Tello Mobile vs Mint Mobile: And The Best MVNO Carrier Is…
Tello Mobile and Mint Mobile run on the same network, T-Mobile, and they both do cheap data plans. But there are some pretty major differences between these two MVNOs that you need to be aware of. Let’s get stuck in…
TL:DR – Tello Mobile vs Mint Mobile
Both Tello Mobile and Mint Mobile are budget-friendly MVNOs operating on T-Mobile’s network, but they cater to slightly different user preferences.
Here’s an overview of their key differences:
Pricing and Plans:
- Tello: Offers a “Build Your Own” plan where you customize minutes, data, and text for as low as $5/month. They also have preset plans ranging from $9 to $25 for standard data allocations and unlimited talk/text.
- Mint Mobile: Focuses on pre-paid annual plans offering bundled minutes, data, and text. Prices are attractive, but require upfront payment for the entire year. Monthly options are available but more expensive.
- Tello: Allows easy plan changes anytime without fees, ideal for users with fluctuating needs.
- Mint Mobile: Changing plans mid-year with Mint often incurs fees, making it better for users with consistent usage patterns.
- Tello: The Unlimited plan cap high-speed data at 35GB before throttling. Smaller data plans offer pay-as-you-go options beyond the included amount.
- Mint Mobile: Unlimited plans also have high-speed data caps (e.g., 45GB for their main plan), but throttling is significantly slower than Tello. Data-only plans are not available.
- Tello: Includes free nationwide coverage, Wi-Fi calling, hotspot, and international calling to over 60 countries.
- Mint Mobile: Offers similar features but international calling is limited to Mexico and Canada.
Go With Tello If…
- Budget-conscious users who like customizing their plans and want flexible options.
- Users who call internationally and need affordable international calling.
- Users who prefer no upfront commitment and easy plan changes.
Go With Mint If…
- Users who want the best value for consistent data usage and are ok with pre-paying annually.
- Users who prioritize lower throttling speeds after exceeding high-speed data caps.
- Users who primarily make calls within the US or to Mexico and Canada.
Ultimately, the best choice depends on your individual needs and preferences. Consider your typical data usage, budget, and desired flexibility when making your decision. For overall value for money and things like International Calling, Tello Mobile might just have the edge.
Mint Mobile and Tello Mobile want the same thing: to reduce the cost of mobile data and to get your business.
They charge considerably less than the big-name carriers for data plans and they focus on providing users with the basics – data, calls and texts – and omitting any of the expensive frills you get with the likes of Verizon and T-Mobile.
Basically, MVNOs are all about cost, data, and saving you money on your monthly phone bills. At least, that’s the marketing message they all pump out.
For the most part, it is true, though: MVNOs are cheaper than traditional carriers and they will save you money in the short, medium, and long term.
But you need to know WHY they’re cheaper and the caveats that come with their reduced prices. Because there are caveats and you should understand them before pulling the trigger on a plan with either Mint Mobile or Tello.
MVNO vs Traditional Carrier: The Caveats You Need To Know
- MVNOs: Rely on existing networks (like T-Mobile for Tello and Mint Mobile) for coverage, which can be less extensive or have lower priority during congestion compared to the primary carrier’s customers.
- Traditional carriers: Own and operate their own networks, generally offering wider coverage and higher priority for their own customers.
Features and Options:
- MVNOs: Often have fewer bells and whistles, with limited international calling, roaming options, and customer support compared to traditional carriers.
- Traditional carriers: Offer a wider range of features, including international calling, roaming packages, device insurance, and more comprehensive customer support.
- Phone compatibility: MVNOs might have stricter compatibility requirements, not supporting all phone models that work on the underlying network.
- Data Throttling: Some MVNO plans, especially unlimited ones, have data caps after which speeds are significantly reduced. Traditional carriers might also throttle data, but often to a lesser extent.
- Data Deprioritization: If you’re in a busy area during peak time and you’re on an MVNO network, your data speeds will be throttled to give priority to users on the main network (the one that powers an MVNO like Mint Mobile or Tello).
Data Plans Compared
- Unlimited Plans: High-speed data is capped at 35GB. After reaching this limit, the data speed is reduced, commonly referred to as ‘throttling’. This means users can still access data but at slower speeds.
- Smaller Data Plans: For users who don’t opt for unlimited plans, Tello offers a variety of smaller data plans. These plans are flexible, allowing users to add more data on a pay-as-you-go basis. This feature is particularly beneficial for users who occasionally need extra data but don’t require an unlimited plan.
- Throttling Policy: Once the high-speed data cap is reached on any plan, users will experience reduced speeds. This can impact activities like streaming, online gaming, or large downloads, making them slower or less responsive.
