Metro by T Mobile logo on phone stock photo 1

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

If you love the T-Mobile network but you’d rather skip the carrier’s prices, you might be gearing up for a switch to Metro. However, there’s a lot more to know about the wholly-owned subsidiary before you switch. We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of Metro by T-Mobile so you can make the best decision possible.

See also: The best Metro by T-Mobile deals

As a subsidiary, Metro doesn’t offer post-paid service — only prepaid options. We’ll highlight each of your options and we’ll also touch on a few of the best phones you can try. Because you’re likely set on switching, we’ll compare a few top MVNOs to help you decide. Ready to learn about T-Mobile’s little sibling? Let’s get to it.

Metro by T-Mobile at a glance

The carrier now known as Metro by T-Mobile began its life in 1994 as General Wireless. By the time it merged with T-Mobile and rebranded, Metro had amassed nine million subscribers and the fifth-largest US network. Although it’s now wholly-owned, Metro is not considered an MVNO as it had its own network prior to the merger. It now exists as a division of T-Mobile rather than a separate entity.

Because Metro exists as a division of T-Mobile, it’s not the easiest to track down at the Better Business Bureau. However, its headquarters location carries an A-rating and has a one-star customer rating. Metro by T-Mobile has closed 3,405 customer complaints in the past three years.

One of the best perks to come from the T-Mobile merger is the incredible 5G access afforded to Metro customers. They can access the entire nationwide network and the areas that don’t have 5G coverage are likely to have a 4G connection. The network extends throughout the United States and into many parts of southern Canada. You can check out the entire map right here.

Pre-paid Metro plans

If you’re ready to make the switch, you’ve got four plans to choose from. The first two plans offer limited data and some restricted features, but the unlimited options inch close to post-paid levels of service. It’s up to you to decide which perks you want, but check out our table for a quick breakdown:

 2GB Plan10GB PlanBasic Unlimited PlanBetter Unlimited Plan
Cost$30 per line$40 for one line
$70 for two lines
$100 for three lines
$130 for four lines
$50 for one line
$80 for two lines
$110 for three liens
$140 for four lines
$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$120 for three lines
$120 for four lines
Talk and TextUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Data2GB high-speed data10GB high-speed dataUnlimited high-speed dataUnlimited high-speed data
StreamingUp to 480pUp to 480pUp to 480pUp to 480p
HotspotNot includedNot included5GB per line15GB per line
ExtrasNoneMusic Unlimited100GB Google One storage100GB Google One storage
Amazon Prime

2GB Plan

Metro by T-Mobile’s most basic plan offers unlimited talk and text in addition to 2GB of high-speed data. That’s all there is to it, and each line of service will run you $30 per month. It’s a solid plan if you only use your phone for the basics or you spend almost all of your time connected to wi-fi. As you’ll see later, there are a few add-ons available for the 2GB plan, but you might get better value from one of the more expensive plans to begin with.

Highlights:

  • Just $30 per line
  • Add more data as you need it

Best for:

  • Low data users who want to add as they go

10GB Plan

The next step up from the 2GB plan, Metro’s 10GB plan offers five-times the data for just $10 more per month for the first line. Each additional line costs an extra $30, which is the same as the smaller plan. Beyond the talk, text, and data, the 10GB plan grants access to Music Unlimited streaming. That means you can rock out on more than 40 music apps without your usage counting against the 10GB cap.

Highlights:

  • Five-times more data
  • Music Unlimited streaming
  • More add-ons available

Best for:

  • Users who plan to stream music often
  • Users who don’t need unlimited data but don’t want to add gigs too often

Basic Unlimited Plan

If you’re making the switch from one of the big three, you might be used to the unlimited data lifestyle. Luckily, you can continue that trend with Metro by T-Mobile’s Basic Unlimited plan and leave your data cap behind. The $10 per month price increase comes with more than just unlimited data though — you get 5GB of hotspot access per line and 100GB of Google One storage. You can store pictures, videos, and just about anything else you might need.

