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Mint Mobile: what is it, and is it worth it?

Thinking about making the switch to Mint Mobile? Perhaps you’ve heard of this prepaid carrier but need the low-down before you jump ship. Regardless of whether you’re just starting out or already heavily involved in researching cheap phone plans you’ll find everything you need to know about Mint Mobile right here. 

Simply put, you don’t need any prior knowledge of Mint Mobile to make use of this page. We’re breaking down what Mint Mobile is exactly, how this company operates, and how much you’ll be looking to pay per month – should you sign up. We’re also including links to the free trial, information on Mint Mobile’s coverage and network, and also a couple of worthy competitors to check out because Mint Mobile isn’t the only cheap prepaid carrier in town right now…

Mint Mobile 101

What is Mint Mobile?

  • Mint Mobile is a prepaid cellular provider
  • It operates under the larger T-Mobile network
  • With Mint Mobile plans, you pay upfront for a set amount of months
  • Three month, six month, and yearly plans are available
  • The longer the service plan, the cheaper the cost per month on average
  • There are no service contracts with Mint Mobile
  • Mint Mobile plans offer 5G, mobile hotspotting, and competitive data allowances
  • Yes, it’s partly owned by Ryan Reynolds…

How much does Mint Mobile cost?

Mint Mobile plans range in price from $15 to $40 per month, depending on how much data you plan to use and how fast you plan to chew through it. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what the company’s four price package have to offer: 

Is Mint Mobile any good?

Mint Mobile really stands out from the crowd when it comes to value. To put it bluntly, Mint Mobile’s plans offer a ton of data for the money – way more than some pay-per-month competitors. To give you some idea of what we’re talking about, Mint’s unlimited data plan comes in at least around $10 cheaper than equivalent rival prepaid plans, and about half the cost of a postpaid plan at AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon. Add in free mobile hot-spotting and 5G data speeds and you’re getting a lot for your money at Mint Mobile.

No contracts and simple pricing
Like most prepaid carriers, Mint Mobile has a ‘what-you-see is what-you-get way’ of operating. All you basically need to do is order a SIM card, activate it in your phone, and you’re essentially good to go. There are no contracts to sign, no hidden fees, and if you want out all you have to do is stop paying for the service. Of course, the multi-month payment scheme will mean you’ll lose a bit of that initial investment if you decide to jump ship before your months are up – but it’s still a much more consumer-friendly setup than having to pay off the huge fee that’s often incurred at one of the bigger carriers.

What are the drawbacks to Mint Mobile?

Have to pay upfront for multi-month
Paying upfront for a multi-month plan can be a significant investment, especially if you’re looking at signing up for a whole year. For example, sign up for a year of the Mint Mobile unlimited data plan and you’ll be looking at paying $360 upfront. Of course, you won’t be billed again for the duration of your plan, but that’s not exactly chump change for most people. Still, if you do have the cash to pay for a year upfront, we strongly recommend doing so as it’ll work out as the cheapest option in the long run should you stick with Mint.

As with all smaller prepaid carriers (MVNOs, short for mobile virtual network operators), Mint Mobile is subject to something called ‘deprioritization’. Put simply, the parent network that Mint Mobile uses – T-Mobile in this case, will slow down smaller network users data speeds when traffic is heavy in favor of their own customer’s speeds. This isn’t unique to Mint Mobile, in fact nearly all smaller companies have this caveat, but it’s worth bearing in mind overall. Your mileage is going to vary wildly based on your local network traffic also.

Mint Mobile: FAQ

Mint mobile plans best cheap

(Image credit: Mint Mobile)

Is Mint Mobile owned by T-Mobile?

Not yet, but the carrier announced its intention to buy Mint Mobile in March 2023 and the takeover is set to take place sometime later this year. The jury is still out right now in regards to whether this is a good thing or not but both Mint and T-Mobile have released statements saying the prepaid carrier will continue business as usual for the foreseeable future.

As far as we know, that means no plan price increases, no changes to monthly allowances, and no changes to the terms and conditions. If you want a more detailed statement from Mint itself, the company has written up a FAQ post over at the official Mint Mobile subreddit that you can read for yourself.

What network does Mint Mobile use?

Mint Mobile uses the T-Mobile network but operates independently as its own company. Mint Mobile is what’s commonly referred to as an ‘MVNO’, which is a company that provides cellular service but doesn’t actually own the infrastructure itself. Simply put, if you happen to get good T-Mobile coverage then you’ll be good-to-go with Mint Mobile (also see Mint Mobile’s coverage page).

All phones compatible with the GSM networks (AT&T, T-Mobile) should be fully compatible with Mint Mobile, granted they’re unlocked. If you’d like to see whether your phone is compatible, then you can use this handy page over at the Mint site.

How is Mint Mobile so cheap?

Unlike traditional carriers, Mint Mobile doesn’t operate out of any physical stores nationwide – which probably ensures they can keep those running costs down to a bare minimum. Mint also probably doesn’t have to pay upkeep for physical maintenance on the network they use, being essentially a renter on the larger T-Mobile network. The business also historically hasn’t paid much to run ads through traditional means – although we know this is of course changing now, with various high-profile TV ads being aired recently.

