What is Mint Mobile, and is it worth it?

mint mobile
(Image credit: Mint Mobile)
Mint Mobile fast facts

Available plans include 5GB, 15GB, 20GB, and Unlimited which you pay for in advance (3-month, 6-month, or 12-month terms)

• Go for the 6-month or 12-month terms if you want a lower monthly rate

• 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 uses T-Mobile's network, including 5G coverage. T-Mobile is buying Mint.

It's safe to say that Mint Mobile's a peculiarity among mobile carriers. Its focus on cheap data plans mean it can be a great choice for budget-minded users in search of a SIM.

That may not sound all that unusual, as plenty of wireless carriers vie to offer the best cheap cell phone plans, Mint included. But Mint's unique offering is that users don't pay a monthly rate to the carrier; instead, you pay in advance for anywhere from three to 12 months of service, with bigger discounts for longer commitments. Pay in advance for a year of service, and you'll get Mint's best rate. 

And you wind up doing just that, 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 over to Mint.

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 decide 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.)

T-Mobile enjoys the fastest median download speeds, according to testing by Ookla. In its report for the second half of 2023, Rootmetrics was less bullish on T-Mobile performance, placing it behind Verizon and AT&T in overall rankings, though noting that T-Mobile has the fastest 5G speeds. (Those 5G speeds are available to Mint customers with compatible phones.)

One thing to note about Mint's performance — it's subject to slowdowns if T-Mobile's network is crowded, as the carrier will prioritize its customers over an MVNO. 

In 2023, T-Mobile announced it was buying Mint Mobile, though as of early 2024, regulators were still reviewing the deal. 

Mint Mobile coverage map

Mint Mobile coverage map (Image credit: Mint Mobile)

Of course, performance depends on coverage as well as 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 250MB of LTE data, 250 text messages and 250 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, with 5G coverage reaching 330 million people in the U.S. And as noted above, 5G service is 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 as part of your plan.

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 Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15. On the more affordable end, you'll find budget devices like the Pixel 7a.

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 s24 Ultra vs iphone 15 pro max cameras

Phones like the iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Galaxy S24 Ultra (right) both work on Mint's network. (Image credit: Future)

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 250MB 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.

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 boostd the amount of data last year in its plans without raising prices. New and existing customers can opt for 5GB, 15GB, 20GB and unlimited data plans The unlimited plan option waits until you use 40GB in a month before your data speeds are subject to throttling. Unlimited subscribers also get 10GB of hotspot data.

Mint runs frequent promotions, with the best one reducing the cost of every plan to $15/month for the first three months of service. If you are mulling a switch over to Mint, check to see what promotions the carrier might be offering in terms of extra discounts for new customers.

Mint Mobile 5GB plan: Mint's most affordable plan

Mint Mobile 5GB plan: Mint's most affordable plan
The cheapest plan at Mint Mobile costs just $15/month and gives you a generous allotment of 5GB 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.

The company's three-month introductory offer guarantees the same monthly rate that 12-month subscribers ordinarily pay. That's $15 per month for 5GB, $20 for 15GB, $25 for 20GB and $30 for Mint's unlimited plan.

When it comes time to renew, if you want to sign up for another three months, your bill could jump considerably. Here's what you can expect to pay after your first plan ends:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 5GB15GB20GBUnlimited
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's even forced other MVNOs to adjust their pricing. Visible used to charge $40 for its unlimited plan, but now it has a basic unlimited offering at $25. 

Mint Unlimited Data Plan: Unlimited data for less

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

Mint's unlimited offering comes with some caveats. 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 40GB 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 >40GB/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 tiered data plans. Unlimited subscribers also don't get unlimited hotspot usage, as that runs out after 10GB following Mint's mid-April data plan boost. Therefore, if feeding your phone's data connection to your laptop, tablet or another device is very important to you, you're still better off going with the 20GB-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 offers 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. Metro by T-Mobile, another MVNO that uses T-Mobile's network, charges $40 for its cheapest unlimited plan, but a family with four lines of data pays $25 per line for that same plan.

There's no such discount at Mint, where everyone on a Mint Mobile family plan pays the same per-line amount while getting the same discounted rate. Say you and another person in your family both get 5GB plans at the 12-month rate. You'll both pay $15 a month for a total bill of $30 (though you will have to pay for a year upfront).

Mint also lets family plans mix and match data allotments. So one person could get unlimited data while another is assigned 5GB. 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 its affordable unlimited plans, which start at $25. Throw in the fact that Visible uses the network of parent company Verizon, and it's a pretty attractive option if Verizon's coverage is strong in your area.

Xfinity Mobile uses Verizon's network, too. The catch is you need to be a Comcast subscriber to even qualify for Xfinity mobile service. 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 that starts at $45/month, though if you have multiple lines you can pay as little as $30 per month for each line of data.

Finally, there's Google Fi. This MVNO costs $20 for unlimited talk and text and then $10/GB after (with other options including $50/month for an unlimited plan 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 the cost of unlimited data.

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.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.