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 including 5G support at no extra cost. 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 included 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 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
Mint Mobile's data plans are available in 3GB, 8GB, and 12GB sizes with an additional Unlimited plan offering up to 35GB of high-speed data.
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.
By the way, you can keep your current phone number if you decide to switch to Mint Mobile.
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.
Mint Mobile now officially supports T-Mobile's 5G network so if you have a 5G capable phone, you could see some nice speed improvements. Just make sure you have a phone that supports 5G bands n71 and n41 to get the best balance of speed and coverage.
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 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.
Mint Mobile What could be better
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 another 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.
Mint Mobile The Competition
Mint Mobile works hard to fit the needs of as many people as possible without getting too complication. While one of Mint Mobile's packages will more than likely fit your needs, there are some features and cost savings simply unavailable with Mint.
If you are looking for a pure unlimited experience with an unlimited hotspot, you can't go wrong with Verizon-based Visible. With a single unlimited plan for $40 per month on Verizon's LTE network, Visible is a great option for heavy users. If there's a simpler approach to wireless, I haven't seen it. You also get an unlimited hotspot at 5Mbps. Unfortunately, phone compatibility is worse than most MVNOs and there are no family plan options.
If you're looking for an option on the AT&T network, Cricket is definitely worth considering. While there are some annoying aspects such as data speed limits, there is a wide range of options available for light and heavy users alike. The unlimited data plan with no speed cap is a bit pricey at $60 per month but you do get 15GB of hotspot data and prices do start to come down a lot when you have two or more lines.
If you want unlimited data but are looking for more in the way of family discounts, T-Mobile's own Metro by T-Mobile is a great option. With 5GB of hotspot data, the base unlimited plan is a great choice starting at $50 for the first line. The real value comes when you add more lines coming in at $30 per line per month. At two lines, you've matched Mint's own unlimited plan but with three or more lines, you see some additional savings. And you only need to pay for one month at a time.
Mint Mobile Should you use it?
Who it's for
- If you can pay for a few months upfront
- If you know how much data they need
- If you have an unlocked 5G phones
- If you have great T-Mobile coverage
- If you only have one or two lines
Who it isn't for
- If you need multi-line discounts
- If you only have the budget for a single month at a time
- If you have poor T-Mobile coverage
- If you need priority data on the network
Mint Mobile will work without issue on any phone that supports T-Mobile's network, which is most unlocked phones out there. If you want to bring your whole family, you can mix and match up to five plans and mange them under one account with Mint Family. Most folks will be okay with the 3GB, 8GB, or 12GB plans, but power users can get unlimited data 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 included mobile hotspot.
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