Highlights:

  • Unlimited data
  • 5GB hotspot included
  • 100GB Google One Storage

Best for:

  • Students who need a ton of cloud storage
  • Users who don’t want data limits

Better Unlimited Plan

If 5GB of a hotspot isn’t enough and you don’t want to pick a monthly add-on then you can opt for the Better Unlimited plan. It jumps to a 15GB hotspot per month and the pricing is more than fair. Although the first line costs $60, the second is just $30 more, and the third and fourth lines keep your plan at $120 total. You’ll get the same 100GB of Google One Storage and the added benefit of an included Amazon Prime membership. It’s easy to stream your favorite shows or have just about anything delivered in a hurry.

Highlights:

  • 15GB hotspot included
  • 100GB Google One storage
  • Amazon Prime membership

Best for:

  • Anyone who frequents Amazon
  • Users who plan to work remotely and rely on a hotspot

Tablets and connected device plans

Metro by T-Mobile is a great option for more than just mobile service — you can grab a tablet for cheap too. The carrier offers two tiers of tablet service, each with unlimited data access. $15 per month will get you standard definition streaming but $30 per month kicks the quality up to HD quality. Right now, you can get an Alcatel Joy Tab for free when you add a line of service to an existing plan too.

If you’d rather add a hotspot device to your plan, the MetroSMART is the only device available directly from Metro. You can start with 10GB of high-speed data per month for just $35 or increase your cap to 15GB for $45, 20GB for $55, or 30GB for $75 per month.

Add-on services

Although each Metro by T-Mobile plan offers a solid level of service and a few handy perks, add-ons are the best way to make the most of your service. Whether you want more hotspot data or international access, it doesn’t take much to flesh out your plan. Check out the table below to see what you can add to each plan:

 2GB Plan10GB PlanBasic Unlimited PlanBetter Unlimited Plan
Canada/Mexico UnlimitedNot availableAvailable for $5 each per monthAvailable for $5 each per monthAvailable for $5 each per month
Metro by T-Mobile Global Voice$10 per month
Double minutes for $20 per month
$10 per month
Double minutes for $20 per month
$10 per month
Double minutes for $20 per month
$10 per month
Double minutes for $20 per month
Extra monthly dataAdd 2GB for $5Add 2GB for $5
Add 5GB for $10
Add 2GB hotspot for $5
Add 5GB hotspot for $10
Add 2GB hotspot for $5
Add 5GB hotspot for $10
Add 10GB hotspot for $20
Google One storageNot availableNot availableAdd 200GB for $1
Add 2TB for $8
Add 200GB for $1
Add 2TB for $8
Shared CallingAdd 300 minutes for $3
Add 1,000 minutes for $10
Add 300 minutes for $3
Add 1,000 minutes for $10
Add 300 minutes for $3
Add 1,000 minutes for $10
Add 300 minutes for $3
Add 1,000 minutes for $10
Protection optionsAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable

Canada/Mexico Unlimited

Metro by T-Mobile’s plans don’t offer any built-in international access, but it doesn’t take much to add access in Canada or Mexico. Just $5 per month gets you unlimited talk and text in either country as well as 5GB of roaming data. However, you’ll have to pay $5 for each country.

Metro by T-Mobile Global Voice

If you need access to more than Canada and Mexico, Global Voice is the way to go. You’ll need Global Voice if you want to call more than 140 countries, but the add-on offers unlimited texting to select locations. Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t include unlimited calling so you may have to grab Global Voice Plus for double the minutes.

Extra monthly data

Let’s face it — 2GB of high-speed data per month isn’t all that much. It’s especially limited if you plan to be on the go often or you have limited wi-fi access. You can add 2GB to any plan for $5, whether it’s straight-up data or hotspot. 5GB will cost $10, but you can only add it to $40 plans and up. Finally, 10GB of bonus data costs $20 and is only available on a $60 plan.

Google One storage

Another add-on for unlimited users, you can expand your Google One storage by 200GB for $1 or 2TB for $8. IT’s a handy boost if you want to store everything you can imagine in the cloud. Just remember that Metro by T-Mobile’s unlimited plans come with 100GB of storage already.

