By Alex Whitelock
Two great services in a head-to-head battle
Mint Mobile vs T-Mobile is a question that's no doubt in the minds of many a cell phone user over the past few months, given the incredibly high-profile ads campaign of the former. Both being on the same network makes them directly cross-compatible too - which begs the question, which one's best for you?
On one side is Mint Mobile, a smaller service that we rank at the very top of our best prepaid phone plans (opens in new tab) guide. On the other, T-Mobile, a well-established phone plan giant that specializes in offering some of the best unlimited data plans (opens in new tab) around.
In short, both are going to appeal to a very different type of user and both have advantages and drawbacks. To help narrow down which is for you, we've put together this direct Mint Mobile vs T-Mobile to see how they stack up when it comes to price, features, speed, and service - including a handy verdict and summary at the bottom of the page.
Mint Mobile vs T-Mobile: at a glance
Mint Mobile: prepaid plans from $15 per month (opens in new tab)
Mint Mobile is one prepaid carrier that's been making a ton of waves recently thanks to its generous data allowances, 5G data speeds, and rock-bottom monthly prices. Simply put, it's a great choice if you're looking for the basics and want to cut down your monthly bills. Note, to get the cheapest prices possible at Mint Mobile you do need to buy a whole year of data upfront, so bear that in mind as it can be a fair amount to pay.
4GB: $15/mo (opens in new tab) | 10GB: $20/mo (opens in new tab) | 15GB: $25/mo (opens in new tab) | Unl: $30/mo (opens in new tab)
T-Mobile: unlimited data plans from $34 to $85 per month (opens in new tab)
T-Mobile specializes in offering feature-laden contract-free unlimited plans that are perfect if you're a heavy user. Starting at $60 a month for a single-line user, you'll be able to cut those per-line prices down by adding multiple's to an account - including getting the third line for free. With HD streaming options, free Netflix accounts, and prioritized 5G data speeds, T-Mobile's a great choice if you're looking to stream a lot of content on the go.
Essentials: $60/mo (opens in new tab) | Magenta: $70/mo (opens in new tab) | Magenta Max: $85/mo (opens in new tab)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Mint Mobile||T-Mobile|
|Contract length||No contract (3 to 12 month plans)||No contract (24mo device payments)|
|5G data||Up until 35GB (128Kb/s after)||Yes (usage restrictions on some plans)|
|Video streaming||480p||4K UHD (480p on some plans)|
|International calling||60 countries||Mexico and Canada (Intl. extra)|
|International roaming||No||Yes (on Magenta plan)|
|Mobile hotspotting||5GB cap on unlimited plan||Unlimited 3G speed, 40GB max 5G speeds|
|Deprioritization||Yes||Yes (only after 50GB+ usage)|
If you're strictly on a budget, then Mint Mobile is definitely the cheaper of the two options on average. For a single line user, for example, you'll generally be looking at paying about half ($30 versus $60pm) for Mint Mobile's unlimited data plan versus the similar Essentials Unlimited plan at T-Mobile, although you do get less 5G data (25GB versus 50GB).
Mint: $15 to $40 per month
T-Mobile: $60 to $80 per month (1-line)
T-Mobile: Yes (up to 5 lines)
Where things start to weigh in T-Mobile's favor is with its excellent family data plan options. Like most major carriers, T-Mobile will give you a discount on each line if you have multiple signed up for one plan. Unlike most major carriers, however, T-Mobile actually throws in the third line for free, which makes its three to four-line options particularly competitive. With three lines on your account, you'll pay just $90 a month for the Essentials plan and $120 for the Magenta plan - the latter of which has 100GB of priority 5G data and a free Netflix account.
Editor's note: as of May 2022 Mint Mobile now has its own family plan (opens in new tab) that supports up to five lines at a time. It's not exactly analogous to T-Mobile's as you don't get a per-line discount based on how many lines you add. You do, however, get each line at the cheapest (yearly) rate while only having to pay for three months at a time. It's a handy addition to the carrier's current roster of perks, although not a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination.
Features, speed and service
As we've already hinted at, and covered in the comparison table above - T-Mobile offers the most feature-laden plans out of the two carriers, but at a significant cost.
