Let's be honest: finding the right family wireless plan can be a headache.
While pretty much all plans have unlimited voice and text, the data dilemma can be confusing and - let's face it - ridiculously expensive.
T-Mobile has been hard at work minimizing the fine print and making things easier on families who need multiple cell phone lines. Their rates are attractive, and while T-Mobile coverage isn't number one of the big four carriers, it's still very solid, especially around metropolitan areas. Just ask the Uncarrier's 71.6 million users (as of Q4 2016).
Now let's look at this mobile provider's multi-line offerings so you can decide for yourself whether to make the switch to T-Mobile.
T-Mobile Family Plans
There are two types of T-Mobile phone plans for families: T-Mobile ONE, and T-Mobile ONE No-Credit.
Wait - what? You're probably wondering what happened to the popular Simple Choice family plan. Here's the scoop: the carrier has cleaned house, simplifying everything down to a small grouping of T-Mobile unlimited plans.
I know what you're thinking: fewer choices means fewer options for discounts. Truly, though, with unlimited voice, unlimited text, unlimited data, unlimited streaming (you get the picture...), plus unlimited mobile hotspot data, the T-Mobile network is one of the best deals out there. You won't even miss the Simple Choice family plan, I promise.
T-Mobile ONE Plan
T-Mobile unlimited plans provide features that its competitors find it rather hard to beat, namely T-Mobile ONE. You can choose your number of lines - all of which are equipped with unlimited talk and text, plus unlimited 4G LTE data (which you can learn more about here). The standard T-Mobile ONE service streams video at 480p resolution and tethering/hotspot are at 3G speeds.
Need additional lines? With T-Mobile ONE, you can have 12 lines total, depending upon credit approval (according to the T-Mobile website). These lines feature more talk, text, and data in over 140 countries and destinations around the world, unlimited in-flight texting and one hour of free data on Gogo-enabled flights, and unlimited data, plus unlimited talk and text, throughout Mexico, the U.S., and Canada.
Of course, if you want more from T-Mobile ONE, you could always upgrade to T-Mobile ONE Plus, which ups the ante to Gogo full flight unlimited Wi-Fi, two times the data speed when you are abroad, voicemail to text, name identification, and unlimited day passes for HD video streaming. However, the HD video passes must be turned on daily.
As a side note, T-Mobile ONE tablet lines can also be added for a certain fee per line per month when you have a T-Mobile ONE voice line. However, without a T-Mobile ONE voice line, you are paying much more for a tablet line.
You can also add an international cell phone plan for just a specified fee per month. This includes unlimited calling to landlines in over 70 countries and to mobile numbers in over 30 countries, unlimited texting to virtually anywhere at no extra charge (excluding countries that block text messages), and discounted calling rates to all numbers in over 200 countries.
It's important to keep in mind that with the T-Mobile unlimited ONE plan, the top 3 percent of data users - or those who use more than 30GB of data per month - may face reduced speeds during high traffic periods, until the next billing cycle.
T-Mobile ONE No-Credit Family Plans
With all of the changes to T-Mobile phone plans in the past year, it's easy to lose track of exactly what's available as far as prepay plans.
The good news: the Simple Choice plan is still available as a prepaid option. The new name is Simply Prepaid.
The bad news: you can't put additional lines on your Simply Prepaid account. The T-Mobile website directs customers who need more lines to check out the T-Mobile ONE No-Credit plan or call T-Mobile for details.
More good news: T-Mobile ONE No-Credit gives you all of the same benefits of the T-Mobile network that the regular ONE plan provides, including reliable nationwide T-Mobile coverage. The main difference is that you prepay plan charges, which lets you avoid a credit check. You will pay slightly higher rates than those on a postpaid plan, so be sure to read the fine print.
Read More: Need to compare prepaid cell phone plans? No worries there, as we have you covered with our review of the best prepaid cell phone plans.
T-Mobile Shared Data Plan
Prepaid internet is basically data only at T-Mobile. You can receive two times the 4G LTE data at the same price of the Simple Choice plan. With T-Mobile's prepaid internet, you are able to:
- Use your high-speed data in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. at no charge
- Stream unlimited music, which will not affect your data consumption
- Grants you the freedom to either buy a new device or bring your own device.
- Unlimited 2G data with no overage fees or contracts.
High-speed plans range from 2GB of 4G LTE data to 22GB of 4G LTE data. Furthermore, you can also opt for a one-day pass featuring up to 500MB of 4G LTE data, a week pass with up to 1GB of 4G LTE data, or a 30-day pass with 3GB of 4G LTE data.
82 percent of parents believe that it is an overwhelming issue to not always be able to monitor their kids' activity habits. Fortunately, there are apps that help track a child's physical location.
With T-Mobile's FamilyWhere app, which is only available on Android devices and is priced at $9.99 per month (after a free 30-day trial), allows you to locate any phone on the T-Mobile 4G network.
With the app, you can:
- Quickly and accurately locate phones on your active T-Mobile account
- Allow family members to check in with you via text message or find them on a map in real-time
- Receive text notifications when your family members are visiting new areas or when your phone is scheduled to relay location checks
- Use any phone, tablet, or computer to track someone. FamilyWhere does require that GPS is enabled for tablets, however
Comparing T-Mobile Family Plans with Competitors
T-Mobile's family plans are considered more affordable compared to Verizon's and AT&T's family plans but are more expensive than Sprint's family plans. The service also contains more perks compared to all of the major carriers. Unlimited video and music streaming are two features that are non-existent with the other carriers.
However, T-Mobile has poor service in rural areas. If you live in an urban area, the service is fantastic, boasting the fastest 4G LTE speeds in the nation. However, if you live in a rural area, you may not receive the best speeds and coverage.
Read More: You can read a more detailed analysis of how T-Mobile fares against competitors in terms of coverage with our handy coverage maps.
Another disadvantage is T-Mobile's FamilyWhere app, which is limited to Android devices, like the Samsung Galaxy. This means you won't be able to access the app if you're using a phone running on iOS. This can be a disadvantage for parents who would like to have peace of mind in regard to their children's locations.
Is a T-Mobile Family Plan Right for You?
Is a T-Mobile family plan right for your family? Yes, T-Mobile may definitely be right for you, but only if you live in an urban area. The plans are affordable, you'll receive the best customer service among the big four carriers, and you'll have access to an unlimited plan. Not to mention you'll receive quite a few perks and a great loyalty program. Of course they also offer installment plans on the most popular phones, like the iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S8.
If you're concerned about making the switch to T-Mobile, which is a simple process, because you have an outstanding balance on your mobile device or are worried about the contract cancellation fees, then rest easy. As one of the best cell phone plans, T-Mobile has a contract buyout program that will protect you as you move over to the network.