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Thread: What to expect when joining (and porting in) at Costco?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    What to expect when joining (and porting in) at Costco?

    I have 3 lines with AT&T currently. Coverage for 2 of the lines (me + spouse) is awful at the house, so I plan to move those lines to T-Mobile (probably to Magenta 55+). That will leave the 3rd line paying a huge amount for AT&T service, but coincidentally that person will be moving to Canada and so their line just needs to be kept alive at minimal incremental cost and able to roam in Canada (minimal calls/texts, probably no data needed). The solution seems to be to set up a Magenta 55+ plan for all 3 lines (the non-55+ version has a free 3rd line, but the 55+ version works out cheaper for 3 lines).

    The complication is that 3rd line is in CA (I am in WA), so if I were to walk up to the store (or Costco kiosk) in WA and say I want 3 lines, do they give me 3 SIMs with new numbers, and I port each line in when I am ready, or does the porting have to be initiated at the kiosk (in which case the 3rd AT&T line might stop working before I can get the SIM delivered)?

    I'm reading that Costco tends to have some good deals for new customers. Is there anything I should be watching for (such as deals too good to pass up)? Or for something like this should I go to a corporate store? None of us needs a new phone, but if there are decent freebies we would be interested.

    I have verified 'decent' coverage at the house via a US Mobile (on T-Mobile) SIM. While it's not as good as Verizon at that location, it's good enough.

    Thanks, Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Gulf Coast
    1+ 8T 5G, Galaxy S20 5G, Moto G7 Power
    T-Mobile, PagePlus
    Feedback Score
    The store in WA should not be limited to providing or porting just WA-based numbers. Be aware that T-Mobile can't port-in every possible number. They must have a presence in the "toll center" in question. For instance, numbers from rural Nebraska might not be portable.

    The first question you should ask is how well T-Mobile serves the areas where you live, work and play. Don't believe T-Mobile's coverage maps. Look at CellMapper and RootMetrics' maps.

    What are your current phones? You probably won't need to buy new phones. T-Mobile has structured their trade-in system as a trap. Your new phone is "free" only if you stay two years. Many people have fallen into the trap of trading in their old phones only to find out that T-Mobile doesn't work for them. They then have to pay off their "free" phones when they port out. Staying with your existing unlocked phones gives you the ability to port back to AT&T if you find T-Mobile isn't your cup of tea.

    I'm not sure why the one line needs to stay with AT&T to roam Canada. Most of T-Mobile's plans have free like-home roaming in Canada and Mexico.
    Donald Newcomb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Feedback Score
    You should double check, but I think some att plans allow permanent roaming in canada without kicking you off

    For tmobile, they don't like it if you roam too long overseas. Not sure if they'll still complain if you stay on wifi calling mostly and use 0 data. (Their t&c says >50% of call/data usage being off network for 2 billing cycles out of 12). Or you could visit USA one week every month and max our your usage stateside (not that I'm recommending to do this)

    May want to port over to google voice (some challenges getting 2FA SMS to work) or an alternative voip provider

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Feedback Score
    Thanks for the responses @DRNewcomb & @paperwastage, I'll try to clarify.

    The main thing I was asking (sorry if that wasn't clear) is - will I have to activate and start the port on all 3 SIMs when I am at the kiosk? For the two lines that are used here in WA that's no problem (other than the less time spent inside a Costco the better these days), but I can't have the third line (currently used in CA, will be moving to Canada) suddenly lose service and not have a replacement SIM in hand.

    Related question - if I have to activate at the kiosk (which I can do if that will avoid activation fees), can the port-in of each line be done later online? That would allow me to time things better - get two numbers ported soon, and the third number some time later after the SIM arrives in CA and she has time to deal with it.

    Some background (if interested):

    All 3 lines need to move off AT&T (two of them because of poor coverage at our new home, the third because a single line on AT&T is too expensive given it will have minimal use when it moves to Canada from California). They are all 425 area code (Bellevue WA) and were previously (10 years ago?) on T-Mobile. So no worries there regarding porting.

    Our phones are definitely compatible - Samsung Galaxay S21+ (unlocked from Samsung), iPhone 11 (unlocked from Apple), and Pixel 4a (unlocked from Google). So yeah, if any of the "good deals" require a trade-in, then I won't bother.

    I didn't even look at coverage maps, they are a joke. Instead I've done a lot of Cellmapper surveys myself (not just relying on others' results) around the new home, and by far the best choice (at this location) is Verizon (I'm not doing that though). The second best choice is T-Mobile, which is adequate, but not great (much better than AT&T). The tests were using US Mobile SIMs (for Verizon & T-Mobile).

    It was interesting to read about AT&T actually allowing long-term international roaming and T-Mobile explicitly disallowing it, but AT&T are out of consideration long-term (again, because the cost of a single line is high, whereas one third of a 3-line plan is not as bad). Interestingly the article talked specifically about Roam North America, which all 3 lines have (this done back when you had to call "retentions" to get it added to Mobile Share Value plans).

    I considered Google Voice, but that needs a US number associated with it, but all 3 of us already have our own GV numbers so we can't park the Canada-bound kid's in GV because there will be no US number to associate it with (although I could do a cheap PAYG plan for that).

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