T-Mobile: Netflix, T-Mobile Tuesdays
Mint: Yes (5GB allowance)
Mint: free to Can & Mex
T-Mobile: free to Can & Mex
T-Mobile: No (plan dependant)
Depending on the plan you'll be scoring things like a free Netflix account, basic international roaming, and the 'T-Mobile Tuesdays' perks scheme, which gives you access to in-store discounts and giveaways. In comparison, Mint Mobile plans are pretty stripped down affairs, although you do still get the basics like mobile hotspot allowance and free WiFi calling.
Speed-wise, both carriers are offering 5G data plans and operating on the greater T-Mobile network. Put simply, both should get comparable speed and service, although it's worth noting that as a prepaid carrier, Mint Mobile is subject (to a greater degree) to what's called 'deprioritization'. What this essentially means is that when the local area is busy, T-Mobile will always prioritize its own customer's data speeds primarily over those of sub-carriers running on its network.
It's also worth noting that as an MVNO Mint Mobile doesn't participate in the large carrier roaming agreements, which can mean worse coverage in areas that aren't specifically covered by T-Mobile network towers. With T-Mobile, if you're in an area with poor coverage the service will essentially 'borrow' coverage from AT&T or Verizon and visa versa.
What about T-Mobile prepaid?
As well as its more well-known 'postpaid' unlimited plans, T-Mobile also has a number of prepaid plans (opens in new tab) to check out for those who want a plan on the service, but want to spend a little bit less. In short, T-Mobile prepaid plans will generally set you back anywhere from $15 per month for the basic 2.5GB monthly data allowance, all the way to $60 per month for an expanded unlimited data plan.
In our eyes, if you're going prepaid, you may as well opt for Mint Mobile in this regard since you'll generally get better bang for the buck. For the same price as the $15 per month entry-level 2.5GB plan at T-Mobile, for example, you can get 4GB at Mint Mobile. Plus, Mint's unlimited plan is way cheaper at $30 per month versus the $50 per month for the basic unlimited prepaid plan at T-Mobile. Of course, with Mint you will need to be paying upfront for multiple months at a time to secure the lowest prices, but if you can get past that lump-sum upfront, it'll be cheaper for you in the long run.
Both Mint Mobile and T-Mobile are absolutely awesome carriers, but they'll definitely each appeal to a different type of user. For those who are really on a budget, and don't mind having just the basics, then Mint Mobile is absolutely the way to go. While T-Mobile is comparatively good value versus the other big carriers (especially with its family plans), you simply can't get the same sort of reasonable data allowances and rock-bottom prices at this carrier versus what Mint offers.
On the other hand, for those who want a truly unlimited plan, no deprioritization, and HD video streaming, then T-Mobile is going to offer just that. You will, of course, be spending about double for a single-line plan at Mint, but Mint Mobile simply doesn't offer things like unlimited priority data or HD streaming, so it's a fairly easy decision if that's what's important to you.
What other carriers should I check out?
T-Mobile as a network has no shortage of excellent sub-carriers (MVNOs) to consider. First up is Metro by T-Mobile, which offers slightly cheaper prepaid plans all around versus its parent company, but still retains a few perks like free music streaming and Amazon Prime membership on the more expensive plans. At a baseline of $40 per month for the 10GB/mo plan, Metro sits somewhere in the middle in regards to value. Boost Mobile is another great choice with plans starting at $15 per month for the 2GB plan (opens in new tab), up to $50 a month for its unlimited plan. Boost has particularly good rates for multiple-line accounts, so it's a great cheap prepaid family plan alternative to T-Mobile.
If you're looking for more great alternatives, we definitely recommend heading on over to our best cheap cell phone plans (opens in new tab) guide for an exhaustive list of options.
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Alex is deals editor at Future PLC and an all-around expert at one thing - saving readers as much cash as possible while scoring them the best products for their needs. With content that's always packed full of helpful information, no-nonsense expertise, and of course deals, Alex has also written for other leading sites such as T3 and GamesRadar. At work, you'll find him mostly covering computing, gaming, and advising people on how to save on their cell phone plans. Outside of work, you'll find him playing guitar, indulging his love for music, or down at the local climbing gym mostly hanging off boulders far too difficult for his abilities.