AT&T vs T-Mobile: How Do They Compare?

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Cell phone provider commercials are often bombarding consumers with statistics to draw them to their side.

Unfortunately, these advertisements only confuse the viewer. After all, where's the nugget of truth in these statements? Does T-Mobile truly offer the fastest LTE network? Is AT&T's coverage top-tier? Just who is the clear winner in each category?

While the rivalries between T-Mobile USA and Verizon, as well as between Verizon and AT&T are still going strong, we can't forget about the competition between AT&T and T-Mobile.

AT&T vs T-Mobile

So between AT&T and T-Mobile, who should you side with?

It can be a difficult question, but we've got the answers for you. We've eliminated the need for fine print and confusing statements by comparing and contrasting the various services, features, and plans offered by AT&T and T-Mobile USA. We will analyze the necessary information and reach a conclusion as to who the better carrier is. However, you can make an informed decision with our cell phone plan comparison tool, which includes the available phones, plans, and prices from AT&T and T-Mobile.

We will analyze the necessary information and reach a conclusion as to who the better carrier is. However, you can make an informed decision with our cell phone plan comparison tool, which includes the available phones, plans, and prices from AT&T and T-Mobile.

AT&T Overview

AT&T boasts the second largest subscriber base in the nation. The wireless service is home to 133.3 million subscribers as of Q3 2016. Why have so many migrated to AT&T? For one, AT&T offers a solid network, which is considered 50 percent faster than 4G LTE2.

AT&T also offers the latest phones in its smartphone arsenal on top of shareable plans. The plans are considered a little more expensive compared to the typical wireless carrier, but the service does offer a couple of unlimited plans, without any strings attached. Furthermore, the cheapest unlimited plan offers better features compared to the unlimited international plan brought to you by Straight Talk. And by the way, Straight Talk only offers 5GB of high-speed data and unlimited international calling for the same price.

To top it all off, AT&T's customer service is fantastic, sitting at an ACSI score of 71. This score, however, falls a little short of T-Mobile's score of 74, which is regarded as number one among the major wireless providers. However, 71 and 74 is not a major difference in scores, so you'll most likely receive amazing customer service from each provider.

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How much will AT&T pay you to switch?

AT&T will offer you up to $650 per line via an AT&T Promotion prepaid debit card. We do carry an in-depth guide regarding switching to AT&T if you are interested in switching.

Nevertheless, the value of your AT&T Promotion Visa Prepaid Card will be determined by your previous carrier's Early Termination Fee or the device payment plan balance at the time of your termination.

To obtain a card, you simply need to purchase a new smartphone on AT&T Next - which allows you to purchase a phone with $0 down - and activate a new line. After activation with a fresh new SIM card, you can port your number to AT&T, trade in your old smartphone, and send the provider your final bill.

T-Mobile Overview

T-Mobile provides an extensive network, featuring the fastest LTE available, for its customers. Unfortunately, the service does not exactly work quite well in rural areas, which can be considered a major disadvantage for potential customers.

T-Mobile phones are incredibly varied, and the service also includes the latest and greatest smartphones. These T-Mobile phones complement the service's plans, which range from prepaid to unlimited. Even though it's a good idea to adopt T-Mobile's ONE unlimited plan, you can certainly take advantage of T-Mobile's Music Unlimited features that are embedded into its other plans.

And T-Mobile's customer service? It's considered the best in the industry, boasting an ACSI score of 74, a full three points higher than AT&T's score. Not only is the customer support network solid, but so isn't its loyalty programs.

How much will T-Mobile pay you to switch?

Similar to AT&T, the T-Mobile network offers up to $650 per line (up to 12 lines) via prepaid MasterCard. If you're worried about the early termination fees or a remaining phone balance, don't worry - T-Mobile has got your back.

That being said, T-Mobile may have some unique exclusions to its deal. For instance, certain iPhones may be ineligible for the promotion. We have more information regarding the switch to T-Mobile here. It's important to keep in mind that you'll need to purchase a SIM card before you can activate your phone with T-Mobile's service. You can activate said SIM card through the official website, via phone, or at any T-Mobile store.

The Plans

T-Mobile or AT&T; which would win in a battle of the phone plans? Each wireless carrier has their advantages and advantages, but in the case of "AT&T vs T-Mobile plans," one will clearly topple over the other.

