MetroPCS is a solid choice if you're looking for unlimited monthly plans. MetroPCS uses the T-Mobile network and its roaming partners to cover a claimed 90 percent of the U.S., though roaming costs extra. This carrier's customer service receives the highest ratings in several large customer surveys, an unusual occurrence for a wireless network.
All plans are unlimited. Editors at TopTenReviews.com say that MetroPCS offers three excellent monthly plans but that there is no pay-as-you-go option. A monthly plan with unlimited talk, text and data costs $40, with the first 500 MB of data at 4G speeds. For $50 per month, the high-speed data cap is upped to the first 2.5 GB. Finally, a completely unlimited plan costs $60 per month. You can add additional lines for the family at a discount of $5 per line.
Improved coverage. Most reviews and surveys include feedback that dates to before the T-Mobile/ MetroPCS merger in June 2013, which dramatically increased the network available to MetroPCS users. Coverage now extends nationwide; however, data coverage can be limited in some areas. Roaming phone calls outside of the carrier's home and extended-home areas cost extra (Est. 19 cents per minute), but texting is free nationwide. The latest information on MetroPCS coverage can be found on its website.
Highest marks in large surveys. Editors at TopTenReviews.com praise MetroPCS's customer service after trying it themselves. MetroPCS receives the highest marks in two large customer service surveys conducted by J.D. Power and Associates. In contrast, customers at PrepaidReviews.com have mixed views: some say that they've always had excellent customer service, while others report that it's difficult to contact customer support.
Bring your own iPhone. MetroPCS doesn't offer as many choices as some other prepaid cell phone service providers, but does carry some of the latest Android LTE devices. It also offers a Windows 8 phone, the Nokia Lumia 521 (Est. $100), a mid-tier device with 4G but not LTE capabilities. MetroPCS does not sell the Apple iPhone, but you can activate an unlocked iPhone 5 (but not the iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c) on the company's network. You can also activate other compatible phones. SIM cards for unlocked phones cost $10. Basic-feature phones are free.
Metro PCS is one of eight prepaid service carriers rated in ConsumerReports.org's latest cell phone customer service survey, which includes 58,000 respondents in total.
Review: Cell Phones and Services, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, September 2013
2. J.D. Power and Associates
In this 2013 J.D. Power Customer Care survey of non-contract cell phone users, MetroPCS just beats Virgin Mobile for first place; both cell phone service providers receive a full 5 out of 5 stars. MetroPCS earns high marks from customers who dealt directly with a customer service representative.
Review: 2013 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Performance Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Feb. 6, 2013
3. J.D. Power and Associates
Concerned only with pay-as-you-go wireless plans, J.D. Power and Associates surveys over 5,000 wireless subscribers who rate their wireless purchase experiences made by phone calls to sales representatives, visits to retail stores or online. MetroPCS narrowly loses out to Boost Mobile, though both providers do receive 5 out of 5 stars.
Review: 2013 Wireless Purchase Experience Non-Contract Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Aug. 15, 2013
PCMag.com readers rate their overall satisfaction with manufacturers and services, including mobile carriers. Among prepaid providers, MetroPCS ranks second behind Straight Talk; both receive an above-average overall score. A chart shows how each service stacks up in a dozen categories, including price and handset choices.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013: Smartphones and Mobile Carriers, Ben Gottesman, March 13, 2013
MetroPCS is in fifth place in TopTenReviews.com's roundup of prepaid phone services for 2014. Editors say that MetroPCS's monthly plans are among the best they've evaluated, but that service has limited coverage outside home areas, incurring extra fees for usage in these regions. MetroPCS's customer support service, tested by the editors, and its phone selection both receive praise.
Review: MetroPCS, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not Dated
MetroPCS receives a 4-star rating (out of 5) at PrepaidReviews.com, although editors say the carrier's biggest setback is its limited coverage. Subscribers aren't as impressed: a number have complaints about poor customer service, limited coverage and call quality. However, feedback here appears to largely predate the MetroPCS/T-Mobile merger.
Review: Metro PCS Prepaid Cell Phone Plans, Editors of and Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com, Not Dated