Since purchasing my first mobile phone many moons ago, I've stayed clear of the little guys for service, instead electing to use Verizon Wireless or AT&T. After testing Mint Mobile's service for the past few weeks, I'm rethinking my choices.
Launched by Ultra Mobile three years ago, Mint Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that offers low-cost, direct to consumer mobile phone plan in the United States. It does so through the nationwide T-Mobile cellular network.
Price: from $15 per month
Bottom line: In a world where high-priced mobile services reign, there's now Mint Mobile which is doing things differently starting with offering lower prices.
- Simple setup
- Data choices
- Great customer tools online and through app
- Phone number spam?
- Only as good as T-Mobile service
- Prices jump after promo
What is Mint Mobile?
Before being asked to try Mint Mobile, my only experience with the company was by watching its hilarious commercials that feature chunky milk and carpet showers that promise mobile service for as little as $15 per month. Despite loving the ads, I never explored the service in more detail until now.
Mint Mobile offers unlimited voice and text plus a limited amount of 4G LTE data (you decide how much to buy each month). Each plan also allows you to share your data through a personal hotspot and comes with a free SIM card. International voice/text and data plans are also available to purchase separately.
To use Mint Mobile, your iPhone (or another smartphone) must be unlocked and use the GSM network. If you're not sure whether your current phone is compatible by Mint Mobile, you can find out at Mint's Bring Your Own Phone page. For review purposes, I've been using Mint Mobile on an iPhone 8 Plus.
To begin using Mint Mobile, you need to get your hands on a Mint Mobile SIM card. Trial packs are available at retailers such as Amazon and Target for just $5. These include two cards (one for testing purposes, another if you decide to sign-up for a plan). For the trial, you receive 100MB of 4G LTE data, 100 text messages, and 100 minutes of talk, all of which is good for seven days after activation. (If you decide to buy a prepaid plan, Mint Mobile will credit you the $5.)
If you don't have a starter pack or want to sign up for the service immediately, visit the Mint Mobile website and select a welcome pack. These packs come with three months of service. You decide how much 4G LTE data you'll need.
The three new subscriber plans are:
- 3GB of 4G LTE per month for $45 for three months
- 8GB of 4G LTE per month for $60 for three months
- 12GB of 4G LTE per month for $75 for three months
These prices do increase after your first three months. From there, you can decide to purchase another three-month plan or switch to a six or 12-month prepaid plan. The more months you pay upfront, the less you'll pay on a per month basis.
The price of plans after the promotional period ends are:
- Three-month plans: 3GB ($75), 8GB ($105), 12GB ($135)
- Six-month plans: 3GB ($120), 8GB ($150), 12GB ($210)
- 1 year plans: 3GB ($180), 8GB ($240), 12GB ($300)
Data through Mint Mobile doesn't roll over to the next month; if you are getting close to exceeding your 4G LTE limit, you can buy extra data. Otherwise, when you're over your limit, the data speed drops to 128 kbps until your next service month begins.
Mint Mobile: What I like
There's much to love about the Mint Mobile service starting with its setup process. Once you receive your kit, you activate your service using the Mint Mobile website or app. You can select a new phone number during this process by adding your zip code. A unique number will auto-generate based on the zip code and availability in your particular area code. You can also transfer your existing number during activation. Once you do, drop the included Mint Mobile SIM card into your iPhone, and you're ready to go. Honestly, it's that's simple.
From there, you can set up your personal hotspot, so you can share your Mint Mobile data to your other devices like iPad or to other users such as family and friends. This too is a relatively straightforward process.
During my tests, my daughter used tethering to connect her iPad to my Mint Mobile iPhone during a day trip to New York City. At no time did she experience a problem and speed was satisfactory. It made the three-hour trip much more enjoyable! With Mint Mobile, I also was able to use the Wi-Fi Calling and Text feature. It also worked as expected.
Setup and use aren't the only reasons for my positive review. Convenience is another huge factor.
Both online and through the Mint Mobile app, the company has made it easy to check your current data usage or to make changes. Worried about running out of 4G LTE data? Don't be since you can get more data instantly from either location. Want to purchase a difference Mint Mobile package in the future? You can do this also through the website or app.
Finally, I send kudos to Mint Mobile's customer service team, which you can quickly contact with through voice, email, and chat. They are friendly and knowledgeable and also provide a valuable FAQ online and instructional videos. These tools add positively to the overall Mint Mobile experience.
Mint Mobile: What I don't like
There is very little not to like about Mint Mobile, although a few things stand out. First, I did experience an unhealthy amount of initial spam with my new Mint Mobile phone number through both SMS and voice. The amount of spam largely dissipated after a few days, but I found it annoying nonetheless.
I also have a small beef with how Mint Mobile packages its plans. Don't get me wrong, the company's prices are fantastic. However, I wish there was a way to buy single monthly prepaid plans, even if the cost is higher on a per-month basis. Not everyone needs three months of service. Unfortunately, this is the shortest prepaid plan available. Finally, there's the issue of unused data not rolling over. This limitation is unfortunate especially during months when usage is less.
Finally, understand the Mint Mobile service is only as good as T-Mobile is in your area. If T-Mobile coverage in your area is poor, Mint Mobile's service might not work well for you. This point isn't really a negative, but rather something to keep in mind. You can check the Mint Mobile website for coverage information.
A true winner
If you're looking for a new data plan for your unlocked iPhone, consider Mint Mobile. Offering prepaid data (no contracts!) for GSM phones, the service is available across the United States. Before committing, consider a starter pack. Otherwise, sign up today from the Mint Mobile website and start saving money.
Have any questions?
If you have any questions or concerns about Mint Mobile or carriers in general, let us know below.
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