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

Mint Mobile vs T-Mobile
(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
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 | 10GB: $20/mo | 15GB: $25/mo | Unl: $30/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.
Essentials: $60/mo | Magenta: $70/mo | Magenta Max: $85/mo

Features comparison
Mint MobileT-Mobile
Contract lengthNo contract (3 to 12 month plans)No contract
5G dataUp until 35GB (128Kb/s after)Yes (usage restrictions on some plans)
Video streaming480p4K UHD (480p on some plans)
Streaming perksNoNetflix
International calling60 countriesMexico and Canada (Intl. extra)
International roamingNoYes (on Magenta plan)
Mobile hotspotting5GB cap on unlimited planUnlimited 3G speed, 40GB max 5G speeds
DeprioritizationYesYes (only after 50GB+ usage)
Family plansNoYes

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, although you do get less 5G data (25GB versus 50GB).

Key facts

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

Family discounts
Mint:
No
T-Mobile: Yes (up to 5 lines)

A slight drawback for Mint is it's buy-in-bulk pricing scheme

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.

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 (5GB allowance)
T-Mobile: Yes

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 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. Your mileage is going to vary massively depending on your locale, however, and for some it'll barely be an issue should you choose to go with Mint instead.

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. 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.

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 2GB plan, 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 guide for an exhaustive list of options.