A prepaid plan is a great, but often hidden, alternative to the traditional cell phone plans you're likely familiar with.
If you'd like better control over how much your monthly cell phone bill costs, or only want to pay for the features you actually use, a prepaid cell phone plan is right for you.
But what's the difference between a prepaid or postpaid plan? And what kind of features and services does the T-Mobile prepay program provide? We've done the hard work for you and translated all the confusing technical jargon into an easily readable format.
Within this guide to T-Mobile USA's prepaid plans, you'll find information regarding T-Mobile's prepaid plans, including the unlimited plan (which is difficult to find at first glance), prepay plans, customer service, coverage, and more. Finally, we will direct you to our cell phone plan comparison tool to help you make an informed decision.
In This Guide
T-Mobile Wireless Prepaid Plans
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly one in five Americans see their smartphone as a financial burden. Before even browsing the plans available, determine the amount you can afford to spend based on your overall budget.
There are plenty of T-Mobile prepaid plans, which can fit just about anyone. Here are the following plans available:
- Individual Monthly Plans
- Pay As You Go Plans
- Family Monthly Plans
- Mobile Internet Plans
- International Tourist Plan
If you're looking for Simple Choice plans, you will not find them here, as:
- Simple Choice plans are the postpaid plans
- Simple Choice plans no longer exist. In fact, they've been discontinued on January 22, 2017.
So now that that's out of the way, let's first go over the individual monthly plans, thought you can always refer to our guide to T-Mobile's individual plans for a more in-depth look.
Read More: You can read our buyer's guide to prepaid plans to compare T-Mobile to the other providers.
Individual Monthly Plans
There are two main Simply Prepaid plans available, ranging from 4GB to 6GB of data. Both plans come with unlimited talk and text messages, unlimited streaming of music via Music Unlimited, as well as the international add-ons. Oh, and if you're worried about overage charges, don't. Overage charges are non-existent with these plans. In regards to the international add-ons, there are two types you can take advantage of.
For only a small additional fee per month, you can take advantage of unlimited talk, text messages, and non-high-speed data in Mexico and Canada, as well as the United States. Then there is stateside international talk, which is a little more, but you'll be able to call and text from the United States, Mexico, and Canada to countries overseas.
T-Mobile offered a basic monthly plan, which included unlimited web and text with 100 minutes of talk, but that no longer appears to be the case. Instead, if you're looking for something smaller and more limited, you can always opt for the Pay As You Go Plans, which I will delve into next, but not before chatting about T-Mobile's unlimited plans - well, more like an unlimited plan - dubbed T-Mobile ONE Prepaid.
T-Mobile ONE Prepaid
T-Mobile ONE Prepaid, which is one of T-Mobile's signature unlimited plans, grants you unlimited high-speed 4G LTE network data, plus all the great features that are typically found in the Simply Prepaid plans. This unlimited data plan also provides you with Mexico and Canada unlimited service, unlimited 3G T-Mobile hotspot, and HD video streaming. However, there's a caveat to that last perk. If you want HD video streaming attached to this unlimited data plan, you must pay a small fee for an HD 24-hour pass, otherwise, you're stuck with 480p+ - or standard definition - video streaming. Also, the pass does not include T-Mobile hotspot. But hey, the option
However, there's a caveat to that last perk. If you want HD video streaming attached to this unlimited data plan, you must pay a small fee for an HD 24-hour pass, otherwise, you're stuck with 480p+ - or standard definition - video streaming. Also, the pass does not include T-Mobile hotspot. But hey, the option is there.
Finally, it should be noted that after 30GB of data usage, your data may be throttled.
Pay As You Go Plans
Next is the Pay As You Go plan. You pay a simple, monthly fee, which provides you with any combination of 30 minutes of talk or 30 texts. However, if you need more, you can add minutes and even tack on either a daily or weekly high-speed data pass.
Family Monthly Plans
Unfortunately, T-Mobile family plans aren't all that existent on the website. In fact, you'll be redirected to the T-Mobile ONE postpaid site if you click on the family plans tab. Sure, T-Mobile ONE is great for up to 12 lines and family, but what about a prepaid option?
Prepaid Internet Plans
Perhaps you're interested in prepaid tablet and hotspot plans. With T-Mobile, you'll be able to use your high-speed data in Canada and Mexico for free, you'll unlock unlimited music streaming, and be able to take advantage of unlimited data while on the network with no overages or annual service contracts. These plans auto-renew after 30 days and range from 2GB of high-speed 4G LTE data to 22GB of 4G LTE data.
You can also access a 1-day pass, which includes a 500MB 4G LTE data amount, a 7-day pass, which includes up to 1GB of 4G LTE data, or a 30-day pass, which features up to 3GB of 4G LTE data.
Related: Check out our buyer's guide to mobile hotspot plans to learn more.
