Like the mobile version of cord-cutting, prepaid wireless used to be a way for subscribers to avoid signing contracts and to possibly save a few bucks on their monthly bills. However, even with two-year contracts and subsidized pricing for handsets having gone extinct, prepaid has become more appealing than ever, especially when it comes to certain prepaid networks.
For years, MetroPCS has been one of the top prepaid wireless networks in the US. Depending on who you ask, it's even been ranked as the best.
It's also in the exclusive group of network-owned prepaid carriers. In other words, MetroPCS is, as its recent rebranding would suggest, owned by T-Mobile. And as you'll soon see, many of Metro's prepaid plans are similar to T-Mobile's own wireless service plans with an emphasis on unlimited data and bundled services that sweeten the deal.
So which of Metro by T-Mobile's plans offers the best value? And how do you know which is the right plan for you? Don't worry - we're breaking it all down right now.
This is our in-depth breakdown of Metro by T-Mobile's prepaid plans.
MetroPCS Unlimited Plans, From $50 Per Month
Compared to prepaid mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), Metro is a wholly-owned subsidiary of T-Mobile. This allows Metro to offer extremely attractive rates for full-featured plans, including the ever-popular unlimited data plans.
Currently, Metro offers two different unlimited plans for single lines. In terms of the essentials - unlimited minutes, unlimited texting, and unlimited mobile data - both the $50-per-month and the $60-per-month plans are identical. But as you can see, there's a $10 difference between the two. Why?
The amount of hotspot data included is one reason for the price difference. While the $50 plan includes 5GB of hotspot data, the $60 plan include 15GB of hotspot data.
In addition to the hotspot data, both unlimited plans include 100GB of cloud storage from Google One. Then $60 plan also includes an Amazon Prime membership, which is bundled at no extra cost.
Which MetroPCS Unlimited Plan is Right for You?
Since the key differences between the two unlimited plans are (1) the amount of hotspot data and (2) the Amazon Prime membership, deciding which is the best for you comes down to the Amazon Prime membership and hotspot data.
If you aren't interested in Amazon Prime and are unlikely to use mobile hotspot, Metro's $50 plan would be the best value, plain and simple.
However, if you want the included Prime membership, the $60 plan actually offers you a small amount of savings over paying for a monthly Prime subscription directly through Amazon. And if you travel frequently, the $60 plan with triple the hotspot allowance is an even better deal.
MetroPCS Budget Plans, From $30 Per Month
In the world of wireless, budget plans are don't include the bells and whistles of higher-tier plans. By excluding the additional features that some may not want or need, budget plans can be offered at lower rate.
Metro by T-Mobile offers two budget plans at $30 and $40 per month.
The $30-per-month plan offers unlimited minutes, unlimited texting, and 2GB of high-speed data. To be clear, you can continue to use data beyond those 2GB; however, only the first 2GB are at LTE speeds. Any additional data beyond those 2GB are at reduced speeds.
Then there's the $40-per-month plan, which increases the data allowance to 10GB per month. Additionally, the $40 plan adds Music Unlimited.
This budget plan doesn't include hotspot data, Google One storage, or Amazon Prime. However, both the budget plans still include all taxes and associated fees.
1Although many of Metro's plans advertise unlimited data, you may experienced "throttling," or decreased data speeds, if you use over 35GB of data in a single billing cycle.
Which MetroPCS Budget Plan is Right for You?
Metro's budget plans are great deals for anyone who uses his or her smartphone primarily for voice calls and texting with either infrequent or moderate data usage. The $30-per-month plan is particularly simple and straightforward for families since its a flat $30 rate for every single line.
With the $40 plan, you get considerably more monthly data as well as the ability to stream an unlimited amount of music from one of the eligible streaming services.
If you're someone who spends the majority of your time connected to a WiFi network, you will surely find these budget plans sufficient. Overall, both plans are well-suited to individuals and families who are particularly budget-minded.
MetroPCS Family Plans, From $30 Per Line
Every plan that Metro offers can be a family plan for up to four separate lines. This makes finding the right Metro family plan as simple as determining which of the single-line plans works best for each member of your family. From there, it's a very simple formula.
It works like this: For the primary line, you pick a plan. You can choose any of the plans, from the $30 budget plan to the $60 unlimited plan with all the bells and whistles. Then for lines two through four, the rate plan is adjusted by a per-line discount that reduces the cost for each additional line to just $30, regardless of which plan you choose.
If you choose the $60-per-month plan, the first line would cost $60. The per-line discount for the $60 unlimited plan is $30, which makes the cost of each additional line $30. So if you wanted to put three lines on this plan, the cost would be $60 plus $30 plus $30, or $120 per month.
