T-Mobile goes contract-free with Simple Choice plans - Here's how it all works

T-Mobile BlackBerry Z10
By Adam Zeis on 26 Mar 2013 01:47 pm EDT

T-Mobile announced today a new lineup of unlimited phone plans as well as new pricing structures for devices. As part of their "uncarrier" attitude, T-Mobile has done away with the standard phone contracts we know and love hate and has instead gone with new pricing for their data plans and devices.

If T-Mobile is your carrier of choice, you no longer have to worry about getting sucked into a lengthy contract for any of your devices. With the new format, customers are presented with a dead simple choice when purchasing a new device or plan. 

It's a great move by T-Mobile that gives customers plenty of options going forward, but what it all means can be a bit confusing. We'll help break it down so you know just what it all means.


With their new Simple Choice plans, you just need to decide how many devices you'll be using on your plan and how much data you need. The plans start on the low end where one device will run you $50/month for unlimited talk, text and web with 500mb of high-speed data. Since most of us use way more than 500mb of data however, we suggest stepping up to an unlimited data plan that will run you $70/month. (You can add 2GB of data for $10 however if that's your thing)

You can add a second line for another $30/month with additional lines for $10 each. Every line will of course need it's own data plan as well.

Here's a breakdown of what the unlimited talk, text and data plans look like per month:

  • One device:  $70
  • Two devices: $120
  • Three devices: $150
  • Four devices: $180
  • Five devices: $210


When purchasing devices, T-Mobile now cuts down the up-front cost and instead spans out the payments over the time you own the phone until it's paid off. So with the BlackBerry Z10 for example, you will need to pay $99 up-front as a down payment and then $18/month for 24 months to cover the full cost of the device. The additional payments for the device are added to your bill until it's paid off.

Since you're no longer on a contact, you can upgrade your device at any time as well, however you'll still be required to pay in full for your current device if it's not yet paid off. You can also choose to simply pay full price for the device up front - in the case of the Z10 $531.99. This options carriers a much larger purchase cost, but keeps your monthly bills to a minimum. 

If you have your own device that can operate on T-Mobile you can bring that along with a new Simple Choice plan as well. In this case you knock down your up-front cost as well as your monthly bill since you won't have the device payments and will just need to cover the data plan cost each month. 

A Simple Choice

In simple form here's what you get:

  • Cheaper devices up front
  • No contracts
  • Pay over time for your device
  • Upgrade whenever you want (still have to pay off your device)

If you're a current T-Mobile customer this is all good news - not having to lock in to a contract is a welcome relief, and being able to pay for devices over time certainly makes things easier. Once you have the device paid off (after what would be the course of a typical two-year contact) then you're bill drops and you simply pay for your data plan each month. As we said earlier, you can upgrade your device at any time (but you're stuck paying off the old one if you haven't already) and can switch plans or add lines as you see fit. 

Read more on T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans


Topics: T-Mobile Devices

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

T-Mobile goes contract-free with Simple Choice plans - Here's how it all works


Three devices is worth it, any less and it's not the best plan really. Cool though. Glad companies are going this route, it's getting to the point where upgrading your phone and being locked in a contract without an upgrade for 2+ years is insane.. The sheer number of smartphones being released every year is growing exponentially, and phones are becoming obsolete very quickly. This is a nice route, and the price points are there... Now if only Verizon did this :D

Not true.

For 2 lines, you can pay as little as $80/mo total if you don't need a lot of data and/or have wifi access a lot, like my girlfriend. She used to pay $50/mo with TMo for just her to get only 200MB of 4G data. With this plan EACH line gets 500MB of high speed data.

For 2 lines to get 2.5GB of 4G, it's only $100. Keep in mind that EACH line gets a total of 2.5GB, it's not shared. That's a steal! I won't even go into the even bigger savings when you look at Unlimited 4G data...

The $100 that you mention is the price for data only with Verizon Wireless. You would still have to pay the $40 device price times two, which would be $180. The last paragraph of JR A's post shows that it is $100 for the total plan price for two lines on T-Mobile with 2.5GB of data each.

Also, hotspot is included for the tiered data plans. It's included in the unlimited plan too, but you can only use 500MB on that plan. If you want to tether 2GB on the unlimited plan, more you pay $10 more. If you want 4GB more, you pay $20 more.

If necessary. Paying it off over the 24 months saves you more since it is interest free :)... Can you imagine the interest on a credit card when you owe $400 and you pay $20 a month? well with T-Mo it is all savings :) a penny saved is a penny earned.