T-Mobile Tourist Plan
Finally, you can opt for the T-Mobile Tourist Plan. For a small monthly fee, a T-Mobile Tourist Plan "connects you like a local" in the United States for a total of three weeks. You'll access unlimited data, with up to 2GB at 4G LTE speeds, unlimited domestic and international texting to over 140 countries and destinations, 1,000 minutes of domestic talk within the United States, and a free SIM card for your unlocked phone.
All you need to do is to bring an unlocked phone with you to the United States, order a Tourist Kit online or pick it up at a T-Mobile store, and finally sign up, pay, and activate the plan online or in-store. Unsure of how to unlock your cell phone? We can teach you how.
T-Mobile Prepaid Phones
You can buy an assortment of T-Mobile prepay phones. These prepay phones come packed with deals too, so you can save money as you shop (you can learn more about T-Mobile's deals and promotions here). You can filter T-Mobile prepaid cell phones by the following:
- Features Price
As for types of phones - more specifically brands - you can choose between Samsung, Alcatel, Apple, HTC, and ZTE. Currently, T-Mobile doesn't offer the iPhone 5 or 6 as a prepaid selection, but you can purchase a prepaid Apple iPhone SE.
Unfortunately, when it comes to prepaid smartphones, the T-Mobile offerings are rather limited (you can check out T-Mobile's prepaid phones with our price comparison guide). Fortunately, you can bring your own phone. For more information on T-Mobile's bring your own phone plans, feel free to check out the article, "T-Mobile BYOP Plans."
Read More: You can use our smartphone comparison tool to look at specs and features of the phones listed here.
Those who use T-Mobile's prepaid plans will experience the same exact coverage as those who use any of these traditional T-Mobile cell phone plans. Unfortunately, the T-mobile network performance isn't the greatest in rural areas. However, with that being said, the network performance is rather fantastic if you happen to live in an urban or - depending on the area - suburban location.
The T-Mobile network offers two types of SIM kits in the event that you would prefer to bring your own phone. The first T-Mobile prepaid SIM card kit is the prepaid 3-in-1 SIM starter kit, while the second is the prepaid mobile internet 3-in-1 SIM kit.
The SIM cards, which can be cheap depending on whether there is a deal for them or not, allow you to keep your existing number, use your device with any prepaid plan, have no commitments or wireless carrier contracts, and best of all, save money.
Compare: You can compare prices on used, refurbished T-Mobile phones with our comparison tool here
All you need to do is check your device's compatibility with T-Mobile's network, buy a SIM card, and use the SIM card. Your device comes activated with the starter Pay As You Go plan.
The 3-in-1 SIM starter kit includes a Nano SIM card with Micro and Standard SIM adapters. These are compatible with GSM phones.
On the other hand, the T-Mobile prepaid mobile internet 3-in-1 SIM kit is compatible with all LTE network and GSM tablets and hotspots.
Related: What is a SIM Card?
Curious to see if T-Mobile wireless prepaid cards exist? Fortunately, they do! These cards pay for your prepaid minutes and data. There are five cards to choose from, ranging from $10 to $100.
The refill cards can grant you either a specified amount of minutes, or you can apply the amount of the card towards other T-Mobile prepaid plans.
T-Mobile Customer Service
Customer satisfaction is important, and T-Mobile boasts top-tier customer satisfaction rates. To receive T-Mobile wireless customer service, which is considered the best customer support among the four major carriers, you can message representatives via live chat, refer to a FAQ, seek answers from the community, visit a store, contact the provider via mail, connect via social network, or just call customer service.
Whereas some carriers have designated prepaid phone numbers, T-Mobile's customer service number is simple: 1-877-746-0909. You can also dial 611 from your T-Mobile phone. Prepaid agents will be available from 4 AM to 11 PM PT.
Furthermore, you also have the ability to do the following in relation to your prepaid account:
- To activate your prepaid phone, you can call 1-877-778-2107.
- To manage your prepaid account, you can dial 1-877-778-2106.
- To refill your prepaid account, you can always call 1-877-720-5195.
Is a T-Mobile Prepaid Plan Right For You?
T-Mobile is leading the charge in the growing popularity of prepaid plans. In fact, the number of prepaid users is expected to reach almost 94 million by 2019.
T-Mobile prepay plans are quite affordable, but the same can't exactly be said for the basic prepaid plans. While the basic phone plan should be avoided due to its limited number of minutes, its other Simply Prepaid plans are priced competitively, making T-Mobile a carrier to consider.
However, in regards to coverage, it is not the greatest if you live in a rural area, so if you happen to live there, make sure you check to see if T-Mobile will cover you.
If you're juggling between prepaid and postpaid plans, you may want to view our article, "Prepaid vs. Postpaid - Which Is Better?"