What is Mint Mobile, and is it worth it?

·14 min read
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Mint Mobile fast facts

Available plans include 4GB, 10GB, 15GB, and Unlimited which you pay for in advance (3-month, 6-month, or 12-month terms)

• The end cost is cheaper if you go for the 6-month or 12-month terms

• Family plans at Mint allow each line of data to enjoy the same discount rate; you're able to mix and match data allotments

• Mint Mobile operates off of T-Mobile tower, including its 5G network. However, it will see de-prioritization under network congestion

Mint Mobile can offer its customers some impressive deals thanks to its unique business model. That, plus its celebrity owner and some aggressive marketing, have made it one of the hottest new carriers, and the good news is it's actually worth paying attention to if you want mobile data on the cheap.

At Mint, the savings come when you buy in bulk by signing up for one of Mint's low-cost data plans. You don't pay a monthly rate to the carrier; instead, you pay in advance for anywhere from three to 12 months of service with the bigger discounts coming with the longer commitment. And you may want to pay up for those 12 months of service, as the savings at Mint are pretty tantalizing compared to the best prepaid phone plans. You can also bring any of the best unlocked phones that support GSM networks.

We've compiled this summary of everything potential Mint customer need to know, from Mint's coverage and plans to devices the network supports. Take a look, and then when you're done, here are the best Mint Mobile plans if you reckon this cell provider's the right one for you, and these are some Mint Mobile promo codes so you can make the deals even sweeter.

What network does Mint Mobile use?

Like most prepaid carriers, Mint is what's considered an MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. MVNOs operate on the infrastructure of existing networks: in Mint's case, that network is T-Mobile. (We've got more on the prepaid vs. postpaid phone service differences if you want to explore that topic in greater depth as well as a look at what an MVNOs is.)

In our carrier testing from a couple years back, T-Mobile's network claimed the fastest average upload speeds and tied for second overall; since then T-Mobile's network generally gets good marks from third-party testing groups, particularly when it comes to 5G download speeds.

Mint Mobile coverage map
Mint Mobile coverage map

Still, it all comes down to coverage and Mint's availability in your area. To that end, Mint provides a map on its website that will help you determine if the service will work for you. A starter kit is available at Amazon for $5 so that you can test out the service with 100MB of LTE data, 100 text messages and 60 minutes of talk time to see how coverage is; you get the $5 as a bill credit if you sign up for the service.

Mint Mobile 5G: What do you get?

T-Mobile offers nationwide 5G service, and that's been extended to MVNOs like Mint. If you've got a 5G phone for your Mint service, you can take advantage of T-Mobile 5G infrastructure, for no extra cost compared to regular 4G service.

That last part — the lack of an extra charge for 5G users — is a huge boon for Mint, compared to other services. At Verizon, for example, you need to sign up for an expensive unlimited plan to get complete 5G coverage. Not every prepaid phone plan includes 5G coverage.

As a Mint customer, you're free to bring one of the best 5G phones to the carrier, or select one through the service provider itself. Mint offers an extensive selection of 5G phones, including the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, and, on the more affordable end, even the Galaxy A53.

What phones can you use with Mint Mobile?

As Mint operates on T-Mobile's GSM-based network, you're going to want a GSM-based phone to use it. Unlocked phones are typically geared for GSM networks, like AT&T and T-Mobile, rather than CDMA-based networks, like Verizon.

Samsung Galaxy s22 hands-on review
Samsung Galaxy s22 hands-on review

Fortunately, finding a good, inexpensive unlocked phone is easier than ever, and our best unlocked phones guide will help you settle on the handset that's right for you. If you already have a device you suspect might be compatible, you can plug its IMEI code into Mint's checker for confirmation.

Still, even after you've decided on the right phone, there are some steps you'll have to take to get everything up and running — from calls and texts to data. Follow the directions listed on Mint's FAQ page to ensure your Android device or iPhone is fully functional after you pop in the SIM card.

If you're on the fence about trying Mint, you may want to check out Mint's Starter Kit. This $5 pack comes with two SIM cards (one is a backup in case you decide to port your existing number) and a week of 100MB data service, so you can see for yourself how the network performs. The kit runs $5, but if you follow up by buying a plan, the company will refund you the purchase.

