Mint Mobile vs. T-Mobile: Which is right for you?

Comparing Mint Mobile vs. T-Mobile may seem a little odd at first, since both use the same network, but there's a lot more to consider when picking a wireless carrier. As a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), Mint Mobile not only utilizes T-Mobile's network infrastructure to provide coverage, but it's also now fully owned by the 'un-carrier' as well. The primary difference is that being a prepaid carrier, Mint Mobile is much more affordable, and also unique in that customers are required to sign up for multiple months upfront, with those signing up for longer times getting quite a lot of discounts. If you're new to the carrier, you can get your first three months at the 12-month affordable rates, so you won't have to stick for too long if Mint Mobile doesn't work out for you. The carrier even has a 7-day free trial that works alongside your existing service, if you aren't ready to commit. 

The drawback with Mint Mobile is that you lose out on some of T-Mobile's perks, and there's a chance you could get deprioritized if the network becomes busy. T-Mobile's postpaid plans are much better if you want to take the regular carrier route, offering five unlimited plans with varying amounts of high-speed and premium data, and some other benefits. If you need higher priority data with no hard data caps, you can take a look at T-Mobile's Magenta plans, but they're not directly advertised so you'll have to contact a service representative. T-Mobile's plans also get a lot easier on the wallet when you sign up for multiple lines.

Mint Mobile vs. T-Mobile: What's the difference?

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Owned by T-Mobile, Mint Mobile uses the former's vast network infrastructure for its coverage, including that for mid-band 5G. This means that you'll largely get the same coverage on both the carriers, although T-Mobile may have slightly better coverage in rural areas thanks to roaming agreements. Since Mint Mobile is a prepaid carrier, its data isn't as high a priority as it is on T-Mobile. So, if a tower is congested, speeds may fall behind on Mint Mobile. That being said, T-Mobile still has enough capacity in most areas, especially with 5G, that it may not be a problem.

If you want the highest priority data available to you as a consumer, you can go for T-Mobile's Magenta, Magenta MAX, or one of the three Go5G plans, as they come with 100GB of premium data. There's also Essentials and Essentials Saver plans that offer 50GB of premium data, if you have somewhat lower requirements. Once you use the allotted data, your data speeds will be reduced. This will be even more important in densely populated areas so your mileage may vary.

Note: Magenta and Magenta MAX plans are no longer shown on T-Mobile's website so if you want them, you'll have to speak with a customer service representative or use the carrier's chat support.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Mint MobileT-Mobile
Premium Data5GB, 15GB, 20GB or Unlimited (capped at 40GB)Unlimited (at least 50GB)
Mobile HotspotFree (capped at 10GB on the Unlimited plan)Up to 50GB with Go5G Plus plan
Talk and TextUnlimitedUnlimited

One of the biggest differences for you as a customer is how much you'll pay upfront. While Mint Mobile's monthly rates are significantly lower, you need to pay for at least three months up front. To get Mint mobile's best rates, you need to pay for the entire year at once. While this works out well in the long run, some people won't be comfortable paying so much money in one go. Luckily, Mint Mobile lets you start out with its lowest rates for the first three months so you can see if the service will be a good fit for you, before committing to it for a longer time.

It's also worth noting that you'll need to pay your Mint Mobile taxes and fees upfront as well, so the final price in your cart will be a bit more than what's shown on Mint Mobile's website. However, you'll be able to see what you're paying before you make an account.

T-Mobile's offerings are much more traditional, with five main plans and most of the savings coming from multi-line discounts. For example, the third line is free for new customers opting for Go5G, Go5G Plus, and Essentials plans. Also, all the Go5G plans (Go5G, Go5G Plus, and Go5G Next) have their prices inclusive of taxes and fees, so they're a better value than they initially may appear to be.

Mint Mobile vs. T-Mobile: Mint Mobile's plans

Mint Mobile SIM card next to two Android phones

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Mint Mobile has four data plans, starting with a 5GB plan that's ideal for light users. The fact of the matter is many people simply don't need unlimited data if they make use of Wi-Fi at home. You can check your old bill to get an idea of how much data you normally use. Mint Mobile also allows you to use all of your data via a hotspot if you want to share it with a tablet or a laptop. All of Mint Mobile plans also come with unlimited talk and text so you need only think about data usage.

Mint Mobile's data plans are also available in 15GB and 20GB sizes if you're a heavier user. If that's still not enough, you can get the unlimited plan that's capped at 40GB of data. It even includes 10GB of dedicated hotspot data. 

All Mint Mobile plans are technically unlimited so even if you use up all your allotted data, you won't be disconnected. As we noticed in our Mint Mobile review, the data speeds are reduced to about 500kbps after you've used up your allotment. It's more than enough for messaging and streaming music but won't work well for things like video streaming.

