Update: I just extended my Mint contract for another year for $15 per month! It's ridiculous how cheap it is, especially compared to what I used to pay. All in, I pay $180 per year for my phone service while most people pay that in just a few months…
Today I'm sharing my Mint Mobile Review with you to explain why I decided to switch to Mint from Cricket Wireless. Mint Mobile is a low-cost carrier, which is helping Americans save money with less expensive mobile phone plans.
Mint Mobile At A Glance
You might remember that we wrote an article last year about how we had saved thousands of dollars over the years by switching to Cricket Wireless from the main cell phone companies like AT&T, Verizon, & T-Mobile.
We loved Cricket, but when we started to hear murmurs about an even better (aka less expensive) option, we knew we had to look into it.
To test it out, one of us recently made the switch to Mint Mobile from Cricket Wireless, and we found an even better way to save money on our phone bill!
While Cricket has helped us save thousands of dollars over the past few years, and we are very thankful for that, we are always looking for better deals for you guys (and ourselves).
What Is Mint Mobile?
Mint Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that uses T-Mobile towers. MVNO is a fancy term for a mobile phone network that doesn’t own the actual cell phone towers themselves and essentially rents the bandwidth.
Because Mint Mobile doesn't own or build the cell phone towers themselves, they can operate at a much lower cost than the major cell phone networks. They pass these savings to customers like you and me via more fair prices.
Just like the way Cricket Wireless uses AT&T towers and bandwidth, Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile towers. This means that as long as you’re in an area with reliable T-Mobile service, you should get dependable Mint Mobile service.
How Does Mint Mobile Offer Cheaper Prices?
Unlike Cricket Wireless (and most other cell phone companies) who charge you a monthly price as you go, Mint Mobile plans are prepaid every 3, 6, or 12 months.
This pricing model allows Mint Mobile to offer super competitive rates since they know precisely how much bandwidth to purchase from T-Mobile. They pass these savings onto customers by rewarding customers who agree to longer contracts.
As you’ll see in the pricing table below, the real savings happen when you purchase a more extended plan.
What Are The Different Mint Mobile Pricing Plans?
You can see the plans HERE.
Their introductory 3-month pricing levels are the same as their 12-month plans. In essence, they are hoping you’ll love the service and price so much that you’ll opt for the 12-month plan… which is exactly what I did!
Which Phones Can Be Used On The Mint Mobile Network?
Any unlocked GSM phone should work on the Mint Mobile network. You can bring your own phone unlocked phone. Just switch out the SIM card and boom!
It’s important to note that you can still keep your existing phone number when you switch to Mint. Moving your phone number (porting) to the new network is simple.
This means you'll save a bunch of time and hassle not needing to notify everyone you know that you got a new phone number or worry about missing calls and messages.
If you want a completely new number and start clean, that's no problem at all.
Why Switch To Mint If You Are Happy with Cricket?
Look, we had zero problems with Cricket’s service. We loved it and have recommended it to anyone who asked us about it.
But ultimately, when you are trying to pay off over $200,000 in student loans, it all came down to the money saved. If you've seen our posts on financial freedom or budgeting, you'll know how vital living within our means is.
Remember, the lower your expenses are each month, the more aggressive you can invest and save.
I want to be able to retire earlier than when we turn 65 years old, so I am hyper-focused on saving as much as possible and earning as much as possible.
Does this mean I will stop working when I am 50? Probably not, but it will mean I will be able to if that's what I want to do.
So let’s take a look at how Mint compares to Cricket so you can see whether the savings made sense.
If you are on a major carrier, you’re likely paying much more than either Cricket or Mint Mobile!
Comparison: Cricket Wireless vs Mint Mobile Plan Prices
|Cricket Wireless ($/month)||Cricket Wireless w/ Auto Pay Credit ($/month)||Mint Mobile – 3 Month ($/month)||Mint Mobile – 6 Month ($/month)||Mint Mobile – 12 Month ($/month)|
|2GB – $30||2GB – $30**||3GB – $25||3GB – $20||3GB – $15|
|5GB – $40||5GB – $35||8GB – $35||8GB – $25||8GB – $20|
|Unlimited – $55||Unlimited – $50||12GB – $45||12GB – $35||12GB – $25|
*Prices accurate as of 12/5/2019
**2GB plan not eligible for Auto Pay Credit
Are the savings worth the hassle?
In short, YES!
This question comes down to two factors. The savings and the hassle involved.
Let’s address the hassle of switching before we break down the numbers.
The switch was quite simple, and there was minimal hassle.
The process of switching took me 15 minutes plus the wait for the sim card to arrive since I already had an unlocked phone (I used the same phone I was using on Cricket Wireless).
Now let’s break down my savings!
Let's compare the 5GB/month Cricket Wireless plan with the 8GB/month Mint Mobile plans since that was the same change that I made initially.
How Does Cricket Wireless Pricing Compare To Mint Mobile?
When it comes to finding a budget phone plan, these are the two clear leaders in the game. One company uses AT&T towers while the other uses T-Mobile towers. Also, Mint offers prepaid plans to offer additional savings, while Cricket offers the traditional monthly cell phone plans.
Let’s take a look to see how the costs between the two platforms compare.
Cricket 5GB vs. 3 Month 8GB Mint Plan
|Cricket 5GB||Mint 8GB||Savings (month)||Savings (year)|
At this level, there is no money saved, but you get an extra 3GB of data, which we think is a no-brainer.
Pay the same price, but get more in return. And not only more, but 60% more.
Cricket 5GB vs. 6 Month 8GB Mint Plan
|Cricket 5GB||Mint 8GB||Savings (month)||Savings (year)|
Starting to save some money with the 6-month plan. Again, a modest $10 savings each month, but still get 60% more data. Over the full year, you are looking at $120 in savings. Over five years, you are talking $600.
