Article updated on May 7, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Best T-Mobile Plans: How to Choose and Which Ones to Pick in May 2024

T-Mobile has at least seven plans listed on its website. We try to make sense of them all.

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Eli Blumenthal
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Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
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Our Picks

See at T-Mobile
T-Mobile logo on a phone
Essentials Saver for 1 or 2 lines, Essentials for 3 or more
Best T-Mobile plan for most people: Essentials Saver or Essentials
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T-Mobile logo on a phone
The upgrade pick for those who want perks like Netflix and faster international data
T-Mobile Magenta, Magenta Max (1 or 2 lines), Go5G and Go5G Plus (3 or more)
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T-Mobile logo on a maroon background

When it comes to wireless plans, T-Mobile has plenty to choose from. Like all of the major US carriers, T-Mobile offers a wide variety of different options all under the promise of "unlimited" talk, text and data. Unlike its rivals, however, the carrier doesn't have just three main plans to pick from. Looking at its website for a couple of lines and you'll quickly find seven different plans:

  • Essentials
  • Essentials Saver
  • Go5G
  • Go5G Plus
  • Go5G Next
  • Magenta
  • Magenta Max

All offer unlimited talk, text and data but all also have different prices, features and perks (and this list isn't even including promotional plans). Which ones should you consider? Let's break it down. 

Read More: Our Guide to the Best Cell Phone Plans

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Essentials Saver for 1 or 2 lines, Essentials for 3 or more

Best T-Mobile plan for most people: Essentials Saver or Essentials

The Essentials and Essentials Saver plans are virtually identical in all but name and both options include unlimited talk, text and data with 5G access. Because of some T-Mobile promotions, however, this pick is a bit complicated. 

In short, if you need two lines, Essentials Saver is your best pick, while those looking for three or more lines may want to go with regular Essentials. 

With either choice you get 50GB of high-speed data, though both options lack perks like international roaming (beyond 2G-like speeds in Canada and Mexico), the inclusion of taxes and fees in the sticker price or streaming perks like bundled in Netflix, Apple TV Plus or Hulu subscriptions. Those on this plan also won't necessarily get T-Mobile's best offers for upgrading devices. 

All the deals also require that you set up AutoPay and paperless billing. And unlike its rivals, T-Mobile doesn't offer any options to "mix and match" plans so everyone would have to be on the same main option here.

A single line of Essentials Saver is $50 per month while two lines will run $80 a month. A similar offering from Verizon (Unlimited Welcome), by comparison, costs $110 per month while plans from AT&T (Value Plus VL) run $51 for one line or $102 a month. 

Three lines will also run $90 at T-Mobile for its regular Essentials thanks to a promotion, compared with $120 at Verizon (for Unlimited Welcome) and $114 at AT&T (for Value Plus VL). The four-line option is now back to $100 at T-Mobile thanks to that promotion, compared with $120 at Verizon and $124 at AT&T.

You may need to click "see more plans" and then "explore Essentials Saver plan" on T-Mobile's site to get this option to appear, though lately it has been listed alongside its regular plans. 

See at T-Mobile

The upgrade pick for those who want perks like Netflix and faster international data

T-Mobile Magenta, Magenta Max (1 or 2 lines), Go5G and Go5G Plus (3 or more)

For most people, T-Mobile's Magenta and Magenta Max options are the better pick when it comes to looking for perks for one or two lines. They're cheaper than the Go5G options and have most of the same features, except with a lower monthly rate ($70 for one line on Magenta, $120 for two lines; $85 for one line on Magenta Max, $140 for two lines). 

You get less hotspot and international data with a Magenta plan compared with a Go5G option, and Magenta Max users also don't get the same ability to upgrade to a new device after two years while taking advantage of T-Mobile's best device deals. 

Similar to what it has done with the Essentials plans, thanks to T-Mobile offering a free third line on its Go5G options those plans become cheaper and a better value compared to the Magentas if you need three or more lines.

Among the benefits of Magenta and Go5G ($75 a month for one line, $155 a month for four lines) are unlimited international data (albeit at slow "2G speeds") when traveling in over 210 countries, an hour of in-flight Wi-Fi on several airlines, T-Mobile Tuesdays weekly giveaways, the bundling of Netflix's Standard with Ads plan (which is $7 a month) and six free months of Apple TV Plus. 

