Though there are some conflicting reports on T-Mobile’s network performance, it is still one of the best cell phone providers in the U.S. It has one of the fastest 4G networks which performs particularly well in urban areas, and offers feature-rich unlimited plans.
The reports from different independent testing companies like RootMetrics, Ookla and OpenSignal sometimes contradict each other. For example, T-Mobile comes in fourth place in RootMetrics’ report from early of 2018, but it tops both Ookla and OpenSignal’s rankings. Each company uses different testing methodologies. RootMetrics performs road tests and covers a wider physical area than other tests, but OpenSignal is more relevant to users, as its results come from an amalgamation of crowdsourced data. Basically, T-Mobile doesn’t have as much coverage in rural areas as Verizon, but it performs well in urban zones. If you live in a city, you can benefit from T-Mobile’s fast speeds.
T-Mobile offers two unlimited plans and a 10 GB shareable plan available without a credit check. The shareable plan does involve fees and deposits and doesn’t include most of the extras that come with the other plans. We mention this offer to give you the full spectrum of T-Mobile’s plans, but we don’t recommend it.
The unlimited plans, on the other hand, are great. T-Mobile ONE is the carrier’s most popular plan, which is $75 a month for an individual or $180 for four lines, all taxes and fees included. You can save $5 a month by enrolling in autopay – the prices T-Mobile advertises include this discount. At the moment, T-Mobile is running a promotion that gives new and existing customers a free line of service if you have two already, which can save family plan subscribers up to $45 a month. The ONE plan includes unlimited talk, text and LTE data. It deprioritizes your data usage after 50 GB a month, which is the highest 4G threshold of any unlimited data plan in our evaluation. You can use your talk, text and up to 5 GB of 4G data in Canada and Mexico, with data and text available in over 140 more countries.
If you need a little less than that, T-Mobile offers its bare-bones Essentials plan. It includes unlimited talk, text and data for as little as $30 a month per line with four lines and autopay discount. It differs from the ONE plan in that its taxes and fees are not included in the price, and it doesn’t include plan perks. It’s a good option if you don’t take advantage of the extras, but for family plans with over 6 lines, the ONE plan is a better deal.
Though T-Mobile mainly focuses on its ONE plan as a one-size-fits-all option, it adds a bit of versatility to the plan with two upgrades called the ONE Plus and ONE Plus International upgrades. These cost $10 and $25 more than the original ONE plan, respectively, but offer useful extras for top-tier service and international calling. The Plus plan gives you 10 GB of 4G mobile hotspot data, HD video streaming, unlimited text and Wi-Fi on Gogo-enabled flights. The ONE Plus International upgrade includes everything in the Plus upgrade and unlimited international calling, unlimited 4G data in Mexico and Canada, and unlimited 4G hotspot data. We like that you can add these upgrades to individual lines on a plan instead of having to upgrade them all.
Aside from unlimited talk, text and data, T-Mobile’s ONE plan offers a lot of value in extras. According to a value assessment conducted by Strategy Analytics in November 2018, T-Mobile’s ONE plan offered customer perks valued at up to $1,550 per line a year or up to $5,150 for a family of four. This value assumes taking full advantage of every ONE plan perk, including T-Mobile Tuesdays, complimentary Netflix, Gogo Inflight internet, MLB.TV annual subscription, Simple Global international rates, Pandora Plus subscription and LiveNation discounted tickets - in addition to automatically applied perks like ScamID and inclusive taxes and fees. Other plans included in the value assessment include Sprint’s Unlimited Plus plan, which had add-ons valued at $421 per line per year, and Verizon’s Go Unlimited and AT&T’s Unlimited & More plans, which both were valued below $400. Of course, each person and family takes advantage of different perks, and T-Mobile’s offerings may not be suited to your situation. Still, added-value extras are worth considering when choosing a new phone plan, as they can save you some cash.
