Mint Mobile Review: How It Compares to AT&T’s Cheapest Options
Thinking about switching from AT&T to Mint Mobile? Wondering if Mint is a good service? Our Mint review compares Mint Mobile to AT&T’s cheapest plans so you can decide if you should switch to Mint.
Mint VS AT&T: What they cost
Mint offers prepaid phone plans starting at $15 per month for 3GB of data with unlimited calls and texts. The service doesn’t charge monthly like most prepaid plans; rather, you prepay for 3, 6, or 12 months upfront. New customers are eligible for an introductory offer of 3 months for the price of 1. After 3 months you’ll pay the regular price, which depends on how much data you need per month and the prepayment period.
Mint also offers a one-week starter kit that includes 100MB of data, 100 minutes, and 100 texts for $5. You can get your $5 back if you sign up or request a refund after the trial period.
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See how alternative carriers stack up
Note that once you exceed your data, Mint Mobile offers unlimited data at a reduced speed. You can purchase additional data at $10 for 1GB or $20 for 3GB.
Mint Mobile Pricing
|3 Months||$15 introductory offer|
|$20 introductory offer|
|$25 introductory offer|
AT&T’s cheapest plan is prepaid at $30 per month (or $25 per month with AutoPay), but it doesn’t include any data (though calls and texts are unlimited). You can add 100MB of data for an additional $5 per month. AT&T offers additional prepaid plans in 1GB and 8GB tiers (plus unlimited prepaid tiers, but only for a limited time so they are not included here).
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AT&T’s Mobile Share Plus postpaid plan starts at $50 per month for 3GB of data and has a 9GB tier for $60 per month. Unlimited plans start at $70 per month.
AT&T Wireless Pricing
|Prepaid (no data)||$30 ($25 with AutoPay)|
|Prepaid (100MB data)||$35 ($30 with AutoPay)|
|Prepaid (1GB data)||$35 ($30 with AutoPay)|
|Prepaid (8GB data)||$50 ($40 with AutoPay)|
|Mobile Share Plus (3GB data)||$50|
|Mobile Share Plus (9GB data)||$60|
|Unlimited||Starts at $70|
To get the truest comparison possible, the following table depicts the annual cost of Mint Mobile versus AT&T’s most affordable plans, plus the cost per GB per month.
Mint Mobile VS AT&T Annual Pricing (with AT&T AutoPay)
|Mint Mobile 3GB||$180||$5|
|AT&T Prepaid (no data)||$300||n/a|
|AT&T Prepaid (100MB data)||$360||$300|
|AT&T Prepaid (1GB data)||$360||$35|
|AT&T Mobile Share Plus (3GB data)||$600||$16.67|
|Mint Mobile 8GB||$240||$2.50|
|AT&T Prepaid (8GB data)||$600||$6.25|
|Mint Mobile 12GB||$300||$2.08|
|AT&T Mobile Share Plus (9GB data)||$720||$6.67|
As you can see, Mint Mobile is considerably cheaper than AT&T; however, you’ll need to pay for 3, 6 or 12 months upfront to realize the savings.
AT&T offers multi-line discounts. For example, the 3GB Mobile Share Plus plan costs $120/month for 4 lines ($30/month per line), for annual fee of $1,440. Mint Mobile doesn’t offer multi-line discounts, but it’s still cheaper than AT&T: 4 lines on the Mint Mobile 3GB plan would cost $720 annually.
In addition to taxes, both carriers impose additional fees that aren’t immediately evident.
Mint Mobile charges a regulatory recovery fee that varies depending on your plan:
- 1 month: $1.25
- 3 months: $2.75
- 6 months: $5.25
- 12 months: $10.25
The company also charges a variable transaction fee of 2.5% of the order, which is applied to the regulatory recovery fee. Flat transaction fees may apply for non-plan service purchases (like adding data). Flat per-transaction fees are 50 cents for services that cost $10 or less and $1 for services that cost more than $10. The New York Public Safety Communications surcharge is also applied.
Did you know? Many phones are worth $100+. Find the value of your phone.
Additional fees likewise apply to AT&T plans. Fees vary by state, but you can enter your zip code on AT&T’s additional fees calculator page to see how much your fees will be. In Portland, OR, for example, you’d pay the following additional fees:
- Federal Universal Service Fund: 20%
- State Universal Service Fund: $0
- Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge: $1.25
- Administrative Fee: $1.99
- Other AT&T Surcharges: 7% + $0.37
Mint VS AT&T: Features
We’ve established that Mint is cheaper than AT&T. Here’s how Mint stacks up to AT&T for other features.