BTW, My cell phone bill (t-mo) is $278/month and that is for 5 lines with 2GB of high speed data on each line. Also, 2 of the lines have the $7.99/month insurance. Oh and that also includes the $20 for my installment plan on my Bold 9900.

How would it be stopping people from doing something that really doesn't exist? Annual upgrades stopped a while ago on most US carriers, including T-Mobile. With this plan, you can upgrade anytime you want, as long as you pay off your old device balance first.

This is what they do in Europe and Asia. It allows a person to use whatever phone they want, regardless of where they obtain it. Just buy a plan, slide in a SIM card and you are up and running. My fear is that with TMobile being so small here in the USA that the rest of the carriers will ignore it.

Is it true that the Equipment Installment Plan (EIP) are only for people with qualifying credit? If so, consumers with less desirable credit will have to pay for the Z10 in full up front instead of $99 down and $18/mo for 24 months, right?

It is with qualifying credit. I don't know if the plan gets adjusted for less than desirable credit, or if the customer is forced to pay in full.

It is adjusted for not-so-well-qualified customers. The downpayment is larger while the monthly payments are smaller. The total paid for the device is the same at the end.

Thanks! Sounds like they'll accept all credit-types, and TMo will just increase the down payment. At least they won't reject anyone for the EIP, at least that what it sounds like.

I'm not saying that no one could get rejected. I'm not sure about it either way, but I think that customers could get totally rejected and referred to prepaid where EIP wouldn't be an option. T-Mobile was pretty lenient in the past (in my opinion) with their credit requirements. Give them a try to see what they come up with for you.

I thought they always ran a credit check when signing up for new service? So at least here they are actually giving you an interest-free 'credit line' of sorts.

I don't know about the EIP, but maybe this will answer your question. In Engadget's coverage, they paraphrased the CEO as saying that essentially what separates TMO's prepaid options from these SC plans is a credit check. And I think for prepaid you have to pay for device upfront, in full.

"Love" how T-mobile is saying how REVOLUTIONARY this new approach is.....when Koodo and Virgin has been doing it in Canada for years, and Koodo allows you to use 10% of your bill towards paying off the phone, rather than requiring monthly payments for the cost of the phone.

T-Mo didn't just start doing this. I bought my 9900 two Decembers ago and I've been on a 20 month installment plan with them. They officially made it public today because they are basically aiming to drop the entire contract plan options. But, it isn't something new to them either. Just saying!

10% of your bill is like a monthly payment, it's just a disguised one. Wind does the same thing with their tab. And I believe some carriers have similar plans if you can't pay for your phone up front.

It is revolutionary for the United States, as no carrier here has done this that I know of. If one did, it would have had to have been over 15 years ago or a regional carrier.

I think this is pure genius on T-Mobile part. I am already looking to switch as this will save me nearly 40 bucks a month over att. If they can market this and continue to update coverage areas they will pull in a lot of new customers.

Posted via CB10

I want to point out (if I read their info correctly) that your numbers are for unlimited data. If one is content with the 500 MB/unlimited 2g plan it is only $110 for 5 devices (50+30+10+10+10) and only $160 if each device wants 2GB of high speed/unlimited 2g. So if you are an occasion/low-level user as some of us are you can have 5 devices for $110 !!! (tell me if I'm mistaken on that)

You are correct. You can verify this via TMobile's website. They have a pretty easy to use plan calculator on the Plan page.

Pretty sure that is correct on the $110. I also like how you can easily pick and choose the data add-ons.

Guess it doesn't matter for me, just checked coverage map and I've got "service partner" for a 75 mile radius around where I live . . if they've got 96% of the nation covered I guess I'm in the lucky 4%. :(

These plans are way too expensive if you compare apples to apples. And the article does not mentions many of the details that make these plans more costly than other carrier plans.

Easy, read the fine print in the offer terms and conditions. You are being blinded by the low monthly payment thay are showing you. Try calculating the Total Cost of ownership over a 2 year period and compare against other carrier plans. This is the same marketing scheme used by car dealers for you to pay more in the end by telling you how low the monthly payments are.

It is cheaper. I have done the math (and then did it again in excel just to be sure) and it is cheaper over a 20 month time period. Even buying the phone outright at the beginning and not using the EIT.

Non sense these plans are way cheaper than att and Verizon, much simpler to understand, I'm ready to convert.

Posted via CB10

No way. I have 5 lines on my plan and each line technically pays $48.20/month tax included (when I take away installment payments, insurance and etc) So I paid $650-$200MIR= $450 for my Bold 9900 and I am paying it slow so the cost savings in interest alone is enough. If I were with Sprint I would have paid $200 for the phone and $80+ tax for their lowest unlimited plan. So the extra $42 or so x 24 months would be $1008 in savings. When I factor in the cost of the 9900 it is $1008-$450 which is $558 and that's my true savings over the 2 years. Yes I only have 2 GB's of fast speed data compared to Sprints unlimited. But, I am not a power user. I barely scratch the surface on the 2Gb's fast speed. Most of my data usage is while on wifi.

