MetroPCS - The #1 Low-Cost Phone Carrier

Thanks to a fast mobile network and appealing plans that satisfy both data demands and budget concerns, MetroPCS is our top-ranked prepaid carrier. In fact, MetroPCS has enough going for it that we'd even recommend it over Sprint. Opting for MetroPCS means accepting some trade-offs, particularly in the area of customer service, where the carrier continues to struggle, but MetroPCS' mix of performance and plans is hard to overlook.

Carrier Performance (37/40 points)

MetroPCS relies on the network of its parent company, T-Mobile, and that's fortunate, considering that T-Mobile finished just a hair behind speed champ Verizon in our LTE network speed testing. We found that MetroPCS essentially matched the download and upload speeds of T-Mobile; MetroPCS averaged 22.1 Mbps down and 16 Mbps up, compared to 23.5 Mbps down and 16.3 Mbps up for T-Mobile. In three of the cities where we tested, MetroPCS actually posted faster download speeds than its parent company.

MORE: MetroPCS vs. T-Mobile: Which Is Best for You?

Thanks to its use of T-Mobile's network, MetroPCS is far and away the fastest prepaid carrier. It outpaced the download averages for both Virgin (18 Mbps) and Boost (16.8 Mbps), while leaving Cricket and Straight Talk in the dust.

Whether you want a low monthly bill or a big bucket of data, MetroPCS has a plan that will deliver what you're asking for.

Plans (21/25 points)

Whether you want a low monthly bill or a big bucket of data, MetroPCS has a plan that will deliver what you're asking for. Plans start at $30 a month for 2GB of data, which matches what Cricket offers. A better deal is MetroPCS's $40 a month plan, which features a still-generous 5GB of data after a summertime promotion that offered 6GB of data.

MetroPCS really shines in its unlimited data plan. You can get unlimited data for $50 a month if you don't mind restricting your video streams to 480p. A $60 monthly unlimited plan adds 10GB of LTE hotspot data.

MORE: MetroPCS vs. Boost Mobile: Which Is Right for You?

MetroPCS now lets you add extra lines to each of its plans for $30 each. That's a better deal on more expensive plans, and it matches what rival Boost charges for additional lines.

If there's one area where MetroPCS continues to struggle, it's in handling customer service questions.

Customer Service (13/20 points)

If there's one area where MetroPCS continues to struggle, it's in handling customer service questions. While MetroPCS' online support site has improved — it now includes documentation for various phones — the carrier doesn't always answer questions promptly on social media. Phone support features a maze of automated voice-recognition options that you have to navigate, adding time to support calls. MetroPCS reps struggled to answer our questions, and we struggled to understand the answers. If you anticipate needing to interact with support a lot, that may be reason enough to give MetroPCS a pass.

MORE: How MetroPCS Fared on Our Tech-Support Showdown

Phone Selection (6/10 points)

For a discount carrier, MetroPCS offers a pretty decent selection of phones. While not great in number — we counted 27 models on offer, which tops only Virgin among discount carries — you do get a variety of phones, from flagships like the Galaxy S8 and iPhone X to exclusives like the ZTE Blade Z Max. MetroPCS also features around 20 phones selling for less than $300, which is good if you want to spend as little on hardware as you do on cellular service.

Featured MetroPCS Phones: Galaxy S8, ZTE Blade Z Max, ZTE Z Max Pro, iPhone X, iPhone 8

Special Features (3/5 points)

MetroPCS has stepped up its perks considerably since the last time we evaluated carriers, taking a cue from parent company, T-Mobile. Customers with tiered data plans can take advantage of a Data Maximizer feature, which streams video at lower resolution, allowing you to squeeze more data out of your monthly allotment. The carrier's Music Unlimited program lets you stream music from more than 40 services without touching any of your data.

Like the $60 unlimited plan, MetroPCS' 1GB and 6GB plans let you use LTE hotspot data, though for the tiered data plans, that comes out of your monthly data allotment.

For $5 a month, you can get an add-on to your plan that allows unlimited calling in either Mexico or Canada. The Unlimited Canada package also includes unlimited texting to the United States' neighbor to the north, and you can use your LTE data plan when traveling in Canada. Mexico Unlimited offers the same benefits, except you don't get unlimited texting to or from that country. A $10 World Calling package allows for unlimited calls to landlines in more than 75 countries, plus 200 minutes of mobile calling in select countries.

