Verizon may be the only carrier selling Google’s new Pixel phones directly to consumers, but if you buy a Pixel or Pixel XL from the Google Store, you can use it with any US wireless carrier.

Now T-Mobile is trying to attract Pixel owners with a promotion: bring a Pixel to T-Mobile and get up to $325 in credit. That’s kind of like getting a phone for half off, since the 5 inch Pixel with 32GB of storage costs $650.

But it’s not necessarily the best way to go for everyone.


First of all, T-Mobile’s network coverage in some parts of the country, but pretty bad in others. So you’ll want to check the company’s coverage map.

Second, in order to get the credit, you’ll need to sign up for a T-Mobile One plan, which is an unlimited talk/text/data plan that costs $70 per month for a single line, with discounts for additional lines. For a family of 3 or 4, it’s a pretty good deal. For individual users? You might be better off going with one of the company’s own pre-paid plans (or an MVNO like Straight Talk, Cricket, or Google’s Project Fi).

That’s because of the third point: a $325 credit sounds good on paper. But it’s actually 24 monthly credits of $13.55 each… which means that if you have a single line with T-Mobile’s One Plan, it brings your bill down to $56.45 per month.

But if you opt for a T-Mobile pre-paid plan, you can get unlimited talk and text and 3GB of high-speed data for $40 per month.

In other words, over the course of 2 years, you’d spend $1610 ($650 for the phone and $960 on wireless service) if you go pre-paid. Take advantage of the T-Mobile One deal and you end up paying $2005 ($650 for the phone and $1355 for wireless service).

If a T-Mobile One plans meets your needs better than a pre-paid or MVNO plan, then sure, $325 in savings is a nice perk. But it’s not necessarily the cheapest way to get a Google Pixel phone… especially since you still need to either pay for the phone up front or take advantage of Google’s financing plans to get the handset.

The $325 credit also only cuts the phone’s price in half if you opt for the cheapest Pixel. If you want 128GB of storage and/or a 5.5 inch display, you’ll have to pay a higher price for the phone, but T-Mobile’s discount tops out at $325 over 2 years

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