If you have a few phones in your family, the savings can become staggering.
Cricket 5GB vs. 12 Month 8GB Mint Plan
|Cricket 5GB||Mint 8GB||Savings (month)||Savings (year)|
At this level, the savings over a full year are HUGE!! If you have multiple phones in your family, then the savings can make a massive difference.
Nearly $200 in yearly savings for 60% more data. Another no-brainer!
Again, this assumes you get the AutoPay Credit with Cricket. If not, the savings you would get by switching would be even more significant!
The Downsides To Mint Mobile
If you live paycheck to paycheck and struggle with paying all of your bills on time, then having to come up with the extra cash upfront will be a challenge.
For example, with Cricket, you pay your $35 every month (if you have AutoPay set up), but with Mint’s 3-month pricing, you would pay $105 upfront for three months. On the flip side, the other two months you wouldn’t have to pay anything.
If you decide to maximize your savings and go with the 12-month plan, you would pay $240 once and then not have a payment due the other 11 months.
What About The Time Value Of Money?
First, it’s fantastic that you think about the time value or opportunity cost of your money.
Second, it’s a great question. After all, isn’t there a chance that you’d be better off keeping Cricket so that your money isn’t locked up for 3, 6, or 12 months! That’s money that you could be investing!
Let’s take a look and see.
For example, let’s assume you opt for the annual plan since that is the plan that would require the most amount of money to be paid upfront. Let’s focus on the 8GB plan that we chose.
This plan is $20 per month and is prepaid. With Cricket, you’d be paying roughly $35 for a similar plan every month. That means that during the first month, you’d have $205 extra dollars to invest. Assuming you make 6% per year on your investments, that’s 0.5% per month or $1.03 in gains.
Let’s stop right there. We already saw that over the year, we would save $180, so clearly, this more than makes up for the opportunity cost of paying upfront.
During the past year on Mint Mobile’s network, I have had absolutely no coverage issue. Over the past year, I went from living in a small rural city to a larger metropolitan area. Both had great service!
But there’s no doubt that Mint has less coverage than some of the large mega-networks based on the coverage maps.
Just like any other phone company, you must check the wireless coverage in your area. For the vast majority of folks that live within a couple of hours of a large metropolitan area, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Nevertheless, it’s always best to check before you take the plunge.
If you live in an area that’s borderline with regards to coverage, Mint Mobile offers a 7-day money-back guarantee, which is pretty sweet.
No Phone Upgrades
Mint Mobile will sell you a new phone at retail prices, so there are no savings if you are looking to trade in your phone or upgrade.
If you want to use the money saved on the plan to get a new phone, you’re better off thinking twice about it.
“I am going to save money by switching to Mint Mobile, so that means I can upgrade my phone, right?”
Apple and Samsung have some of the best marketing teams in the world. We get it. Every time we see one of their commercials, our brains also start to rationalize why we need the latest Apple or Samsung phone.
But that’s the thing: We don't NEED a new phone.
One of us had the same phone for nearly five years. Was it annoying to type in the passcode each time when our friends could unlock their phones with their fingerprints? Definitely. Did we survive? No doubt.
Based on our personal savings rate, I'd say we did a lot more than merely survive!
So next time you feel like upgrading something that works perfectly fine, remember one thing: you can’t miss what you’ve never had.
If you really can't make it more than a year or two with the same phone at least do the two following things:
- Sell your phone (or give it away to someone in need)
- Put the money you are saving on your cell phone plan into an account each month specifically for your phone (this is called a sinking fund)
By doing those two things, you will never go deeper into debt and can pay cash.
If you can’t pay with cash, then you can’t afford it (this doesn’t apply to large purchases such as a mortgage).
This doesn’t mean actually paying with cash. I use credit cards to get points/cash back but pay them off in full right away. I do this to avoid ever having to pay interest charges on my credit card.
You Should Know That There's No Unlimited Data Plans!
You’ll also notice that Mint doesn’t offer unlimited data plans. For most people, it doesn’t matter since you probably have access to WiFi at home, work, or school.
But if you are the person who has no access to WiFi and uses insane amounts of data monthly, then Mint Mobile is NOT for you.
For everyone else, it’s the real deal.
Switching To Mint Mobile – Our Overall Review
When it comes to our phones and plans, three things are most important to us.
Call & FaceTime quality, data speeds and price.
Over the past year, there has been absolutely no difference in call or FaceTime quality. I haven’t noticed dropped calls, audio problems, or any loss in data download speeds. Texts and emails have always been coming through on time and rapidly.
However, there has been one BIG change we’ve seen: more money in the bank from saving on my phone bill.
As mentioned earlier, switching was super simple. I kept the same phone number and the same phone (protip: only upgrade your phone once your current phone dies AKA every 3-5 years to maximize savings).
I haven’t noticed any difference in quality from Cricket (which wasn’t any different from AT&T before that).
Initially, I was on the 8GB plan for six months, but I am now on a 12-month 3GB plan. I went from paying $150 for six months to $180 for the full year! Before making the switch to a plan with less data, I checked my account to make sure I didn't need more than that. I couldn't be happier.
Well, what are you waiting for? Sign up now!
Francisco Maldonado, MD is a personal finance expert who was raised in poverty by a single mother and had to learn everything about personal finance on his own. In addition to running his personal finance site, The Finance Twins, with his twin brother, his site has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, US News, The Simple Dollar and other top publications. Francisco is a physician who borrowed over $200,000 to pay for his medical training and understands debt payoff strategies and frugal living. He received his M.D. from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, the most selective medical school in the country, and a Bachelors degree in physiology from the University of Minnesota. He is currently a radiology resident at Northwestern University. You can contact Francisco here or via Instagram @thefinancetwins.