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T-Mobile Expands Its Wireless Plans for Seniors: Which Option Is Best for You?

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If you're 55 years or older and looking to save money on your monthly cell phone bill, T-Mobile is giving you another option for cutting the cost of your coverage.

For more than two years, the Uncarrier has offered seniors discounts on two lines of unlimited data in a plan that otherwise mirrors its standard unlimited plan. Currently dubbed T-Mobile Magenta Unlimited 55 after the carrier renamed its plans over the summer (and not for the better, frankly), the plan provides two lines of unlimited data for $70 a month to anyone 55 years and older, along with most of the perks associated with T-Mobile's regular Magenta plan. (A single Magenta Unlimited plan line regularly costs $70.)

But T-Mobile also offers a stripped-down Essential unlimited plan as an alternative to Magenta, and now it's extending that offer to seniors. Starting today (Sept. 6), seniors will be able to opt for the Essentials Unlimited 55 plan, which lowers the cost of two lines of data to $55 a month. By way of comparison, anyone under 55 years pays $60 a month for one line under T-Mobile Essentials and $90 for two lines.

T-Mobile Plans Compared
PlanEssentials Unlimited 55Magenta Unlimited 55T-Mobile EssentialsT-Mobile Magenta
Price, 1 Line$40/month$50/month$60/month$70/month
Price, 2 lines$55/month$70/month$90/month$120/month
International UsageTexting onlyData (2G speeds) and textingTextingData (2G speeds) and texting
Canada/Mexico DataUnlimited at 2G speeds5GB of LTE dataUnlimited at 2G speeds5GB of LTE data
Hotspot DataUnlimited at 3G speeds3GB of LTE dataUnlimited at 3G speeds3GB of LTE data
Taxes and Fees Included?NoYesNoYes

Seniors will give up some benefits if they opt for Essentials Unlimited 55 and its $15 monthly savings over the Magenta Unlimited 55 option. Essentials users can only text when they're abroad, while Magenta Unlimited 55 customers can use both texting and data when traveling overseas (though data speeds are slowed significantly, unless you pay up for the $90-a-month Magenta Plus Unlimited 55 plan). The Magenta plan also includes 5G of LTE data when you travel in Mexico or Canada, while Essentials caps those speeds at a barely useable 2G limit in those two countries. So if you spend you spend your golden years doing a lot of globe-trotting, the Essentials Unlimited 55 plan is the less appealing option.

Taxes and fees are also built-into the Magenta Unlimited 55 plan price, but not included with Essentials. That's another big caveat to consider if your primary desire is to save money on your monthly bill.

Apart from hotspot data — Magenta users get 3G of LTE data, while Essentials customers see 3G hotspot speeds — the two options sport no other differences. As with T-Mobile's Magenta Unlimited 55 plan, Essentials customers are eligible for the carrier's Tuesday giveaways.

T-Mobile's option for seniors compare pretty well to what's out there from rival wireless carriers. Sprint, which is hoping to merge with T-Mobile, has an Unlimited 55+ package of its own that offers unlimited talk, text data on two lines for $70 a month. Sprint's senior customers can also use text and data (at slower speeds) when traveling in 200-plus countries.

Consumer Cellular, a discount carrier that tailors its services towards seniors, doesn't have an unlimited plan. But two lines with unlimited talk and text plus 10GB of data would cost $65 a month before taxes and fees. AARP members get a 5% discount on their monthly service with Consumer Cellular.

Philip Michaels
Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.