Thats fine if your willing to trade unlimited for 2GB in exchange for a lower payment. So the plans are not cheaper when you compare everything equal.

This completely screws all of us who extended contracts prior to all this just to hold our upgrade for the Z10, now I'm under a 2 year contract and will have to spend full price on a Z10, and I held that upgrade for almost a year. TMO Fail train....


Just go to T-mobile and ask them to switch to the Simple Choice plan. My co-worker just did it. He has to pay 100 dollar 'porting fee' and then his total bill went from 276 to 175. All taxes, etc included.

Yes you get unlimited data but once you go over your allotment then data goes down to 2G speeds. Oh and the $70 plan is for 500MB of data. Guess no music or video streaming. The article does not say as well that customers who pay for more than 2GB are prioritized on the network higher than lower tier customers. This is part of their network management. All this and they don't even have LTE yet.

No, the 500 MB of data is for tethering/hotspot. After you use up the 500 MB for tethering then you'll have to add more data or wait until your billing cycle restarts. To use data for the phone is unlimited. So the $70 plan is advantageous for someone who doesn't use tethering much.

Have 2 Sprint lines that fulfill their contract in August. I only need one line so its save up some bucks and buy a new phone with T-Mobile then.

Yes, you can change your phone anytime since you no longer have a contract but the article does not say that you have to pay a migration fee to change your phone. You must pay the phone off early to get an upgrade so it will cost you more in the end if you want to upgrade before you have completely paid for the phone. Yes, there is no contract but your are still stuck paying for the phone for 20-24 months. Sounds like a contarct to me.

Not if you pay outright for the phone. Plus your bill is then $20 cheaper than if you built the cost of the phone into the bill.

It would be the same with another carrier if you bought a phone before your contract was up... only instead of paying off the remainder of your old phone, you have to buy the new phone full cost....

MobileVision, it seems that you are knocking this plan without a full understanding of how T-Mobile works. Hmmm.

The migration fee only applies to people who received a subsidized device less than 18 months ago. If it has been longer than 18 months, no migration fee applies.

When you want to upgrade your phone, just pay off the balance on your current phone. It's not more complicated than that.

Also, you better buy the additional insurance since now you are basically getting a loan from t-mobile to buy the phone in installments. If you loose your phone or it breaks you are still on the hook for the insurance deductible plus the remaining costs of the phone. Let the buyer beware.

Same applies for other carriers, which you are locked in for two years on both the plan and the phone. You would have to pay full retail for a new phone on any carrier if you lose it and don't have insurance

Not accurate. With other carriers, I'm locked into the 2 year contract but not the plan or the phone. I can always switch the plan and phone with a pro-rated discount

So you are telling me that If I buy an iphone 5 from AT&T for $200 with a two year contract I can lose it and get another one for $200? and with T-Mobile you are only being charged to change from Classic to Value since the Classic Plan gave you the phone on a discount. One you are on Value Plans you won't be charged to change the features around

This is kind of a scam! If you put $99 down (which is the same concept as paying a subsidized price), you then are locked into paying monthly installments for 2 years after a credit check (wow, just like a 2 year contract). If you cancel early, then you have to pay the balance on the phone, which is often more than an ETF. The added $18 a month defeats the "lower" monthly price. The only way to technically take advantage of this is to pay full price for the phone, but that's always been an option.

Without contracts, what happens if they raise prices on their plans? Do all customers on the "Simple Choice" plans get their rates increased? Or will the increase only affect new customers?

A very valid question. I believe since there is no contract, your choices will be to either accept the higher rates, or take your business elsewhere.

I believe you would still be "grandfathered" into the no contract plan that you have. Keep in mind that if you're out of contract on a "classic" plan, they don't make you change your plan when you upgrade your phone, no matter how long you've been out of contract. As always, just ask to verify (even though my logic makes sense).

Just verified that the only way to do a traditional 2-year upgrade would be via Best Buy, Costco or another similar retailer. They are the only ones that give a subsidized upgrade. All corporate T-Mobile locations will only offer the full price and with EIP.

You also have the option to pay it off sooner at your discretion. That 24 month time frame is if you take advantage of paying the minimum each billing cycle.

Go spend some time on T-Mobile's forums to read the support documents that they have. Your understanding of migration fees is bad.

