Cell phone plans are a necessary evil in the modern world, so it seems like everyone is trying to find a way to keep their bill down without giving up on coverage and data. There are more great prepaid plans than ever, and one of the best that I've found is Mint Mobile.
Mint Mobile — formerly Mint SIM — has been around for a few years now and runs off T-Mobile's network. T-Mobile has been upgrading its network to reach more Americans, including 5G support at no extra cost, so if you've had bad coverage with the network before, it might be worth checking out again. 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
- Mobile hotspot included
- 5G access on every plan
- T-Mobile coverage is getting better, but there are still gaps
- Being on an MVNO means your connection is slowed if it gets congested
Mint Mobile: Plans and availability
Mint Mobile is a prepaid carrier that distinguishes itself by selling service in chunks of three, six, or 12 months. The more you're willing to buy at once, the lower your monthly price. All plans come with unlimited talk and text and 2G data, including calling Mexico and Canada. Depending on your average usage, you choose between 4GB, 10GB, or 15GB of data per month. If you think you need more than 15GB, an unlimited plan is available that comes with 35GB of high-speed data plus 5GB of mobile hotspot data.
|3 months (introductory price)||$15/mo. ($45)||$20/mo. ($60)||$25/mo. ($75)||$30/mo. ($90)|
|3 months||$25/mo. ($75)||$35/mo. ($105)||$45/mo. ($135)||$40/mo. ($120)|
|6 months||$20/mo. ($120)||$25/mo. ($150)||$35/mo. ($210)||$35/mo. ($210)|
|12 months||$15/mo. ($180)||$20/mo. ($240)||$25/mo. ($300)||$30/mo. ($360)|
To get the best per month pricing, you are encouraged to renew for as long a term as possible. If you're a new customer and choose the 4GB plan, your first payment will be $45, or $15 per month. When your plan renews, you can choose to renew for three, six, or 12 months. Renewing for 12 months will get you the same monthly price as the initial three months though you will need to pay the full $180 at once.
If you choose to renew for a shorter period, you'll pay less upfront though the price broken down by month will be higher. This comes down to what you can pay at once, so if you're looking to lock in the lowest possible price, make sure you can pay for the full year when your first three months run out.
Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile's network for service, which means that most people will be covered. You should still check out the coverage maps on Mint Mobile's website to be sure. One nice thing about this network is that just about any of the best unlocked Android phones will be compatible. Mint Mobile will show you just how compatible your phone is when you're signing up.
If you're looking for 5G service, it's included at no extra cost and will work as long as you have a phone that supports T-Mobile's 5G network If you decide to sign up, Mint Mobile will send you a free SIM card kit with your order that can be activated through the Mint Mobile app.
Mint Mobile: What I like
Your experience with Mint Mobile will heavily depend on how well T-Mobile works in your area. For most people in suburban or urban areas, coverage will be great, but it's worth considering that T-Mobile's rural coverage still isn't as strong as AT&T or Verizon. For example, I tested Mint Mobile in Northern Florida, and I had consistently solid LTE performance with more than enough speed for anything I do on my phone.
5G worked without issue on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ I used for testing. I connected to T-Mobile's NR 5G data though speed and performance were expectedly standard on the Band n71 connection I got. Still, it's nice to confirm that 5G is working with no special configuration as T-Mobile continues to add capacity to the network.
T-Mobile's 5G coverage is constantly expanding, and as of July 2021, it covers more than 305 million people, with 165 million covered by the faster Band n41.
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. Mint Mobile also allows for Wi-Fi calling and messaging if the signal is weak or you're inside a building with a poor signal.
By the way, you can keep your current phone number if you decide to switch to Mint Mobile.
Data use — what most smartphone users care about most — was strong. I had no problems downloading videos and apps, streaming music, navigating Google maps, or anything else I wanted to do on my phone in good coverage areas. I also didn't have any issues trying to use my phones in a congested city area. The raw data speeds won't set any records, but they will be fast enough for most users to use their phones without issue.
My phone SIM activated quickly with no issues.
If you go with one of the three data plans, you can use any or all of that data as a mobile hotspot. The unlimited plan comes with 5GB, which should be enough to get you by in a pinch but won't replace your home internet. Mobile hotspot activation worked first try with no issues.
Finally, I like how Mint Mobile does billing. You start with three months and renew your plan in three, six, and 12-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 works fine for me. The 15GB plan works out to $25 per month if you pay annually, much lower than comparable plans from other carriers.
Mint Mobile also has a feature in its unlimited plan that it calls unliMINTed. This feature tracks your data usage on the unlimited plan and recommends a cheaper plan if it turns out you don't need that much data. Again, this will be great if you don't track how much data you typically use in a month.
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, I didn't have coverage. The gaps didn't last long, but they were there.
It's also worth keeping in mind that you actually only get 35GB of high-speed data if you're interested in the Unlimited plan. Mobile Hotspot comes with 5GB of data, and video streams are limited to a lower quality, about 480p. This is fairly standard for prepaid unlimited plans but worth noting for very heavy users that stream a lot.
