This paper demonstrates the reflection phenomenon of the magneto-thermoelastic plane waves from a stress-free surface of a homogeneous, isotropic, thermally and electrically conducting solid half-space. We employ the generalized thermoelasticity model with memory-dependent derivative (MDD) for this study. We find that three basic plane waves consisting of two sets of coupled longitudinal waves and one independent shear type wave may travel with distinct speeds in the medium. The speeds of the coupled longitudinal waves are plotted graphically to predict a comparison for the MDD and Lord–Shulman models. At last, for an appropriate material, the reflection coefficients are computed numerically and presented graphically with the angle of incidence of the incident (vertically polarized) shear type wave and the obtained results are explained. © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.