T-Mobile is America's largest and fastest-growing 5G network for a reason. T-Mobile plans give you faster data, solid coverage, and award-winning customer support. But where T-Mobile really delivers is its affordable packages for adults ages 55+, who as a group are more tech savvy than ever1 but still looking for cellular plans to fit tighter budgets.
Sound perfect? Not so fast. Even 2021's top-rated cell phones for seniors come with fine print and options. Choosing the right plan can get tricky, especially if you're shopping for a senior-friendly smartphone.
So before you sign on the dotted line, here's our hands-on experience testing T-Mobile's Unlimited 55+ plans for older Americans: how much they cost, who they're good for, what to expect from the signup process, and a few smartphone recommendations for seniors looking for the latest cell phone features on a budget.
Since I was a new customer, a visit to a brick-and-mortar T-Mobile store was in the cards. Unlike some of the newer cellular providers that have web-only presences (check out our Mint Mobile review for the lowdown on that), signing up for a T-Mobile plan requires an in-person visit. A little weird after so many months cooped up in the house? Not really. It actually helped to talk with a T-Mobile representative in person — in my case, Greg.
Greg was really helpful at explaining T-Mobile's Unlimited 55+ plans and cell phone options, and he actually alerted me to the new four-line allowance for two of T-Mobile's seniors-only plans (I'll get to that below). Setting up my line in store also made transferring my number to T-Mobile totally stress-free. If you fudge this online, you may be in for some trouble!
Pro Tip: Avoid the stress of cell phone shopping when stores are busiest (typically at night or on the weekend). If your schedule allows it, do your cell phone shopping midmorning on a weekday.
Since I was already at the T-Mobile store, I figured I'd stick around and let Greg help set up my phone for me, too. (With in-store setup, I could use my phone as soon as I stepped out the door!)
This turned out to be a wise choice. Within 15 minutes, I'd created my new T-Mobile account and had my new SIM card in my phone and activated. But what if I already had a T-Mobile account and didn't want to leave my house?
Actually, I wouldn't have to. I could have done everything online, which I'm sure is good news for those with mobility issues who may not be able to shop in store. Here's how to do it.
If you're already a T-Mobile subscriber and want to take advantage of one of T-Mobile's Unlimited 55+ plans, you can do that online. It's actually pretty easy. Just log into your account with your T-Mobile ID to switch plans, upgrade your phone, or even order a new phone. If you're not sure how to set up your new phone, T-Mobile's customer support is only a phone call away to walk you through the whole process.
FYI: Being persistent pays off! If you're in a store, don't be afraid to ask representatives about special promotions. You'd be surprised at how many in-store incentives there are that you won't find on websites. And not just deals on cellular services, but seniors-only discounts on groceries, restaurants, and even cruises.
With T-Mobile, you can either bring your own phone or purchase a new one. Below, I'll walk you through the process for both options and give some recommendations if you're looking for a phone upgrade.
One of the first things I did with Greg was make sure that my current phone, my trusty iPhone 7, was actually compatible with my new T-Mobile plan. Fortunately, it was. If you have an AT&T Senior Nation phone plan or a Verizon 55+ package and you're switching to T-Mobile, and you want to bring your phone along, you'll have to do the same.
My advice? Before you head into a store, visit the T-Mobile website and use their phone compatibility checker. It couldn't be easier. Plus, with this info handy, you'll know from the get-go whether you'll have to budget in a new phone for your new T-Mobile plan.
To check whether your phone is T-Mobile compatible, you'll need your phone's unique ID, or International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). It's not tough to find at all! Here's how:
If you are shopping for a new phone for your new T-Mobile Unlimited 55+ plan, you'll have plenty of options, including the Apple iPhone 11 and Alcatel GO FLIP 3, two of our top-ranked phones for seniors with hearing loss.
After careful research, I decided to test T-Mobile’s REVVL V+ 5G and the Apple iPhone 11. Here's what I found.
Actually, I was surprised here. T-Mobile's own REVVL line could definitely give iPhones and Samsung Galaxies a run for their money. As one of the more affordable options among T-Mobile's cell phone offerings, the REVVL V+ 5G delivers great tech and storage (64 GB) for its sleek $199 price tag.
Pro Tip: Tired of typing in your PIN every time you want to use your phone? Set up Face ID. With Face ID, instead of typing in a four-digit code, you just look at your phone screen and voilà, you're in. Just be patient with your phone. Even the smartest smartphones can struggle to recognize their owners in bad lighting or sunglasses.