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Mint Mobile's plans
Header Cell - Column 0 5GB15GB20GBUnlimited (40GB)
3 months (introductory price)$15/mo. ($45)$15/mo. ($45)$15/mo. ($45)$15/mo. ($45)
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)

If you have multiple lines, Mint Mobile has a feature called Mint Family that you can take advantage of. While you won't get multi-line discounts, Mint Family makes the carrier's 12-month rates more palatable with only 3-month renewals required.

One area where Mint Mobile is a bit weak is international features. Although you're able to call Mexico and Canada for free, that's just about it. You can purchase one of the 'Minternational Pass' add-ons but if you're someone who travels frequently, this will quickly add up. Mint Mobile charges $0.05 per text message sent, $0.25 per minute for calls, and $0.20 per MB of data in most international countries, though prices are lower in Mexico and Canada at $0.02 per text, $0.06 per minute, and $0.06 per MB of data.

Mint Mobile vs. T-Mobile: T-Mobile's plans

T-Mobile startup screen on a OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

T-Mobile is hands down one of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. and offers five main plans, starting on the low end with the Essentials Saver plan. It's identical to the regular Essentials plan, except you'll save money by adding multiple lines. Both plans come with 50GB of high-speed data which is slowed to 1.5Mbps if you use up all your allotment. Unlimited 3G hotspot data is included, plus you do get unlimited talk and text.

The Go5G plan takes the premium data up to 100GB and adds in 15GB of high-speed hotspot data. If also includes six months of Apple TV+, along with extra goodies such as in-flight connectivity. Magenta MAX upgrades the data to unlimited premium and comes with 40GB of hotspot data. Netflix is included with one line and is upgraded to HD with two or more lines. Both Magenta plans also have taxes and fees included so their pricing is a bit more straightforward. However, it's worth noting that the new Go5G plans are only slightly more expensive and offer quite a few extras. This is also probably why T-Mobile no longer advertises Magenta plans on its website, and you'll have to get in touch with a customer service representative to get them.

Among the carrier's newer plans are Go5G and Go5G Plus, which come with 100GB of premium data. Go5G also offers 15GB of premium hotspot data, after which you get unlimited usage at 3G speeds, whereas Go5G Plus has 50GB of premium hotspot data before speeds drop. Both plans also include ad-supported Netflix.

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T-Mobile's plans
Header Cell - Column 0 Essentials / Essentials SaverMagentaMagenta MAXGo5GGo5G PlusGo5G Next
Cost (per month for one line)$60 / $50$70$85$75$90$100
Premium data50GB100GB100GB100GBUnlimitedUnlimited
Talk and textUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Mobile hotspot dataUnlimited 3G5GB high-speed / Unlimited 3G40GB high-speed / Unlimited 3G15GB / Unlimited 3G50GB / Unlimited 3G50GB / Unlimited 3G
Taxes and feesNot IncludedIncludedIncludedIncludedIncludedIncluded
Video streamingSDSDUp to 4K UHDSD, up to 720p HD available for activation in settingsUp to 4K UHDUp to 4K UHD
Netflix (with ads)Not IncludedIncluded with 2 or more linesSD for 1 line, HD for 2 or more linesIncluded with 2 or more linesIncludedIncluded
International textingIncludedIncludedIncludedIncludedIncludedIncluded

One area where T-Mobile really shines (over Mint Mobile) is international features as with each plan, you'll get unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada, as well as unlimited international texting. If you're on the Magenta, Magenta MAX, or any of the Go5G plans, you'll also have access to data abroad, which is incredibly useful if you like to travel and stay connected without having to hunt for a local SIM card the moment you land. Although your speeds will be much slower than at home, it'll still cost you significantly less than international roaming charges.

There's no denying that T-Mobile's plans are more expensive than what you'll have with Mint Mobile. But on the bright side, your monthly bill will be lesser as you add more lines, thanks to T-Mobile offering the third line free for most of its plans. You'll notice that as soon as you sign up for three or four lines, the total monthly cost gets much more attractive, making T-Mobile ideal for families. It's also a great choice for those who are willing to pay more for premium data and want to use mobile hotspot data without having to worry about it ever running out.

Mint Mobile vs. T-Mobile: T-Mobile: Which carrier is right for you?

Mint Mobile and T-Mobile both have the same fantastic coverage and mid-band 5G access via T-Mobile's 5G network, which makes it even harder to choose between the two. However, if you're looking for a single line (or two) and want to save some money by paying upfront, Mint Mobile is worth it as one of the best cheap cell phone plans available. You'll still get great service and will have the choice between 5GB, 15GB, 20GB, or unlimited data plans. But the biggest drawback with Mint Mobile is that you won't get the same speed and performance as you would with T-Mobile in congested areas, nor will you get much international use out of your plan.

If you're someone who needs a lot of high-speed data and likes to use hotspot data when Wi-Fi isn't an option, T-Mobile is easily the better choice. You'll get unlimited talk, text, data, mobile hotspot data, and international features so you can use your phone abroad or text internationally. Though T-Mobile's plans may be too expensive for some, the monthly prices do get significantly lower when you sign up for three or more lines, making it a much better family plan.

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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