Let's try it with the $50 unlimited plan. The per-line discount on this plan is $20. With four lines, the cost for the first line would be $50. The each of the three additional lines would cost $50 minus the $20 discount, or $30 each. So the final total would be $50 plus $30 plus $30 plus $30, or $140 per month.
The only plan that works differently is the $30-per-month budget plan. Since the plan's cost is already the same as the discounted cost of additional lines on the other plans, the $30 budget plan is simply $30 for every line. In other words, there are no per-line discounts for the $30 budget plan because the plan's cost is already so low.
Which MetroPCS Family Plan is Right for You?
As well-priced and feature-rich as Metro's unlimited and budget plans are, they're even more compelling as family plans. This is largely due to the extremely reasonable per-line cost that is the same for all four of Metro's plans.
In terms of bang-for-buck value, the best Metro family plan would be unlimited plan that costs $60 for the first line and then $30 for each additional line. Because for what you get, you'd only pay $30 more for the top-tier unlimited plan than you'd pay for the bottom-tier plan.
On the other hand, the $30-per-month budget plan provides all the essentials as well as 2GB of high-speed data for each line. Though it lacks the bells and whistles of the unlimited plans - like Google One cloud storage and Amazon Prime - this plan could be a better choice for families on particularly tight budgets, especially if they're connected to wifi networks most of the time.
Now that we've covered the plans in detail, we wanted to take a moment to go over some of the specific features and perks that many of Metro by T-Mobile's plans offer. If you value one or more of the add-ons mentioned below, it will help determine which of the plans is best for you or your family.
Amazon Prime Membership
If you're like 75 percent of Americans, you probably shop on Amazon quite often. You're probably also familiar with the premium membership Amazon offers, called Amazon Prime. But there's something you might not have known: Instead of paying for Prime yourself, one of Metro's unlimited plans actually includes an Amazon Prime membership at no additional cost.
The monthly price of Amazon Prime is normally $12.99, or $119 if paid annually. However, Metro's $60-per-month unlimited plan includes an Amazon Prime membership, meaning you get all the exclusive perks of Amazon Prime at no additional cost to you. Those perks include free two-day shipping on products fulfilled by Amazon, access to exclusive products and discounts, and access to Amazon's streaming video and music services.
$60 Unlimited Plan
100GB of Google One Cloud Storage
Besides Amazon Prime, Metro also bundles cloud storage with some plans. In particular, certain plans come with 100GB of Google One storage. Previously called Google Drive, Google One is a more feature-rich version of Google cloud storage service that doubles as a source of customer support for users of Google/Android products.
However, even if you use an iOS device, you can still make full use of the 100GB of Google One cloud storage, which is a great tool to backup your photos, videos, and other media.
High-Speed Mobile Hotspot
Several of Metro's plans include some amount of high-speed mobile hotspot, which gives you the ability to use your mobile device as your own personal wifi network. When needed, mobile hotspot effectively turns your smartphone into a wireless network to which other devices - e.g. your laptop, tablet, etc. - can connect. It's particularly valuable to professionals who travel frequently.
Normally, streaming music on your mobile device uses a considerable amount of data, which is especially tricky for those on plans with limited or restricted data allotments. However, most of Metro by T-Mobile's plans include a feature called Music Unlimited.
With Music Unlimited, you have the ability to stream an unlimited amount of music without it counting against you. In other words, an hour of streaming music won't affect your daily data usage at all, provided you're using one of the approved music streaming services; however, considering that Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Google Play Music, and more than 40 other services are included in Music Unlimited, it's likely that you could listen to all the music you wanted with no penalties.
Taxes & Fees Included
When T-Mobile announced that all taxes and fees would be included in plan costs, the public rejoined. But it's even more exciting now that Metro by T-Mobile's plans also include taxes and fees. So your monthly bill will remain the exact same amount until you decide to switch to a different plan.
Is Metro by T-Mobile Right for You?
Metro was a compelling option even before T-Mobile rebranded the service and revitalized the plans. With one of the top North American carriers behind it, Metro by T-Mobile offers fairly-priced plans to meet a wide variety of needs. In fact, this is why Metro continues to be one of the top-ranked - if not the top-ranked - prepaid wireless providers around, particularly when it comes to getting the best value.
As coverage reviews have indicated, one of Metro's only major weaknesses is its rural coverage, which is only fair to mention. However, in fairness to Metro, this is more a complaint of T-Mobile than of Metro. Overall, for those who live in urban or suburban areas, there's arguably no better prepaid wireless provider than Metro by T-Mobile, especially when it comes to value and flexibility.