T-Mobile is the oddball carrier in terms of plans and fees. The provider shook things up by ending the two-year contract model and continues to innovate with new offerings for consumers. In terms of fees, it wins the "best" mantle for relatively low, and sometimes nonexistent, extra costs. Unlimited data and texting is also included for customers traveling within more than 100 countries.
Customers save money on T-Mobile fees from the get go. Instead of charging an activation fee in the mid-$30 range on a new contract, as do other carriers, T-Mobile asks only $10 for a SIM starter kit from customers who already have a compatible phone and won't be buying one through T-Mobile. T-Mobile also has eliminated upgrade fees, which run as high as $36 elsewhere, and no longer imposes early termination fees (ETF) because all new plans are month-to-month. (The ETF for existing subscribers is lower than that charged by the leading competitors.)
Because all new T-Mobile plans include unlimited talk, text, and data, customers need not fear the costly overage fees that get so many into trouble. (The basic plan offers unlimited data on T-Mobile's network; an extra $20 a month gets unlimited 4G data nationwide.) The everything-unlimited plans can also reduce tensions in families who share a plan but now no longer worry about which member is responsible for too many minutes, text messages, and/or data downloads. The $80 monthly T-Mobile fee for two lines, and $10 for each line thereafter up to a total of four, also means the monthly cost for families is lower than with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. Roaming fees are also nonexistent for talk and text, although data roaming may be limited by the plan.
For consumers who frequently travel overseas, T-Mobile is probably the best option. Unlike the three other major carriers, T-Mobile offers free data and texting within more than 100 countries, including popular destinations such as Mexico, the U.K., France, Italy, and Japan. The data isn't fast enough for things like streaming video, but packages with high-speed data connections are available to travelers: $15 for a one-day pass with 100MB, $25 for 7 days and 200MB, or $50 for a two-week pass and 500MB of data. A rate of 20 cents per minute for calls from overseas to the same countries (including the U.S.) is also included. T-Mobile phones also run on the GSM network, which means customers with an unlocked phone can buy a SIM card after arriving at their destination, swap it in, and enjoy local rates if they so choose. For communications leaving the U.S., T-Mobile offers monthly packages for $7 to $10 a month that cut call rates (down to zero to 50-plus countries) and allow unlimited texts to additional international locales.
Bottom line: Comparatively low fees in all arenas make T-Mobile the provider to beat. Anyone shopping for a new wireless carrier who lives in a T-Mobile coverage zone might want to make this No. 1 on their list.