Mint Mobile vs. AT&T Prepaid: Which carrier should you use?

As implied by its name, AT&T Prepaid exclusively uses the AT&T network, while Mint Mobile was recently purchased by T-Mobile. AT&T and T-Mobile trade blows for coverage and data speed depending on where you are, and whether or not you have 5G. If you're one of the 235 million people to be covered by T-Mobile's high-speed 5G, you'll get much-improved data speeds. That is, as long as you have a 5G phone with band n41 support.

It's safe to say that most people should have at least LTE coverage on both networks. For a single line, Mint Mobile has some of the best cell phone plans you can get, but when you start adding family members, AT&T Prepaid's multi-line discounts can put it back on top.

Mint Mobile vs. AT&T Prepaid: How many lines do you need?

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You can save a lot of money with a single line on Mint Mobile, thanks to its low 12-month rates that are also available as an introductory rate for your first three months. Mint Family allows you to manage up to five lines, and while there are no special discounts, you get Mint's lowest rates renewed at three months, rather than 12, to make the payments a bit more manageable.

AT&T on the other hand keeps its old-school family plan discounts, but also adds some multi-month savings on plans tailored to single-line accounts. This gives customers plenty of options on AT&T Prepaid, without needing to deal with the hassle of paying for an entire group of people. In an era where our phones are less of a utility and more of an extension of our sense of self, individuals may want to be fully in control of their own plans, without worrying about the family's desires.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Mint MobileAT&T Prepaid
5G accessAll plansUnlimited Plus
Minimum period3 months1 month
Maximum period12 months12 month
Data rollover?NoYes
Multi-line discountNoneSome plans
Multi-month discountAll plans8GB plan (3 months), 16GB (12 months)

Mint Mobile vs. AT&T Prepaid: Mint Mobile's Plans

Mint Mobile app showing plan renewal options

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

With Mint Mobile, you save money by buying data in bulk. Your savings increase with longer service terms. If you don't feel comfortable making that jump right off the bat, you can start with a three-month plan and renew it for 12 months to keep your introductory rate intact.

Each plan has a promotion that gives you the first three months for the same monthly rate as if you bought the whole year. This is great if you're unsure if Mint Mobile is the right fit for you, and if the 7-day guarantee isn't enough. 

You'll need to pay attention, though. After your initial three months end, your price will return to standard rates. Luckily, Mint Mobile will send you a message to let you know about your renewal options when the time comes.

If you need a lot of data, you can go with Mint's unlimited plan, which includes 40GB of high-speed data and 10GB of mobile hotspot data each month. After this 40GB, you're not cut off but your speeds will be reduced to around 500Kbps. That's enough for messaging, emails, music streaming, and Twitter (if you're patient), but won't do for video streams.

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Header Cell - Column 0 5GB15GB20GBUnlimited (40GB)
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)

You can add more high-speed data at a rate of $10 for 1GB or $20 for 3GB if you run out. You can also upgrade to the next plan if you feel you'll need more every month in the middle of your billing cycle.

Mint Mobile vs. AT&T Prepaid: AT&T Prepaid's plans

AT&T has five main plans, plus one multi-month plan. The cheapest plan comes with 5GB of data, unlimited talk, and text. Next up is a 16GB plan with all of the same features plus usage in Mexico and Canada. Both of these plans have rollover data. Finally, there are two unlimited plans, the cheaper of which comes with no hotspot data, 5G access, or slowed when the network is congested.

The most expensive plan is Unlimited, and it comes with 5G access, 5GB of hotspot data, and unlimited high-speed data with potential slowdown during congestion.

You can save with each of these monthly plans by signing up for autopay, as well as bringing multiple lines. Each additional line up to five lines is reduced by $10 to $20 per line. You can also mix and match your plans. Keep in mind that only Unlimited and Unlimited Plus are eligible for auto-pay discounts.

