Mint Mobile and MetroPCS are both mobile virtual network operators — MVNOs for short. They're known as alternative carriers, offering consumers choices beyond the Big Four (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint).

Switching to an MVNO can save you money because they simply lease coverage from one of the larger networks and resell it to customers. Plans are often prepaid, so you don't have to worry about overages.

Let's take a look at two major players — Mint Mobile and MetroPCS — and see how they compare to one another.

Mint Mobile background

Who owns it? Ultra Mobile

Which network does it use? T-Mobile 4G LTE

How long has it been around? Since 2016

Tethering allowed? No

Cheapest plan: $35 for 1 month: 2GB 4G LTE, unlimited nationwide talk, text, and 2G data

MetroPCS background

Who owns it? T-Mobile

Which network does it use? T-Mobile 4G LTE

How long has it been around? Since 1994 (originally as General Wireless). Merged with T-Mobile in 2012.

Tethering allowed? Yes, on all but the $50 unlimited data plan

Cheapest plan: $30/month: 1GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data

Mint Mobile plans

Mint Mobile doesn't operate with traditional contracts. You pay upfront for your term, which can be 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months, with "buying in bulk" saving you more money in the long run. All plans include unlimited nationwide talk, text, and data, though you only get so much 4G LTE per month. Unlimited international texting is included in all plans.

Duration Small (2GB LTE) Medium (5GB LTE) Large (10GB LTE)
1 month $35 $50 $60
3 months $69 ($23/month) $99 ($33/month) $119 ($39.67/month)
6 months $119 ($19.83/month) $169 ($28.17/month) $209 ($34.83/month)
12 months $199 ($16.58/month) $299 ($24.92/month) $399 ($33.25/month)


As far as add-ons are concerned, Mint Mobile's selection is very slim:

Extra data:

  • 1GB/month: $10
  • 3GB/month: $20

International credit:

Mint Mobile's plans contain no international calling, though unlimited international texting is included. You can add international calling credit to your account in $5, $10, or $20 increments.

You can see a list of international rates here.

MetroPCS plans

All MetroPCS plans include unlimited talk, text, and data, and its website features a data calculator to help you find a plan that fits your specific needs based on your estimated usage. There are no annual contracts with MetroPCS; you pay on a month-to-month basis.

Monthly data 1GB LTE 3GB LTE Unlimited LTE Data Unlimited LTE Data (plus 8GB hotspot)
Price (monthly) $30 $40 $50 $60
Extras N/A Music Unlimited Music Unlimited Music Unlimited

Plan Features

All plans from MetroPCS feature no annual contracts, with all taxes or regulatory fees included in the price. Voicemail and visual voicemail are included with each plan, along with Caller ID, Call Waiting and 3-way calling.

Music Unlimited is included on $40 and higher rate plans, which lets you stream from 40+ streaming music services including Apple Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Napster, Spotify, and more without it counting against your monthly high-speed data allotment.

4G LTE Mobile Hotspot is included in all plans except for the $50 unlimited plan.

Additional Services

Napster Unlimited Music

For $10 a month, you get unlimited, ad-free access to the Napster app, which allows you to download and play your favorite music for offline listening or stream online. There are ad-free artist radio channels to choose from as well as live radio options available There are millions of songs available to be downloaded.

Mexico Unlimited

Do you have friends or family living in Mexico? Do you often vacation south of the border? For only $5 a month, you can add Mexico Unlimited to your plan and get unlimited calling to and from Mexico to mobile phones and landlines, unlimited data in Mexico just as you would receive in the U.S. (based on your $40, $50, or $60 base rate plan), as well as unlimited text messages, sending and receiving, while in Mexico.

Canada Unlimited

Essentially the same as Mexico Unlimited, except for our pals to the North. For $5 a month, you get unlimited calling to and from Canada (including mobile phones and landlines), unlimited data while in Canada (high-speed data based on your $40, $50, or $60 base rate plan), as well as unlimited text messaging while in Canada.

Value Bundle of Features

For just $5 a month, you can add five features to your account to make life easier. They include:

  • Name ID: Blocks calls from unwanted, restricted, anonymous, private or unknown parties. Also includes Reverse Number Lookup and Real Time Caller ID.
  • International Text Messaging: Send text messages across the globe. Find the full list of countries here.
  • Voicemail to Text: Converts your voicemails to texts and delivers them straight to your phone
  • Call Forwarding: Allows you to forward calls to any local number. Call Forwarding is easy to setup and use for those times when it might come in handy.
  • Unlimited Directory Assistance: Unlimited calls to directory assistance for business and residential listings in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

The Premium Handset Protection Program

For an added $6 a month, Premium Handset Protection covers your device against loss, theft, damage and out-of-warranty malfunction. Includes access to Lookout Mobile Security Premium, which helps keep your device secure by backing up your data including your contacts, photos and call history, and will also send you an email alert if they suspect your phone has been stolen.

Premium Handset Protection can only be added on the day of activation.

Best phones available from MetroPCS

You can bring an unlocked phone to MetroPCS; just check compatibility first. If you don't have a phone to bring, we recommend the following:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7: $549 (after offers)
  • iPhone 7 32GB: $649
  • iPhone 7 128GB: $749
  • iPhone 7 Plus 32GB: $769
  • iPhone 7 Plus: 128GB: $869
  • Samsung Galaxy S6: $299

Which should I go with? Mint Mobile

Both Mint Mobile and MetroPCS use T-Mobile's network, so deciding which to go with will really depend on how much data you expect to use, and the extra features available from MetroPCS.

From a purely price-conscious perspective, Mint Mobile is the better option, especially if you have an unlocked phone of your own. Our review explains why. So long as you sign up for three months or longer at a time, you get a lot more data for your money even when compared to the MetroPCS unlimited plans. 5GB to 10GB of data a month is probably going to be more than plenty for the average person.

However, if you frequently travel to Canada and/or Mexico, then MetroPCS offers the better deal with its Canada Unlimited and Mexico Unlimited deals. Getting unlimited calling and texting, as well as being able to use your base rate data while out of the country is a huge plus that simply isn't available with Mint Mobile.

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)


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