Why I’m using Mint Mobile & Why I switched

I have been using Mint Mobile as my carrier for nearly two years. As my Mint Mobile app likes to note, I have been “Minty” since December 2021, marking the start of my phone plan.

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Mint Mobile is a budget wireless carrier that offers solid coverage through no-contract phone plans.

Every Mint Mobile plan has unlimited talk and text. But instead of paying a monthly bill to a big-name carrier such as Verizon or AT&T, you purchase a mobile plan in bulk. 

I have been using Mint Mobile as my carrier for nearly two years. As my Mint Mobile app likes to note, I have been “Minty” since December 2021, marking the start of my phone plan. 

This year, I bought 12 months of service on the 15GB per month plan, which cost me $263.26 after fees and taxes. That comes to $21.93 per month. 

Before Mint Mobile, I was a Cricket Wireless customer for several years. There’s nothing wrong with Cricket. For the most part, I like their budget pricing of phone plans. But becoming a Mint customer meant I got to start using 5G wireless for no extra charge.

If you’re unsure about jumping into a long term commitment, new customers can buy a three month plan at a discounted rate. The entry-level, high-speed data plan is 5GB for $15 per month.

You have the option to bring your own cell phone (like me), or you can purchase a variety of smartphones directly from Mint Mobile.  

I have been using my own unlocked smartphone for years. Mint will mail you a physical SIM card for free. The second option for activation is through an eSIM card, which is a digital delivery. 

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Plans and Pricing

Mint Mobile also offers flexibility when it comes to the duration of your plan. You can choose between 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month plans. 

The longer the duration, the more you save (and vice versa). 

I can say from experience that the 12-month plan offers the best value, allowing you to lock in low rates for an entire year. But the downside is you are paying the whole bill up front along with taxes and fees. 

Mint Mobile review
A readout of my Mint Mobile 12-month plan from the Mint Mobile app. (Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

I didn’t know much about Mint Mobile when I started out. So I opted for the three-month plan, then continued with a 12 month plan. I spent those first few months, testing out calling, texting and using my data plan at grocery stores, from my gym and while traveling on day trips.

Mint Mobile offers four different plans, all of which are prepaid. The plans start at $15 per month for 5GB of data. 

Under 3-month Plans, the rate goes up to $30 per month for 40GB of data. All of Mint Mobile’s plans include unlimited talk and text, and they also include international calling to Canada and Mexico. 

(Editor’s Note: As of October 2023, all 3-month plans are $15 per month for three months of service.)

Mint Mobile has a seven-day money-back guarantee if the service isn’t a good fit. You should expect to cover shipping and handling on any phone that needs to be returned.

What Network Does Mint Mobile Use?

Mint Mobile is known for its cost-effective approach, which leverages the T-Mobile network infrastructure. Mint operates as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). 

An MVNO is like a middleman in the cell phone world. Instead of building its own cell towers and networks, it piggybacks on the infrastructure of bigger carriers, like T-Mobile or AT&T. This lets MVNOs offer you cell phone service at potentially lower prices because they don’t have the same big network costs. 

So, they’re like the discount retailers for cell phone plans, giving you the same features such as free calling, unlimited texts, and data at a more budget-friendly rate.

Mint Mobile includes features like Wi-Fi calls and hotspot data access. By utilizing the T-Mobile network, Mint Mobile provides cost-effective access to robust coverage.

When I was a Cricket customer, I liked that my phone was using the same network and towers as AT&T mobile subscribers but at a serious discount. Before Cricket, I was a Cingular Wireless customer because service was cheap, but that changed around 2006 when AT&T acquired the company. My bill went up significantly largely from overages. 

Performance on calling and texting

I have stuck with Mint Mobile because of its reliability when it comes to calling and texting. This is year two of being a paying customer with Mint. I haven’t had any dropped calls, or problems with sending photos to friends over text messages. 

Mint Mobile review
Watching baseball highlights from my smartphone. (Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

I am using an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, which supports 5G.

I have been able to use 5G when I am at home in Boston, and if I am not in an area that supports 5G, my phone quickly switches over to a 4G network without any problems. 

That said, it’s important to check the coverage for your area. That’s where the Mint Mobile’s map comes in handy. 

Data Speeds

Mint Mobile review
(Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

Even though I have been a Mint Mobile customer for almost 24 months, I decided to test out my actual download speeds for this review. The tests were conducted at my home, and while traveling in the car across a seven mile drive from my house. 

The results are based on testing my local T-Mobile and 5G Network towers in and around Boston.

The fastest download speed was 336 Mbps followed by 325 Mbps and 130 Mbps. I did hit some slower speeds while in my car: 74.6 Mbps and 11.5 Mbps respectively. 

I regularly stream TV shows, YouTube videos and podcasts on my data plan. I never have a problem with data. According to a Netflix help page, customers can stream about four hours per GB of mobile data. 

