Joining a friend's "family plan" group on T-Mobile -- good idea?
September 5, 2019 7:22 PM   Subscribe

I was offered by a friend to join his "family plan" and pay only $35 per month for unlimited data, which would include T-Mobile Tuesdays and free Netflix. Is this a good idea?

Happy September!

I'm currently paying $85 for an unlimited plan on another carrier, plus Netflix, which is really expensive. My friend has a large T-Mobile "family plan", and as someone is leaving the group, he is offering me a spot for $35/month, which would include the above mentioned benefits. As there are 6-8 people on the plan, everyone only pays $35 a month for unlimited calls, data, hotspot (up to 10-15gb), and other fringe benefits. I have talked to my friend, and as long as I pay him $35 regularly every month through CashApp, Zelle, or whatever service, I'll continue getting service. On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer.

I have checked with my carrier, and I wouldn't incur an ETF for leaving, my iPhone is paid off in full and unlocked, and my iPhone is compatible with T-Mobile's service. Seems like I'm all set.

A couple things that's giving me pause:

a) My own (internalized) anxiety, given my roommate situation last year. The friend who's making the offer seems like a very trustworthy guy, so that's not the issue. It's more of the old mantra "never do business with friends", but this should be relatively harmless, and I'm in a position to pay him $35 regularly and on time, per month. I think it's just a "reflex", a fear of getting ripped off, or unexpectedly getting cut off, but should be very unlikely in this scenario.

b) I'd basically relinquish control of my phone number to him, as he'd be the owner of the account. That means I'd be at "his mercy" if I were to port out in the future, or if I wanted to change my number, I'd have to go through him. I've had control of my own number since about 8 years, so it'd be a bit weird giving up that control. But, it shouldn't really be an issue for the foreseeable future. (I did ask him about any commitments on my part, and basically he said I can decide to port out anytime, as long as I communicate with him and cooperate in the port-out process.)

However, it'd be really nice to save $50 per month, plus about $15 for Netflix, and as we live in a major city (he lives in an adjourning apartment, and his T-Mobile phone works just fine in my apartment), I know I'd get coverage, plus T-Mobile's service has been improving steadily over the years. Are there any other potential issues I might be missing here, or anything else I should be concerned about?

Thanks!
posted by dubious_dude to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This is super common (in my social circles at least) and it sounds like they've already got a stable group going, so I'd go for it. Just make sure you're on the page re: timing and method of payment beforehand and you're good to go.
posted by btfreek at 7:59 PM on September 5, 2019


Sounds reasonable. If you want to keep control of your number, you could port it to Google Voice, which as I recall costs $20 one time. Using it works pretty seamlessly on Android but may be a little more annoying on iPhones.

Also, there are plenty of other options. TMobile seems to offer a $50 a month plan for unlimited which you can just get on your own. And there are MVNOs which use the same TMobile network that offer even cheaper plans, especially if you're willing to limit data.
posted by alexei at 8:01 PM on September 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Quick point: Google Voice, while a good suggestion, isn't exactly doable as I am Deaf (and so is everyone else in the group). Just wanted to point that out, just in case people won't continue making that same suggestion. :)
posted by dubious_dude at 8:05 PM on September 5, 2019


It still seems a little pricey to me. I’ve used Mint Mobile for years now and pay $15/mo. for unlimited phone/text and 4gb of data. Maybe that’s an option for you? Here’s a link (affiliate).
posted by mezzanayne at 8:11 PM on September 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I came to say it sounds like a very good deal for phone and Netflix, but after reading the above comment, I'm going to look into Mint. I might be ditching my $35/month unlimited talk/text with Boost.
posted by she's not there at 8:30 PM on September 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Seconding Mint. It runs on T-Mobile’s network.
posted by jessca84 at 8:31 PM on September 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Nice! After some serious internal discussion, decided to pull the trigger and ordered 3 months (plus 3 free months) with Mint! It's going to be a difficult leap going from unlimited to 8gb per month, as I'm Deaf and often use FaceTime and other services to communicate, but I can make it work. I just have to regulate my use, try to take advantage of Wi-Fi more, and be mindful of my use. Fortunately, my work has Wi-Fi and I'm always on Wi-Fi at home. My average data usage per month is 18-20 GB, but it'll be easy to pare that down. I'm a bit nervous, as this is a big jump, but getting 3 months free was just too good to pass up.

I knew going to AskMe would help, just didn't expect such a good deal from Mint! Thanks, everyone!
posted by dubious_dude at 9:08 PM on September 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


Sounds like you've made up your mind, but I'll offer my experience for anyone else in a similar boat.

I'm on a family plan with my brother and his boyfriend. For years, it was me, my brother and my mom, but my mom switched to Google Fi. I might be able to save a couple of bucks by switching, but, to be honest, I'm lazy. I've got the bank set to send my brother every month. I was the original bill payer, but we switched to my brother when his employer would pay for his cell phone. I probably wouldn't join a family plan with friends, to be honest. When my mom moved to Google Fi, I had to get on the phone to T-Mobile because it was my account. I know I've had to have my brother phone T-Mobile to sort something out as well, though I don't remember what (there's a possibility it was when we switched the bill payer, which was non-trivial and it's still a bit busted--I still get the "your bill is available" text every month). It's a great setup, but you need to rely on and/or inconvenience the bill payer just enough that I'd want it to be someone I'm quite close to.

You also end up sharing a Netflix account, though you can have separate profiles. (It's like $2/month after Netflix raised their prices.)
posted by hoyland at 2:59 AM on September 6, 2019


I'll just add my voice here to say that I'm in a similarly sized group with T-Mobile (my sister is the administrator, if that's a good term to use), and I've never had any issues at all. It's a great deal; I have my bank send her a check every month and I never think anything of it.
posted by backwards compatible at 6:39 AM on September 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Only thing I was going to add was just to check tmobile service at home and wherever you frequent. I use and love t-mobile, but their service can be just a tiiiiiiny bit worse than other carriers. For me it's only on the ground floor in certain establishments, so it's been fine. Sounds like you're going with a low-commitment way to find that out, so great!
posted by Phredward at 7:49 AM on September 6, 2019


I share a tmobile account as well and IIRC the "unlimited" plan is one that throttles after so many GB (5 sticks in my head for some reason?). Also, yes, the free netflix would be a shared account. But you may also get MLB.TV as they've offered that the past two years as an include as long as you sign up for it when they offer it (2 week window or somesuch). As long as you get the passcode for the global account you can manage your own line no problem in my experience.
posted by danapiper at 8:28 AM on September 6, 2019


My Mr and I have a family plan with T-Mobile and we've had his friend on it for many years. The context is that my Mr and I are a long-term family unit and the friend has known my spouse for 3 decades (I jokingly refer to the friend as "your first wife" even though he's a dude), so it's a bit more stable than the sort of young-people-in-ever-changing-groupings situation, so take that with a grain of salt. Also we don't ask the friend to pay us anything because he's on disability and has a very low income.
posted by matildaben at 11:39 AM on September 6, 2019


Just to throw in my 2€, keep in mind this person may have access to all of your data. Certainly the calls you're getting and making, the times and duration of those calls. Possibly text messages and location data. Maybe access to voicemails? I would only be on someone else's plan if it was a parent or spouse. I don't think I'd even be on a sibling's plan.
posted by VyanSelei at 3:58 PM on September 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


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