Mint Mobile vs T-Mobile: which carrier is best for you?

Mint Mobile and T-Mobile branded SIM cards on a green and magenta background
(Image credit: Future)

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 guide. On the other, T-Mobile, a well-established phone plan giant that specializes in offering some of the best unlimited data plans 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
5GB: $15/mo | 15GB: $20/mo | 20GB: $25/mo | Unl: $30/mo

Mint Mobile: prepaid plans from $15 per month
Mint Mobile is a fantastic prepaid carrier that's been going from strength to strength recently. Just a few months ago the carrier upped the data allowances across the board on its superb range of prepaid plans, making them an even more compelling option for those on a budget. With Mint, you pay for your plans in allotments of three, six, or twelve months upfront, with the longer plans averaging out as cheaper on average. While you'll have to pay a fair bit upfront, Mint's excellent prepaid plans offer almost unbeatable bang for the buck if you can forgo a few perks and extras.
5GB: $15/mo | 15GB: $20/mo | 20GB: $25/mo | Unl: $30/mo

T-Mobile: unlimited data plans from $34 to $85 per month
Essentials: $60/mo | Go5G: $75/mo | Magenta Max: $85/mo

T-Mobile: unlimited data plans from $34 to $85 per month
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. Note that as of 2023, the T-Mobile's Magenta plans have been re-branded to "Go5G". Overall, the new plans are a little pricier but feature an expanded Mobile Hotspot allowance and more international roaming data.
Essentials: $60/mo | Go5G: $75/mo | Magenta Max: $85/mo

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Features comparison
Row 0 - Cell 0 Mint MobileT-Mobile
Contract lengthNo contract (3 to 12 month plans)No contract (24mo device payments)
5G dataUp until 45GB (128Kb/s after)Yes (usage restrictions on some plans)
Video streaming480p4K UHD (480p on some plans)
Streaming perksNoNetflix (w/ Go5G plan)
International calling60 countriesMexico and Canada (Intl. extra)
International roamingNoYes (w/ Go5G plan)
Mobile hotspotting10GB cap on unlimited planUnlimited 3G speed, 50GB max 5G speeds
DeprioritizationYesYes (only after 50GB+ usage)
Family plansYesYes

Pricing

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. You do, however, get slightly less 5G data allowance on Mint Mobile (45GB vs Essential Plan's 50GB). 

Key facts

Plan pricing
Mint: $15 to $40 per month
T-Mobile: $60 to $80 per month (1-line)

Family discounts
Mint:
No (but you pay less upfront)
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 $130 for the Go5G plan - the latter of which includes 6 months of Apple TV+ and a free Netflix Basic account.

It's worth noting here that Mint Mobile does actually have its own family plan, which is a relatively recent addition at the carrier. It's not completely 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 as it can cut down the associated red tape of holding multiple accounts and make the prepaid payments easier to manage. 

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. 

Key facts

Plan perks
Mint: No
T-Mobile: Netflix, T-Mobile Tuesdays

Free hotspot
Mint: Yes (10GB allowance)
T-Mobile: Yes (up to 50GB allowance)

International roaming
Mint: No
T-Mobile: Yes

International calls
Mint:
free to Can & Mex
T-Mobile:
free to Can & Mex

Depriotization
Mint:
Yes
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 what's called 'deprioritization'. This essentially means that your data speeds may be slowed down if the local area is busy as T-Mobile will always prioritize its own customer's data speeds primarily over those of sub-carriers running on its network. This is a relatively complex issue that may or may not be a big deal depending on your local area. It's also worth noting that some T-Mobile plans are also subject to slower speeds after a certain data allowance is exceeded (50GB on essentials).

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.

T-Mobile nationwide coverage map

T-Mobile's nationwide coverage (Image credit: T-Mobile)

What about T-Mobile prepaid?

As well as its more well-known 'postpaid' unlimited plans, T-Mobile also has a number of prepaid plans to check out for those who want a plan on the service, but want to spend a little bit less. The current T-Mobile prepaid plans lineup ranges from a basic 10GB plan for $40 per month to a more premium 'Unlimited Plus' data plan for $60 per month, all of which are available with a multi-line saving (much like the postpaid T-Mobile options).

Generally speaking, if you're thinking about going prepaid, Mint Mobile looks like the strongest option right now for sheer bang for the buck. Possible deprioritization issues aside, Mint Mobile's basic unlimited plan absolutely smokes the T-Mobile Unlimited Plus plan for outright value. At $30 per month, it's half the price and still features the same mobile hotspot allowance. 

The only scenario where we could see someone opting for a T-Mobile prepaid plan over Mint is if they didn't want to pay for multiple months of data at once. As previously mentioned, Mint Mobile's cheapest average prices can only be had if you buy a whole year of service at once. If you can get past the lump sum upfront, however, Mint is much cheaper in the longer run.

Verdict

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 15GB plan. Competitively priced versus Mint, Boost also features a basic unlimited data plan for $25 per month, albeit with slightly less mobile hotspot and 5G data allowance versus its competitor. 

If you're looking for more great alternatives, we definitely recommend heading on over to our best cheap cell phone plans guide for an exhaustive list of options. 

Alex Whitelock
Deals Editor

Alex is deals editor at TechRadar. With over three years of experience on-site and eight years working in e-commerce, Alex has made it his personal mission to share all his favorite tips, bargains, and deals with our readers here at TechRadar. At work, he specializes in computing, phones, and covering huge sales events like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day. Outside of work, you'll find him indulging his keen love of photography and PC gaming, or down at the local climbing gym hanging off boulders far too difficult for his abilities. His editorial bylines also include contributions to T3 and GamesRadar.