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  • tyronesuerpype
    I have had all of your top rated phone carriers and most may be fine if you stay in your "home" area. If you plan on traveling in the U.S., the only carrier I and my friends have had that works the best is Verizon. I had T mobile that worked great as long as I stayed home, but traveling it sucked. All the other features of these carriers do not matter if you have no cell or data service. I hated going back to Verizon, but now they have prepaid plans that are very competitive.
  • bounds
    Really stay away from AT&T We were long time (10 year) customers who in the end their customer service lied to us and then the company did not stand behind what their reps said they would do. In the end try someone else.
  • Rob1C
    I disagree with the way Points are divided.

    Performance taking up 40 points is too much and it's based only on Data Speed. It's essential that you never get dropped and important that you can walk or drive around without ever being in a dead spot.

    Plans is 'OK' allocated 25 points, I guess. It should be more about what would be the so-called 'Perfect Plan' that various Groups might want and how far does what is offered stray from that.

    Presumably there are 3 or 4 Groups with 3 or 4 Add-on Extras. The 'Plan Choices' being "Free and Cheap" where the reasonable number of free phones are offered with a low cost Plan. Next up is pay something towards the phone and towards the monthly rate, receiving a 'decent' phone (last year's higher end or this year's upper-mid) with some Data. Third pay a couple of hundred towards the phone and an extra $10 month to get a fair bit of Data (but not crazy, that's what the Add-ons are for). Forth Tier would be no holds barred 2-5 hundred towards the phone and 15 or 20 extra a month for lots of Data. The Add-ons could be 'Phone Upgrade' (where the cheaper Plan can get a better phone), 'Data Upgrade' (where you can bump up your Data, maybe increase Upload Speed if you upload more than the average person), and a 'Jetsetter Upgrade' for double price where you're uncapped for Roaming and Data - OR whatever you think would be a bunch of desirable options.

    The question then would be how does each Carrier's Plans differ from what it is assumed that people would want.

    Where I am we have 3 or 4 Tiers of Carriers. Number one is the richest some of whom put down Landlines back in the day, or Cablevision (either way they have the Wire or Fiber going to the Towers). Number two is owned by #1 but charges half as much, so you might as well sign with #2; they have a few fewer phones on offer or are second to get a particular phone but you can bring your own. Third Tier are the ones who discussed with the Regulators the benefits of competition and the detriment of the former monopoly. Third Tier gets to use 1st Tier's Towers for a reasonable Fee (yet charge less than half as much monthly). The 4th Tier being 'Johnny come lately' who simply showed up last with a promise of a Bankroll and an acceptable Business Plan, they're all over the map for Service and Plans ranging from copying the Big Guys to selling 'Monthly Cards' from Gas Stations and Convenience Stores (still around 50-60% of Tier 1 rates).

    If you can divide all that into 25 points ... good going !

    For the other sectors the Customer Service HAS to be good enough, I was with one of the biggest Tier 1s, damn you if you wanted something - 20 minutes of Elevator Music interspersed with telling you what spot in line you were and an estimated wait time. Once I waited 40 minutes, when they asked how they could help I explained that I had waited over a half hour and asked that they hire more people politely mentioning that if other callers were grumpy that would be the reason why - they replied that they had just hired over 500 people to which I replied that it must be insufficient as the wait was unrealistic but they didn't seem to get my point.

    Speakerphone was your only friend, it kept you from losing the circulation in your arm (speaking of which).

    If they're Tier 1 and charge the max for everything they had best not be ripping you anywhere be it a limited selection of phones, the extortion pricing for years or extended waits for lousy service - all that should lump into Service and drop the score.

    Lastly (because I'll type no more and the reader is likely nodding off) the Phone and Extras should score more.

    The selection of phones should be decent from bleeding edge to refurbished for free.

    Bring your own phone and get a discount is an important feature - some dogs only sell you a phone with a Plan and every couple of years it's a new Plan at an increased cost.

    As for Extras what are those, Tech Support comes from the Internet and it's not like I need phone lessons or an oil change - if they'd take 4 year old phones for a $100 tradein that would be something but they don't ...

