One new MVNO you might want to consider is Hello Mobile. They offer CDMA (Sprint) and GSM (T-Mobile) service at a really cheap price point.
5 Bucks gets you: 500 min. 500 MB and unlimited texts per month, and tax is included in the 5 bucks!
Its not "free" but for only 5 bucks it's a sweet deal you may want to check out. Also they offer free sim and no activation fee and no port fee.
From comments on other forums, it seems questionable whether or not they actually offer T-Mobile service. From my experiments with the Bring-your-own-device page, it tells me that none of my unlocked GSM-only devices are eligible.
It's been suggested that they default to Sprint service, and will only offer T-Mobile service in an area without Sprint service. (Tracfone does something similar, defaulting to Verizon service if available.) Hello doesn't start by asking the location for phone use, though-- so the only way they could determine this is by your ISP location. I thought about locating an area that has T-Mobile-and-no-Sprint coverage to test availability, but I also don't have a VPN capable of putting me in that location. If someone happens to live in such an area, might be interesting to check a T-Mo-capable phone on their tester.
At some point in the future, I might try Hello-- the $5 plan would suit me. Based on reports I've seen, I'd make sure I already had the right Sprint SIM (I've seen reports of the free SIM not arriving, or the wrong SIM sent), and I'd make sure that I didn't envision needing to change phones within the foreseeable future.
For $8 (plus tax), one could get the same plan from Tello (Sprint network), a company that seems to know what they're doing & works hard to make the customer experience easy, and get unlimited text and backup 2G included.
The game changer for Hello would be if T-Mobile service is actually available.
KentE as always thanks for your input. I think I know why many folks never received their sim card because I just went through the process. When you sign up for service first they make you pick a plan and then if you say you are going to BYOD they ask for info about the phone (MEID) to see if it will work on Sprint or T-Mobile. Then here is the 'tricky' part. If you do nothing after this, you will never get a sim card. You HAVE to begin the "activate your line" procedures before they will mail the sim card. I can see where folks say "well, I paid for service and told them I had a phone that needs a sim so naturally I'll wait for the sim to arrive because I will need it to 'activate' the line." This logic is understandable but if you do this you will NEVER get your sim. You have to actually "begin" line activation to trigger the sim being shipped. Of course you can't 'finish' the activation until your sim actually arrives. So I can see how people could be confused and never get a sim. Also they will ship a T-Mobile sim card if your phone works with T-mobile but not Sprint. Sorry for the ramble....Hope this helps!
Have you managed to get a GSM phone to clear the BYOD check? I've tried with 3 IMEI's: A factory unlocked (GSM only) Nokia 3.1, a factory gsm unlocked Alcatel Pop 4 Plus, and an aftermarket unlocked AT&T prepaid phone. All were rejected. (The Nokia and Alcatel even clear the T-Mobile check for VoLTE & WiFi calling via the T-Mobile app..) The only other phones I have that should work well on T-Mobile are 4-carrier phones, and return as Sprint eligible without giving me an option at that point..
Or is there a later place in the signup process to specify gsm without needing to clear the BYOD check tool?
This is very confusing. As per Fraiser1 you have to start the activation before you get sent a sim? But then why is the sim card kit is in the cart when you order. And when I click activate it simply says insert sim, reset network and then make a test call. So how do I get them to send the sim?
I've tried all my gsm only phones and none of them are accepted.
Your correct mmfacemm it is confusing. When I did not click activate phone it never said 'your sim is on its way' or anything like that, but I do think it was sitting in the cart and I think it said processing. I waited several hours and still nothing about getting my free sim. The main page kept saying in big red print "Activate your Line" so I took a gamble and clicked on it (I wasn't too worried because I was not going to port my number) After I clicked 'Activate Line' it asked me to verify my plan (5 bucks) and to re-enter my MEID. After I did that I got a message saying "my sim was on its way". Some sprint phones don't require a sim and some do. It never asked me to pick CDMA or GSM. It just says "the best one will be selected for you". My MEID is for a Pixel and it will work on Sprint, T-mobile or AT&T. Some of the phones they are selling online are only T-Mobile I believe so I believe they do offer T-Mobile I'm just not sure how to "lock" in that choice. Anyway, back to activation, after I began the process I got the message that my sim was on the way. Then it said the next step was to do a "Network reset" I knew you should't do that without first having the sim card so I contacted CS by chat. They confirmed that if I needed a sim (and I did) that I needed to wait for the sim before I completed the network setup. It also said my first month and free second month would not begin until I made my first call or sent a text or used data. Today when I logged in it had my 'new' phone number and a tracking number for the sim. So based on my experience you have to 'Begin" activation to get the sim shipped. As always your mileage may vary ....
Just an update, my sim card from Hello Mobile came in the mail yesterday. (it was free) I was able to set it up on my Pixel with no problems. Their dashboard has lots of useful information. So they had a 'buy one month get one month free' promotion. Now I get 500 min Unlimited texts and 500 MB of data each month for the next TWO months for ONLY 5 bucks! (no taxes or fees with any of their plans) In my area of Tallahassee Sprint coverage is just as good as AT&T. So far, so good....
I have several phones. Phones that will work on all networks. The only ones I have that pass Hello Mobile's validation are the one's that are compatible with the Sprint network. I don't know why they mention T-Mobile or GSM on their website,