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Key Takeaways

  • Mint Mobile is a prepaid carrier that uses T-Mobile's network. It offers affordable plans and doesn't require a credit check.
  • The more you're willing to pay in advance, the cheaper your plan will be with Mint Mobile. Paying for a year upfront can get you a plan for only $15 per month.
  • Mint Mobile provides solid coverage with access to T-Mobile's nationwide 5G service. However, its data speeds may be slower in crowded locations due to deprioritization.

Beyond AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, there are several smaller mobile carriers in the US. Thanks to spokesperson Ryan Reynolds and aggressively affordable plans, Mint Mobile is one of the bigger names. How does it actually compare to the Big Three?

What is Mint Mobile?

Let's start with the basics. Mint Mobile is a "mobile virtual network operator," more commonly referred to as an "MVNO." An MVNO is simply a wireless carrier that does not own the network infrastructure it provides to customers.

Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile's network infrastructure, and T-Mobile also happens to own Mint Mobile itself. This is not always the case. Google Fi, for example, also uses T-Mobile's network, but T-Mobile does not own Google Fi. Typically, an MVNO enters a business agreement with the carrier to use its network services.

Ryan Reynolds used to be more than just a celebrity spokesperson for Mint Mobile. He acquired 25% ownership of Mint Mobile in 2019 and started appearing in marketing. However, in 2023, T-Mobile acquired Mint Mobile, and Reynolds was demoted to purely a spokesperson.

Prepaid vs Postpaid: You Pay Ahead with Mint Mobile

One of the big differences between Mint Mobile and AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon is when you pay your bill. Mint is a "prepaid" carrier, while the others are "postpaid." You can probably guess the difference based on the names.

"Prepaid" simply means you pay for a set amount of data, texts, and calls at the beginning of the month, whereas "postpaid" bills arrive at the end of the month, and you typically pay for what you used. Prepaid carriers, like Mint Mobile, and usually cheaper than postpaid carriers, and you don't need a credit check since you are paying for something before you use it.

In the case of Mint Mobile, the more you're willing to pay in advance, the cheaper your plan will be. Paying for three months will get you 5GB of data per month for $25 per month, but if you pay for an entire year upfront, you can get it for only $15 per month.

How Does Mint Mobile's LTE & 5G Coverage Compare?

Let's talk about arguably the most important feature of any carrier: coverage. As mentioned, Mint uses T-Mobile's network, so you get the same coverage on Mint that you would on T-Mobile. Mint also gets access to T-Mobile's nationwide 5G service at no extra cost.

In terms of LTE coverage, T-Mobile is in third place behind AT&T and Verizon, but T-Mobile does have more 5G coverage than the other two big carriers. The combination of LTE and 5G means you'll get solid coverage from Mint Mobile.

Here's the LTE coverage for AT&T, T-Mobile (Mint), and Verizon.

Carrier coverage maps for LTE.

And here's the 5G coverage for all three.

Carrier coverage maps for 5G.

There's one important thing to know when considering Mint Mobile—or any MVNO, for that matter—and it's called "deprioritization." Mint uses T-Mobile's network, but it can be "deprioritized" if the network is crowded. So, if you're at a busy location, like a concert or sporting event, T-Mobile customers will get priority, and Mint customers will experience slower data speeds.

How Does Mint Mobile's Pricing Compare?

We've touched on the plan pricing for Mint Mobile a bit, but let's dive in deeper and look at how it compares with the Big Three.

Mint offers a three-month introductory price of $15 per month for any plan. Those plans include unlimited talk and text, then 5GB, 15GB, 20GB, or unlimited data. After the first three months is when pricing changes.

5GB 15GB 20GB Unlimited
3 Months $25 per month/$75 $35 per month/$105 $45 per month/$135 $40 per month/$120
6 Months $20 per month/$120 $25 per month/$150 $35 per month/$210 $35 per month/$210
12 Months $15 per month/$180 $20 per month/$240 $25 per month/$300 $30 per month/$360

Plans from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are more complicated than Mint, and much more expensive.

AT&T's cheapest plan for one line is $50 per month for 4GB of data. T-Mobile's cheapest plan for one line is also $50 per month, but it's unlimited data. Verizon's cheapest plan for one line is $60 for unlimited data.

All three major carriers also offer some prepaid plans. AT&T offers 5GB for $30 per month, Unlimited for $65 per month, and Unlimited for $25 per month if you pay for a year in advance. T-Mobile offers 10GB for $40 per month, Unlimited for $50 per month, and Unlimited + 10GB Hotspot for $60 per month. Verizon offers 15GB for $35 per month, Unlimited for $50 per month, and Unlimited + Hotspot for $60 per month.

What Phones Does Mint Mobile Support?

Justin Duino / Review Geek

Lastly, let's talk about phones that are compatible with Mint Mobile. This is an easy one. Since Mint uses T-Mobile's network, which is a GSM-based network, you can use any GSM-based phone on Mint.

Essentially, what that means is you can use any unlocked Android phone or iPhone on Mint Mobile. You can also purchase a phone directly from Mint to ensure it works. Mint offers many of the latest smartphones with discounts. If you'd like to bring your own phone, you can use Mint's checker to make sure it's compatible.

That's the story on Mint Mobile. It's easily one of the best options when looking for a wireless plan in the US. In fact, we chose Mint as the best budget plan in our Best Cell Phone Plans guide. It's worth a look if you're shopping around.