For older adults, the latest REVVL may be a particularly good fit. The REVVL V+ has a TalkBack feature that converts text to speech. It's M4/T3 hearing aid compatible, and for seniors prone to tired eyes or with eye issues, the REVVL V+ 5G's pretty massive 6.52-inch screen is virtually squint-proof.
Our favorite features for seniors:
For older adults looking for a smartphone with a little more style and chutzpah, I'd recommend the iPhone 11. Even with its many advanced features, I found that the iPhone was still a cinch to use. And when I say the iPhone 11 was easy to use, I'm talking about more than finding my way around its many cool apps and settings.
The iPhone was actually designed for easy swiping with minimal hand pressure. For the one-in-four adult Americans suffering from arthritis2 — about 15 million people — pain-free messaging will be as useful as the iPhone 11's other well-known senior-friendly accessibility features like zoom, text magnification, hearing aid mode, and audio subtitles.
If you do go with the iPhone 11, be prepared for a higher price tag. T-Mobiles sells the iPhone 11 (128 GB) for $499.99, or $20.84 per month over 24 months.
Benefits for seniors:
T-Mobile can't quite nudge Verizon off the 4G/LTE throne, but with 62 percent coverage of the lower 48 states,3 it takes second place, right above AT&T. But what it lacks in spread T-Mobile makes up for in speed and affordability. T-Mobile has faster upload speeds than its competitors, which is great for all you family photographers out there, with lower priced plans on average.
That's 4G. T-Mobile's 5G coverage is a different story. T-Mobile has quickly shot up to the top of the pack here, covering 41 percent of the U.S. Compare that to 18 percent 5G nationwide coverage with AT&T and 11 percent coverage with Verizon. Combine your T-Mobile plan with a 5G-compatible phone, like a REVVL or iPhone, and you can expect some serious speed.
Like AT&T senior plans and Lively cell phone packages for older adults, T-Mobile plans are month-to-month, so you won't need to sign a contract of any kind. But that doesn't mean T-Mobile doesn't give you incentives to save. We'll take a closer look at T-Mobile plan savings opportunities in just a second.
If you purchase your phone through T-Mobile, you're covered with a standard 12-month warranty. To take your device protection to the next level, enroll in T-Mobile's Protection 360, which gives you perks like cheap screen repair, AppleCare (for iPhone users), and, for the time being, McAfee Security for T-Mobile with ID Theft Protection. Protection 360 starts at $7 per month.
Did You Know: Online identity fraud is unfortunately on the rise, and older Americans are the most frequent targets. In 2020 alone, senior victims ages 80+ lost on average $1,300.4
Choosing the right T-Mobile 55+ plan boils down to your personal needs. Since most cellular carriers offer unlimited talk and text these days, the basic factors you'll want to be aware of are data allowances (and caps), streaming quality, and price per line.
Senior Saving Tip: Want to save even more with T-Mobile? Download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Then check it every Tuesday to win free items and save money on your favorite brands.
Of course, if you have family in Canada or Mexico (or anywhere else outside the U.S.), you'll want to see what types of allowances and restrictions your cellular carrier has on international calls and data.
Finally, as you read through your T-Mobile pricing options below, you'll notice that the more lines you purchase, the cheaper each line will be. So, if you're a 2+ household, you'll definitely want to consider becoming a “T-Mobile family.”
|T-Mobile||Essentials 55+||Magenta 55+||Magenta MAX 55+|
*Prices listed require AutoPay billing
T-Mobile's basic senior plan is a great choice for budget-conscious older adults on a fixed income. At $40 per month for a single-line plan or $55 per month for two lines, the Essentials 55+ plan's price point is substantially cheaper than close competitors like AT&T, whose basic seniors service starts at $60 per line.
FYI: T-Mobile's Essentials 55+ plan comes with access to 5G data, so if you do opt for a 5G-ready phone like the REVVL or iPhone 11, you'll be good to go.
A quick heads-up here because this may get lost in the fine print. If you go with the Essentials 55+ plan, taxes and fees aren't included, so be sure to remember to factor the additional cost into your budget. For certain T-Mobile offerings and features on all three T-Mobile 55+ plans, separate taxes and fees may apply.
As with all of T-Mobile's 55+ plans, you'll also get unlimited talk, text, and data with the Essentials 55+ plan, so you can chat with your friends and grandkids all day long. One caveat on the data with this plan: After you use 50 GB of data in a month, you may experience slower speeds during high-traffic times. If you're a light internet user, 50 GB of monthly data should be plenty. While T-Mobile can't match the 19 million Wi-Fi hotspots of an Xfinity prepaid plan, you can turn your phone into a mobile hotspot to power your laptop if you're on the go and need Wi-Fi in a pinch.