Mint Mobile review
(Photo credit: Jim Kimble / The Cord Cutting Report)

I have only used my phone once as a mobile hotspot while I was at a local coffee shop that did not have Wi-Fi. I was able to surf the web on my laptop, respond to email and send an attached text file while using the mobile hotspot option.

What are the Mint Mobile Data Plans?

Mint Mobile data plans offer a range of features to suit various customers. Plans are measured by gigabytes (GB) per month. Whether you’re a light user or a data-hungry individual, Mint Mobile has something for you. These plans include:

  • 5GB Plan: Tailored for light users who primarily use their phones for calls and texts, making it an economical choice for those who want to stay connected without excess data.
  • 15GB Plan: (What I use.) It is an ideal pick for web browsing, listening to podcasts and downloads when away from Wi-Fi.
  • 20GB Plan: Suited for individuals who stream music and videos or use their phones for work. The extra 5GB makes sure you have enough data for entertainment and productivity.
  • Mint Mobile’s Unlimited Plan is designed for heavy users, offering unlimited data perfect for streaming video, downloads, and more, making it a top choice for those who demand unrestricted mobile usage.

Activation process

I found that the best way to activate your phone is by using an eSIM instead of a physical SIM card.

eSIM has been part of most major smartphones since 2016, but it’s rarely covered in smartphone reviews. If your phone is fairly new, then I recommend using eSIM to sign up for your next plan. 

The advantage is pretty clear, especially if you are moving to a discount carrier. 

You don’t have to wait a couple of days for a physical SIM card to arrive with your starter kit. You don’t have to install a SIM card either. 

For eSIM, you just need to know the brand and model of your smartphone.

Mint Mobile has a page where you can check your phone compatibility for eSIM. You don’t have to track down your IMEI number for this part of the process. 

If your phone is compatible (current iPhones and many Android smartphones are), then you choose a phone plan and select eSIM delivery at checkout. 

eSIM technology allows you to have two or more separate phone lines on a phone simultaneously. You will be able to activate the eSIM through the Mint Mobile app. 

Which plan I use for Mint Mobile

As I mentioned earlier, I pay for the 15GB per month plan for high-speed data. This plan gives me more than enough data for listening to podcasts and playing videos on YouTube when I am away from my home Wi-Fi network. 

I don’t consider myself a heavy data user. But I don’t worry about hitting my data limit, either. One of the better aspects of a Mint plan is that you don’t get overages or extra charges if you hit your high-speed data limit for the month.

Instead, you get slower speeds until your next allotment of monthly data arrives. 

When I signed up, it was the 10GB plan. On April 14, 2023, Mint announced that all plans would get an increase in monthly data at the same price point. 

How Does Mint Mobile Save Me Money?

Buying my mobile data in bulk isn’t for everyone. But I can’t deny the savings I get from doing so while being able to use the same network as people who may be paying twice as much as I do. 

T-Mobile plans range in price between $60 to $90 per month. Verizon mobile is between $35 to $50 per month. AT&T is $35 to $50 per month. But those costs don’t include fees or taxes, which can vary by state. 

In June, CNBC reported that JD Power estimates the average cell phone bill is $144 per month. My monthly bill is currently $21.93, after fees and taxes. That’s a difference of $122.97 per month, or $1,464.84 annually. 

CNBC recommended switching to a MVNO carrier such as Mint Mobile as a way to save money. (Thanks for the tip.) 

Bringing your own phone can be a cost saving move as well. Mint Mobile is compatible with most unlocked GSM devices, allowing you to keep your current phone and save on device costs.

Where to Buy Mint Mobile Phones

Don’t want to part ways with your current phone? Mint Mobile is compatible with most unlocked GSM devices. Just pop in the Mint Mobile SIM card, and you’re good to go.

You can buy Mint Mobile phones through various channels, including:

  1. Mint Mobile Website: The official Mint Mobile website offers a selection of phones that are compatible with their service. You can browse their website, choose a phone, and purchase it directly.
  2. Retail Stores: You can buy your own unlocked GSM-based smartphone from a retailer such as Best Buy or Walmart, and use it with Mint Mobile.
  3. Online Retailers: You can also find GSM-compatible smartphones on popular online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy. These online retailers often have a wide range of options and competitive prices.

For years, I have been buying my own unlocked smartphone. I do pay full price for the phone up front, but it gives me flexibility to promptly switch to another carrier if I am unhappy with their service, or a price increase.  

Mint Mobile Phones for 2023

Buying a phone directly from Mint Mobile might have some advantages, but you need to be aware of the commitment that comes with them. 

Mint sells some of the newest phones from Google, Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus and Samsung. There are lesser known, budget models from TCL, Wingtech and CAT. 

When you sign up for a plan and buy a phone, you can finance a new phone by paying for it on a monthly plan. Mint is currently using Affirm, a buy-now-pay-later financer. 

