Mint Mobile and Project Fi are "alternative carriers" or mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). They're not the Big Four (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile), but they lease coverage from those networks and resell it to you for less. Plans are often prepaid and fixed contracts are few and far between.

Let's compare Mint Mobile and Project Fi to see how they stack up against one another.

Mint Mobile background

Mint SIM coverage map

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: $45 for 3 months: 2GB 4G LTE, unlimited nationwide talk, text, and 2G data

Project Fi background

Who owns it? Google

Which network does it use? Sprint CDMA and LTE, T-Mobile 4G LTE, U.S. Cellular CDMA and LTE

How long has it been around? Since 2015

Tethering allowed? Yes

Cheapest plan: $20/month: Unlimited nationwide talk and text, unlimited international text

Mint Mobile plans

Mint Mobile doesn't operate with traditional contracts. You pay up front 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)
3 months $15/month ($45 upfront) $20/month ($60 upfront) $25/month ($75 upfront)
6 months $18/month ($108 upfront) $24/month ($144 upfront) $30/month ($180 upfront)
12 months $15/month ($180 upfront) $20/month ($240 upfront) $25/month ($300 upfront)


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.

Mint Mobile also offers a 7-day money back guarantee on service plans.

Mint Mobile phones

Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile's nationwide network. Any phone built for T-Mobile will work with Mint Mobile's LTE network and Wi-Fi calling options. For Unlocked phones, the network requirements are:

  • Phones supporting only 1900 MHZ and 850 MHz will be able to use the service, but won't be able to access the high-speed network in many parts of the U.S.
  • A fully compatible phone is one that supports the AWS bands (1700/2100 MHz), the 1900 MHz and 850 MHz bands and Band 12 (700 MHz).

If you're not sure the phone you have will work, give Mint a call at 844-646-8746 (6-6 PT Mon-Fri, 8-5 PT on Saturday) or you can chat with a specialist at the Mint Mobile website.

Project Fi plans

Project Fi offers two types of plans: family and single line. What you get with each plan is the same, but you'll save money on each additional family plan line (up to 5 lines).

The Basics 1GB LTE
Price $20/month $10/month
Free Extras Unlimited international texting
Call and text from any Android or iPhone

Family Plan

The Basics 1GB LTE
Primary line price $20/month $10/month
Secondary lines (up to 5) $15/month $10/month
Free Extras Unlimited international texting
Call and text from any Android or iPhone

Note: Google calls the base Project Fi plan "The Basics." No data is included and must be purchased at the rate of $10/GB. Data is not shared between lines on a family plan. Each line pays the same $10 per GB of data (domestic and international in 135 countries) with the cost of any unused data refunded at the end of each month


Data-only SIM:

Google offers a data-only SIM card to use in any compatible LTE device, It shares data with the primary line at the same $10/GB rate. You need to have at least one line of service and purchase a minimum of 1GB of data to use the data-only SIM card.

Data pricing:

  • 1GB of 4G LTE: $10/month

Phone Insurance:

$5 per month per device covers accidental damages and device malfunctions. You can make one in a 12-month period. Deductibles are $79 for Pixel, $99 for Pixel XL, $69 for Nexus 5X, $99 for Nexus 6P. When you make a claim Google will ship out a replacement device the next business day.

International add-ons:

International cellular calls cost $0.20 per minute.

Google Wi-Fi services:

Your Project Fi phone service includes Wi-Fi calling and texting anywhere in the world. In addition, Google VPN services are available and allow you to connect to open Wi-Fi hotspots safely and securely.

Project Fi and Google Hangouts apps:

The Project Fi app is tied to your Google account and can be installed on any Android or iPhone. You can pay your bill, check account balances and talk to customer service through the app at no cost. The Google Hangouts app allows calls and texts using your Project Fi number on any Android or iPhone.

Project Fi phones

Project Fi only supports phones from Google. That means your selection is currently limited to:

  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus 6P
  • Google Pixel
  • Google Pixel XL

Note: While it's possible to enable Project Fi on unsupported phones, this is against the Project Fi terms of service.

A data-only SIM is available and can be used in any compatible LTE device as long as at least one line of Fi service is active.

Which should I go with?

Google's Project Fi refunds you for any unused data every month, but the $10/GB baseline means it will always be the more expensive option when buying data. From a pure price perspective, Mint Mobile is the better bargain.

That being said, if you aren't using a lot of data every month or can take advantage of the Google VPN Wi-Fi offloading, Project Fi's options and services can be compelling. Google is a bit more forward thinking than most other carriers and services like the free VPN that connects you to open WI-Fi hotspots and free international texting from any Android or iPhone can't be ignored. Nor can the excellent coverage map Project Fi offers through the combined network of T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular and Wi-Fi services.

The final thing to consider is phone choice. Your new Samsung Galaxy S8 or iPhone isn't supported on Project Fi, which only officially supports phones from Google. Both, as well as many other unlocked models, are supported by Mint Mobile.

Both carriers are a great way to break free of the shackles of the Big Four carriers, but your usage will determine which is best for you.

Update August 2017: with new plan pricing and terms.

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)


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