Many mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) run over T-Mobile’s network. In many cases, these carriers offer wireless plans that are far less expensive than similar plans offered directly by T-Mobile.
Best T-Mobile MVNOs
I’m a huge fan of Mint Mobile. The carrier offers ridiculously cheap service over T-Mobile’s network. Mint’s plans include 3-35 gigabytes of high-speed data each month along with unlimited minutes and texts. Plans are priced at as low as $15 per month.
While T-Mobile’s Connect plans are offered by T-Mobile itself (rather than a true MVNO), these plans are excellent for subscribers that don’t need a lot of data. The plans come with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and high-priority data. A plan with a monthly data allotment of 2GB costs $15 per month. A 5GB plan costs $25 per month.
List of T-Mobile MVNOs
|Mint Mobile||4,000,000||✔||Mint is owned by Ultra Mobile.|
|Metro by T-Mobile||19,000,000|
|TracFone||10,000,000||Additional subscribers may use other carriers that are part of TracFone. An América Móvil (TracFone's parent company) report covering performance in the 4th quarter of 2018 indicates the company had roughly 22 million lines in the U.S.|
|Straight Talk*||9,000,000||Straight Talk is a TracFone brand.|
|NET10 Wireless*||3,000,000||NET10 is part of TracFone|
|Walmart Family Mobile||1,000,000|
|Simple Mobile*||1,000,000||Simple Mobile is a TracFone brand.|
|Google Fi||500,000||Fi-enabled devices can simultaneously access T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular's networks. Other device will use only T-Mobile's network.|
|Red Pocket Mobile||200,000|
|GoSmart Mobile*||GoSmart Mobile is a TracFone brand.|
|Telcel*||Telcel is a TracFone Brand|
|Clearway Wireless*||Clearway is a TracFone brand. I believe Clearway works with all of the Big Four networks, but I'm not confident.|
T-Mobile coverage and quality
T-Mobile’s network does not offer coverage as extensive as what Verizon and AT&T’s networks offer, but T-Mobile’s coverage is superior to Sprint’s coverage.1 I discuss nationwide reliability in far more detail in another article.
Where T-Mobile offers coverage, speeds tend to be solid. In Opensignal’s crowdsourced speed tests, T-Mobile tends to do well.2 For more information about how you can evaluate the quality of T-Mobile’s network in areas where you spend time, see How to Evaluate Wireless Service Quality.
Phone compatibility with T-Mobile MVNOs
In most cases, unlocked GSM phones and phones that are carrier-locked to T-Mobile will work with MVNOs that use T-Mobile’s network.
T-Mobile’s LTE service generally operates over bands are 2, 4, 12, 66, and 71. If you’re purchasing a new device, I suggest considering a nearly universal unlocked phone so that you have the freedom to switch between major U.S. networks in the future without having to purchase a new device.
Downsides to T-Mobile MVNOs
Subscribers using T-Mobile-based MVNOs may be prioritized behind some direct T-Mobile subscribers. Accordingly, customers using MVNOs may experience especially slow data speeds during periods of network congestion.
Subscribers on MVNO’s that use T-Mobile’s network may not have the same roaming capabilities that many of T-Mobile’s direct subscribers have.
Some of the MVNO’s listed above offer service over multiple networks, not only T-Mobile. The list also includes some carriers that may not strictly qualify as MVNOs; T-Mobile’s own prepaid brand and T-Mobile’s flanker brand, Metro, appear on the list.
I have financial relationships with many wireless carriers, including multiple T-Mobile MVNOs. Details about my financial arrangements can be found on my transparency page.