T-Mobile Launches No Contract Unlimited Plan: Is it Right for You?

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My husband has been using T-Mobile for years. He’s been using the unlimited talk and text on his non-smart cell phone for quite some time, and it’s worked well for us. (I’ve been using a non-smart cell phone with Tracfone for years.) Recently, we decided to upgrade both of our phones to smartphones, and, since…

My husband has been using T-Mobile for years. He’s been using the unlimited talk and text on his non-smart cell phone for quite some time, and it’s worked well for us. (I’ve been using a non-smart cell phone with Tracfone for years.)

T-MobileRecently, we decided to upgrade both of our phones to smartphones, and, since we’re not fond of contracts, sticking with T-Mobile seemed like a good idea. We have to pay more up front for our phones, but we also aren’t tethered by a contract – and we’re paying less per month for unlimited talk, text, and data than we’d pay if we went with Verizon, which is our other major option here in town.

Here is a look at our options, and what we’re doing:

Our Cell Phone Costs Before Switching to T-Mobile

Upgrading to the latest iPhone means that we are paying more per month for phone and Internet services than we were before. Before making the switch, we had a home phone through the Internet, paying a total of $93.90 for voice and Internet service.

My husband’s monthly plan cost $50. Since I was on Tracfone, the cost varied according to how much I used the phone, with the monthly cost breaking down to between $4 and $7 per month. If you add all of that up (and assume the higher $7 cost for my Tracfone), the monthly bill came to $150.90.

Our phones were also quite inexpensive, costing about $50 apiece, so $100. Over the course of two years, we paid $3,621.60 for voice services plus Internet. That was a great way to save money to us at the time.

Our Cell Phone Costs with T-Mobile

As part of our switch to T-Mobile, we ported the home phone number to my cell phone and ditched the phone portion of our cable and internet service. This leaves our monthly high-speed Internet at $64.95 per month. My son now has my Tracfone, and will be using it much less than I did (for now anyway), at a monthly cost of about $2. Our new T-Mobile service is $80 for our shared plan with unlimited talk and text. Costs change based on current offers, so you will need to visit the T-Mobile site for current unlimited cell phone plan offers.

To receive unlimited data access, it’s another $20 per month per phone, so our monthly total for the T-Mobile plan is $120. (This plan also comes with 500 MB free Hotspot data.) So, the monthly total cost for voice, messaging, and Internet service is $120 + $2 + $64.95 = $186.95.

We’ve already decided this monthly increase of $36.05 is worth it, since I’ve been able to use my phone for work on the go already, and my husband has made liberal use of the phone as a GPS device.

The phones aren’t subsidized, so they cost $580 (we got the cheapest option). However, you may be able to trade in your old phone to get a discount, or you may be able to use your current phone. T-Mobile may even have offers that allow you to pay off your phone over the course of two years, interest free.

Two year cost for voice, messaging, and Internet service with T-Mobile: $4,486.80. This is an increase over our previous two-year plan, but the added costs give us more flexibility, coverage, and help me with my business. This is a value-added expense in my book.

More Benefits of T-Mobile Unlimited Plans – Free Streaming Music & Video

Unlimited talking and text are attractive features in a cell phone plan. But T-Mobile features another benefit most cell phone providers can’t touch – the T-Mobile “Binge On,” which allows T-Mobile customers to stream unlimited music and video from select partners (available to T-Mobile customers with a 3GB of data plan or larger).

Binge On is a FREE service that allows customers to stream music and video from their favorite streaming services. Note: Streaming from these services do not count against your data limits. However, some of these are premium services that require you to purchase your own separate account.

  • Free Streaming Video (doesn’t count against data limits): includes YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Sling, ESPN, Showtime, Starz and over 100 more streaming video services, without impacting their data limits. (Check with T-Mobile for a current list, as they are working to add more services). Binge On participants also receive one free movie rental a month from VUDU–as long as you have Binge On enabled. Check your T-Mobile account for more details. Note: some streaming services are premium services and require an account.
  • Free Streaming Music (doesn’t count against data limits): Over 45 music streaming services including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, SiriusXM, BandCamp, Tidal Music, and more. Note: some streaming services are premium services and require an account.

Binge On optimizes the video quality for cell phones and tablets, and usually comes in a 480p or better, which is equivalent to a DVD quality picture. That’s actually quite good on a mobile phone or tablet screen. You can opt out if you want to change the quality, though that will count against your limits (unless you are on an unlimited plan) and may result in throttling of your service if you exceed your limits.

Learn more about the T-Mobile Unlimited Plans.

Comparing T-Mobile Unlimited Plans to the Verizon Alternative

Finally, we could have gone with Verizon. The phones are $199.99 apiece, with a two-year contract. However, the monthly cost with Verizon is more. There is the “Share Everything” plan that costs $40 per month. However, that doesn’t cover data access. According to the data estimate, my husband and I use about 16 GB per month (this is consistent with our trend of usage so far). This plan level costs $130 per month, plus the two $40 charges for a total of $210 per month. Add in the home Internet and my son’s $2 per month, and the monthly total is $276.95.

The two-year cost with the phones and the monthly charges is $6,646.80—about $2,200 more over the course of two years. This also doesn’t include the unlimited streaming T-Mobile offers with the “Binge On” feature.

In our case, T-Mobile is the better deal compared to the cost of Verizon – especially if you add in the fact that it costs $350 to cancel the Verizon contract early if you decide to move on before the two years is up. There’s no worry about a cancellation fee with T-Mobile, although if you take the lower pricing on phones with T-Mobile, you’ll still be liable for the monthly charges for the phone hardware.

Want to Change Services to T-Mobile, But Stuck in a Cell Phone Contract?

T-Mobile is one of the few cell phone providers that will reimburse you to change your plan to T-Mobile. They will offer to pay your early termination fees if you switch to T-Mobile, up to $650. You can learn more by visiting the T-Mobile website.

These articles may also be helpful in changing cell phone plans and avoiding early termination fees:

Is the new T-Mobile “Simple Choice” plan right for you? Run the numbers in comparison to other plans to see what’s best for you and your family! Will you save money on your cellphone bill?

What do you think? Would a T-Mobile plan work for you? Leave a comment!

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About Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger. She has contributed to, and been mentioned by, numerous financial web sites, including USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, Consumerist, The Atlantic Wire, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other publications.

Her blog is Miranda Marquit.

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  1. Miranda says

    The point of the article is not strictly to save money overall. It’s a look at T-Mobile’s offering. Almost anytime you decide to get a smartphone, you are going to pay more money. We knew that going in, and decided that, for us, spending the money was worth it. We compared our options (which, for us, really boiled down to T-Mobile and Verizon). I am a firm believer that you prioritize your own spending. Do we *need* smartphones? Of course not. Do we want them? Yes. Have they helped us meet some of our other goals and improved our quality of life? Yes.

    The key is this: Can we afford the increase without damaging our ability to fund other priorities? Yes. We’re not going into debt for these phones. We haven’t cut our retirement account contributions, our emergency fund is still intact, and we still give the same amount to charity. This was a planned purchase and a calculated move. It’s what we decided to spend our money on, so the only real question was which plan/service was going to give us the best value for our smartphone buck.

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