T-Mobile plans buying guide: what's the best T-Mobile plan for you?

T-Mobile plans buying guide: what's the best T-Mobile plan for you?
So, you're out to get a plan with the Un-carrier. T-Mobile prides itself in accessibility, no hidden fees, and easy-to-understand plan deals. Still, there are some things to consider and some digging to do when one is just now choosing where to start.

No worries, we studied the offers and are ready to break them down for you, so you can choose the best T-Mobile plan that suits your needs. Let's start!

T-Mobile Postpaid Plans


T-Mobile has streamlined its lineup of prepaid plans and currently offers three main ones: Essential, Magenta and Magenta Plus. We'll take a look at what each of them has to offer before we begin nitpicking their advantages and disadvantages.



* Includes a Netflix Basic account that allows 480p streaming on one screen.
** Includes a Netflix Standard account that allows 1080p streaming on two devices at the same time.

First, a couple of things that are valid for all postpaid plans (including the ones mentioned below):

  • Although the plans are unlimited, there's a soft cap of 50GB/month after which you might experience a drop in data speeds during some hours of the day when there's more traffic flowing through T-Mobile's network.
  • All prices shown above are with the $5/month discount that T-Mobile customers get when they sign up for AutoPay, a service which automatically deducts the monthly fee when it's due. 

That being said, it's time to talk about the plans themselves. The Essentials plan is pretty self-explanatory. You get your unlimited text, talk and data and that's about it. Your phone won't be very useful as a hotspot unless you're really in a pinch and the 2G data in Mexico and Canada is basically only useful to get text messages through apps such as WhatsApp. Considering the price isn't super affordable, these sacrifices don't seem to be worth it. 

For $10/month more (or $5 if you get more than one line) you get quite a bit more. Hotspot speeds that will allow you to enjoy videos on your laptop while you're on the go. You'll also get decent internet speeds while in Mexico and Canada and even an hour of free Wi-Fi on eligible flights. The free basic Netflix is also a good bonus (if you're going for 2 or more lines) but there's one big drawback of that plan. Instead of bumping the video streaming quality to 720p, T-Mobile is capping it at the meager 480p for this mid-tier plan as well. Unsurprisingly, the goal of this move is to nudge customers to go for the premium Magenta Plus plan.

The Magenta Plus plan ups the ante in three major ways. First, the high-speed hotspot allowance is significantly higher at 20GB, second, you're finally getting that full HD streaming and on top of that unlimited Wi-Fi on Gogo-enabled flights. And while that might not be enough to justify the extra cost if you only need one line, the price drop for 3 lines is significant and makes this the best deal for a family of three. 


T-Mobile Discounted Plans


T-Mobile has a good variety of plans with discounted monthly rates for some specific members of society. There are three groups and each can choose between at least two discounted plans.


Unlimited 55


These plans are for people of the age 55 and above and are meant to reduce their financial burden. Seniors aren't exactly known for their data-heavy internet use so T-Mobile decided to cut them some slack when it comes to plan prices.  


*Includes a Netflix Standard account that allows 1080p streaming on two devices at the same time.

The lineup is very similar to the regular plans with some minor changes such as the lack of free Netflix for the middle plan. For the standard set of parents, so to speak, the Essentials Unlimited 55 will be more than enough to satisfy their mobile needs. However, if you have a couple of seniors that can make full use of their devices then the Magenta Plus Unlimited 55 with full HD streaming and a Netflix account will be a perfect fit. 

Military Plans


Those that can provide a US Military verification to T-Mobile can also get some nice discounts on the carrier's plans. This time, the Essential tier is dropped and for good reason.


 * Includes a Netflix Basic account that allows 480p streaming on one screen.
** Includes a Netflix Standard account that allows 1080p streaming on two devices at the same time.

Here the choice is straightforward. If you want a single line, you have no choice but to go for the Magenta Military plan. And if you're getting two or more then choosing the Magenta Plus Military is a no-brainer at that price.

First Responder Plans


These plans are for eligible state & local law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical response personnel, pensioned retirees, & parents, children, or spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty. Verification must be provided in store or by phone/online when activating the line.

 
* Includes a Netflix Basic account that allows 480p streaming on one screen.
** Includes a Netflix Standard account that allows 1080p streaming on two devices at the same time.

These plans are essentially the same as the military ones so our conclusions remain the same as well: For two or more lines it's best to go for the Magenta Plus First Responder.

T-Mobile Prepaid Plans


Prepaid plans are great when you are not sure how long you are going to be on a service or otherwise don't feel like tying yourself down to a contract. There are also no credit checks to worry about — you just pay up front and get your service with no hassle.

As with its postpaid plans, T-Mobile offers three different prepaid options:


This time the big question is if you need the hotspot feature at all. If the answer is yes, then the Unlimited Plus plan is the one for you. While the cheapest plan has fast tethering as well, having it deducted from your monthly data allowance doesn't seem like a good deal. If you only need data for your phone than the extra $10 for the Unlimited plan are a fair price to pay for what is essentially at least 40GB more of 4G data. 

Tourist Plan



Last, but not least, we have T-Mobile's Tourist Plan — a great choice for those visiting the US for a limited time. The plan is actually offered by Ultra Mobile as it seems that's the partner T-Mobile has chosen for it's tourist plan and sells the package at its own stores as well. The plan can remain active for up to 3 weeks and is non-renewable. It allows visitors 1,000 minutes of domestic talk and unlimited international texting. As for data, you get 2 GB of LTE speeds that can be used on-device or via the mobile hotspot option. Once the LTE cap is reached, data speeds are limited to 128 kbps.

New T-Mobile


You might have heard about this little thing called the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. Well, it got approved by the FCC and while there are still some obstacles that the carriers have to overcome it seems like it's going to happen. That means that soon New T-Mobile, as the tentative name of the combined carrier is, might release completely new plans and signs point that some of them might have very competitive prices. So, if you're planning on switching to T-Mobile, you might want to wait a few months before tying yourself to a two-year contract. Of course, we'll update this post as soon as the new plans or prices are official.

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7 Comments

1. fyah_king unregistered

You forgot the military line.

2. acme64

Posts: 129; Member since: Jul 13, 2015

does the 480p cap on the netflix count if you use the account on your tv for example?

3. paul.k

Posts: 303; Member since: Jul 17, 2014

No, the cap is for your mobile data. Your TV is, presumably, hooked to your home LAN?

6. Xtraflossy

Posts: 31; Member since: Mar 13, 2018

In addition, say you hook up your PS4 to a TV in a hotel room to watch Netflix via PS4, and use your phone as a hotspot. Netflix still doesn't count towards your cap. Pretty nice eh :)

7. skwy1963

Posts: 50; Member since: Aug 10, 2013

what about the senior plan 55+

8. iceberrrg

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 27, 2018

while I can appreciate the effort, there are many errors in this article about the plans, and I hope no one is making their purchasing decisions based on this. examples: One plus international doesn't exist any more T-Mobile Global rates are in 210 countries not 140 Essentials dosesn't get high speed in mexico or canada Essentials doesn't include tax, which makes it nearly the same price as T-Mobile ONE (this plan is just a marketing plan to show the pricing as a comparison to Verizon T-mobile doesn't expect anyone to sign up for it, it's not a good value when you add in the taxes. There is no resolution cap with ONE plus (verizon has a cap) The prepaid plans are wrong there is a $40 10GB and $50 unlimited and $70 Unlimited with Mexico and canada

9. KickRocks

Posts: 283; Member since: Mar 22, 2011

The first responder plan, Magenta Plus is the way to go, just switched and am saving 45 bucks a month
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