Originally, Mint Mobile didn't offer devices of its own. That has changed over the years, however, and now customers aren't forced to bring their own unlocked device or go through the trouble of finding one that is guaranteed to run on Mint's network. On Mint's website, you can find popular models like the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 series, the iPhone SE (2022), Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, Galaxy Z Flip 3, Galaxy S22 series and devices from OnePlus, Motorola, Google and more. It's a shockingly robust selection of top models, with a few surprises in there.

What are the best Mint Mobile plans?

We've got a summary of the best Mint Mobile plans, but here's a look at how long-term commitments help you save money at Mint versus the prepaid competition which tends to offer plans that let subscribers go month to month.

Mint offers data plans featuring 4GB, 10GB, 15GB and unlimited buckets of data. The company recently upgraded all three of its tiered data plans while keeping the prices the same. Talk and text are always unlimited, no matter what data plan you pick or for how long. As a general rule of thumb, the more you buy upfront, the more you save.

Mint Mobile 4GB plan: Mint's most affordable plan
The cheapest plan at Mint Mobile costs just $15/month and gives you a generous allotment of 4GB of data. Be aware that the $15 rate applies for your first three months of service. After that, you'll need to sign up for a year of service to keep your monthly rate at $15.

Unfortunately, Mint's pricing scheme gets somewhat complicated after your first billing cycle. The company's three-month introductory offer guarantees the same monthly rate that 12-month subscribers ordinarily pay. That's $15 per month for 3GB, $20 for 8GB, $25 for 12GB and $30 for Mint's unlimited plan.

When it comes time to renew, however, that promotional three-month option disappears. If you want to sign up for another three months, your bill is going to jump considerably. Here's what you can expect to pay after your first plan ends:

4GB

10GB

15GB

Unlimited

3 months

$25 per month ($75 up front)

$35 per month ($105 up front)

$45 per month ($135 up front)

$40 per month ($120 up front)

6 months

$20 per month ($120 up front)

$25 per month ($150 up front)

$35 per month ($210 up front)

$35 per month ($210 up front)

12 months

$15 per month ($180 up front)

$20 per month ($240 up front)

$25 per month ($300 up front)

$30 per month ($360 up front)

Returning customers who opt for a three-month plan will pay an additional $30, $45 or $60 up front, compared to their first bill. Even if you buy six months at a time, you'll still see a monthly rate increase of between $5 and $10. The only way to continue paying the same rates you enjoyed as a new subscriber is to sign up for a 12-month commitment.

It's also worth noting that once you pass your monthly data allotment for a tiered plan, you're throttled to 2G speeds. You can purchase more data if you like, either through Mint's website or by texting "UPDATA" to 6700.

Ultimately, the best offer for new customers is the three month package. After that, Mint's prices are still quite inexpensive compared to competing prepaid carriers, but you'll have to be wary of price increases and choose your commitment wisely.

How does Mint Mobile's unlimited plan work?

Mint launched an unlimited data plan in 2020 that's only slightly more expensive than its tiered options, making it one of the best unlimited data plans out there. It also happens to be cheaper than the $40 unlimited plan available at Visible, at least when you figure in Mint's discounted pricing. There are some caveats to Mint's unlimited plan, though.

Mint Unlimited Data Plan: Unlimited data for less
At $30/month, Mint offers the least expensive unlimited data plan you'll find. The catch is you'll need to commit to a year of service to enjoy that low rate.

First, like unlimited plans for practically all carriers, it's not unlimited in the most straightforward sense of the word. Mint deprioritizes your data after 35GB has been used up, meaning that you'll still get service, but speeds will slow. Typically, carriers try to dance around this with jargon, but Mint's site paints it clear as day, stating "customers using >35GB/mo will experience lower speeds."

What's more, unlimited customers have their video streams capped at standard-definition, 480p quality; this limitation doesn't exist for 3GB, 8GB or 12GB users. Unlimited subscribers also don't get unlimited hotspot usage, as that runs out after just 5GB. Therefore, if feeding your phone's data connection to your laptop, tablet or another device is very important to you, you're better off going with the 12GB-per-month tiered plan.

Mint also launched a service where you can let the carrier log your monthly data usage. The idea is that unlimited users can see how much data they consume each month and adjust to a lower cost plan if they're not regularly using enough to justify Mint's unlimited service.

Does Mint Mobile offer family plans?

Mint just started offering family plans though it's a little bit different than what other carriers do. Get a plan with multiple lines at most carriers, and the per-line charge will drop as you add additional people. (A single line of unlimited data at Visible costs $40, for example, but with four people, Visible charges each line $25 a month.)