Shared Calling

Do you remember chat lines? Well, Shared Calling gives you access to those multi-caller lines that aren’t built into the Metro by T-Mobile network. You’ll need Shared Calling for other connections like conference calls and radio broadcasts and more. 300 minutes will run you just $3 or you can grab 1,000 for $10.

Protection options

Metro by T-Mobile’s protection options are a bit more open-ended than the other add-ons, and you can bundle them together to save even more money. Some perks like ScamID and Web Guard for kids and teens are free, but you can grab the Premium Handset Protection Program for just $6 per month. It pretty much covers any physical damage that may come to your phone, or the $5 Security Bundle covers software threats and offers Scam Shield Premium.

Which Metro by T-Mobile plan is right for you?

While the 2GB and 10GB plans are great if you’re on a very restricted budget, Metro by T-Mobile’s Basic Unlimited plan is probably the best for most people. In addition to unlimited data, you get plenty of cloud storage and 5GB of mobile hotspot. The plan saves you from having to pay for a few add-ons although you can still pick a few features if you want to.

If you don’t already have an Amazon Prime membership then you would be well served by the Better Unlimited option. 15GB of hotspot access is plenty for most people, and the $10 per month increase over the Basic Unlimited plan is less than a Prime membership normally costs.

Metro by T-Mobile vs the competition

Metro by T Mobile logo on phone stock photo 2

The fact that Metro by T-Mobile isn’t a true MVNO can make it difficult to compare to other carriers. It’s in a unique position as a division of T-Mobile, but it’s also a prepaid carrier without post-paid options. With that in mind, we’ll stack it against Verizon’s Visible, AT&T’s Cricket Wireless, and Google Fi. You can learn more about all of our favorite prepaid and no-contract plans right here.

 Metro by T-Mobile Better UnlimitedVisibleCricket Wireless Cricket MoreGoogle Fi Unlimited
Cost$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$120 for three lines
$120 for four lines
$40 per line$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$110 for three lines
$130 for four lines
$70 for one line
$60 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$45 for four lines
Talk and TextUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
DataUnlimited up to 35GBUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited up to 22GB 4G LTE
Host NetworkT-MobileVerizonAT&TT-Mobile
US Cellular
InternationalAvailableNot AvailableMexico and Canada usage up to 50%
Texting to 37 countries
Free calls to over 50 countries
Free texts and data abroad
Extras100GB Google One storage
Amazon Prime
15GB Mobile hotspot
Mobile hotspotStandard Definition streaming
15GB Mobile hotspot
Full-speed hotspot
Google One membership

Visible

Visible, like Metro, is a wholly-owned subsidiary carrier. However, it relies on the Verizon network and swaps some of the perks for a lower base price. There’s only one plan to choose, and it offers unlimited talk, text, and data. The plan also allows for hotspot access, but there are no international add-ons and Verizon makes no mention of 5G access.

Party Pay is what really sets Visible apart, as you can join three other friends and each pay as little as $25 per month. One late payer doesn’t hurt the others, and you’ll all save money. Visible has no physical stores though, so customer service can be a challenge.

Highlights:

  • One plan, one rate
  • Everything is unlimited

Cricket Wireless

Cricket’s most expensive option, the Cricket More plan, offers the best Cricket has to offer along with 15GB of a monthly hotspot. You can text 37 other countries and you can even use your service in Canada or Mexico as long as it’s less than 50% of your overall usage.

Many of the best Cricket features are available as add-ons, so it’s easy to run your bill up by a few bucks. However, that’s really the secret to unlocking Cricket’s full potential. Options include more hotspot, better international access, and extra data on select plans.

Highlights:

  • Customizable service with add-ons
  • 15GB of hotspot included

Google Fi

Google Fi isn’t owned by a single carrier, and that’s good news for you when it comes to service. The hybrid MVNO uses T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular towers to constantly switch to the best signal available. Fi supports an absolutely massive list of phones, covering options from many major US manufacturers as well as Huawei and even Red Hydrogen.

As for the plan, Google Fi’s unlimited plan is a great international option. You can call over 50 countries and territories for free, and contact with other areas can start at just one penny. Each line gets unlimited data up to 22GB, a Google One membership, and full-speed hotspot tethering.