AT&T's Cell Phone Plans

AT&T's cell phone plans are quite standard. These plans are deemed "Mobile Share Advantage," which features no overage fees whatsoever. This means you will experience reduced upload and download speeds once your selected high-speed data amounts have been exceeded.

Mobile Share Advantage plans range from 1GB of data to 100GB of data, which can be shared among all family members.

AT&T also offers a GoPhone prepaid service, featuring no-contract plans that range between no data package to unlimited high-speed data. You can also purchase a certain amount of minutes or data for a fee per day or even per minute, which is quite unique to AT&T's service.

And if you're tempted by an unlimited postpaid plan, you can opt into one of two plans: AT&T Unlimited Plus or AT&T Unlimited Choice. It used to be so that you needed U-Verse TV or DIRECTV to adopt the AT&T Unlimited plan, but that is no longer the case. While both offer unlimited talk, text, and data, Unlimited Plus is more of what you would call "premium."

AT&T Unlimited Plus, which is rather expensive even compared to the Verizon Unlimited plan, not only includes awesome perks such as HBO programming but also 10GB of mobile hotspot per line, high-definition video with the fastest upload and download speeds, unlimited text from the U.S. to over 120 countries, and roaming in, as well as unlimited talk and text to, Mexico and Canad.

Additionally, you'll save quite a bit per month on DIRECTV services, though you will not save on U-Verse TV packages.

On the other hand, AT&T Unlimited Choice is a bit cheaper, rivaling the prices of T-Mobile ONE and Sprint Unlimited plans, but you're dealing with a maximum speed of 3Mbps, standard-definition video rather than high-definition video, and no mobile hotspot. However, like AT&T Unlimited Plus, you'll be able to have unlimited text from the U.S. to over 120 countries and be able to roam in and use unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada.

It's important to note that AT&T may very well slow your data speeds after 22GB of usage.

If you need data only without resorting to excessive data plans, AT&T also issues what is known as DataConnect Pass, which is perfect for those on the go. If you don't use a lot of data, you can always purchase DataConnect Pass, which comes in the amounts of 250MB or 2GB. However, these last for a set amount of time, whether 24 hours or 90 days, so you best use the data wisely when purchasing this pass.

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T-Mobile's Cell Phone Plans

T-Mobile's cell phone plans come in three types: the T-Mobile unlimited plan, otherwise known as T-Mobile ONE and Prepaid Plans (perfect if you need no-contract plans).

The most enticing plan is T-Mobile ONE, which features unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data. In fact, price-wise, this T-Mobile unlimited plan is cheaper compared to the Verizon Unlimited plan, though it is a little more expensive than AT&T Unlimited Choice and Sprint Unlimited plans. Similar to AT&T, this T-Mobile plan may face a data limit. After all, those who consume more than 30GB per month will encounter reduced data speeds during congestion periods.

Additionally, with the basic ONE plan, you'll be only able to stream videos at up to 480p (DVD quality), games at up to 2Mbps, and music at 500kpbs. However, you can upgrade to T-Mobile ONE Plus for an additional fee, which lets you stream HD video and higher quality music and gaming. For an even higher fee, you can add T-Mobile international perks to the ONE Plus plan.

With T-Mobile international features added, you'll be able to make unlimited calling to landlines in over 70 countries and mobile numbers in over 30 countries. However, the feature of HD video streaming remains only in the United States.

Fortunately, if that becomes a tad too pricey for you, you can save a few extra dollars per month per line utilizing the AutoPay feature.

Of course, if T-Mobile's ONE is not for you, you can take advantage of T-Mobile's prepaid cell phone plans.

In regards to prepaid cell phone plans, you can browse individual monthly plans, pay as you go plans, family monthly plans, mobile internet plans, and the international tourist plan. Individual prepaid lines run from 4GB to Unlimited 4G LTE data, though you can always opt into T-Mobile ONE prepaid.

So in the case of T-Mobile network plans against AT&T plans, who takes the point? I would have to go with T-Mobile here. Plans are far more affordable, and you can adopt an unlimited plan with no strings attached.

Read More: You can also compare the prepaid plans among all major providers.

at&t vs t-mobile family plans

Family Plans

Family is important, whether or not they are by blood. One way for families to bond together is by adopting a family cell phone plan together. But between AT&T and T-Mobile, which is more affordable? Which carrier boasts more features? In the category of "AT&T vs T-Mobile family plans," it's a tough call, but one edges out over the other.