- Unlimited Plans: The data policy is similar in that there is a high-speed data cap, but it’s set at a higher limit of 45GB for their main unlimited plan. This offers more data for heavy users before throttling occurs.
- Throttling Post-Cap: Mint Mobile’s throttling is noted to be slower compared to Tello. This means that even after exceeding the 45GB limit, users can expect somewhat better speeds than they would get with Tello after its 25GB limit. However, the reduced speeds will still affect data-intensive activities.
- Data-Only Plans: Mint Mobile does not offer plans that are solely focused on data. This might be a limitation for users who are primarily interested in data services and not in voice or text features.
In summary, Tello offers greater flexibility with customizable smaller data plans and a pay-as-you-go option, suitable for variable data needs. Mint Mobile, on the other hand, provides a higher data cap on its unlimited plans, which is beneficial for users with consistent high data usage, but lacks data-only plan options. The choice between Tello and Mint Mobile for data services largely depends on your individual data usage patterns and preferences for plan flexibility.
Pricing and Plan Flexibility
- Ease of Plan Changes: Tello stands out for its high level of flexibility. Users have the option to change their plans at any time without incurring any fees. This is a significant advantage for those whose data or call needs might vary from month to month.
- Ideal for Fluctuating Needs: Whether it’s a sudden need for more data, fewer minutes, or a different mix of services, Tello accommodates these changes smoothly. This flexibility is particularly appealing to users who don’t have predictable usage patterns – for instance, people who travel frequently or have varying data needs due to work or personal reasons.
- No Financial Penalty: The absence of fees for changing plans means that users can adjust their services based on current needs without worrying about additional costs. This can lead to cost savings and a more customized phone plan experience.
- Plan Change Fees: Unlike Tello, Mint Mobile typically imposes fees for changing plans, especially when done mid-year. This can be a drawback for users who might need to adjust their plans unexpectedly.
- Suited for Consistent Usage: Mint Mobile is more fitting for users who have a good understanding of their yearly data and call needs. Since the plans are primarily annual, users benefit from knowing their usage patterns well in advance.
- Less Flexibility with Prepaid Structure: The prepaid nature of Mint Mobile’s plans, particularly the annual payment model, means there’s less leeway for changing plans without incurring additional costs. This model works best for users who prefer stability and consistency in their phone service and usage.
Tello offers unparalleled flexibility and is a great choice for users with varying monthly needs, without the burden of extra fees for changing plans. Mint Mobile, on the other hand, is more suitable for users with consistent usage patterns who are less likely to need plan changes and who can benefit from its annual prepaid plans.
Cost and Payment Options
- Tello offers a range of affordable prepaid plans, with prices starting as low as $5 per month for a plan with 100 minutes, unlimited texts, and no data. Their most expensive plan is $25 per month for unlimited talk, text, and data. Tello also offers family plans with up to 10 lines per one account.
- Mint Mobile, on the other hand, offers plans ranging from $15 to $30 per month, with discounts for multi-month plans. Their most expensive plan offers unlimited data, while their cheapest plan offers 4GB of data. Mint Mobile also offers a 7-day money-back guarantee for new customers.
Both Tello and Mint Mobile offer no-contract, prepaid plans, which means customers can switch or cancel their plans at any time without penalty. Payment options include credit/debit cards and PayPal.
Plans & Data Allowances Comparison
|Pre-paid annual / Monthly (more expensive)
|Pre-paid monthly / Build-your-own
|Bundled in pre-paid plans (45GB, 3GB, 1GB)
|Pay-as-you-go or set amounts in plans (1GB, 2GB, 5GB, 10GB, Unlimited)
|Talk & Text
|Unlimited in all plans
|Unlimited talk in certain plans (free unlimited text in all plans)
|$15-$30/month (annual plans)
|$5-$25/month (depending on plan)
|High-Speed Data Cap
|Yes (45GB in main plan, lower in others)
|Yes (35GB in Unlimited plan)
|Throttling Speed After Cap
|Difficult to change plans mid-year
|Easily change plans anytime
|Limited (Mexico & Canada)
|Free to over 60 countries
|Same as T-Mobile, may have lower priority
|Same as T-Mobile, may have lower priority
|Wi-Fi calling, Hotspot
|Wi-Fi calling, Hotspot, International calling
|Limited hours and channels
|24/7 phone and online support
- Cost-Effective Annual Plans: Mint Mobile offers pre-paid annual plans that can be quite cost-effective, especially if you’re willing to commit to a longer contract.
- Generous Data in Bundled Plans: Their bundled plans come with generous data allowances (45GB, 3GB, and 1GB), which can be suitable for various data usage needs.
- Unlimited Talk & Text: All Mint Mobile plans include unlimited talk and text, ensuring you can stay connected without worry.
- High-Speed Data Cap: While there is a high-speed data cap (45GB in the main plan), they still offer a considerable amount of high-speed data before throttling.
