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.
List of T-Mobile MVNOs
|Mint Mobile||1,000,000||Strongly||Mint is owned by Ultra Mobile.|
|Red Pocket Mobile||200,000|
|T-Mobile Prepaid||2,000,000||Strongly*||I strongly recommend T-Mobile's prepaid Connect plans.|
|NET10 Wireless*||3,000,000||NET10 is part of TracFone|
|TracFone||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.|
|Walmart Family Mobile||1,000,000|
|GoSmart Mobile*||GoSmart Mobile is a TracFone brand.|
|Straight Talk*||9,000,000||Straight Talk is a TracFone brand.|
|Simple Mobile*||1,000,000||Simple 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.|
|Metro by T-Mobile||19,000,000|
Best T-Mobile MVNOs
- Unlimited data at 128Kbps after allotted high-speed data is used1
- Mobile hotspot at no extra charge2
- Option to buy additional high-speed data if you run out during a billing cycle3
Mint’s prices vary depending on the duration of service that customers pay for upfront.4
- 3 months: $25/mo
- 6 months: $20/mo
- 12 months: $15/mo
- 3 months: $35/mo
- 6 months: $25/mo
- 12 months: $20/mo
- 3 months: $45/mo
- 6 months: $35/mo
- 12 months: $25/mo
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.5 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.6 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 Ting and Mint Mobile. Details about the arrangements can be found here.
- This is very slow, but it is still useful if you really need to access something online and don’t have high-speed data left.
- Mobile hotspot data pulls from your alloted high-speed data pool. As far as I know, there hotspot data is not otherwise capped or throttled.
- In April 2019, it cost $10 for an additional gigabye of data or $20 for 3 additional gigabytes of data.
- The listed prices are as of 4/21/2019. See Mint Mobile’s plans web page for up-to-date pricing.
- See RootMetrics’ national report.
- I have serious concerns about selection bias that may affect Opensignal’s results. For more details, see my article on Opensignal’s methodology.