This plan also comes with unlimited texting in over 210 countries, perfect for older adults who love to travel. This is a rare perk we don't see with many providers, so take advantage!
The Magenta 55+ plan costs $50 per month for a single line or $70 per month for two lines. You can have up to four lines on this plan, and each additional line after two lines will cost an extra $35 per month. You might be wondering: Is the higher price tag worth it when the streaming quality is the same as the Essentials 55+ plan, i.e., regular old SD?
That depends on how much data you use per month. If you travel, work on the go, or do a lot of uploading or downloading — which plenty of older adults are doing these days — I'd say investing in the Magenta 55+ plan would be a wise move. With this plan, you'll have 100 GB of data before your speeds slow down, twice as much fast data as the Essentials 55+ plan.
Did You Know: If you want to add some youngsters to your T-Mobile 55+ plan, you can! Only the account holder needs to be 55 or older. There are no age restrictions for additional lines.
One, you don't want to deal with a bad connection in the middle of a chat with the kids or grandkids because your data is moving at a glacial pace. Plus, you can always downgrade if you're swimming in extra data at the end of the month. And — drumroll — the Magenta 55+ plan comes with a few other very nice upgrades I've saved for last.
In addition to the unlimited talk, text, and data, T-Mobile's Magenta 55+ plan gives you 5 GB of mobile hotspot data, 5 GB of 4G data in Mexico and Canada, and one hour of in-flight Wi-Fi. Plus, you'll get unlimited texting and data in 210+ countries and destinations. These features are excellent for on-the-go seniors and frequent travelers.
Seniors Saving Tip: A Netflix Basic subscription runs $8.99 per month, so if you are a Netflix subscriber, definitely consider a Magenta plan. You wouldn't just be breaking even. Moving up to the next tier would actually save you $1.50 per month.
But the biggest perk you get with your Magenta 55+ plan (with two lines or more) is Netflix Basic on the house, which is just…yes, please!
The Magenta MAX 55+ plan is the crème de la crème of T-Mobile's 55+ plans. This plan costs $65 per month for one line, or $45 per line for two to four lines. It's nearly double the price of T-Mobile's entry-level Essentials 55+ plan. So T-Mobile would have to be making you an offer you couldn't refuse to justify that extra expense. Does it? You be the judge.
Frequent flyers will love the Magenta MAX's unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi. Videophiles will appreciate the HD streaming and free Netflix Basic with one line or Netflix Standard with two or more lines. And remote workers will be over the moon with unlimited data on the go (no caps and no time-of-day restrictions). Your speeds won't slow down after you hit a certain number of GB in a month like it does with the other two plans.
Did You Know: Are you looking your age these days? Even if you are, don't forget your ID when you sign up for your T-Mobile account in store. You'll need to provide proof of age (driver's license or passport will do) when signing up for a 55+ plan.
In short, the Magenta Max is a power plan with a very nice cherry on top: 40 GB of mobile hotspot data that can turn your café table into your office away from home. Similar to the basic Magenta 55+ plan, you'll also have free data and texting in hundreds of countries. However, the Magenta MAX 55+ plan offers twice the data speeds abroad. Talk about perks.
Yes, it’s possible to transfer your existing phone number to T-Mobile. First, you’ll want to check online to see if your phone number is eligible for transfer. If your phone number isn’t eligible, it’s most likely because T-Mobile doesn’t have a transfer agreement with your current service provider.
You can add up to four lines with T-Mobile’s Magenta and Magenta MAX 55+ plans, but the Essentials 55+ plan is restricted to two lines.
No. Just because you’re 55+ doesn’t mean T-Mobile will automatically enroll you in one of their seniors-only plans. It’s up to you to switch to a 55+ plan.
Yes. You can keep your current phone or device as long as it’s unlocked and compatible with T-Mobile. To check on compatibility, head on over to the T-Mobile website and use their phone compatibility checker to test your phone’s IMEI (a unique 15-digit number that identifies your phone’s make and model).
New and existing T-Mobile customers aged 55 or older are eligible for 55+ plans. You’ll need to show proof of age, though. A government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, will do.
CDC. (2020). Joint Pain and Arthritis.
FCC. (2021). 4G LTE coverage as of May 15th, 2021.
AARP. (2021). Pandemic Proves to Be Fertile Ground for Identity Thieves.