Cell phone plans are a necessary evil in the modern world, so it seems like everyone is trying to get to a cheaper plan to save some money. There are a few great prepaid plans out there, but the best that I've found is Mint Mobile.
Mint Mobile — formerly Mint SIM — has been around for a few years now. It runs off T-Mobile's network, and T-Mobile has been expanding its coverage annually to reach more Americans. But is Mint Mobile worth your money? Let's take a closer look.
Bottom line: Mint Mobile is one of the most compelling prepaid wireless options on the market. The idea of paying for months of service upfront in bulk is a unique concept that allows you to get pretty fantastic value. We also love the expansive phone support, solid download speeds, and inlcuded mobile hotspot.
- Works with almost any GSM phone
- Cheap trial plans
- Tethering included
- Good download speeds
- T-Mobile coverage is getting better, but there are still gaps
- Being on an MVNO means getting kicked off the network if it gets congested
I — Tom Westrick — have been using Mint Mobile's service since mid-June, 2018. I personally purchased the small starter pack which includes 3GB of high-speed data per month for three months, and I also purchased a year's worth of 12GB-per-month service in September. I've primarily used it in and around Indianapolis, Indiana, with occasional visits to Fort Wayne, Lafayette and other areas in Indiana. I've been using it with a Google Pixel 2 XL and Samsung Galaxy S8.
Mint Mobile runs on T-Mobile's network, so if you bought your phone directly from the magenta carrier (or Metro), you're good to go. Any network unlocked phone can be used as well, just make sure it's advertised to work with T-Mobile. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can buy a $5 compatibility kit that includes 100 minutes, 100 SMS messages and 100MB of LTE data.
Mint Mobile What I like
Your experience with Mint Mobile will heavily depend on how well T-Mobile works in your area. It's one of the better networks where I live, so I'm a happy user. If you're unsure how well T-Mobile works around you, Mint Mobile is also a great way to try that out: the three-month plans are about as expensive as a one-month plan from other carriers.
Calls sounded crisp and clear, and no one on the other end reported issues hearing my voice. I had no problems sending SMS messages, but that's something I do less and less. When I'm at home — or visiting my parents for a few days — Mint Mobile allows for WiFi calling and messaging. This immensely helps me fill the gap of not having great T-Mobile coverage in my hometown.
Data use — what most smartphone users are going to care about — was strong. In good coverage areas, I had no problems downloading podcasts, streaming music, navigating with turn-by-turn directions, or anything else I wanted to do on my phone. I also didn't have any issues trying to use my phones in a congested area of the city, even during crowded concerts and art festivals. The raw data speeds won't set any records, but it'll be fast enough for most users to use their phones without issue.
My phone just worked, and I'll be saving a lot of money on my monthly phone bill.
Tethering worked perfectly for me, and there isn't a separate allotment for mobile hotspot data. If you want to use all 12GB for your laptop's connection, no one's going to stop you. You also get free calls to Canada and Mexico, so you can find out what's new in the world of maple syrup (or whatever it is Canadians talk about).
Finally, I like how Mint Mobile does billing. You buy service plans in three-, six-, and twelve-month allotments. Your data allowance gets refreshed every month, but you only get billed after those months are over. Everyone does their budget differently, but budgeting for a single, annual bill is a easier for me than budgeting for something every month. The 12GB plan works out to $25 per month if you pay annually, which is much lower than comparable plans from other carriers.
Heads up — Mint Mobile is offering free unlimited data for a limited time
With millions of people all around the world staying home to tele-work and/or be with their kids while they're currently out of school, chances are you're using more data on your phone than you normally do. If you're a Mint Mobile customer, you're in luck.
Although Mint Mobile doesn't sell an unlimited plan, the company is offering free unlimited data to all customers through May 14 as an act of goodwill for these trying times. From the Mint Mobile app, simply tap the Account page and then tap Buy more data. From there, you can add additional data in 3GB increments and add as many as you'd like without having to pay a dime.
Mint Mobile says that your credit/debit card will get charged, but you should see a refund within 24 hours.
Mint Mobile What I dislike
The only hangup that comes with Mint Mobile is T-Mobile coverage in your area. As I mentioned, the coverage is great where I spend most of my days. But when traveling on some highways, or around my home, I didn't have coverage. The gaps didn't last long, but they were there.
One thing I didn't experience — but to be aware of — is that Mint Mobile devices will have lower priority on T-Mobile's network than T-Mobile's own customers will. That's not something you'll need to worry about in most environments, but if you go to a concert, Pokemon Go raid or other busy event, you may stop being able to use data. Keep that in mind if you go to a lot of big events, and consider trying one of the three-month plans to know if that will really be an issue.
But that's going to be different for everyone. If you're cautious, the three month plans are inexpensive enough to find out if you can use Mint Mobile long term.
What happens to Mint Mobile after T-Mobile/Sprint merger
In case you hadn't heard, there's an impending merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. Once that goes through, the two companies will become one, under the name T-Mobile. So what happens to MVNOs like Mint Mobile that use T-Mobile's network? Absolutely nothing.
According to the merger deal between T-Mobile and Sprint, the combined company promises to continue to offer competitive wholesale rates to MVNOs like Mint Mobile. Outgoing T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, told the U.S. Congress in March 2019 that MVNOs can "take their rates right now and lock it in for as long as they want." As a result, Mint Mobile prices will likely stay the same or drop after the T-Mobile merger.
Mint Mobile Should you use it?
Yes. Mint Mobile will work without issue on any phone that supports T-Mobile's network, which is most unlocked phones out there. Most folks will be okay with the 3GB or 8GB plans, but power users can get 12GB per month and still have a great deal. If T-Mobile's coverage works for you, using Mint Mobile is an easy way to save money on your cell phone bill.
Affordable wireless service you'll want to use.
Mint Mobile is one of the most compelling prepaid wireless options on the market. The idea of paying for months of service upfront in bulk is a unique concept that allows you to get pretty fantastic value. We also love the expansive phone support, solid download speeds, and inlcuded mobile hotspot.
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