    Want me to Manage your Cellular Provider? tell them they need Rob not you need to be robbed.
  • morty8908
    TL;DR-tests were a joke and not objective, Look at Ooklas site to see who has the has the fastest service

    Verizon Has consistently lost in the data speed category (according to Okla, the site you claim to have used.) you also offer no information about the devices or settings you used. if you are using 2 of the same phones with the exact same settings,battery life, and even cell phones cases, then maybe this could be called a fair trial. but you went to only six cities, why not just look on Ookla's actual site for who has the fastest? T-mobile every time. I understand Verizon has to pay saps like you to say they are the best. The only way you could get anyone to maybe believe this is the fact that you only let them win by 1 point. Any more and you would have been laughed at (more so than right now anyway.)

    Also, as someone who as used both services, T-mobile has fantastic customer service. Every provider has Philippines call centers, so depending on when you are calling in (maybe one provider has a promotion going on and they are busier than usual so you get routed more often to those crap centers in the Philippines) and judging performance of customer service, you need to remove the calls from the Philippines and instead only rate those calls from the corporate customer service, not third party overflow.
  • sakman74
    For the past 6 months, one of our verizon wireless lines has been charged international outgoing calls.
    I have explained to verizon multiple times, that the line is using a calling card based in the US (a US number) and that the call log of the device (which is never touched) does not show these outgoing direct international calls.

    in the past there used to be no way for someone to make a direct international call from a verizon wireless phone, at least this was not possible on our lines. it seems in recent times that has changed and the representative said there is no way to turn that 'feature' off.

    we are basically being told the verizon bill log never lies. we have - to date - been charged $ 300 for such calls which were not made directly from the phone to an international number.