I have a Value Plan and I can switch to the new plans without a fee. Educate yourself first. Migration fees ONLY apply if you go from Classic to Value and are within your contract

Who is going to pay $531.99 up front as there are totally no benefit in doing so? At the end of the day you are under something like "rent-and-own" agreement with T-Mobile and $99+$18*24 is already 531 take into account the time value of money in this coming interest rising cycle, you lose out even bigger by paying up front.

I would rather buy the device upfront and enjoy the lower monthly bill. Savings account interest rates on $432 ($.22 annually, for me) are nothing to hold out for and that is also a small amount to invest in stocks, which may lose value.

If I am paying 110 per month on ATT for less services how am I better off not being on T mobile? If you want a new phone they are willing to give you interest free financing for two years!

Posted via CB10

I think the great thing about this is when a new phone comes out you can jump on it. Pay off the current phone then sell it on Ebay and buy the new one. I just bought the Z 10 Friday from AT& T and I am now on a 2 yr contract. If BB comes out with something in 6 months to 12 months I am at the mercy of what ever pricing AT& T will want if I desire to change phones. I would have bought the phone from AT&T for the $549 price if they offered discount in the month plan charges. I thought when AT& T went to the roll over minutes that all carriers would do same. So unless T Mobile has great success with this I do not see the other 2 big boys making any changes

So this new plan is pretty much like the rent a center stores or Aaron's stores...

You get your product up front and then pay it off over the course of 2 years....

I just don't see how this is staggeringly new outside of you are not locked into a contract (if you pay a large sum of money up front or earlier than the 2 years) but are instead locked into monthly payments on a phone...the difference is not being locked into a contract but even when you have the contract you can pay an early termination fee which would be similar to paying off the rest of the phone...

Just seems like TMO is taking the contract out of play but keeping you hooked with monthy payments on your device...

And their coverage maps and data maps are terrible...that is worth something from AT&T and Verizon..

The difference is after two years, the added charge for the phone goes away and you have a lower monthly just for the service. For AT&T and Verizon, you'll still be paying a monthly that includes a payment for the phone after two years.

If you're the kind of customer that upgrades every two years, then the TMO plan doesn't add much value.

"Since most of us use way more than 500mb of data however . . . "
Woah! Really?! I tether my BB Tour to my laptop for work 3 days a week, connect to the corporate VPN, get my regular e-mails (which often have Excel and Powerpoint attachments), and rarely go over 300mb of data a month. What the heck is everyone doing that needs more than 500mb?

I cant wait to see how it plays out with pricing and MetroPCS customers when the merger is complete. The have 40$ 500mb, 50$ 2.5 gb and 60$ unlimited plans at the moment

Cbvinh said it best: if you upgrade your phone every two years, this makes virtually no difference from contract plans with other carriers. With T-mo, the contract has essentially shifted from plan to phone. You can pay up front for a phone without a plan contract with any carrier, and you can interrupt a contract with any carrier by paying the ETF (or paying the balance on the phone with T-mo; essentially the same result dollar wise).

Hi all, I am new to Blackberry world here, so I am still unclear about one thing.. Do these simple choice plans include BIS so I can use BBM on Z10 or any other (older) Blackberry devices? Or do I need to add $10 of BIS package?


Love the new plans. I am now saving $50 on my bill for the same plan I had orig, but now with free hotspot on a fam plan 2 lines. And got 2 z10s.

They're just playing with words. Ultimately you can pay off your phone early or pay an etf. It's pretty close to the same thing. Actually if you consider the cost of an etf on a free phone it would cost you more to go the T-Mobile route.

Besides that their network is still slow and that throttled data stuff blows.

Posted via CB10

Man people get excited about change. I've been with TMobile since 2001, I let that contract expire, I haven't bought a single phone from T-Mobile since my original phone, I have unlimited minutes, text, and data, no tethering for my grandfathered plan and pay $93 a month. When I looked three years ago none of the other carriers could beat this. I can now replicate that plan for $70 a month, with an added bonus of limited tethering I don't currently have, and I don't have to pay for phones that I am not buying from TMobile in the first place. Although maybe I will buy a phone from them now since I pay for phones in full when I buy them any ways (although I usually buy them on ebay for less than what it costs from TMobile, so maybe not). I've run the numbers and with four lines, and with adding the 4g hot spot service, I would be paying $180 a month, which is less than what my family is currently paying for my service on Tmobile and two lines under a family plan for AT&T, plus we are adding another phone. Under my circumstances this is a great development, and unless I come across something that says I shouldn't abandon my grandfathered $20 blackberry data plan I'm changing my plan for a really decent savings.