UPDATE: T-Mobile shut down Mobile Money on 27 July 2016, so this review is no longer updated and will be out of date.

While T-Mobile never revealed any customer data, it did not seem to generate a lot of enthusiasm and traction with customers. The company said in a statement that they continue to consider mobile-first financial services, and that it does support Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

The Mobile Money concept is quite simple: you need an iOS or Android smartphone, download an app, sign up for Mobile Money with T-Mobile and get a prepaid Visa card.

If you are a T-Mobile customer, you can deposit checks for free into your Mobile Money account by simply taking a picture of them with your phone. Direct deposits are also free of charge. You withdraw money for free from a network of 42,000 ATM machines. If you need to reload your account with cash, you can do so for free at T-Mobile stores. There is no activation fee, no minimum balance and no monthly maintenance fee.

Who is Mobile Money for?

Mobile Money is targeting the 68 million Americans who lack a bank account or debit card. Bacause the card is prepaid, no credit check is done. The card is available to US permanent residents aged 18 and above. A physical US street address and social security number are also required.

To register, you will be asked for your name, address, date of birth and social security number. You may also be asked to provide a copy of an identification document like your driver’s license.

It is not a requirement that you are a T-Mobile customer, but as you will see below, if you are not, the monthly charge, retail purchase fees and withdrawal fees will probably not make it worthwhile.

T-Mobile Visa card

Zero fees on standard banking for T-Mobile customers

As the table shows, Mobile Money is mostly free with standard banking. T-Mobile customers only pay a surcharge for expedited cheque deposits, and express delivery of replacement cards.

T-Mobile customers Others
Monthly maintenance fees $0 $5 per month. Waived if load minimum is $500 the previous month.
Retail purchase $0 at participating stores. Refunded if purchased elsewhere. $4
Cash reload in retailer $0 in T-Mobile stores. $3-3.95 elsewhere. $3-3.95. No fee for reloads above $300.
Check deposit by phone (photo) $0 $0
Domestic ATM withdrawal $0 in-network. $2 elsewhere $0 in-network. $2 elsewhere
Bill payment: electronic/paper check $0 in-network. $2 elsewhere $0 in-network. $2 elsewhere
Lost/stolen replacement card $0 $6
T-Mobile Others
Price: $0 at participating stores.
Refunded if purchased elsewhere
Price: $4
$0/mo maintenance fee $5/mo maintenance fee.
Waived if load min. is $500 previous month
Cash reload: $0 in T-Mobile stores.
$3-3.95 elsewhere
Cash reload: $3-3.95.
No fee for reloads above $300
Check deposit by phone: $0 Check deposit by phone: $0
$0 in-network domestic ATM withdrawal.
$2 elsewhere
$0 in-network domestic ATM withdrawal.
$2 elsewhere
Bill payment (electronic/paper check): $0 in-network
$2 elsewhere
Bill payment (electronic/paper check): $0 in-network.
$2 elsewhere
Replacement card: $0 Replacement card: $6

The surcharge-free network of 42,000 ATMs includes 7-Eleven and McDonalds. If you go outside this ATM network, the withdrawal fee is steep at $2 per withdrawal.

Overall, Mobile Money offers a very competitive package for T-Mobile customers. The question is then: are you paying a premium for the T-Mobile service compared to Sprint, AT&T or Verizon? If you are looking for the best 4G speed and most stable network, you might want to go for Verizon. For 3G speed, AT&T is still in the lead.

But if you are looking for an affordable, monthly plan, T-Mobile compares favorably with the other providers. You will be better off if you already have a device, as while the monthly costs at T-Mobile are low, the phone purchase costs are less competitive.

Restrictions and limitations

Mobile Money is a prepaid card. This means that you cannot purchase on credit. You can only use what you have on your account.

The minimum initial-value load is $20 and the maximum initial-value load is $500.

After you have activated your card, you can reload your card with funds as many times as you like. However, the maximum amount of value reloads you may make to your account in one day is $2,500. You may have direct deposits coming in larger than $2,500, but then your daily limit is met and you will have to wait until the next day for further reloads.

You will in normal cases have access to your funds within one hour.

You can send $100 a day and up to $500 in a month to other Mobile Money users.