When it comes to cheap, great value prepaid phone plans two companies really stand out right now - Mint Mobile (opens in new tab) and Visible Wireless (opens in new tab). These two low-cost cellular carriers often battle it out in our guide to the best prepaid phone plans each month, but we can't help comparing these two directly - we love a good versus here at TechRadar after all.
So, out of these two excellent prepaid carriers, which is the best right now when factoring in things like value, speed, and perks? It sounds like quite an easy comparison to make, however you'd be surprised at just how different these two carriers are. We're putting these two companies in a head-to-head battle, starting with a breakdown of how much these plans will set you back each month. After that, we're looking at what you'll be getting for your hard-earned cash, followed by a final verdict.
Two excellent value prepaid plans
Mint Mobile: prepaid plans from $15 a month (opens in new tab)
Featuring prepaid cell phone plans for as little as $15 a month, Mint Mobile is easily one of the cheapest carriers on the market currently. While you'll have to buy multiple months at a time to get the best value - and pay upfront - you get a ton of flexible options to really tailor your plan to your tastes. That average monthly rate isn't to be ignored either, it's very, very competitive.
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)
Visible wireless: unlimited prepaid plan for $40 a month (opens in new tab)
Visible takes a completely different route altogether by only offering one cell phone plan for a flat monthly rate. Don't be fooled though, with unlimited everything the Visible wireless plan is absolutely incredible value. What's more, with innovative features like Party Pay (opens in new tab) and the referral program offering up ways to cut your monthly bills all the way down to just $5 a month, Visible looks like a top-value prepaid pick right now.
Coverage and pricing
It's worth noting that while both Mint Mobile and Visible market themselves as 'cheap' prepaid carriers, they operate on entirely different networks and business models.
Mint: $15 to $40/mo
Visible: $25 to $40/mo
Mint Mobile, for example, operates on the T-Mobile network (check your coverage (opens in new tab)), and has a payment scheme that sees you paying upfront for upwards of a year of service at a time. Visible, on the other hand, operates on the Verizon network (check your coverage (opens in new tab)) with a more traditional 'pay one month at a time' model.
Why does this matter? Well, not all phones are compatible with both networks and you'll also be billed in dramatically different ways. If you prefer to pay once and forget about it then Mint Mobile is going to be the winner for you. On the other hand, if you prefer to avoid those big upfront charges and instead want to break it down into smaller instalments, then Visible is likely to be your preferred carrier.
- Winner: draw
Speed and perks
Both Mint Mobile and Visible utilize speedy nationwide 5G networks, although it's worth noting that being prepaid carriers, both are subject to 'deprioritization' when the parent networks are subject to heavy traffic.
Mint: no cap
Visible: 200Mbs cap
Mint: 5GB (on unlimited plan)
Visible: unlimited (at 5Mbs)
Mint: 480p video (on unlimited)
Visible: no cap
That said, which offers the speediest service? And which one has the best perks for making the most of that fast data?
On paper, both Mint Mobile and Visible are fully 5G, although Visible does state that speeds are capped out at to 200Mb/s (opens in new tab). Mint Mobile doesn't refer to any speed caps in the fine print, although they do cap you in other areas with soft capped data allowances (more on that later).
Perks-wise, both carriers offer unlimited talk and text (as you'd expect), plus mobile-hotspotting free of charge. You will, however, be capped out at only 5GB of mobile hotspot allowance on Mint Mobile's unlimited data plan, whereas Visible offers unlimited usage.
Where Visible also pulls ahead in our books is with its Party Pay (opens in new tab) feature. Bundle your account together with other Visible users using this rather unique perk and you'll all be looking at a significant discount for each line per month (down to $25 a month). Everyone pays separately, so it's a really easy, low-risk way to pay less for your unlimited data plan each month.
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 Visible's Party Pay feature as you don't get a per-line discount. 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.
- Winner: Visible
Unlimited data wars
On paper, both of these carriers offer unlimited data plans for a particularly low price. That said, there are always a few restrictions in the fine print that can easily be glossed over at first glance.
Visible really does have very few restrictions on its unlimited data plan - with the fine print specifically stating that speeds are always capped at 200Mb/s and hotspot speeds capped at 5Mb/s. Mint Mobile, on the other hand, has a 'soft' data cap of 35GB 5G data per month, with speeds being throttled down to just 128Kbs if you happen to overrun your allowance.
- Winner: Visible
Mint Mobile vs Visible Wireless: the bottom line
So, with Visible winning on two of our three criteria it would be easy to think that the Verizon sub-carrier is running away with the top prize for best prepaid carrier right now. Unfortunately, it's not quite that simple.
You can't ignore that Mint Mobile has fantastic options for those who want a smaller data package each month - something that Visible just doesn't offer. Even with Mint Mobile's unlimited data plan it's a close call - especially since it comes in at, on average, $10 a month less for a single-line user.
For those with a bunch of buddies looking for unlimited data on tap, however, Visible is an easy recommendation. The carrier's Party Pay feature is fantastic, and easily the cheapest way to get your hands on unlimited 5G data currently.
Verdict? If you're looking for low-data or single-line value go with Mint Mobile. If you're a heavy data user looking for flexible group-pay options, then go with Visible Wireless.