If you need a phone, the experience is fairly linear. You select a phone, then a plan, and it arrives in the mail shortly. If you already have a device, as I did with my Nexus 4, you’ll want to select “bring your own device”. Once you do that, you will be redirected to a page for ordering SIM cards. Once again, there is a fork in the road.
Keep in mind, this is a web special plan. You can’t go into a store and get this plan, and it is subject to disappear at any time. Knowing that, if you buy the SIM card, it takes about a week to arrive. You won’t be able to activate the plan before the SIM card arrives, so that’s a week of waiting. It’s also only available for new activations, so if you’re already a T-Mobile subscriber, you’re out of luck for the SIM card option. I’ve had my Nexus 4 since the first day it was available, and this plan has been there the entire time. While the plan is subject to disappear at any time, it hasn’t in quite a while, so the risk seems minimal.
If, like me, you were worried it would go away, there is another option. This one is much quicker, but will cost you more. It requires a bit more leg work, and a phone call to T-Mobile customer service, but will immediately pay dividends.
Keep in mind that current T-Mobile subscribers may be subject to any plan termination fees if they switch plans.
First, you’ll want to head down to your local WalMart to grab a T-Mobile pay-as-you-go phone. You do not need a smartphone, so any device (like the one we linked to) will work. For this to work, T-Mobile customer service informed me that I would need a qualifying phone, as I was already a subscriber and this was only available for new activations.
Once you have the phone, simply give T-Mobile a call and activate with the $30/month plan. The T-Mobile WalMart phones operate on a regular sized SIM card, which your smartphone probably won’t accept. Now, I know what you’re thinking; you don’t want a dumb phone, you want that plan on your kick-ass smartphone! Not to worry, I’ve got a workaround for you.
Once you have the SIM card activated, simply go into your T-Mobile store and let them know you need a micro SIM card instead. They may not ever charge you, but if they do, it’s about a dollar for a new SIM card. Once they do their network magic, your new Micro SIM card will be activated, and you can just drop it into your phone. You’ve now got the $30/month plan on your smartphone!
Keep in mind that current T-Mobile subscribers may be subject to any plan termination fees if they switch plans. Hopefully, you’re already a prepaid customer and can simply let your old plan expire. Everything ports over to your new plan, so there is nothing to worry about in that respect.
You’re probably stuck with a dumb phone you simply don’t care to have at this point, if you chose option two. You have a few options on what to do with that device, and may end up paying it forward as a result.
First, you can hang onto the phone for emergencies. Keep it in your car in the instance you lose or break your smartphone. Keep a SIM card in it, and dial T-Mobile customer service to activate it as needed. You can also activate it with a different plan and use it as a home phone, depending on how the service is in your area.
What I did was donate my device to a local women’s shelter. Often times, those ladies have been abused, or are otherwise in desperate need of a place to stay while they get their lives rebooted. A cell phone can go a long way, and do a lot of good for them, perhaps even saving their life. You can also donate your device to charities which give them to soldiers overseas so they can talk with their families. Whatever charity you choose, it’s a simple, easy way to give someone a much needed help to those in need.
I am a huge proponent of prepaid service, and find this plan perfect for my needs. Another great option is to set up autopay, so you don’t have to worry about monthly calls or visits to a T-Mobile store to make payments. As it’s not a contracted plan, you won’t have any sticker shock month-to-month. T-Mobile will take $30 each month, and not a penny more.
If you happen to need more minutes in a given month, you can simply add money to your account. I wouldn’t suggest getting a different plan for a month and dropping the $30/month plan, as it can always go away, and you wouldn’t be able to get it back. You could always get an additional SIM with a different plan and switch them out as needed.
If this sounds like the plan for you, these are your best options for getting it. With the new Nexus Experience HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 coming soon, this is something to consider. Most of us will bring in our own device, and this is wildly popular among Nexus 4 owners. A $300 phone, and $30 per month for service? If you do the math, I bet you’ll end up saving a ton of money with that scheme.
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You have to be dead or dumb not to know how to do this already.
But thanks anyway.
Thanks for the heads-up…it is a bit hidden
I think you mean “the first 5 GB” not MB
Thanks for the heads up.
Fixed! We are humans at Android Authority :P
That’s fine, I didn’t want you to undersell this awesome plan (which I have by the way). :)
I’ve been on this exact plan for over a year now and love it.
I tried this a little while ago, and it was great until I realized that my immediate area was the only area they’ve refarmed where I live. I’ll try again in several months and see if they’ve made more progress.
Yeah – I have a phone without the 1700 MHz band and it’s really spotty. Zoomed out, Boston looks great on the 1900 MHz HSPA+ coverage map, but if you zoom in close, there’s tons of dead spots. It’s pretty frustrating.
I’m waiting on the Moto X-Phone and the next Nexus, and then evaluating my options for a new phone that still has the 1700 band. Must be pretty frustrating for converted iPhone users too.
Can I just use a sim cutter and use the prepaid sim in my smartphone?
Yes – I have used this printable template and some scissors and a file on several occasions to great success:
I have this plan alongside my normal AT&T plan. I’m testing out T-Mobile’s network. Luckily, my area is somewhat refarmed. I am also getting LTE in OKC, but it is NOWHERE as fast as AT&T and Verizon. I read that a full LTE launch is going to happen this month, so I’m going to buy one more month to see if coverage and speeds improve.
“Once you have the SIM card activated, simply go into your T-Mobile store and let them know you need a micro SIM card instead. They may not ever charge you, but if they do, it’s about a dollar for a new SIM card. Once they do their network magic, your new Micro SIM card will be activated, and you can just drop it into your phone. You’ve now got the $30/month plan on your smartphone!”….Just walk in with the walmart phone & ask for a micro sim? Won’t they pull up your info & see your walmart phone uses a reg sized sim?
I went to a T-Mobile corporate kiosk at the mall and they gave me a new micro SIM free! I had a regular SIM but had just gotten a new phone that required a micro SIM. The whole process took about a minute, including the rep digging around under the counter to find the micro SIM.
Been using the T-Mobile $30 prepaid since I got my Nexus and no problems till now. Unlimited 4G till 5 GB, own my phone and can do whatever I want. They have since discontinued this option after the uncarrier approach; but I am grandfathered in and am not changing my plan!
Does this plan work with any GSM-based smartphone or just the ones they sell through the T-Mobile store? Because I would like to get the Samsung Galaxy S3 mini (which is NOT available through T-Mobile), but only if it works with this plan.
I read so many forums and comments trying to figure out whether I would qualify for this plan or not that now, after going through the process myself, I feel compelled to share my experience. I was a prepaid T-Mobile customer with a Pay as you Go plan (no smartphone, no data). I upgraded to a Nokia Lumia 521 which I bought on Amazon (a T-Mobile device), and it arrived with a new T-Mobile micro SIM (I wasn’t expecting that). I called customer service to activate the new SIM with my old number. I also asked if I would qualify for the $30/month plan (unlimited text&data + 100 min talk) since I had gotten a new handset. The operator told me it’s a Walmart exclusive and that she had to check with her supervisor.. she put me on hold for ~1 minute, then got back saying the supervisor had approved! it was SO easy!
If you buy a sim card thru the method youve mentioned its $10, so can i just get a normal sim for like a $1 and cut it into a micro; then load $30 plan via walmart refill card?
Any way to switch to this plan from existing $50/mo prepaid plan?