If you're looking for savings on a single line, you can get an 8GB plan at $99 for three months, or a 16GB plan at $300 for the year. With monthly rates that break down to $33 and $25 per month respectively, you can save quite a bit of money if you can pay for the whole year.

Mint Mobile vs. AT&T Prepaid: Get the right coverage

Mint Mobile Speed Test

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In years past, it would've been a foregone conclusion that the AT&T network was going to be better than T-Mobile's, but continued investment and additions, such as band 71, have helped bolster the T-Mobile LTE network. AT&T has continued to invest in its network as well, and now both carriers trade blows for the fastest network on LTE.

That story changes when it comes to 5G, however, with T-Mobile covering a staggering 320 million people with low-band 5G and 235 million with mid-bad coverage as of July 2022. T-Mobile's mid-band 5G uses band n41, and can deliver speeds over 200Mbps with peaks up to 1Gbps.

AT&T's 5G network is coming along with solid low-band coverage and a growing mid-band footprint, but its coverage still pales in comparison to T-Mobile, with about 255 million people covered in total. It's worth mentioning that AT&T's 5G+, which utilized mid-band and mmWave spectrum, covers many venues such as sports stadiums and airports. Check AT&T's coverage maps to see where this expanded coverage is available.

Unfortunately, AT&T's unwillingness to include 5G on the majority of its prepaid plans doesn't show a ton of confidence in its 5G capacity. This is exacerbated by the number of best cheap Android phones that support 5G. If you want 5G, AT&T is not the way to go.

Mint Mobile vs. AT&T Prepaid: International

Both Mint Mobile and AT&T Prepaid offer international calling. The rates to other countries can vary quite a bit, so you should check before you call. On AT&T Prepaid, you get free talk, text, and data usage in Mexico and Canada on all plans except the 5GB plan. You also get free calls and texts to Canada and Mexico. 

There are also add-on packages available containing a larger amount of service. You'll need to sign in to your AT&T account to see your options. If you need to make an international call with the 5GB plan, you'll have to pay a separate rate per minute that varies by country.

Mint Mobile's simplicity is refreshing with a flat rate of $0.05 per text, $0.25 per minute, and $0.20 per megabyte for countries on the supported list. Service in Mexico and Canada is reduced to $0.02 per text, S0.06 per minute, and $0.06 per megabyte. Mint Mobile includes calling to Mexico and Canada on all of its plans.

Mint Mobile vs. AT&T Prepaid: Which phones work?

Pixel 7 Pro back panel in leaves - 1

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AT&T Prepaid and Mint Mobile both sell phones on their websites. Mint Mobile offers many of the high-end devices you would expect from any carrier, such as the Galaxy S23 series and the Pixel 7 series phones. Mint Mobile also sells a selection of cheaper phones that will be a solid value to those that don't need a ton of power or wants a cheaper secondary phone. They even offer Service + Phone bundles, which gives you six free months of wireless service when you purchase a phone alongside any six-month plan.  

AT&T Prepaid also sells phones on its website though these phones are mostly lower-end devices. There are some decent phones available, but if you want something more premium, you'll need to buy it elsewhere and use the BYOD option to use it with AT&T Prepaid.

Both networks are compatible with all of the best Android phones, though 5G on AT&T isn't supported on as many devices as T-Mobile. OnePlus phones, for example, work flawlessly with T-Mobile's 5G network, but will be stuck on LTE with AT&T. You'll be able to check your phone when you sign up for service or by checking your IMEI in the BYOD tool on either carrier's website.

Mint Mobile vs. AT&T Prepaid: Which one should you get?

The answer here isn't that cut and dry. AT&T Prepaid offers a great value for a lot of people thanks to its multi-line discount and its multi-month discounts, but it falls behind when it comes to cheaper plans and 5G availability. 

With Mint Mobile, you get a much simpler approach with simple data packages and terms coming in four different sizes. Mint Mobile also includes access to the full T-Mobile 5G network.  If you have only a couple of lines and are willing to buy more months in advance, Mint Mobile is an easy choice.

Samuel Contreras

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.

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