Bought in bulk

Mint Mobile

Great flexibility

Consumer Cellular

Mint Mobile is known for providing great value if you are willing to buy three or more months of service at a time. All plans come with data access, unlimited talk and text, and the ability to use your data as a hotspot. Mint Mobile is a great fit for most smartphone users.

From $15/month at Mint Mobile

Pros

  • Unlimited talk and text on all plans
  • T-Mobile LTE speeds
  • Upgrade plan at any time
  • Data as a hotspot

Cons

  • Must buy in bulk
  • No multi-line savings

Consumer Cellular lets you tailor a plan to your personal usage without needing to buy any more than you need. With plans ranging from calling only up to 25GB of data, Consumer Cellular can be a good fit for smartphones and basic phones alike.

From $15/month at Consumer Cellular

Pros

  • Flexible data options
  • Share the plan with two lines
  • AARP discounts
  • Robust AT&T network

Cons

  • Hotspot not officially supported
  • More limited phone selections

Mint Mobile is a much simpler approach to buying phone service. It may be a bit disconcerting to pick one of Mint Mobile's three data tiered plans since you may easily overbuy data, but if you are willing to buy more than a few months, you can still save money. Consumer Cellular intends to be more of a tight fit and succeeds with data tiers for nearly any mobile phone user. If you need more or less data than Mint Mobile offers, Consumer Cellular can be a great alternative. If you fit in the middle group that Mint Mobile targets, it's still the best fit.

You can start small

Saving money isn't the only goal when it comes to choosing a phone plan. Dozens of other factors, from phone compatibility to network quality, can have a great impact on that decision. As average mobile data usage continues to increase every year, your phone plan should enable you to get the most out of your device. Luckily both Mint Mobile and Consumer Cellular allow you to upgrade your plan at any time to meet your needs so you don't need to worry about buying too little data.

Mint Mobile Consumer Cellular
Network T-Mobile AT&T
Minimum price $15 per month $15 per month
Minimum term 3 months 1 month
Maximum term 12 months 1 month
Hotspot Yes No
Calling to Mexico and Canada Included Pay per minute

If you are covered by the T-Mobile network and are willing to buy a year of service at once, Mint Mobile reigns supreme. If you need more than 12GB of data in a month or don't need any data at all, Consumer Cellular takes the crown.

Coverage

Mint Mobile coverage Android appSource: Mint Mobile app

A few years ago, AT&T's network would have been an easy recommendation over T-Mobile. Thanks to T-Mobile's continued efforts in improving its network, both networks will more than likely provide solid coverage for the vast majority of Americans. Check Mint Mobile and Consumer Cellular's coverage maps to make sure your area is included.

As far as international coverage goes, either carrier will allow you to travel abroad with its service. Consumer Cellular offers a standard rate of $0.30 per minute, $0.10 per text, and $0.25 per MB of data in supported countries.

Mint Mobile's rates are $0.05 per text, $0.25 per minute, and $0.20 per MB of data in the countries with service. Mexico and Canada have reduced rates at $0.02 per text, $0.06 per minute, and $0.05 per MB of data.

Mint's Menu

Mint Mobile's plans come in three sizes for three terms, resulting in nine total choices. The best for you comes down to how much data you need and how much time your willing to pay for at once. If you are willing to buy the whole year, you will get the best rates.

You can use your data as a hotspot as well. If you go over your data allotment, your speeds will slow down to 2G-like speeds. There are no overages.

Mint Mobile does have an introductory rate for three months of service so you can try out the service at the 12-month rate without committing to the entire year. Keep in mind, renewals will be at the standard rate unless you change to the 12-month plan.

3GB 8GB 12GB
3 months $15/mo. ($45)
$25/mo. renewal
$20/mo. ($60)
$35/mo. renewal
$25/mo. ($75)
$45/mo. renewal
6 months $20/mo. ($120) $25/mo.($150) $35/mo. ($210)
12 months $15/mo. ($180) $20/mo. ($240) $25/mo. ($300)

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 up if you feel you'll need more every month in the middle of your billing cycle.

Consumer Cellular's buffet

Consumer Cellular's plansSource: Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular lets you pick a plan that fits your needs precisely. If you're like me, you don't actually use that many minutes thanks to VoIP services like Telegram and Messenger. It's nice that you can save some money on Consumer Cellular by dropping down from unlimited.

Screen showing data usageSource: Android Central

It's best to build your plan or use Consumer Cellular's savings calculator to get an idea of how much you'll be paying for service. If you configure a plan to match Mint Mobile, you will be paying close to the same cost as Mint's three-month plan.

It's worth keeping in mind that Consumer Cellular doesn't list hotspot or tethering as a supported feature in its terms of service. Some reviews have reported that the hotspot feature works despite this, but if you rely on having a hotspot, you should double-check with customer service before you sign up.

Of course, with a maximum of 25GB and a minimum of none, on the extreme ends of data usage, Consumer Cellular has options where Mint Mobile does not.

The phones

Galaxy Note 10 PlusSource: Android Central

Both Mint Mobile and Consumer Cellular support a wide range of phones thanks to T-Mobile and AT&T both using GSM networks. As always, if you intend to bring a phone to either carrier, you should check the IMEI. You can check on Mint Mobile's website before signing up but you will need to contact Consumer Cellular's customer service to check on that network. However, nearly and unlocked GSM compatible phone should work on either service.

Of course, Mint Mobile is happy to sell you a new phone if you're ready to upgrade. Mint Mobile carries a good range of Android phones including Google's Pixel phones and most modern Samsung Galaxy phones. Most modern iPhones can also be purchased.

Consumer Cellular offers a good range of phones as well but has a much more limited Android selection including modern Samsung Galaxy devices as well as some mid-range devices from Motorola and ZTE. If you're looking for a flip phone, Consumer Cellular has them and Mint Mobile does not.

Which one fits you?

Mint Mobile's plans are aimed squarely at the majority of smartphone users, offering a reasonable amount of data without cutting corners on service. With the T-Mobile network covering more people than ever and with speeds improving year over year, the only places Consumer has an advantage are in offering shorter terms and more extreme data amounts on both the high and low ends.

Consumer Cellular is still a great value for a lot of people and if you are willing to pay for the convenience of one month terms or just want to use the AT&T network. Most people will find Mint Mobile's 3GB or 6GB plan to be a great sweet spot and if you can budget out more than three months of service, you will get a great mobile network at a great price.

Bought in bulk

Mint Mobile

Plenty of data savings in bulk

Mint Mobile offers some of the best prices on mobile data anywhere thanks to it selling plans in three, six, and 12-month chunks. The more you buy, the more you save, and it works with most unlocked phones.

Great flexibility

Consumer Cellular

A customized plan

Consumer Cellular has a ton of options to build the perfect plan for you. Choose from any amount of data from none at all up to a massive 25GB. All on the large and fast AT&T network.

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