Your guide

T-Mobile logo

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

T-Mobile is the third-largest carrier in the US, with a subscriber base of 86 million. Its merger with Sprint finalized in early 2020, further boosting its nationwide profile. As a result, you may find yourself rolled into the magenta family. It poses added questions if you’re looking to pursue prepaid service though, so here’s everything you could ever wonder about T-Mobile’s prepaid plans.

See also: The best T-Mobile deals

On this page, we’ll dig into your options for prepaid service as well as information about phones compatible with the network. If you’re thinking of switching carriers, we’ve also compared T-Mobile prepaid to the other main carriers as well as a few MVNOs. Ready to learn more about the Un-Carrier’s prepaid service? Let’s dig in.

T-Mobile at a glance

5g map t mobile

Credit: T-Mobile

T-Mobile USA first launched in July 1998, but arguably didn’t truly become a real force to reckon with until 2013 with the debut of its Uncarrier movement. During this time T-Mobile introduced many changes to the mobile industry, ending long-term contracts and subsidized phones in favor of upgradeable installment plans. T-Mobile also became known for its not-so-typical CEO, John Legere — a man best known for jabbing at the competition and for his regular use of profanity.

Its changes run much deeper than colorful marketing. The carrier is very committed to investing in IoT, 5G, AI, and expanding its network across every corner of the United States. Most recently, T-Mobile completed its merger with Sprint. This newly combined network helps close the gap between T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. The new T-mobile also opens up a new chapter for the company’s leadership, as John Legere is no longer the CEO. 

T-Mobile has a reputation for doing things differently. And it's paid off!

T-Mobile’s coverage extends into all 50 states, and the carrier boasts the largest 5G network. It is currently reforming Sprint’s 5G network with a goal to serve 99% of all Americans within the next six years. In the meantime, its powerful 4G LTE network already reaches 99% of the United States (including Puerto Rico.) Check out T-Mobile’s product map for more details. 

If you are looking for a carrier with a history for going against the grain, T-Mobile is a great choice. It doesn’t hurt that the carrier has some of the most aggressive pricing in the industry. However, no carrier is perfect. According to the Better Business Bureau, T-Mobile has an A-rating but averages just over one star out of five in 297 customer reviews. The company has closed 16,966 customer complaints in the last three years with 4,354 of those coming in the past 12 months.

Pre-paid T-Mobile plans

 T-Mobile ConnectSimply PrepaidSimply Prepaid UnlimitedSimply Prepaid Unlimited Plus
Maximum connected lines5555
Cost2GB for $15
5GB for $25
$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 lines
$140 for four lines
$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$120 for three lines
$150 for four lines
Domestic Talk & TextUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Domestic Data2GB or 5GB10GBUnlimitedUnlimited
HotspotFull speeds up to data capFull speeds up to data capUnlimited 3GUp to 10GB 4G LTE
Coverage in Canada and MexicoNot availableAvailable for $5 per monthAvailable for $5 per monthAvailable for $5 per month
Music UnlimitedNot availableIncludedIncludedIncluded

T-Mobile has four options that should meet your needs. The relatively limited Connect plan is your best bet to save some cash, but the Simply Prepaid plans are good if you want to get close to post-paid perks. Learn more about each one below:

T-Mobile Connect

The T-Mobile Connect plan is the most affordable option around. It keeps things simple with just two options — a $15 plan with 2GB of 4G LTE data or a $25 plan with 5GB of 4G LTE data. Both plans offer unlimited talk and text, a common theme among T-Mobile’s offerings.

If 2GB of data doesn’t seem like much, T-Mobile will boost your cap by 500MB per year for the first five years you stay on the Connect plan. In theory, you can get 4.5GB per month for just $15 or 7.5GB for $25 per month just for sticking around.

Connect highlights:

  • 2GB or 5GB 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Mobile hotspot available at full 4G LTE speeds up to your data cap

Best for:

  • Low data users who talk and text often
  • Users who expect to use more data over time

Simply Prepaid

T-Mobile’s feature-rich prepaid plans with higher data caps fall under the Simply Prepaid umbrella, and the most affordable tier offers 10GB of 4G LTE data. The plan costs $40 for one line, $35 for two lines, and just $30 per month for each line after that.

Domestic talk and text are unlimited, and you get mobile hotspot access at full speeds up to your data cap. If you reach your 10GB limit in a single billing cycle, you’ll be throttled down to 2G speeds for the rest of the month. You can add 5GB of 4G data as well as talk and text in Canada and Mexico for another $5 per month.

Simply Prepaid highlights:

  • 10GB of 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Up to 10GB of mobile hotspot data
  • Starts at $40 per month

Best for:

  • Users who want plenty of data at a low cost
  • Users who plan to use limited hotspot

Simply Prepaid Unlimited

The Simply Prepaid Unlimited plan is similar to the basic Simply Prepaid plan in many ways. Domestic talk and text remain included, and for $10 more per month, you get unlimited 4G LTE data. Each line after the first line of service costs an additional $30 per month, and you can access unlimited mobile hotspot at 3G speeds.

