The Freebies You May Not Know Your Cellphone Plan Includes: Streaming And More

When you sign up for a cellular service plan with one of the major carriers (and some prepaid carriers), the odds are high that you're getting more than just mobile voice and data service for your monthly fee. Nowadays, extra plan perks primarily focus on bundled access to various popular streaming services, such as the ad-supported versions of Hulu and Netflix

There are other, smaller benefits, too, like time-limited deals, particularly as part of T-Mobile Tuesdays. Joining that are the nuts and bolts of the service, which are not the same across all carriers. For example, the benefits covered in each carrier's protection plan can vary, and often in ways that might not be immediately obvious. Perhaps unsurprisingly given its efforts to differentiate itself from longer-tenured name brands Verizon and AT&T, T-Mobile is what many of these deals have in common. So let's take a look at some of the perks offered that go beyond basic voice and data service.

T-Mobile's Netflix ON US and Apple TV+ ON US

T-Mobile has offered one particular perk for long enough that it can be easy to forget it exists: "Netflix ON US," which launched in September 2017 as part of the carrier's continued branding efforts to distinguish itself as "The Un-carrier." The free Netflix subscription perk, which is available to this day under various plans as listed on T-Mobile Benefits, was initially available to customers with family plans in the T-Mobile ONE package, which itself is no longer a tier offered to new customers.

In August 2022, "Netflix ON US" was joined by another perk called "Apple TV+ ON US" as part of some plans, like Go5G Plus, which includes both. As of this writing, Go5G Plus is available for $44 (in a five-line plan with AutoPay) to $95 (in a single-line plan without AutoPay) per month. As expected, the perks mean subscribers get access to these streaming services at no extra cost as long as they remain a T-Mobile subscriber on a qualifying plan. The account(s) must be in good standing to keep access to the streaming perk.

MLB.TV on T-Mobile

T-Mobile has offered free MLB.TV subscriptions to its customers for several years and will continue to do so for at least several more. With that said, the company does so in a way that is distinct from how it handles the "ON US" perks. The free Netflix and Apple TV+ add-ons are benefits that stick with your plan without expiring. T-Mobile's handling of its MLB.TV promotion, however, is much different: instead of being an ongoing part of your subscription, MLB.TV has to be re-activated at the start of each baseball season as a T-Mobile Tuesdays promotion. 

The promotion launched with a three-year agreement in 2016; it was locked in for another four years in 2019, and this year it was extended through the 2028 season. Despite that long-term commitment, the company has always required customers to opt in during the right T-Mobile Tuesdays promotion in order to score free access to the latest Major League Baseball season.

It's worth noting, though, that even for big baseball fans, MLB.TV is still something of a niche service. That's because the platform only offers out-of-market games, meaning a subscription does not include games for the team(s) serving the market where you live. Whoever owns the local rights to your home team's games still takes priority over MLB.TV. At the time of writing, Metro by T-Mobile (formerly MetroPCS) touts T-Mobile Tuesdays as part of its own mobile plans.

NFL Sunday Ticket with Verizon myPlan

T-Mobile's partnership with the MLB isn't the only such deal between a major wireless carrier and a major sports league. Verizon has its own deal with NFL for Sunday Ticket — and in that case, it's actually an advertised perk bundled with certain subscriptions, not something you can only activate during a limited window at the start of the season, as with MLB.TV on T-Mobile. That doesn't mean it's not confusing in its own right, though, and not just because it isn't clear if this deal will last beyond the current season.

According to Verizon, the NFL Sunday Ticket promotion — which covers the cost of the service that ordinarily retails for $449 per season — is available to customers who have a "new smartphone line on [an] eligible mobile plan." The Verge clarifies that it's also available to current customers if they upgrade to Unlimited Plus or add a line to an existing Unlimited Plus plan. Where it gets particularly confusing is that NFL Sunday Ticket is technically part of YouTube TV, and at signup, you're given the impression that a $72.99 per month YouTube TV subscription is required to access NFL Sunday Ticket. 

It's not, though: the Verizon terms refer to the not-included "YouTube TV base plan subscription" as "optional," plus a Verizon spokesperson clarified to The Verge that the free Sunday Ticket subscription can be accessed through the service's standalone YouTube Primetime Channels page. YouTube Primetime Channels is the mechanism that lets you subscribe to services like Paramount+ or Starz through YouTube. As with MLB.TV, NFL Sunday Ticket only gives you access to out-of-market games, so the same caveats about where you live and which team is your favorite apply.

Unlimited $5 no-deductible replacements for malfunctioning phones

When it comes to the carriers' optional mobile phone protection plans, there's generally one aspect that makes them a little less appealing than they first appear on the surface: the deductible. As with other forms of insurance, a deductible is what you have to pay out-of-pocket toward a claim. Depending on how much you paid for your phone and how recently you bought it, paying the deductible may feel like a waste of money compared to buying a new phone.

Things are different, however, if your phone malfunctions in a way that would have qualified you for a warranty repair from the manufacturer, had the malfunction happened within the first year. As long as you maintain a Protection 360 plan with T-Mobile on your eligible device (purchased through the carrier), you only pay a $5 "processing fee" for a replacement phone. This applies even if you're long past the expiration date of the manufacturer's original warranty — and, if you find it more convenient, this swap can be done during that manufacturer's year-long warranty period, as well.

T-Mobile isn't the only carrier that distinguishes malfunctions from damage; it's just the most generous at the time of writing. Verizon does and, like T-Mobile, doesn't cap the number of exchanges, but it charges $49 per replacement. AT&T distinguishes between damage and malfunctions, as well, but isn't clear about whether the deductible applies. Some non-carrier competitors like Allstate don't distinguish between the two.

T-Mobile Tuesdays

T-Mobile (and Metro by T-Mobile) plans include access to T-Mobile Tuesdays, a perk that subscribers can use to get weekly benefits that widely vary in value. On the upper end of the perks, there have been promotions for extended free subscriptions to various streaming services — not just the annual MLB.TV deal, but also past one-offs like a year of Paramount+ as well as six months of Apple TV+.

On the lower end, the perks vary wildly. If you're a fan of Formula 1 racing, the past 10% discount on tickets might have caused you to spring into action. Other less-than-stellar but still perfectly useful perks have included a free tote bag, Pride Month-themed socks, insulated bags for keeping food hot or cold, Valentine's Day-themed T-Mobile Tuesdays mug, a drawstring backpack, and a tropical-themed tumbler for cold drinks. 

Ongoing deals, at the time of writing, include 15 cents per gallon off gasoline at Shell gas stations, as well as free in-flight Wi-Fi with partner airlines (Alaska, American, Delta, and United). They're not all huge winners, but the T-Mobile Tuesdays deals are well worth keeping an eye on if you're already a subscriber.