Its pricier Magenta Max and Go5G Plus ($90 a month for one line, $185 a month for four lines) plans keep the Netflix Standard with Ads plan, include a full subscription to Apple TV Plus, ups the hotspot data from 15GB on Go5G to 50GB per month on Go5G Plus, adds 5GB of high-speed international data and gives you unlimited Wi-Fi on a host of flights including those from American, Alaska Airlines, Delta and United. Go5G Plus also has 15GB of high-speed data in Canada and Mexico, compared to 10GB on Go5G and 5GB on Magenta and Magenta Max. 

Unlike its Essentials plans discussed earlier, T-Mobile also includes taxes and fees with the pricing of its Magenta and Go5G plans.

Like the Essentials offerings, however, you can't "mix and match" lines, so everyone in your family would need to be on the same plan. That said, if only one line needs perks like faster international data, you should consider Magenta (if you only have one or two lines) or Go5G (if you need three or more lines), with the MaxUp or PlusUp $15 per line add-on. This will let your other lines get a cheaper rate while allowing you to bolster your international data to tap into the Go5G Plus or Magenta Max offerings for the lines that need it without pushing everyone onto a pricier option.

It is worth noting that you will need to call or chat with T-Mobile to get the Magenta options, as the carrier has hidden the plans under a "see more available plans" tab and then a "learn more" link on its website.

How we test

Picking a wireless plan and carrier is an individualized process. What works for you and your family's needs may be vastly different from your friends or neighbors. Even geographically, some areas have better AT&T coverage while others work best on Verizon or T-Mobile (and vice versa). The picks we make are based on over a decade of covering and evaluating wireless carriers, their offerings and their performance. 

Since choosing a provider is unique, we focus on larger plans and the value they provide; as well as calling out ways you can test the different networks in your area for yourself so you can make the best pick.

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Factors to consider: Know your area

As we covered in our other wireless guides, to get the best deal you need to make sure you have the coverage that you need. This makes it hard to give a blanket recommendation of any one carrier. T-Mobile's service in New York may be excellent, but if you're in rural Iowa, Verizon is more reliable. 

While your mileage may vary, the good news is that these networks are growing and improving all the time, particularly as the three major players race to blanket the US with 5G. It's quite possible that you left a network complaining about its sparse service a decade ago, but now it's beefed itself up because of that race to acquire customers.

If you know any friends or family in your area that already use the carrier you're considering, ask about their experience. You could also go to a carrier's store and see if they offer any free ways to try out the service before switching over, such as T-Mobile's Network Pass. Verizon offers a similar 30-day "Test Drive" program, while the Cricket prepaid service has its own trial program that lets you sample parent AT&T's network.

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T-Mobile plans FAQs

What about Go5G Next?

T-Mobile's latest top plan, called Go5G Next, is its priciest. A single line runs $100 per month, while if you have four lines on an account it would be $225 each month or $56.25 per line (in both cases assuming you have automatic payments and paper-free billing enabled). 

What you get for that price is the bundling of Hulu with ads and the ability to upgrade your phone every year while taking advantage of T-Mobile's latest device upgrade offers. Otherwise, it's largely the same as Go5G Plus, which lets you upgrade your device with the latest offers every two years. 

For most people, we'd recommend staying away from this plan. It's likely too pricey for what you're getting when T-Mobile has much better options available. 

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Do I need to change my T-Mobile plan when I upgrade my phone?

You don't necessarily need to change plans when you upgrade your phone, but you may need to move plans if you want the carrier's best deals. 

T-Mobile has been reserving some of its best deals for those who are on its priciest plans. For example, its top iPhone 15 Pro deals generally require the priciest Go5G Plus or Go5G Next plans (and potentially for you to add a new line or switch from a different carrier). 

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Are there discounts to lower my T-Mobile bill?

Yes, like its rivals T-Mobile offers a variety of discounts depending on your age, employer or profession. Teachers, military, first responders and more can take advantage of various programs that could save you significant money on your bill. It also offers special pricing for those age 55 or above (though with a max of two lines on an account).

It's worth noting that these discounts are often for the whole account. If you have three lines and one of those users is a first responder or a teacher, your entire family can benefit from the savings. 

Some of these discounts have caps on the amount of lines that can benefit, so make sure to check the details when signing up.

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