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The latest update on low-cost mobile plans with T-Mobile One vs Magenta vs 55+ vs. True

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OK, time once again to look at the cost of cellular, last week, we had visited with Pete and Dave, so it a good time to review the cost of cellular plans. About five years ago, we switched from Verizon to T-Mobile. Thanks again, Mike for the “join discount” which was 20% or so as I remember.

T-Mobile One has really served us well over the years with a cost of something like $138 for five lines which was much lower than the $280 or so we were paying on Verizon or about $27/line plus $20/month for iPad and $10/month for an Apple Watch. They also have a $2 rebate called the Kickback discount if you don’t go over 2-3GB per month which we sometimes do 🙂

Also, coverage at least on the West Coast and in the Northeast is decent enough these days. So the obvious changes to make are to get rid of the $10/month Apple Watch, which is pretty expensive for a watch plan and I was thinking I would need it for emergencies, but the iPhone Pro Max we have has so much battery life, we really haven’t needed a backup.

But, it’s always a good idea to look at things again and a few things stood out:

  1. T-Mobile Magenta. They have a new plan, although the T-Mobile One is grandfathered so no changes there. The big changes seem to be that it is more expensive (the cost goes up by about $10 per line) and the main advantage seems to be 5GB of 4G tethered data access vs only 3G tethering and SD streaming (important if you are doing a lot of that, most of our streaming is in a WiFi are). This is something that we don’t use that much in reality, so will probably stay on T-Mobile One. The gross cost is $32/line so $160 assuming you prepay
  2. Magenta Max. They give unlimited Go-Go inflight WiFi, but we are finding that one hour is enough for most uses. This adds $8/line to $40/line and with 2 or more lines, you get Netflix Standard as well as 40GB (that’s a lot) and 4K UHD Streaming, so this makes sense if you are using your phone s your main way to the Internet.
  3. Potentially More discounts if you are 55+, Military for First r\Responders, they do have special plans now for certain categories. With Magenta 55+ they say it is $35/line up to four lines (a little confusing since regular Magenta is $32/line, the confusion is that there is a $5/month rebate if you prepay the plan, so the $35 is really $30, so you get an 8% discount if you have four lines or less. The main issue here is that these discounts don’t oftentimes work as well as getting Magenta with their promotion (in this case, the third line is on them in the current promotion, Magenta is cheaper than 55+).
  4. Lost-cost MVNOs, there are a bunch of folks offering low-cost that are riding on the T-mobile network. For instance, ting has a $25/month unlimited plan and tello has a $7 1GB of data plan with 500 free minutes per line per month. This makes huge sense if you don’t use the phone that much except for data in WiFi. The 2GB for $14 is also a great deal.

Optimizing T-Mobile One

Net, net, given our usage, it probably doesn’t make sense to move from the T-Mobile one plan, but to make some alternations:

  1. Also, the iPad plan looks pretty expensive too at $20/month but this is for unlimited data, they now have plans that are more like $5/month for 500MB or 2GB for $10 which will work much better for us I think given that this too its a backup. The T-Mobile plan is unlimited 4G data for $20/month if you have an existing line which is pretty amazing, but we really don’t use that much data.
  2. Eliminate the Apple Watch plan, that one looks pretty crazy expensive and I had paused it, but now I’m wondering if I will really use it. The main pain is that you can’t just discontinue these plans, you have to text/call T-mobile (I’ve been on for an hour now texting with some one :- ) There is a separate $5/month that works better for wearables so it makes sense to drop out of T-mobile One for that one.
  3. Also note that Apple and T-mobile have a $200 virtual Mastercard if you sign up for a plan that is 10GB or higher, but it isn’t clear if a grandfathered plan will work for this. But, you need to make sure that you have not canceled any lines 90 days before it. The promotion itself is complicated, you buy a mobile internet line 10GB or higher and you then go to promotions.t-mobile.com and use the promo code 2021APPLERETAILIPAD, and then you get in 5-7 weeks a Mastercard. You will also need to take a photo of your box with the IMEI clear on it and a photo of the receipt from Apple.

So after the full analysis, basically, T-Mobile is a good value for right now, but if you really want to optimize, we might try a Tello plan for a phone that isn’t using that much data or perhaps for one of the iPads. $20/month for unlimited data is nice, but we don’t use that so maybe the Tello $10/month with 2GB is a good alternative, basically move off the T-Mobile one plan onto one of their ordinary data plans.

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