- Wi-Fi Calling and Hotspot: Mint Mobile provides additional features like Wi-Fi calling and hotspot capabilities.
- T-Mobile Network: Mint Mobile operates on the T-Mobile network, which generally offers good coverage in many areas.
- Lack of Monthly Flexibility: Changing plans mid-year can be difficult with Mint Mobile, which may not suit those who require more flexibility.
- Limited International Calling: Mint Mobile’s international calling options are limited to Mexico and Canada, which might be insufficient for frequent international callers.
- Possibly Lower Network Priority: While using the T-Mobile network, Mint Mobile users may experience lower network priority during congestion, potentially affecting data speeds.
- Monthly and Customizable Plans: Tello Mobile offers the flexibility of monthly plans and the ability to build your own plan, allowing you to tailor your service to your specific needs.
- Affordable Options: Tello Mobile’s plans are budget-friendly, with options as low as $5 per month.
- Unlimited Talk & Text: Like Mint Mobile, Tello Mobile includes unlimited talk in certain plans and free unlimited text in all plans.
- Reasonable High-Speed Data Cap: Tello Mobile provides a reasonable high-speed data cap (35GB in the Unlimited plan), which should be sufficient for many users.
- Easily Change Plans: You can easily change your plan with Tello Mobile at any time, providing greater flexibility.
- Wide International Calling: Tello Mobile offers free international calling to over 60 countries, making it a good choice for international callers.
- T-Mobile Network: Similar to Mint Mobile, Tello Mobile also uses the T-Mobile network.
- Limited Data Options: Tello Mobile’s data options are more limited compared to Mint Mobile’s bundled plans, which might not suit heavy data users.
- Throttling Speed: After reaching the data cap, Tello Mobile throttles to 2G speeds, which can be slower than Mint Mobile’s 256 Kbps.
- Possibly Lower Network Priority: Just like Mint Mobile, Tello Mobile users may experience lower network priority during network congestion.
Bottom line? Mint Mobile is ideal for those who prefer annual plans with more data options, while Tello Mobile is better suited for individuals looking for flexibility and affordability, especially if they need international calling options.
Tello and Mint Mobile offer different features and customization options for their plans. Tello offers mobile hotspot data on all their plans, while Mint Mobile only offers hotspot data on their unlimited plan. Tello also offers a build-your-own plan option, where customers can choose the amount of talk, text, and data they need.
Mint Mobile, on the other hand, offers a variety of low-data plans, which may be ideal for customers who don’t need unlimited data. They also offer a family plan with discounts for additional lines, although it’s worth noting that their family plan is only available for their 10GB and unlimited plans.
Tello and Mint Mobile both offer affordable, prepaid plans with no contracts. Tello offers more customization options with their build-your-own plan feature, while Mint Mobile offers a range of low-data plans and a family plan with discounts for additional lines.
With data speeds, everything is equal, so it all really comes down to whether you want to be locked into a plan (Mint Mobile) or be free to ditch and switch to a new one as and when you want to (Tello Mobile).
Me? I’d probably be inclined to go with Tello Mobile. I spent a month testing out its network and was very impressed. Add in the fact that you can simply leave whenever you like and I can see why it is so highly rated with its user base.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the differences in pricing between Tello and Mint Mobile?
Tello offers plans starting at $5 per month, while Mint Mobile’s plans start at $15 per month. Mint Mobile’s plans are generally more expensive than Tello’s, but they also offer more data and features.
How does the network coverage compare between Tello and Mint Mobile?
Both Tello and Mint Mobile use T-Mobile’s network, so the coverage should be similar. However, some users have reported that Mint Mobile’s coverage is slightly better in some areas.
What are the pros and cons of switching to Mint Mobile from Tello?
The main advantage of switching to Mint Mobile is the increased data allowance and additional features. Mint Mobile also has a better reputation for customer service. However, Mint Mobile’s plans are generally more expensive than Tello’s.
Can Tello’s services match the quality of Mint Mobile?
Tello’s services are generally considered to be of good quality, but they may not offer the same level of features and data allowances as Mint Mobile.
What are the long-term benefits of choosing Mint Mobile over Tello?
The long-term benefits of choosing Mint Mobile over Tello include access to more data and features, as well as better customer service. However, Mint Mobile’s plans are generally more expensive than Tello’s, so users should consider their budget when making a decision.
How do Tello and Mint Mobile’s plans differ in terms of data allowances and features?
Both Tello’s & Mint Mobile’s Unlimited plans are very similar. For example, Tello’s unlimited plan only offers 35GB of high-speed data, the same as Mint Mobile’s unlimited plan which offers 35GB. Both, Mint Mobile & Tello offer features like mobile hotspot and international calling.