It’s likely the Mint Mobile multi-month pricing structure is a contributing factor to overall price as well. Selling cell phone plans in increments of three, six, or twelve months probably keeps subscribers retained at a higher rate in comparison to the traditional prepaid pay-monthly model, and allows them to have a more consistent revenue stream. While Mint was the first to adopt this setup, in recent years we’ve seen other carriers, particularly Verizon and AT&T, also offer ‘buy upfront’ prepaid options. 

Does Mint Mobile have a family or seniors plan?

Yep! As of mid 2023 Mint Mobile has options for both family and senior plans. Neither offer savings versus simply buying a plan outright at the yearly rate but they do offer advantages elsewhere.

For example, the Mint Mobile family plan allows you to enroll multiple lines automatically at the cheapest rate, ensuring there’s less red tape to deal with and less to pay upfront. By contrast, the Mint Mobile 55+ plan gives seniors free tech support help at no extra cost. 

What do customers say about Mint Mobile?

Mint Mobile retains an average user score of 3.7 stars out of 5 on Trust Pilot, which is fairly middling but not bad compared to other mobile carriers. For comparison’s sake, users rated Visible 1.6 stars, Verizon 1.3 stars, T-Mobile 1.6 stars, and AT&T 1 star. In short, mobile carriers really get raked over the coals when it comes to customer reviews.

The reason for these poor scores – on Mint as well as other mobile carriers -is generally down to issues with customer service, which operates via a call center. A few reviews also mention mix-ups with activations and poor or slow connections. A few people are also mentioning issues with claiming the free months that Mint often gives away with phone purchases via its store. To be clear, you need to be specifically porting in a number to claim these promotions, which perhaps isn’t clear without reading the fine print.

What alternatives to Mint Mobile should I consider?

Visible Wireless is a popular alternative to Mint Mobile – especially for those who want a completely unlimited plan. Visible operates two unlimited data plans for either $25 or $40 per month, the former being a particularly well-priced budget option. Unlike Mint Mobile, the basic Visible plan doesn’t feature any soft caps on your data speeds (Mint’s 5G speeds cap out at 45GB of usage), and you can also get unlimited mobile hotspot at 10Mbps. As a pay-per-month service, Visible Wireless also has the advantage of not having to pay for multiple months upfront, unlike Mint. Note that Visible operates on the Verizon network, however, so coverage may differ from Mint’s T-Mobile network depending on your location.

For a prepaid alternative to Mint Mobile on the T-Mobile network, you could also consider Tello. This carrier specializes in a build-your-own plan that’s really easy to switch and tailor each month depending on your needs. At $29 per month for an unlimited data plan, it’s also one of the most competitively priced options on the prepaid market right now too – although its 5G data speeds cap out at 25GB of usage per month (Mint has better bang for the buck).

Another carrier that’s worth a mention is Boost Mobile. Like Mint, Boost operates on the T-Mobile network and it’s also switched up its prepaid plans recently to offer a similar buy-in-bulk pricing scheme. Roughly speaking, its plans are incredibly competitively prices, with options for a 12-month 15GB plan for $240 ($15 per month) and an unlimited data plan for $25 per month. In comparison to Mint’s unlimited plan, you get 30GB of 5G data with Boost versus 45GB of Mint, but it is quite a fair bit cheaper in the long run.

If you’re looking for even more options, we recommend checking out our main best prepaid phone plans page. 

Verdict: Is Mint Mobile worth it?

Mint mobile phones best

(Image credit: Mint Mobile)

Verdict: Is Mint Mobile worth it?

If you’re looking for an inexpensive, no-frills prepaid cell phone plan then the answer is definitely yes – Mint Mobile is absolutely worth it. As a service, it’s definitely not the most feature-laden – especially when compared to rival carriers – but for sheer value, it definitely takes some beating.

Mint Mobile is, in our opinion, particularly good value on the set data allowance plans – especially the 15GB/mo and 20GB/mo plans, which should sit in that Goldilocks zone for most people. If you don’t need tons of data, both of these are good options since they generally come in cheaper than the competition and Mint’s own unlimited plan. 

Speaking of which, the Mint Mobile unlimited plan is also great value coming in at, on average, $10 a month cheaper than the completion. Strict data speed caps after 45GB and limited mobile hotspot allowance (just 5GB) will be a big drawback for some, however, and it’s hard to recommend it as a ‘true’ unlimited data plan like Visible, for example. Still, with a relatively low barrier of entry thanks to the starter kit being so cheap, Mint Mobile is an easy recommendation.

More pages on Mint Mobile to check out

Here at TechRadar, we’ve got a page covering every aspect of this great prepaid carrier. Our guide to this month’s best Mint Mobile plans is here to help you decide how much data you need, and also cover basic queries about what’s exactly in the fine print. Our page on this month’s Mint Mobile deals is great if you’re all set with Mint and want to check out the best ways to save some cash on a new device. And finally, our guide to the best Mint Mobile phones is perfect if you’re wanting some handy recommendations on what device to pair up with Mint to make the most of that speedy 5G connection.

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