Network speed and reliability
AT&T uses its own network, while Mint is a MVNO that operates on the T-Mobile network. According to RootMetrics, AT&T outperforms T-Mobile for network speed and reliability.
In RootMetrics testing, AT&T placed second among major carriers for network reliability with a score of 94.4. T-Mobile placed third at 88.2. For speed, AT&T placed second with a score of 89.2 and T-Mobile placed third with 88.7.
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Though AT&T had the better performance rankings, the difference may be negligible in practice as speed and reliability can vary by location. One thing to consider: Mint users could experience slower speeds when T-Mobile cellular traffic is high. AT&T similarly throttles data for prepaid users when its network is busy.
Both AT&T and Mint (which runs on the T-Mobile network) offer coverage throughout the U.S. Compare coverage maps and enter your zip code to determine whether you’ll get good coverage if you switch to Mint Mobile.
Phone compatibility and ease of switching to Mint
You can bring your own phone to Mint or purchase a new phone. The company sells popular phones like iPhones and the Galaxy series, and they can be financed through Affirm. You can likewise bring your own phone to AT&T. If you want to buy an AT&T phone, note that AT&T Prepaid only sells older models like the iPhone 7. AT&T Prepaid phones must be paid in full upfront and pricing includes a $50 prepaid credit.
Both networks use GSM phones, so if you have an AT&T phone it should work with Mint (so long as it’s paid off and unlocked). Simply swap your old SIM card for the new one issued by Mint.
Use Mint’s phone compatibility checker to ensure you can use your current phone on its network.
Both AT&T and Mint Mobile allow for Wi-Fi calling where available.
Both AT&T and Mint Mobile offer voicemail. However, Mint Mobile does not have visual voicemail (the company recommends using a service like Google Voice as a workaround). Visual voicemail is available on AT&T at no extra charge (with a compatible phone).
Mobile hotspot (tethering)
All Mint Mobile plans allow for mobile hotspots. AT&T Prepaid (except unlimited) and Mobile Share Plus plans allow for mobile hotspots.
Unused AT&T data rolls over to the next month, then expires after one billing period. Mint Mobile does not rollover data.
International calls & roaming
Mint Mobile includes free international calls to Mexico and Canada. International roaming can be purchased as an add-on in blocks of $5, $10, and $20. Rates are 5 cents per outgoing text (inbound texts are free), 25 cents per minute, and 20 cents per MB. Refer to Mint’s international roaming page to see which countries are available.
Only the 8GB AT&T prepaid plan allows calls and texts to Mexico and Canada, while the 1GB prepaid plan incurs international roaming fees starting at 25 cents per minute/text in those countries. Roaming in other countries is not available on AT&T prepaid plans. Mobile Share Plus allows calls and texts to Mexico, but not Canada, and does not allow roaming in Mexico.
Since Mint is prepaid, its contracts run for the period of service you purchase upfront: 3, 6, or 12 months. The company offers a 7-day 100% money-back guarantee when you join.
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If you bring your own phone it won’t be locked to Mint Mobile; however, if you purchase a phone from Mint (or finance it through Affirm), it appears your device will be locked and you must maintain service for a minimum of 12 months before you can request it to be unlocked.
AT&T contracts vary by service. If you buy an AT&T Prepaid phone, your service must be paid and active for a minimum of 6 months before you can request an unlock. If you buy a phone on an installment plan, service must be active for a minimum of 60 days and your contract must be completed (or your installment agreement paid off), and you might need to pay Early Termination Fees. Installment plans typically run for 30 months. If you bring your own phone it will not be locked to AT&T.
AT&T returns must be completed within 14 days and require a $45 restocking fee.
Should you switch from AT&T to Mint Mobile?
Is Mint a good service? Our Mint phone service review suggests you might consider switching to Mint if you can get good coverage in your area. You’ll certainly save money (and even more if you bring your own phone). Though Mint’s (T-Mobile) network doesn’t rank quite as well as AT&T’s network for speed and reliability, the difference is minimal. The bottom line? If you’re willing to prepay several months in advance, you can save hundreds of dollars every year when you switch to Mint.
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