    before you decide who to choose simply based on who comes out number 1, look at this example of what the carrier is doing to it's customers - before you choose verizon wireless.
  • jerbigge
    I have Tracfone. I'm a long term member and quite satisfied with Tracfone. However if you want to make a lot of calls, text a lot, or download data,
    Tracfone isn't for you. It is best for the individual who only carries a cell phone for occasional use, accidents, etc. I'm quite happy with my iPhone SE
    I purchased from Tracfone for a very good price. However dealing with Apple makes you feel like you are dealing with a government agency where
    everything is done the way "they" decide. Most businesses that I deal with online put some sort of "cookie" on your computer so after this is done,
    you just "sign in" with your user name and password already stored. My user name and password I use on Amazon dates back to the start of this
    century. I've never had a bit of trouble with them. Apple? Like signing in to the CIA... The people who work the customer service lines do their
    best, but the entire experience dealing with the company is about like dealing with some government agency that doesn't give a damn about
    customer satisfaction. They do make a very good product, but I have no intention of buying say a book or music or anything else from Apple.
  • bulkbuy
    I highly recommend adding a measure to the analysis for coverage in rural areas. Educators, Consumers, & Businesses located in rural areas have been widely shorted by wireless providers in rural areas. Its 2017 and time 4G wireless data and voice truly be a reliable nationwide benchmark. Education systems nationwide including ones in rural areas count on the fact, children will have access to the latest technologies available today. But the truth is, some simply do not due to the FCC preventing actions to require carriers to provide complete coverage for areas they market in.
  • the2ndflood
    Verizon is by far the best carrier, especially here in Tennessee. Everyone that I know who lives in a remote area, is only able to use Verizon. I am surprised though, that Straight Talk has such slow data speeds, even when on Verizon's network. I have been reading that Verizon has lifted its policies on limited data speeds on for MVNO's using their carrier. But definitely, by far, MVNO's have the worst possible customer care! Holy **** is it bad! You have to tap through tons of menu options and if you do manage to get a hold of someone, they either will not help or just hang up on you! Verizon also wins in customer care as well. Each reply will even give you their work email address, so you can contact them when you need more help.
  • 89startup
    thanks for the info! I use Verizon and I'm completely satisfied with its work
  • pushpdeep.ece
    ATT is the worst .... Went through the experience of trying to prorate the last month's bill (coz i only used half the month) but of course didnt happen... the customer service rep didnt help at all.. and kept on trying to sell my DirecTV subscription.. even though i had told him I am her eto talk about proration and i have canceled my service already for because so many times i have been swindled by ATT ( including 1) selling me a Galaxy S7+ on the promise that its in a BOGO offer, but really., if i were to unlock it.., they wont.. and want me to stay in the 2 year contract and pay them monthly 2) fraudulently selling me a Samsung tablet saying its free with a new phone, but really it wasnt 3) promising me that if I keep a second line on my account for 2 more months my bill after that for 1 line would drop to $55, after i had called to cancel the extra line that i didnt need)... Their international plans suck...and so many hidden charges.... I gave them so many chances ... NEVER EVER GOING BACK TO ATT OR GOING TO RECOMMEND TO ANYONE . In business school they taught me, that existing customers are your best source of revenue... Seems like ATT follows the path of not caring for them but rather extorting money from with all sorts of lies and deceits
  • bonalite9
    Sprint is so deeply in debts of more than $ 37 Billion Dollars. If Mr. Masayoshi Son does not pay off those debts soon, not only Sprints will never be Profitable as it's has been for the past few Decades, but its days as the number 4 Wireless Carrier in the United States of America will be sadly numbered.
    So, Please, Mr. Masayoshi Son, Find some highly well qualified CEOs in the U.S to Successfully Manage Sprint for you or Sell it to someone whom will be able to Save it from going Bankrupt......It is never a good Idea to Invest money while being deeply in debts. Pay off your Debts First then, you can profitably Invest Comfortably. And by doing so, Sprint will be very Profitable, its Stock will Soar and you will be one of the Wealthiest Billionaires ever........Take a look at AMAZON .COM, INC. ( AMZN ) !!!! That's an Excellent Genius CEO! And you can do that as well Mr. Son........
  • SR-71 Blackbird
    Total Wireless $35.00 a month for Unlimited talk and text and 6GB of DATA on the Verizon Network.
  • bcpietsch
    VZ customer service is the best? OMG I have had them as my wife and daughter insisted they are only carrier with good coverage in Ithaca, NY though both T mobile and ATT have had coverage in Cornell for years as good as VZ. They were the best network when it was CDMA vs ATT and T mobile in early days before GSM became ubiquitous in towers but IMHO T mobile is easily the best carrier with unlimited not throttling until 50 gig shared data reached and they give free Netflix with account now (2 screens and only 480p but you could cut cord on DSL or cable or FiOS if you watch limited amounts of TV or pay the extra 2 bucks for 1080/4096 2-4 screens-not sure if the data plan allows 720p or 1080p through but see no reason why not as I can see 1080p on my FIOS before and after unlimited. VZ now that T mobile has put their feet to fire at least now has a reasonable (not that reasonable) 200 dollar a month 4 line family plan (22gig is unlimited while ww used to pay 100 for 12 gig shared data so that is relief from overages..