Highlights:

  • Impressive phone support
  • Plenty of international connection
  • Google One membership included

Metro by T-Mobile alternatives that use the same network

There are a number of other ways to get similar access to T-Mobile’s network and keep cash in your pocket at the same time. Some of the options may not be as well-known, but Mint Mobile and Google Fi are two names that are hard to miss.

Check out the table below for your best options:

 Google FiMint MobileStraight TalkUS Mobile
CostFlexible plan starts at $20 for one line and $10 per GB of data
Unlimited starts at $70 per line
Plans start at $25 per month after intro promoBasic plans start at $30 per month
Unlimited plans start at $35 per month
Build your own plan for as little as $5 per month
Unlimited starts at $40 per month
Talk & TextUnlimitedUnlimitedBasic plan includes 1,500 minutes
Unlimited on other plans
As little as 75 minutes and 50 texts
Up to unlimited
DataPay per GB on the Flexible plan
Unlimited up to 22GB on the Unlimited plan
3GB for $25
8GB for $35
12GB for $45
Basic plan includes 100MB
Other plans range from 5GB to unlimited
As little as 50MB
Up to unlimited
HotspotFull-speed available at per GB rate
Full speed available with unlimited
Included with your data cap10GB hotspot included with unlimited (Not available with AT&T SIMs)Included with custom plans
Add-ons available
InternationalFlexible includes unlimited texts, low rate for calls, $10 per GB
Unlimited includes data and texts, low rate for calls outside of included list
Calling to Mexico and CanadaGlobal calling cards availableUp to 10GB free
Traveller and Jetsetter add-ons available
ExtrasFlexible plan has a monthly cost cap
Unlimited includes a Google One membership
Free SIM CardNonePick your perks with multi-line unlimited plans

Google Fi

We’ve talked about Fi already above, but it might help to see the information again for comparison’s sake. It’s a great fit if you plan to pay per gig or you expect to go abroad often. You’ll never pay more than a certain price per month, even if you use mountains of per-gig data. Fi’s reliance on multiple networks also means that you can always get the best signal available — even abroad.

Mint Mobile

If you’re looking for solid options with limited data plans, Mint Mobile is an affordable alternative. You can opt for 3GB all the way to 12GB, and each plan is less than $45 per month for one line. There are no streaming perks like Netflix or Hulu, but long term plans can slash your prices even lower.

Straight Talk

One of the easiest MVNOs to sign up for, Straight Talk is available at most Walmart locations and actually supports most of the main carriers. You can go for a limited talk option with just a little bit of data, or spend more for unlimited service. Affordability is key, so you’ll pay a bit extra for bonus features like international access, but Straight Talk is an easy way to grab the basics.

US Mobile

If you want a plan that’s perfectly tailored to your needs, US Mobile is the way to go. You can choose your ideal level of talk, text, and data for as little as $5 per month or go unlimited for $40. 5G access will cost you a little extra, but it’s nice to know that it’s available. When you add multiple lines of unlimited you’ll get the chance to add subscription services like Disney Plus, Spotify, and Playstation Plus.

What phones can you use on Metro by T-Mobile?

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus back of the phone

Metro by T-Mobile is a low-cost division of T-Mobile, so it only makes sense that the carrier is skewed towards affordable devices, Sure, you can grab the iPhone 11 or the Galaxy S20, but the real value is in devices like the LG K51 or Galaxy A11. Both are available for less than $200, and most of Metro’s devices slot in at less than $400.

If you want to bring your own device, a Metro by T-Mobile SIM card is just $10. However, you’ll have to make sure that your phone works with the network first. It’s a GSM network now — Metro’s CDMA setup ended in 2015 — so you’ll do well to bring an AT&T or T-Mobile device.

As always, the most important factor is band support. Without the right bands, your phone won’t be very useful. Check the table below for a full breakdown.

FrequencyBandNetwork Supported
1900MHz22G
3G
4G LTE
1700/2100MHz4
66
4G LTE
700MHz124G LTE
600MHz714G LTE
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