If you use 50GB of 4G LTE data in a single billing cycle you may be deprioritized, but you can add the same international options as offered in the Simply Prepaid plan.

Simply Prepaid Unlimited highlights:

  • Unlimited 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 3G mobile hotspot included
  • $50 per month for the first line, $30 for each additional line

Best for:

  • Users who plan to add multiple lines to their plan
  • Users who want to get the most from their data, talk, and text

Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus

The final prepaid option, Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus, is the one to pick if you’re a heavy-duty data user with a serious need for a mobile hotspot. You get unlimited talk, text, and data as you’d expect, as well as up to 10GB of 4G LTE hotspot data and unlimited 3G speeds thereafter. T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus plan costs $60 per month for one line and $30 per month for each additional line.

Just like the previous options, international talk, text, and data are available for additional fees. Thanks to Music Unlimited, you can stream licensed songs to your heart’s content without counting against your data usage.

Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus highlights:

  • Unlimited 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 10GB of 4G LTE hotspot followed by unlimited 3G
  • $60 per month for one line, $30 for each additional line

Best for:

  • Users who want a fast hotspot with no limits
  • Users who rely on data to stay productive

Which of T-Mobile’s prepaid plans is right for you?

t-mobile pink t logo at mwc 2019

Which T-Mobile Prepaid plan is right for you comes down to how much hotspot data you want. The Connect plan and Simply Prepaid plan both offer limited hotspot access, though both are available at full speeds. If you jump to Simply Unlimited or Simply Unlimited Plus you’ll get unlimited hotspot at varying speeds.

If you need the fastest plan around, then you’ll want Simply Unlimited Plus for its 10GB of 4G LTE. Simply Unlimited is better for occasional use though, an unlimited 3G hotspot is plenty enough for most people. All three of the Simply Prepaid options also offer the same international access and every plan has unlimited talk and text.

T-Mobile Prepaid vs the competition

Sprint Verizon T Mobile and Verizon carriers stock photo 2

The easiest way to pick the right carrier is to talk about your best options in a head-to-head challenge. We’ve stacked the Simply Prepaid heavyweights against your best bets from AT&T and Verizon. You’ll notice that Metro by T-Mobile is here too, as its unique place as a T-Mobile division is a bit different than your average MVNO. All of our plans come from the Best prepaid and no-contract plans in the US if you want to do more research.

 Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus (T-Mobile)Prepaid Unlimited Plus (AT&T)Prepaid Unlimited (Verizon)Unlimited (Metro by T-Mobile)
Cost$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$120 for three lines
$150 for four lines
$75 per line$65 per line$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$120 for three lines
$120 for four lines
Talk and TextUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
DataUnlimited
5G Access
Unlimited up to 22GB 4G LTE
5G Access
UnlimitedUnlimited up to 35GB 4G LTE
5G Access
HotspotUp to 10GB 4G LTEUp to 10GB 4G LTEUp to 10GB 4G LTE for $5 per monthUp to 15GB 4G LTE
StreamingStandard Definition (480p)High Definition (1080p)Standard Definition (480p)Standard Definition (480p)
InternationalAvailable for $5 to $15 per monthUnlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada
Roaming in Mexico and Canada
Unlimited text to over 100 countries
Unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada
Calls, texts, and data in Canada and Mexico
Unlimited texts to over 200 countries
International access available
ExtrasMusic UnlimitedSave $25 with autopaySave with a loyalty discount100GB Google One storage
Amazon Prime membership

Verizon prepaid

As the largest US-based carrier, Verizon can give T-Mobile a run for its money. Its prepaid unlimited plan starts at just $65 per month and gets cheaper the longer you stay with Big Red. As usual, unlimited talk, text, and data are included. However, you’ll pay more for hotspot access if you need it.

Verizon’s prepaid plans offer some solid international access — talk and text to Canada and Mexico as well as texting to hundreds of countries. If you want 5G access, however, Verizon makes no mention of its speedy service when it comes to prepaid options.

Highlights:

  • Ample international access
  • Loyalty discounts
  • Hotspot access

AT&T prepaid

Not to be outdone, America’s second-largest carrier has solid prepaid service of its own. It’s expensive at $75 per month, but autopay drops that bill down to $50. AT&T’s Unlimited Plus plan offers unlimited 4G LTE data as well as 5G access where available.

It’s the plan to beat when it comes to streaming — 10GB of hotspot access and HD streaming are both included. Unlimited Plus even adds talk, text, and roaming in Canada and Mexico along with texting to 100 countries.

Highlights:

  • Save $25 per month with autopay
  • Unlimited data and 5G access included
  • International texting to 100 countries

Metro by T-Mobile

Metro is a horse of a different color when it comes to T-Mobile alternatives. It’s technically a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Un-Carrier, but it does things its own way. Unlike most prepaid plans which are slim on perks, Metro’s best unlimited option offers 15GB of a hotspot, 100GB of Google One storage, and even an Amazon Prime membership.

