Mint Mobile is a company that offers an alternative to local U.S. cell service, undercutting the prices of larger providers by maintaining an entirely brick-less infrastructure. For visitors to the United States, Mint Mobile can also be an attractive options compared to other eSim services but in both cases, there are some limitations to be aware of you can watch in this video or read on.
To see how Mint Mobile is able to have talk, text, and data plans half the price of major carriers like AT&T or Verizon, you need to understand what’s known as a mobile virtual network operator or MVNO. That means that Mint Mobile does not have its own wireless network infrastructure – in other words they’re not putting up their own cell towers and spending money managing, maintaining and growing their own network hardware. Instead, what Mint Mobile does as an MVNO is purchase portion of the network services from a larger carrier that does have its own wireless infrastructure.
In the case of Mint Mobile, they are an MVNO on T-Mobile’s network. Essentially Mint Mobile purchases bulk access to T-Mobile’s network then creates their own pricing for their talk, text, and data plans which end up being a lot less expensive for you the consumer.
For example on a yearly plan with unlimited talk, text, and 10 gigabytes of data per month, Mint Mobile charges $20 every month, compared to T-Mobile where their 100GB plan is $70 a month and requires a year commitment. Mint Mobile offers plans as short as 3 months and setup takes 10 minutes on eSim compatible devices (most phones made since 2020) or if needed, they’ll mail you out a SIM card.
Now being an MVNO means that T-Mobile can, and does, prioritize their paying users over Mint Mobile’s. In crowded places like sporting events or concerts, where a lot of people are connecting to the Internet on their phones, Mint’s service might be slowed down considerably or become unavailable altogether. During my testing I never encountered major throttling but it’s a possibility to be aware of.
Mint Mobile also limits video streaming to 480p resolution and doesn’t support Netflix. For people who watch a lot of YouTube on your phone, those limitations might be a deal breaker.
Unfortunately after testing Mint Mobile for over 6 months, it became apparent data from my first, 3GB, then 10GB plans were going missing. Even during a month where I purposefully kept my phone in airplane mode (wireless only) for all but a few hours, I some how hit my 10GB limit 10 days into the month. According to my phone stats, that’s not possible and something other users have reported online.
Mint Mobile wasn’t able to give me a good reason for the discrepancy and that’s disappointing because their service is otherwise solid with very good monthly rates. Given their status as an MVNO and the fact they don’t have physical stores, it’s easier to understand how Mint Mobile is able to cut down on costs. Assuming you don’t have mystery data leaks, the setup and price might be right for you.