    But you can not get a person on phone with VZ and if you go to store go to Burlington mall as that is only store where folks wont put up with nasty reps like in Nashua that refused to let me pick up my iPhone 6 plus as an upgrade with 64 gig memory 2 years ago at the price I got online of 34 per month (subsidized that is still about $649 or 699 for a phone with the min memory you needed on an iPhone 6-witness my daughters and wife can not shoot photos or store music or even download apps and my youngest just got iPhone 8 before heading to France as it was impossible to do anything and update apps without offloading unused apps (feature?) I blame Apple and VZ for this as they wanted to upsell CLOUD Memory-also VZ added protetction plans for stolen phones and redundant to APLCARE Plans in mall store and the bill was some almost 400 a month with zany 25 a month base plan then 15 a month subsidy towards iPhone purchases that was not a subsidy they just did not charge 40 a month per line but then data cost us 100 a month so bill was avg. 350 while paying phones (so you coud say it was 250 given avg phone paid over 24 months is 25 month or 600 for base iPhone 6). Still they only finally got our bill down when iPhones paid off and then was able to swap for Ulimited as they come close to matching T mobile and lost 4 million subsrcibers (well T mobile gained 4 million so maybe 2 milloin from ATT 2 million from VZ) but if VZ so great and customer service so great why exodus to T mobile and Sprint--because people are sicik of being gouged and worse insulted by the most arrogant imho customer service depts in world. And I am dual customrer having FIOS and until I replaced all my set top boxes with TIVOs and a cable card which they barely admit you can get for $5 a month and use TIVO set top boxes and pay not monthy fee for STB Motorola door stop heater or terrible 4 room DVR bait and switch service for added $30 a montu duals as an STB but still pay $14 a month for each HDTV with VZ STB so I cut FIOS bill from $240 a month to $143 with all premium channels using TIVO (and now TIVO minis are no service plan payoff required so only need to buy out TIVO contract for 200 or so one time fee on TIVO Roameo DVR which I have for 3 years now and I have all the APPs for on demand SHO HBO EPIX MAX and NETFLIX and AMAZON PRIME all resident for on demand streaming of premiums so I am ready to cut cord on FIOS if they dont do better on price but for now I am still loving the programming over FIOS so for now keeping digital broadcast but once Google Youtube LIVE TV has bundling with local news etc. and DISCOVERY network sets up a streaming Web site I will be gone as fast as I can as FIOS will not give you live support ever alwayus must chat to chap in Mumbai or Chennai and never get quotes on deals but since I am not on contracts any longer I get the best 89.99 triple play but I DONT WANT their damn land line as its not legacy so its full of spam calls all day all night and they cannot bother to get rid of robocallers and do not call registry is a joke and eery0one says they are survey company-only legal spamming calls...I really intensely dislike VZW and FIOS for their terrible customer service though I respect their engineering in early years they have rested on arrogant laurels too long and your site fails to show integrity in reviewing them as tops in customer service as a quick look on web shows VZ is rated lowest possible score on many consumer web sites-not sure but Consumer Reports also had customer service as highest from SPRINT Reseller CREDO mobile and VZ was not the top for customer service or price but was near top as they are all awful until T mobile recently finally got their data net up to snuff and its now by far the best with most capacity-I am a retired engineer so I think I know what is what here..your logisitcs dont state methods to testing but does not seem to be highly technical so I hightly distrust any consumer rating site that takes advertising (why Consumer Reports refuses advertizing as its why car ratings are real while Car and Driver, Motor Trend always have some car that is terrible reliability and ranks it car of year etc. alas the web gives more info but more wrong info and Tom's seems highly suspect but welcome full disclosure of your test methodology as no way T mobile lost badly to VZ unless as other reader said you tested in data centers of carriers he mentioned and did not do significant coverage tests in differing cities and rural areas VZ has good coverage and service but customer service-LMAO best-no way in heaven! lol
  • chineduso2001
    FRAUDULENT AND INCONSISTENT BILLING FROM SPRINT NETWORK (Please avoid being victimized - open your eyes).
    For the past 10 years I have been with Verizon Network Provider, I never had issue with them. But for a taste or desire for change I opted to port to Sprint NP. I had new unlocked iPhones with VZ for me and family members which Sprint agent claimed would not work with Sprint N. Presumably, Sprint were on a promo buy one iPhone 8 and get another free. I signed for an unlimited data for 4 lines on anticipation I will only pay for two iPhones out of the 4 iPhones. On receiving the 1st bill, the amount was so high - I was billed for the 4 iPhones and TEP and high amount of surcharge (that's crazy). I went back to the Sprint NW Store to complain. They reviewed my bill and I also opted for removal of the optional TEP ($52 monthly) - unexpectedly, subsequent bills should drastically be reduced. Surprisingly, the next bill from Sprint NW was almost doubled the previous bill. Very frustrating. I totally regretted my porting to the mystery network. I made several calls to Sprint Customer Care with no reasonable response - in one of the responce, I was told that the promo and the signed lease do not take affect immediately. I felt sorry to myself and to other innocent potential subscribers.
  • kirillmusic
    Don't agree with the ranking of T-Mobile as second. On paper it all looks good and big US cities are ok, but try to go to a small city in US or go to Europe, and coverage becomes very spotty. Additionally, they have what looks like a good plan for international travel, but it's not in reality. The company towers and tech side are full of glitches, as we experienced first hand, and they end up charging $3 per minute instead of promised 20 cents. You'll be calling customer service a lot, trying to adjust it. 2G speed in Europe is also super slow, so is Latin America, it often goes down to 1 G, and then you lose ability even to text, let alone find anything on map or internet. It's much cheaper just to go to a local cell store and to get a local 10 euros prepaid sim which will last you a month with great coverage/speed. Tmobile is very frustrating. And they charge you for WiFi calling outside US, which is so crooked, because it's the local internet provider, whose network you are using to call on WiFi, not one of the wireless companies partnering with T-Mobile. The only thing they are good for is the pricing on limited 2GB/5GB family plan inside US in big cities, but even unlimited is really not that cheap. And they are getting worse, not better.