While international access will cost you extra, each added line of service costs just $30. The Prime membership is actually cheaper through Metro than it would be if you bought it straight from Amazon.

Highlights:

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

Looking for other MVNOs that use T-Mobile’s network?

There are several MVNOs that rely on the Un-Carrier for service. For true MVNOs, look no further than the likes of Mint Mobile and Google Fi. Metro by T-Mobile is a slightly different prepaid option, but it should do the trick too.

Check out more research here:

 Google FiMetro by T-MobileMint MobileStraight TalkUS Mobile
CostFlexible plan starts at $20 for one line and $10 per GB of data
Unlimited starts at $70 per line
$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$120 for three lines
$120 for four lines
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 & TextUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedBasic 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
Unlimited up to 35GB3GB 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
15GB includedIncluded 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
Available as an add-onCalling 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
Google One membership
Amazon Prime membership
Free SIM CardNonePick your perks with multi-line unlimited plans

Google Fi

The carrier made by Google is a great fit if you plan to pay per gig or you expect to go abroad often. With monthly bill limits, you’ll never pay past a certain point even if you use mountains of data. Thanks to Fi’s reliance on multiple networks, you can always get the best signal available — even abroad.

Metro by T-Mobile

We’ve already mentioned Metro as a T-Mobile prepaid alternative, but its perks and plans make the MVNO a solid choice no matter your needs. If you opt for unlimited service, you’ll be rewarded with 15GB of hotspot included as well as Google One and Amazon Prime memberships. Unfortunately, you’ll have to head into a Metro store to sign up for most services.

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile, the carrier owned by Ryan Reynolds, is an affordable alternative for service if you only want limited data. Plans range from 3GB to 12GB and you’ll never pay more than $45 per month for one line of service. You may not get much by way of extra perks, but if you sign up for multi-month plans you’ll save even more money.

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 T-Mobile Prepaid?

OnePlus 8 cameras macro 2

Like many prepaid carriers and MVNOs, T-Mobile places a particular emphasis on midrange phones to pair with its service. You can grab the latest OnePlus 8 or the LG V60, but the real value comes from devices like the LG K51 or the Galaxy A21. Both will run you less than $300, or you can opt for the iPhone SE for $400. Our list of the Best T-Mobile phones may help to provide a better picture of your options.

It’s easy to bring your phone to T-Mobile Prepaid as well, especially if you love your device or you recently grabbed a new one. The rules are pretty much the same as normal T-Mobile service — make sure you’re bringing a GSM capable device such as one from AT&T. Verizon and Sprint phones rely on CDMA, so you’ll face a challenge bringing either one.

See also: The best phone deals

Of course, the end-all-be-all for bringing your own device is band support. If your phone doesn’t support the correct list then you won’t be able to take advantage of the full network, simple as that. Check out the table below for all of the bands used by T-Mobile Prepaid.

FrequencyBandNetwork Supported
39GHzN2605G mmWave
28GHzN2615G mmWave
1900MHz22G
3G
4G LTE
1700/2100MHz4
66
3G and 4G LTE
4G LTE
850MHz54G LTE
700MHz124G LTE
600MHz714G LTE
5G

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Did T-Mobile buy Sprint and what does this mean for customers new and old?
A:
Yes, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger is now complete, with the new brand simply keeping the T-Mobile name.

Q: What does the Sprint and T-Mobile merger mean for its customers?
A: Existing T-Mobile customers won’t see many immediate changes, though they can expect better service coverage. Sprint users will note a few changes, including the ability to roam into T-Mobile’s network with no extra charges. T-Mobile has also shut down the Sprint 5G network, though Sprint users will have access via T-Mobile’s 5G network in supported areas. For now, the Sprint name will continue to be used for legacy customers, but eventually, T-Mobile will phase out the Sprint brand completely.

Q: Who owns T-Mobile?
A:
This question used to be a lot easier to answer, prior to the Sprint and T-Mobile merger. Deutsche Telekom is still the majority owner of the new T-Mobile, controlling around 43 percent. Softbank is the second-largest controlling part, with around a 24 percent cut. The rest of the shares are held by outside shareholders.  

Q: How do you unlock a T-Mobile phone?
A: You can unlock your T-Mobile phone for use with another network as long as you meet certain requirements including an account in good standing, a fully paid for device active on the network for at least 40 days for postpaid accounts, and a few other hoops for prepaid. For more specific instruction, head over to T-Mobile. 

Q: Is T-Mobile GSM or CDMA?
A: Technically T-Mobile supports GSM, alongside its LTE and 5G standards. That said, former Sprint customers will have CDMA based phones. That means technically T-Mobile runs on all standards for now, though the CDMA network will be phased out in time.