimited data plan to another iPhone.
can I sell off my unlimited data plan to anyone,I have at&t?
Dennis (or anyone else)–I’m looking to buy an unlimited data plan. Please contact me at the email address in the attached image with your price. Thanks!
Dennis (or anyone else)–I’m looking to buy an unlimited data plan. Please contact me at ftj[dot]ipad[at]mailnull[dot]com with your price. Thanks!
The new iPad air 2 has a new universal some card. Will that pose any problems for moving my unlimited plan.
It was not as simple moving my original version iPad with unlimited data to the new iPad Air 2. After two hours on the phone with AT&T customer service I was told that I would need to visit a store in person to make the update. My plan is only $25.00 a month on a reoccurring billing cycle for unlimited data and was purchased Dec 2010. The instructions outlined above have changed as they have removed the unlimited data option from the drop down and try to get you to pick a current plan. I was told I store Not to choose any of those options.
So what did you do instead? Or what did they at the store do? And do you mean an Apple store?
It looks like AT&T and Apple followed your advice and made it easier to transfer:
Bought a refurb iPad 4 from Apple in December 2013 to replace an iPad 1 that was under the AT&T unlimited data plan. (Note: Apple has great “like new” factory refurbs.) This method worked just as advertised. IIRC I didn’t need to turn on auto billing afterward but did check it per these instructions. Getting ready to do this again to transition from the iPad 4 to an Air 2 this week (yet another Apple factory refurb).
Thx Adrian, I moved it from ipad2 to iPad Pro – it worked !! But am I missing functionality of iPad Pro..? I was like you, had orig iPad w/ unlimited data plan, did move it once to iPad 2 (but did so at Apple Store, so no hiccups). Then – rec’d ipad3 – but Apple Store told me since it was 4G, couldn’t move the 3G plan…or maybe they said I wouldn’t have all features – BUT NOW…I moved to ipadpro – obviously my unlimited data plan must not allow me to use iPad as hotspot since it doesn’t “show up” under cellular section. Otherwise seems fine??? Am I missing out?
The NY Times posted an article that may be helpful https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/technology/personaltech/taking-your-data-plan-to-a-new-ipad.html