Some of the best perks available with T-Mobile plans are the anti-scam features: scam ID and scam block. With the massive upswing in the number of robocalls and autodialed spam calls, T-Mobile’s free call filter and call blocking services can save you time and frustration. Scam block lets you opt in to block all calls classified as likely scams, though T-Mobile warns that opting in may result in missing legitimate calls incorrectly tagged as scam calls. Calls that may fall into this category include any auto-dialed calls from businesses to remind you of appointments or reservations. Scam ID, as the name suggests, identifies when you receive a call that is probably spam. This feature is built into the network, so it doesn’t require a separate app to install, and it automatically works on any phone with caller ID. T-Mobile announced early in November 2018 that its scam block and scam ID features have already blocked over a billion scams from reaching its customers. The system isn’t perfect, of course, but it’s a nice perk, especially considering that competitors like Verizon charge $3 per line per month for a similar service.
Discounts & Deals
T-Mobile's Unlimited 55+ plan has a discounted rate on up to two lines on the T-Mobile ONE plan as long as the primary account holder is over the age of 55. With the discount, it costs $75 a month for two lines ($5 less if you enroll in autopay). The same two lines cost $130 without the discount. Similarly, T-Mobile offers a military discount to veterans and service members and their families. The military discount is 20 percent off a single line on the ONE plan with an additional 50 percent off lines two through six.
Proposed Merger with Sprint
In April 2018, T-Mobile proposed a $26 billion acquisition of network competitor Sprint. The two companies currently make up the number three and four carriers in the U.S. in terms of subscription volume. T-Mobile’s website dedicated to the merger, newtmobile.com, claims, “New T-Mobile will intensify competition as the entrenched leaders of the wireless industry will finally have to contend with a disruptive rival able to compete head to head!” But cutting the number of wireless carriers in the U.S. from four to three may have the opposite effect, creating less competition between the companies and therefore driving up prices for consumers. Sprint currently offers better pricing and more feature-rich plans than many of its competitors.
The companies cite 5G expansion as a driving force of the deal, saying the merger is necessary for effective network expansion and rollouts. The companies also promise more jobs – more than 3,600 full-time positions within the first year. T-Mobile’s chief financial officer recently said the deal could close as early as Q1 2019, though Q2 looks more likely. Part of that timeline depends on U.S. Department of Justice depositions and approval by the FCC. Many companies and organizations have written letters of support or opposition for the deal. Notably, the American Antitrust Institute filed a petition to the FCC to deny the merger, claiming it goes against the public interest.
T-Mobile has stepped into the banking business, offering a no-fee checking account through its new service, T-Mobile Money. T-Mobile isn’t a bank now, but it is working with BankMobile, which is an online bank. T-Mobile is rolling out the service on a limited basis, currently allowing individuals to sign up for a single account. Joint accounts, small business accounts, multiple accounts and accounts for Puerto Rico residents are currently unavailable.
You don’t have to be a T-Mobile wireless customer to sign up for an account, though there are perks if you are. According to the T-Mobile Money FAQs, anyone who is at least 18 years old, has a U.S. government-issued ID or state-issued driver’s license or ID, a Social Security number and a U.S. street address within the continental U.S. is eligible.
The T-Mobile Money checking account does not have monthly service fees, overdraft fees, transfer fees, late payment fees, fees for in-network Allpoint ATMs or minimum balance requirements. If you’re a qualifying T-Mobile wireless customer, your perks include Got Your Back overdraft protection up to $50 and 4 percent APY on primary checking account balances up to $3,000. Non-qualifying customers and account balances exceeding $3,000 get a 1 percent APY.
T-Mobile is a good cell phone provider if you live in a metropolitan area. It offers great speeds in covered areas but doesn’t perform as well as Verizon on a nationwide scale. We highly recommend checking coverage maps to make sure you live well within any carrier’s coverage area. If you live in an area with good T-Mobile reliability, you can’t beat its feature-rich unlimited plans for fair prices.
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