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T-Mobile Prepaid

$10 for 30 minutes and up
Reviewed
December 2013
by ConsumerSearch
T-Mobile Prepaid

Pros
  • Minutes don't expire for 90 days
  • Wide variety of plans
  • Unlimited data plans available
Cons
  • Expensive on a per-minute basis
  • Spotty coverage in some areas

Bottom line

Reviewers say T-Mobile Prepaid offers an excellent combination of voice quality, phone options and plan options, including monthly plans with unlimited data. Pay-as-you-go plans don't expire for 90 days, including its cheapest offering (Est. $10 for 30 minutes). T-Mobile's network performance is rated as average, but its customer service draws some criticism from experts and users.

Plans and flexibility

Wide variety of plans. Editors at TopTenReviews.com say that T-Mobile only has one prepaid daily access plan, but it's the best there is. There's also a Pay as You Go plan, starting at $10 for 30 minutes, and those minutes don't expire for 90 days. PrepaidReviews.com points its readers in the direction of T-Mobile's monthly access plans, which it says "simulate postpaid contract plans." Talk and text plans start at $30 for 100 minutes for one month. T-Mobile has taken the data limits off its monthly unlimited talk, text and web prepaid plans. The unlimited  high-speed data plan is $70 monthly, with cheaper plans capping the amount of high-speed data at 500 MB (Est. $50 per month) and 2.5 GB (Est. $60 per month).

Performance

Varies by location. When it comes to data speeds, T-Mobile's 3G and 4G networks prove fast in some cities but slow in others. In PCMag.com's readers' poll, T-Mobile finishes behind U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless and ahead of AT&T, receiving average scores along with Sprint. T-Mobile's network is smaller than that of other national carriers, but coverage is extended via a roaming agreement with AT&T. However, some of the least expensive plans don't allow data roaming.

Customer service

Below average. Editors at TopTenReviews.com report that T-Mobile's customer support is "notoriously bad." The company generally ranks worse than most for customer service among major wireless providers. Users give T-Mobile the lowest marks for customer service in polls by J.D. Power and Associates and PCMag.com. At PrepaidReviews.com, T-Mobile draws its share of customer complaints, with stories of rudeness from customer service reps and users receiving misinformation.

Phone selection

OK selection, but not the latest phones. T-Mobile offers a good selection of phones, including Android and iPhone models -- but not the latest phones; for example, iPhone users can get the iPhone 5 but not the iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c. Basic phones are available, though the selection is not overwhelming. You can bring your own unlocked compatible device (check T-Mobile's site to see if your phone is compatible), including the iPhone 5, and get a free SIM card for it.

Where To Buy
 

Our Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org

T-Mobile is one of eight prepaid wireless providers included in ConsumerReports.org's latest rankings. Editors poll more than 58,000 cell phone users to find the best and worst wireless services.

Review: Cell Phones and Services, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, September 2013

2. J.D. Power & Associates

This J.D. Power and Associates study examines wireless usage in three aspects of network performance in six regions within the U.S., with responses from over 27,000 people. T-Mobile is near the bottom for network quality in all regions, with average or below-average ratings.

Review: 2013 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, March 7, 2013

3. J.D. Power and Associates

With over 7,000 responses from wireless phone users to J.D. Power's 2013 Customer Care survey, T-Mobile is in last place, with a score significantly below those of the other major wireless service providers, and well below average.

Review: 2013 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Feb. 6, 2013

4. PCMag.com

This article addresses overall satisfaction with cell phones and cell phone service as reported by PCMag.com readers in 2013. T-Mobile goes from last year's Readers' Choice award to last place this year. The carrier receives a good score for fees, but loses ground on network coverage, speed and reliability.

Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013: Smartphones and Mobile Carriers, Ben Gottesman, March 13, 2013

5. Computerworld.com

Raphael untangles some of the confusion that T-Mobile's no-contract Simple Choice plan is causing with regard to T-Mobile's prepaid plans. He explains that while there is some overlap between the two kinds of plans, there are still significant differences.

Review: What T-Mobile's Shake-Up Means for Prepaid Smartphone Service, JR Raphael, March 27, 2013

6. TopTenReviews.com

T-Mobile comes in fourth in TopTenReviews.com's roundup of prepaid cell phone services. Earning fairly good marks for phone selection and for customer help and support, it falls short on features and plans. Note that TopTenReviews.com's evaluation of prepaid cell phone providers is based only on features, and doesn't look at how each phone service performs.

Review: 2014 Best Prepaid Cell Phone Reviews and Comparisons, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not Dated

7. CNET

Broida decribes how he switched his 13 year-old daughter's iPhone 4 to T-Mobile's "surprisingly affordable" $30 prepaid plan. After problems activating the service, her number was transferred over and everything went smoothly. Unfortunately, T-Mobile only has 2G service in Broida's neighborhood, but his daughter doesn't seem to mind.

Review: My Move to T-Mobile's $30 Unlimited Plan: The Good and the Bad, Rick Broida, July 8, 2013

8. PrepaidReviews.com

Editors here give T-Mobile Prepaid 4 out of 5 stars. It's in the second tier of prepaid cell phone providers, down from last year's top spot. Like all prepaid providers, however, T-Mobile draws its share of customer complaints, earning only 3 stars out of 5 overall from over 850 users.

Review: T-Mobile To Go Prepaid Cell Phones, Editors of and Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com, Not Dated

9. Viewpoints.com

Users rate most major wireless carriers, both prepaid and contract, at Viewpoints.com. T-Mobile comes in behind Verizon Wireless and TracFone.

Review: The Best Cell Phone Providers: Cell Phone Provider Reviews & Ratings, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of December 2013

Prepaid Cell Phone Plans Runners Up:

Straight Talk $30 per month and up

4 picks including: My Rate Plan, PCMag.com…

Verizon Wireless Prepaid Est. $35 per month and up

4 picks including: TopTenReviews.com, PrepaidReviews.com…

MetroPCS $40 per month and up

3 picks including: PCMag.com, TopTenReviews.com…

Boost Mobile $50 per month and up

3 picks including: My Rate Plan, TopTenReviews.com…

AT&T GoPhone Est. $25 per month and up

1 pick including: PCMag.com, TopTenReviews.com…

Cricket Wireless Est. $35 per month and up

1 pick including: J.D. Power & Associates, TopTenReviews.com…

T-Mobile Prepaid $10 for 30 minutes and up

1 pick including: CNET, J.D. Power & Associates…

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