Everyone on a Mint Mobile family plan pays the same per-line amount, but everyone enjoys the same discount level. Say you and another person in your family both get 4GB plans at the 12-month rate. You'll both pay $15 a month for a total bill of $30.

Mint also lets family plans mix and match data allotments. So one person could get unlimited data while another is assigned 4GB. It's an attractive approach for parents who might want to restrict just how much data their kids get every month, while saving money in the process.

What special features does Mint Mobile offer?

If you're looking to try out Mint for yourself, thankfully you can do so without risk. The carrier has a seven-day money-back guarantee, where you can get a full refund (minus shipping and handling) within a week if the service doesn't work for you.

In terms of other benefits, Mint is a mostly bare-bones service — though you're still able to add to your LTE or 5G data allotment whenever you're approaching the cap. An extra 1GB runs for $10 and another 3GB is $20. Additionally, if you're traveling overseas, the carrier offers international roaming data at those same prices. Calls to Mexico and Canada are free.

While many carriers charge extra for mobile hotspot usage, Mint includes that privilege for its subscribers for free, which is very handy. After not initially supporting visual voicemail, Mint now allows it. Likewise, Wi-Fi calls and texts are permitted for devices with those features. Most newer Android devices and iPhones support service over Wi-Fi (Mint offers a full list on its website) though it may have to be activated first via your phone's Settings menu.

Something to note for customers who choose to take their device with them to Mint. The carrier will not assist in unlocking your existing device if it is currently tied to another network — something US Mobile can do for its customers.

Mint Mobile's competition

Mint Mobile is one of many MVNOs out there and it faces fierce competition from more traditional month-to-month pre-paid options. But the ones to look out for if you are thinking about Mint are Visible, Xfinity Mobile, and Google Fi.

Visible's claim to fame is the $40 unlimited plan. The MVNO has that plan exclusively, so it's extremely enticing for people who want one of the most affordable unlimited cell phone plans. It's also got the added benefit of running on Verizon's network.

The big caveat with Xfinity Mobile is that you need to be a Comcast subscriber to even qualify. But if you're in that group, you can get a pretty good deal on wireless service. Xfinity Mobile operates off of Verizon towers and offers a By the Gig pricing structure. Basically, you can get unlimited talk and text with 1GB of data for $15/month with options going all the way up to 10GB for $60/month. There are multi-line discounts. There's also an unlimited option for $45/month.

Finally, there's Google Fi. This MVNO costs $20 for unlimited talk and text and then $10/GB after (with $50/month for unlimited and $65/month for unlimited plus). One of Fi's best features is the refunds for data you don't use. Say you only use 500MB in a month. You'll only pay $5 for it since Google won't charge you for the remainder, unlike Xfinity Mobile. Fi isn't the best value around, though, especially when it comes to unlimited.

What do customers say about Mint Mobile?

Mint has gotten favorable feedback for its inexpensive rates and simple user experience. However, if you have to call up customer service, the experience may be less than ideal. Subscribers on the Mint Mobile subreddit have cited poor support, especially compared to the Google Fi network, which prides itself on speedy replies and availability through multiple social channels. To make matters worse, the lack of a brick-and-mortar presence means Mint customers have fewer resources at their disposal, should something go wrong.

As far as network performance is concerned, users have cited slower speeds, on average, for Mint Mobile when compared to T-Mobile. This likely has to do with Mint's customers being deprioritized in favor of T-Mobile's own base. That's not a unique phenomenon for prepaid users, who almost always end up playing second fiddle to postpaid subscribers. However, some Mint customers say they've reached peak speeds from time to time, possibly when network conditions were less congested.

Mint Mobile: Verdict

Like most prepaid wireless networks, Mint does sacrifice some comforts — such as readily available customer support and the best possible data speeds — for a lower monthly cost.

Still, Mint's bulk sales model helps it achieve some of the lowest prices in the industry. And if you can put up with occasionally slowed-down data and having to go to community forums to solve some problems on your own, Mint shouldn't let you down. Make sure you check our Mint Mobile coupons for the latest discounts and promo codes, and the best Mint Mobile plans for which plan will suit you best.

Conversely, less savvy users, or those in search of more perks, would be better-advised to take a look at Metro by T-Mobile, Republic Wireless or Boost Mobile — prepaid carriers that charge more for the same data, but provide more consistent performance as well as premium features.