T-Mobile, like the rest of the Big Four U.S. carriers, is keen on selling access to MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). This is great: it benefits T-Mobile (income without any investment), the MVNO (no need to build its own network), and us (more choices at different prices).
And a lot of MVNOs use T-Mobile's network, either exclusively or in combination with other carriers. They cover just about every price point, offer options with large buckets of data, and can duplicate most of the experience of having a "proper" T-Mobile account. You can find a full list of them below, but we're going to focus on a few options users like you have called the best and that we agree belong on this list.
MetroPCS isn't technically a T-Mobile MVNO. T-Mobile owns it, but MetroPCS operates independently and has different policies, pricing, and features.
The carrier offers plans with calling, texting, and data packages for people who use both a lot and a little bit of each. Plans start at $30 per month, which includes all taxes and extra fees.
MetroPCS also uses what it calls "Data Maximizer" to deliver streaming video at a resolution it claims is ideal for smartphone screens. It also offers the same Music Unlimited packages that T-Mobile offers, where streaming music from select services will not count against your data tally.
If you look at what people have to say about MetroPCS on the web, you'll see positives like great pricing and customer service, and negatives like poor coverage or network issues. We say that MetroPCS has always provided exactly what was expected and we have had no issues to note with coverage or customer service.
Walmart Family Mobile
Walmart Family Mobile has leveraged T-Mobile's network with a storefront presence unmatched by any other MVNO. We've all seen the signs for phones and plans when at Walmart and some of its offerings are great.
We love the $24.88 plan that offers unlimited talk and text combined with 1GB of LTE data (your connection drops to 2G speeds once the data limit is reached). It's perfect for people who don't use a lot of data while away from Wi-Fi but still need a bit for things like navigation or making reservations. It's also the best plan for anyone who needs a second line but will rarely use it.
The other end of the spectrum has unlimited talk and text bundled with 15GB of LTE data for $49.88. 15GB per month is approaching power-user territory, and if you don't use more than 15GB each month, why pay more for an unlimited plan?
User experiences seem to vary with Walmart Family Mobile, just as they do with every service. The pros look to be the price of both the phones and the service (you can also bring your own compatible phone) and cons include poorly trained sales and support staff and the ubiquitous coverage complaints.
We've found Walmart Family Mobile to deliver the service as promised and have had no issues getting a service plan via the web or in-store.
Mint Mobile is an MVNO much like the others, with a special twist on how you can buy service.
While you can buy a package of talk, text, and data for a month, you can also buy extended service for as long as one year for significant savings. It offers the small (2GB), medium (5GB), and large (10GB) plans for one month, three months, six months, or one year.
$35 gets you a single month plan with unlimited talk and text as well as 2GB of LTE data (which drops in speed once your limit is reached), or $399 gets you a full year's worth of service including 10GB of LTE data. There are also a bunch of promo codes available for new users right now.)
If you know how much service you'll need buying in bulk can deliver considerable savings. Mint Mobile uses aggressive pricing to provide long-term value, as well as cheap packages for monthly users.
Ting is another MVNO that offers more than just a choice between monthly plans. It lets you mix and match to find a plan with the right amount of talk, text, and data for you without paying for things you won't need. Best of all, Ting doesn't bill you for service you didn't use.
At the end of the month, you're billed for the amount of service you actually used, not what the plan said when you bought it. This can be a great way to save money while still keeping an option to use more data when you need it.
Experiences across the web tend to love the pricing structure and ability to build a plan tailored for data users who don't make many calls. Negatives complain of poor customer service and coverage or data speed issues.
We think Ting can be a great provider if you know what you need versus what you don't and love the billing for just what you used instead of the label on the plan.
There are plenty of T-Mobile MVNOs that aren't on our best list but still might work great for you. We can't use them all at once and things change quickly when it comes to carrier resellers. If you have a great experience and think we should give any company a second look, sound off in the comments below!
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