I'll start by saying yes
, this is a moderately whiny
complaint blog. But if it helps one other person, then it's
T-Mobile has a great $30 pre-pay plan - unlimited text,
unlimited data, 100 minutes talk
. For our usage, this plan
is perfect and pretty darn cheap. Sure, the "unlimited" data
means that overage happens at a lower speed, but we've never
come close to that limit.
Because this plan is such a good fit for people who don't use
their phones as phones much, this is a great plan. However as
far as I can figure out, T-Mobile doesn't want anyone to
actually use this plan. It's easy, when you know the tricks,
but forget trying to get T-Mobile to help you get this plan.
Their customer support can't get you this plan (and will even
go so far as to not tell the truth, insisting that you have to
buy a new phone at Walmart). With the information in this post,
you'll learn how to activate this plan and save a ton of
I've been a generally happy T-Mobile customer for a 8 years
now, and I've had up to 4 lines on the account, though for the
last 2 years we've had 2 pre-pay and 1 post-pay. The sole
post-pay has been my Android phone, with the 2 pre-pay being
feature phones used by other members of the family. You'd think
that being a good customer in good standing for a long time
would matter, but alas, in today's business world, it doesn't -
they really just don't care.
In the last 9 months or so I've gone through a spree of
updating my Android phone from a Samsung Galaxy 1, then a
Samsung Galaxy 2, and now a Nexus 4. I've had a 2 year contract
(which just expired), but swapped the phones around under the
contract without even notifying T-Mobile. I bought the Galaxy 2
off a coworker, and the Nexus 4 straight from Google, so
T-Mobile wasn't involved in the purchase of any device aside
from the Galaxy 1 that I used when I started my 2 year
I had to do some hacking to cut the regular SIM card down to
microSIM for the Nexus 4, but that turned out to be really easy
with some guidance from a coworker who had already done the
same thing. Seriously, it's really easy to make a microSIM.
Don't pay T-Mobile $50 for a replacement SIM, just grab some
scissors and do it for free. You've got nothing to lose, and if
you screw it up (but you won't, it's easy), then you can still
pay T-Mobile for a replacement SIM. Don't buy a SIM cutter,
don't buy a cutting pattern, just find someone with another
microSIM so you get the outline right, cut it a bit big, and
trim to size. If I can do it, you can do it.
When I bought the Galaxy 2, I sold my Galaxy 1 to a friend of
mine. But when I bought the Nexus 4, I gave my wife the Galaxy
2 as an upgrade to her feature phone. The $30 pre-pay plan was
appealing, so I bought a SIM card for $1 from the T-Mobile
online store. It came a few days later, I activated it under a
new number, with no problem, then called T-Mobile's
offshore pre-pay customer service to
cancel her old number and transfer this number to the new
number. This is really important: Do not, under any
circumstances, attempt to activate the plan or SIM via T-Mobile
customer service. They cannot and will not help you. You need
to buy a SIM online and activate it online, then only call
customer service to port your number afterwards.
Fast forward a few weeks until my 2-year post-pay contract is
up. I wanted to switch my phone to the same $30 pre-pay plan. I
know the plan works, because my wife has been using it for a
few weeks, but unlike her plan where we were converting pre-pay
to pre-pay, I was converting post-pay to pre-pay. Cancelling
post-pay requires a conversation with customer service, but I
thought it would be easy - and it is, now that I know the
secret, but boy did I go about it the wrong way (by trying to
go about it the right way)!
My initial plan was to call up post-pay and cancel. Then I
would buy a pre-pay SIM for $1 from the online store, activate
it, and just like with the Galaxy 2, be set and done with this.
Sounds simple, right?
So I called up post-pay customer service and told them I wanted
to cancel. I get an amazingly awesome CSR (customer service
rep), who first tells me he can get my current $79 plan for
$55. This is a decent discount, but $55 is obviously more than
$30, so I told him what I planned to do - that I was going to
cancel, and just reactivate with a pre-pay SIM. He agreed with
me that requiring customers to cancel just to activate pre-pay
was silly, and he said he could override pre-pay and give me
the $30 plan I wanted. Pretty awesome, right?! So, the guy sets
me up and says I'll get an SMS within 24 hours, and that I'll
need to then go activate with that code to switch to
I can't say enough good things about this post-pay CSR who
helped me. Unlike every pre-pay CSR, and most other post-pay
CSRs, he really wanted to help me - and understood that
ultimately the end state would be the plan I wanted, so
T-Mobile might as well make it easy on everyone involved and
just do it.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way - pre-pay
denied the account conversion. Of course they couldn't be
bothered to actually call me, or notify me - instead they just
blocked the conversion silently. Two days later I called, as I
hadn't received the SMS to activate the new plan. This is where
things got ugly. Post-pay wouldn't help me, and transferred me
to pre-pay. Pre-pay told me that I couldn't get this plan and
that it was only available if you bought a new phone from
Walmart (This is obviously untrue, and a total lie on
T-Mobile's part, as I had activated this exact same plan
previously with the Galaxy 2!
). I got really angry with the
pre-pay CSR, who just started to give me a bunch of run-around.
Asking me for account and SIM card numbers (which I never
needed before), and finally just refusing to help me, even when
provided with this information as well as the confirmation
reference from my call two days previous. I asked, several
times, to just transfer me to someone who could help me, but
she basically refused. I was really surprised, customer service
isn't the way it used to be, that's for sure. Sure, I was
getting pretty angry at this point, but only because she
wouldn't listen to me when I knew that I was right.
It was at this point that I remembered I had ordered a second
SIM card when I bought the $1 SIM for activating the Galaxy 2
for my wife! I totally forgot about this - since they are only
$1, I bought two just in case I needed another pre-pay SIM for
some reason in the future.
Thirty minutes later, it was all done - I did the conversion
from post-pay to a pre-pay plan that T-Mobile says there's no
way you can get. And here's how you do it:
That's all there is to it - that's how you do the
impossible, to get the plan that T-Mobile says you cannot
- Wait until you contract is nearly up. Don't blame me if
you screw this part up and have contract cancellation
- Go to the T-Mobile online store and order a new pre-pay
SIM card for your phone for $1 plus shipping.
- Wait a few days for the SIM card to arrive.
- Activate the SIM card online, and choose the $30 plan
with unlimited text, unlimited data, 100 minutes talk.
And do not, under any circumstance, call T-Mobile customer
support as part of the activation! Don't forget to port your
old number over at the appropriate place in the process (and
if you can't do it at the time of activation, you can always
do that bit later, as we did for my wife's phone).
- Cancel your old plan.