T-Mobile logoSource: Android Central

Best T-Mobile Alternatives Android Central 2020

T-Mobile, like the rest of the big U.S. carriers, is keen on selling access to MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). This is great since it benefits T-Mobile (income without any investment), the MVNO (no need to build its own network), and us (more choices at different prices). A lot of MVNOs use T-Mobile's network, either exclusively or in combination with other carriers. For most people, Metro by T-Mobile is a great fit thanks to its wide range of plans and full support for T-Mobile's 5G network.

Best Overall: Metro by T-Mobile

Metro by T-Mobile websiteSource: Android Central

Metro by T-Mobile isn't technically an MVNO since T-Mobile owns it. However, Metro operates independently and has different policies, pricing, and features.

Metro offers plans with unlimited calling and texting. The price differences come down to the data packages available at 2GB, 10GB, or unlimited. Plans start at $30 per month, which includes all taxes and extra fees.

Metro by T-Mobile keeps data usage low with a feature called "Data Maximizer" to deliver streaming video at a resolution it claims is ideal for smartphone screens, around 1.5Mbps. Streaming speed limits can often be bypassed by using a VPN to make the connection, although a VPN will also bypass the Music Unlimited feature, where streaming music from select services will not count against your data tally.

The T-Mobile network has grown a lot in the last few years and if you have a phone that supports all of its LTE bands, you should have great coverage in most places. Metro even works with 5G if you have a phone that supports it.

Pros:

  • 5G access
  • Multi-line savings
  • Hotspot options

Cons:

  • Few low-end plans
  • No hotspot on limited plans

Best Overall

Metro by T-Mobile

More plans for T-Mobile

Metro by T-Mobile offers a low barrier to entry and is a great option for someone that doesn't need to jump up to unlimited data.

Best Value: Walmart Family Mobile

Moto E6Source: Android Central

Walmart Family Mobile has leveraged T-Mobile's network with a storefront presence unmatched by any other MVNO. With a huge marketing presence both in and out of stores, it's likely you've already heard of this service, even if you don't shop at Walmart.

The low cost $24.88 per month plan offers unlimited talk and text combined with 2GB of LTE data with a reduced download speed if you go over. You can even add more data at a rate of $10 for 1GB. It's great for people that don't use a lot of data or diligently connect to Wi-Fi when they can.

The other end of the spectrum has unlimited talk, text, and data for just under $50. Data may be slowed after 40GB of usage in a month, which is really quite a lot and shouldn't affect most users.

While this is a strong choice with a low pricing and T-Mobile's strong network behind it, relying on such a large company when it comes to customer service can be concerning.

Pros:

  • Low starting price
  • Available in store
  • Unlimited available

Cons:

  • Plans get expensive
  • Customer service lackluster

Best Value

Walmart Family Mobile

In store or online

A low introductory price with room to grow makes this one of the least expensive plans for a data user.

Best Data Plans: Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile app on woodSource: Samuel Contreras / Android Central

Mint Mobile is an MVNO much like the others, with a special twist on how you 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 (3GB), medium (8GB), and large (12GB) plans for one month, three months, six months, or one year.

$45 gets you a three-month plan with unlimited talk and text as well as 3GB of LTE data (which drops in speed once your limit is reached). $300 gets you a full year's worth of service, including 12GB of LTE data.

If you know how much service you'll need, buying in bulk can offer considerable savings. Mint Mobile uses aggressive pricing to provide long-term value and is compatible with most unlocked GSM phones.

Pros:

  • Lots of data
  • Save with a longer-term buy
  • Multiple plan options
  • Hotspot included

Cons:

  • No unlimited option
  • No multi-line discount

Best Data Plans

Mint Mobile

A fresh take on cell service

Mint stands out by selling service in large chunks to save money. This is a great option if you know how much data you use.

Most Flexible: Ting

Screen showing data usageSource: Android Central

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 the services that you didn't use.

At the end of the month, you are 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. Ting is not a great option for someone that likes to use a lot of data. Ting can be a great option for a lighter user that wants a simple structure and can access Wi-Fi.

Pros:

  • Only pay for what you use
  • Easy usage alerts
  • Save with multiple lines

Cons:

  • Data gets expensive
  • Limited phone selection

Most Flexible

Ting

Only pay for what you use

Ting fully embraces paying only for what you use. If you are a heavy user then you should look elsewhere.

Best for Travel: Google Fi

Google Fi Billing PageSource: Android Central

Everything about Google Fi aims to be simple for users. It makes use of T-Mobile's network for most unlocked GSM phones and is capable of using even more networks with a Designed for Fi phone that supports Sprint and U.S. Cellular as well. A compatible phone will still get the same plan but will only access T-Mobile's network.

Starting at $20 per month for unlimited talk and text, Google Fi can be cheap. If you want to use data, you are billed at $10 for each 1GB used, although if you only use 500MB, you'll only pay $5 at the end of the month. Best of all, data is only billed up to $60, which means if you need to go over, your bill won't get higher. If you know you will use a lot of data, you can get an unlimited plan that doesn't slow data until 22GB is used.

All of that being said, this isn't the most cost-effective plan for a heavy data user. If, however, you have a proper Designed for Fi phone you will have access to a great network. Additionally, if you like to travel, data prices are the same for international usage.

Pros:

  • Simple plans
  • Free international data
  • Great phone compatibility
  • Unlimited available

Cons:

  • Flexible plan can get expensive
  • Only certain phones work with the whole network

Best for Travel

Google Fi

Simple pricing and international usage

One of the biggest reasons to get Google Fi is if you travel abroad. Even if you don't, upfront pricing makes it a great option.

Bottom line

If you have good coverage with T-Mobile, you have a ton of options to get connected. T-Mobile's highly compatible GSM network also makes it a breeze to find a phone that will work. T-Mobile has also been moving quickly on its 5G network and is letting most MVNO customers connect to it without having to pay any more or pick a special plan.

If you want to try out the T-Mobile network but don't want to get stuck in an expensive plan or sign any contracts, Metro by T-Mobile is the best bet for most people. With competitive plans and tons of data available, it's a great contract-free option for the heavy data user.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.

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