T-Mobile's Family Plans

T-Mobile places a heavy emphasis on family, which you can read about here. For one, T-Mobile grants its customers the ability to add more than nine lines to its T-Mobile ONE plan.

Furthermore, T-Mobile offers only one type of family plan, which you will find out if you check out the prepaid section: T-Mobile ONE. As I've already discussed T-Mobile One, the only thing you need to know is that you can add more than nine lines to the T-Mobile ONE service.

AT&T's Family Plans

With Mobile Share Advantage you can add lines to AT&T's plans for a certain fee (dependent on the device). And if you're not a fan of Mobile Share Advantage, you can always save money with the Multi-Line Discount on prepaid plans. For the second device, you will save only a few dollars, but for the third, you save a bit more, and so on and so forth. For more information on AT&T's family plans, you can refer to this guide.

So when it comes to family plans which carrier comes out on top: AT&T or T-Mobile? While AT&T allows you to add lines to its unlimited plan, it's still a bit more costly, especially when you factor in DIRECTV or U-verse service. However, you can also receive a lot more data through the Mobile Share Advantage plans.

That being said, I would have to give the "family plan" award to T-Mobile. It's more affordable, overall, especially when you consider T-Mobile's ONE plan.

The Coverage

When it comes to coverage, which is on top: T-Mobile or AT&T? After all, you need coverage in order to make calls or use your data. And there are plenty of instances where you may need both. Lost in a desert? You will need your GPS, which requires data. You can compare these providers' coverage with the coverage of the other two major providers with our coverage article.

T-Mobile Coverage

T-Mobile LTE is incredibly strong and reliable if you live in an urban area. In fact, you'll be thrilled to have the fastest 4G LTE speed if you happen to live in such an area.

On the other hand, if you live in a rural area, you may receive abysmal T-Mobile LTE coverage.

T-Mobile Coverage

AT&T Coverage

AT&T's coverage - even LTE coverage - is solid. It may not be as fantastic as Verizon, but it covers a lot of locations in the nation. In fact, it reaches hundreds of millions of people in both the United States and Mexico. It's rather impressive, admittedly.

AT&T coverage map

Though AT&T's speed is slightly slower compared to T-Mobile, AT&T's LTE network and general coverage are more extensive. AT&T is the winner here.

How's the Customer Service?

According to American Express survey provided by HelpScout, 78 percent of consumers "have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience."

That can hurt a business a lot. Furthermore, only 4 percent of dissatisfied customers vocalize their poor experience with a business.

So which provider - T-Mobile or AT&T - has better customer service that is least likely to turn people away?

T-Mobile Customer Service

Referring to its ACSI score, T-Mobile has the highest score in the wireless industry, with 74. It shows, too! The customer service is knowledgeable and will do all that they can to ensure that the customer is happy. If you do encounter an issue or are unhappy with T-Mobile's service, you can easily contact customer service via phone, live chat, social media, and forums. However, you can also meet with a team member in person at a T-Mobile store.

Furthermore, T-Mobile offers a couple of fantastic loyalty programs that include free goodies every Tuesday.

AT&T Customer Service

AT&T's ACSI score is not too far behind T-Mobile - it sits at 71. The service is solid, with many representatives doing what they can to ensure that the customer is happy. There are various outlets that you can take advantage of to contact AT&T: FAQs, chatbox, phone, social media, or community forums.

Similar to T-Mobile, AT&T offers a loyalty program that allows you to save money on items such as tickets.

Due to the ACSI score, I would have to choose T-Mobile as the better between the two in customer service, though AT&T isn't that far behind.

AT&T vs T-Mobile: Which Is Better?

After analyzing the most important elements of the two competitors, I've come to the conclusion that T-Mobile is the better provider between AT&T and T-Mobile. T-Mobile boasts a greater customer service score, an unlimited plan with no strings attached, and faster LTE speed.

That being said, AT&T doesn't fall too far behind, offering better coverage compared to T-Mobile. However, while the service offers greater perks and prices, T-Mobile coverage is absolutely lacking in rural areas. However, there are plans regarding the expansion of T-Mobile coverage, so we will see how that fares in the future.

Interested in more comparative articles? Check out our comparison guide to AT&T vs Sprint.

Want to see all cell phone plans across every major carrier? You can use our cell phone comparison tool to see which one suits you the most.

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