In my experience, it wasn't hard to live with the lower video resolution, but as someone that watches a lot of gaming content on YouTube, losing the 60fps 720p option was a bummer. Still, outside of peak times, 720p 60fps videos and live streams seemed to play with no issue, so your mileage may vary. Just connect to Wi-Fi if you can, and you should be fine.
One thing I didn't experience — but you should be aware of — is that Mint Mobile devices will have lower priority on T-Mobile's network than T-Mobile's own customers will. Of course, that's not something you'll need to worry about in most environments. Still, if you go to a concert or another busy event, your data might be slower to respond, but with strong coverage or 5G, you likely won't be cut off completely.
But that's going to be different for everyone. Testing Mint Mobile alongside another phone with a higher priority T-Mobile connection more often than not returned nearly identical results. Ping times were also within the margin of error, usually ranging anywhere from 30 to 60 milliseconds. This won't be good enough for fast-paced gaming, but it felt fine for general network responsiveness.
Mint Mobile: The Competition
Mint Mobile works hard to fit the needs of as many people as possible without getting too complicated. 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. You could also check out Ultra Mobile, which includes similar multi-month savings with single-month options on the T-Mobile network.
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, a wide range of options is 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 get 15GB of hotspot data, and prices start to come down a lot when you have two or more lines.
If you want unlimited data but are looking for more 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. However, the real value comes when you add more lines 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.
We've done many other comparisons between Mint Mobile and the competition, which are listed below:
- Mint Mobile vs. Boost Mobile
- Mint Mobile vs. Consumer Cellular
- Mint Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless
- Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi
- Mint Mobile vs. Metro by T-Mobile
- Mint Mobile vs. Republic Wireless
- Mint Mobile vs. Straight Talk
- Mint Mobile vs. Tello
- Mint Mobile vs. Ting
- Mint Mobile vs. US Mobile
- Mint Mobile vs. Visible
Mint Mobile: Frequently asked questions
Does Mint Mobile support international service?
Calls and texts to Mexico and Canada are free on all plans. If you want to call other countries, you'll need to add money to your Mint Mobile account and pay per minute or text.
Mint Mobile's international roaming support is as simple as it gets, with a flat rate of $0.05 per text, $0.25 per minute, and $0.20 per MB for most countries. Service in Mexico and Canada is reduced to $0.02 per text, S0.06 per minute, and $0.06 per MB.
Which Mint Mobile plan should you buy?
When it comes to how much time you should buy between three, six, and 12 months, starting with just three makes the most sense. If you are new to Mint Mobile, you can have the first three months of service for the same monthly cost as 12 months. Not only that, this will help you dial in how much data you'll need before committing long term.
Starting with three months, you can renew with 12 months and lock in the introductory rate. This will be the best course of action if you find that Mint Mobile works well for you. If it's not working for you, you can let it run out without renewing.
Looking for a family plan? Mint Mobile has Mint Family, a feature that allows one person to manage up to five plans under one account. Mint Family isn't a family plan, so don't expect additional savings by joining one. This feature allows one person to manage and pay for all of the plans. Each line can have its own plan, so you can ensure each member has what they need without overbuying.
Does Mint Mobile support 5G?
Yes, it uses T-Mobile's 5G network, which means that if your phone supports it, you should see the 5G signal on the top-right of your phone. Here are Mint Mobile's current supported wireless bands:
- Band 2 - 1900Mhz
- Bands 4/66 - 1700/2100 Mhz
- Band 5 - 850Mhz
- Band 12 - 700Mhz
- Band 71 - 600Mhz
- Band n71 - 600MHz (5G sub-6)
- Band n41 - 2.5GHz (5G sub-6)
- Band n260 - 39GHz (5G mmWave)
- Band n261 - 28GHz (5G mmWave)
What phones does Mint Mobile support? Can you bring your own device?
Surprisingly for a smaller MVNO, Mint Mobile has a pretty great selection of phones you can buy directly from it. You have the option of paying the full price of the phone outright or month-to-month with 0% financing from Affirm.
Alternatively, if you already have a phone you want to use with Mint Mobile, you can do that, too.
Mint Mobile works with any GSM unlocked phone, and if you aren't sure what that means, you can use a compatibility checker on Mint Mobile's website to confirm your device will work by entering its IMEI number. The SIM card itself is free, so you'll just need to purchase one of the above plans to get going with your service.
Don't forget that you can bring your current phone number to Mint Mobile as well.
Mint Mobile: Should you sign up?
Who it's for
- If you can pay for a few months upfront
- If you need a lot of data
- If you have an unlocked phone
- 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, most of the unlocked phones you can buy. If you want to bring your whole family, you can mix and match up to five plans and manage them under one account with Mint Family. Most folks will be okay with the 4GB, 10GB, or 15GB 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.
Review Changelog, August 2021
This article was published in April 2021. It was updated in August 2021 with the following changes:
-Update to T-Mobile's 5G coverage numbers. - New customers will start with three months of service and can renew for three, six, or 12 months. - Updated the section about 5G coverage to reflect improvements in the network coverage, including the faster band n41. - Ultra Mobile was added to the competition section.
T-Mobile 5G coverage information was updated for July 2021.
Coverage on a mobile carrier, especially 5G, is frequently updated, so it's important to check the current coverage in your area.
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