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T-Mobile Pay As You Go Plan Review

We talked about the T-Mobile coverage area and the phones in the last post.  Now it’s time to talk about the Pay as You Go prepaid plan.

According to their website, the Pay as You Go prepaid plan touts rates as low as 10 cents per minute. That’s true as long as you purchase the $100 airtime refill which will give you 1,000 minutes (thus 10 cents a minute). However, if you buy a T-Mobile refill of a smaller denomination, your per minute rate goes up. Here’s what they offer in refills:

T-Mobile Airtime Refills
Refills Airtime Rate/Minute*
$10 30 .33
$15 45 .33
$25 130 .19
$50 400 .13
$100 1,000 .10

* Rates rounded up to the nearest penny

T-Mobile Gold Rewards Program

The T-Mobile Pay as You Go prepaid plan offers what they call Gold Rewards. With Gold Rewards you receive 15% more airtime minutes on all refills. To Gold Reward status kicks in after you purchase $100 in refills.

The real perk with Gold Rewards is that your airtime that would normally expire in 90 days doesn’t expire for a year. Therefore, the Gold Rewards per minute airtime cost looks something like this:

Gold Rewards Program
Refills Airtime Rate/Minute*
$10 35 .29
$15 51.75 .29 (not offered)
$25 150 .17
$50 460 .11
$100 1,000 .10 (does not apply)

* Rates rounded up to the nearest penny

The $15 refill isn’t offered in the Gold Reward program (at least it wasn’t mentioned on the T-Mobile site). From what I can see, it doesn’t make sense to purchase the $15 refill anyway.   The more time you buy, your rate should be cheaper, not remain the same.

It appears that the 15% more airtime does not apply for the $100 refill card option.

T-Mobile Text Messaging Rates

It will cost you 10 cents to send and 5 cents to receive text message in the US and Canada and .35 to send and .05 to receive anywhere else. If you send and receive picture and video messages that costs 25 cents to send and receive.

Activating the T-Mobile Phone

You must activate the phone online. When you activate it you get to select your Pay as You Go prepaid plan, insert your basic info, SIM card number, phone serial number and select your pin. Once you activate your phone you’re good to go. The phone comes preloaded with airtime but you’ll need to purchase more.

Where to Purchase T-Mobile Airtime

There are a host of locations from which you can purchase airtime refills for your T-Mobile prepaid phone. There is a location finder search option on the T-Mobile site.

If you don’t want to physically go to a location to purchase airtime, you can buy additional time using the phone itself by dialing *ADD (or visiting t-zones/web2go from your T-Mobile phone). Go to “My Account” and then choose “Refill.”

Pay by The Day Option

While we’re still discussing the Pay as You Go prepaid cell phone plan, it’s a good time to mention that T-Mobile also has a Pay by the Day plan. For this plan, you pay $1 a day for each day you use the phone. You can make unlimited T-Mobile to T-Mobile calls, but all other domestic calls cost 10 cents per minute.

Next: The Unlimited Talk Plan

About the author: LaForey is a parent and a freelance writer who has done quite a bit of research on prepaid cell phones.