If you do decide to buy a phone from Mint Mobile, keep in mind that the phone will be locked to their network for 12 months. After that, you can contact them to unlock it. 

What I didn’t like: The “Recovery Fee”.

Aside from the renewal amount of $240.00 for my 12-month plan, a $20.50 “Recovery Fee” was added along with $2.66 in taxes and surcharges. 

Here is how Mint Mobile explains the recovery fee:

“The Recovery Fee is assessed to help recover Mint Mobile’s cost to comply with various federal and state programs, taxes and fees. It also includes a flat fee per transaction to help recover other administrative fees…”

Customer Service

Mint Mobile customer service has a good reputation among consumers. The company offers 24/7 support via phone, chat, and email. Mint Mobile also has a number of resources available on its website, such as a knowledge base and a community forum.

Overall, Mint Mobile is a good option for people who are looking for an affordable, no-contract wireless service. The company offers a variety of plans and features, and it has a good reputation for customer service. 

Mint Mobile Review FAQs

These are questions readers ask when researching Mint Mobile as a wireless phone carrier. 

Does Mint Mobile have bad coverage?

Mint Mobile’s coverage largely depends on the T-Mobile network, which is known for its extensive coverage in most urban and suburban areas. However, it’s essential to check the coverage map for your specific location to ensure it meets your needs.

Why Use the Mint Mobile Coverage Map?

Mint Mobile’s Coverage Map helps you make a more informed decision before committing to their service.

Mint Mobile review
(Photo courtesy: Mint Mobile)

You can look at where you live, or travel on a daily basis, and assess whether their service will have you covered. 

Verifying local signal strength is important. Remember, it’s not just about having coverage; it’s about having a strong and consistent signal. With the map, you can gauge signal quality in different areas, ensuring you won’t face issues like dropped calls or sluggish data speeds.

What Are LTE Data Speeds?

LTE, or Long-Term Evolution, is a high-speed wireless communication standard. Mint Mobile offers 4G LTE data speeds in addition to its 5G Network.

What Is an Unlimited Data Plan?

An unlimited data plan, as offered by Mint Mobile, allows you to use as much data as you want without worrying about data caps. It’s perfect for heavy users who rely on their phones for various data-intensive activities, such as streaming, downloading, and more.

How Can You Estimate Your Data Usage?

Mint Mobile provides an online tool to help you estimate your data usage based on your habits. This ensures you choose the most suitable plan for your needs, avoiding overage charges or unused data.

These questions and answers should provide you with a comprehensive understanding of Mint Mobile data plans and how they can benefit you.

What carrier is behind Mint Mobile?

Mint Mobile operates on the T-Mobile network. It’s essentially a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that uses T-Mobile’s infrastructure to provide its services.

Is Mint Mobile good in the US?

Mint Mobile can be an excellent choice for many users in the United States, especially those in urban and suburban areas covered by the T-Mobile network. However, the quality of service can vary depending on your location, so it’s advisable to check their coverage map.

Does Mint use Verizon or T-Mobile?

Mint Mobile uses the T-Mobile network, not Verizon. So, if you’re considering Mint Mobile, you’ll be utilizing T-Mobile’s infrastructure for your mobile service.

Is Mint Mobile owned by T-Mobile?

T-Mobile announced its plan to acquire Mint Mobile in April 2023. Mint operates as an MVNO, using T-Mobile’s network to deliver its mobile services. The acquisition is currently in progress as of October 2023, making the two companies separate entities for the time being.

Is Mint Mobile run by Verizon?

No, Mint Mobile is not affiliated with Verizon. It operates separately from Verizon and utilizes the T-Mobile network for its coverage.

Is it worth it to switch from Verizon to Mint Mobile?

Whether it’s worth switching from Verizon to Mint Mobile depends on your specific needs and priorities. Mint Mobile is known for its cost-effective plans, but you should consider factors like coverage in your area, data usage, and budget before making the switch.

How is Mint Mobile service and coverage?

Mint Mobile’s service and coverage can be reliable in areas covered by the T-Mobile network. However, the quality of service may vary depending on your location. It’s recommended to check their coverage map and consider your specific usage requirements.

What kind of coverage do you get with Mint Mobile?

With Mint Mobile, you get coverage on the T-Mobile network, which includes 4G LTE and 5G coverage in many areas. This coverage extends to various urban and suburban regions across the United States.

Does Mint Mobile use Verizon towers?

No, Mint Mobile does not use Verizon towers. It operates exclusively on the T-Mobile network.

Is Mint Mobile coverage the same as T-Mobile?

Mint Mobile’s coverage is based on the T-Mobile network, but it may not be identical to T-Mobile’s postpaid coverage. It’s important to consult Mint Mobile’s coverage map to confirm the specific areas covered by their service.

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Jim Kimble is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016, and serves as the editor.

Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe.

Why you can trust The Cord Cutting Report: I do hands-on testing with TV-related hardware and services throughout the year. Find out more about the review policy.