PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW and TAKE NOTE OF THE CAVEATS and CONCLUSION!
BEFORE CHANGING ANY CARRIER, YOUR PHONE MUST BE OWNED and UNLOCKED (not married to any carrier)
First let me begin by stating I have been with the AT&T cellphone carrier for close to 20 years. I haven’t tried any others during that time and to be honest, I haven’t even done research to see if I could find a better deal or better coverage. At first I had the normal “post paid” AT&T cell phone plan with a very limited data package (I have never used an unlimited package…ever). I think I was paying close to $85/month. I wanted something a little less expensive and I found it about 3-4 years ago when I found out about AT&T’s “PREPAID” option. You paid in advance for your service and it was cheaper and some of the plans offered more data. So I had this prepaid plan for several years at a cost of $60/month with 2GB of rollover data, but no overages if I went over the limit (just a reduction in speed).
But with time, I became more and more restless regarding what I was getting for my money (value) from AT&T and so with that I began researching alternative carriers about a month ago. I found out that besides the 4 main “premium” carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile/Sprint was purchased by T-Mobile and Dish-Wireless), there were hundreds of MVNO’s (sub-carriers) out there.
A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers. A MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently.
MINT MOBILE FREE TRIAL KIT MY REFERRAL CODE
I began my research because of a simple TV ad. Yep, I had seen this ad many times, but never really considered switching carriers or even researching a new carrier. Maybe it was their unique and satirical approach, or maybe it was the STAR POWER of Ryan Reynolds in these Mint Mobile ads. Regardless of the reason I began looking at facts, figures and reviews which included more than 10 different carriers, both primary and MVNO’s. I ruled the primary carriers out pretty quick, although there is a reason to choose a primary carrier. The main positive feature of an AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile plan is that you are a premier customer and therefore are allotted the best speeds when the carriers are busy, and they usually have the best UNLIMITED plans with little or no limitations. They are also the MOST EXPENSIVE.
I eliminated the primary carriers quite quickly and then focused on the MVNO’s. The MVNO’s basically rent their signal from the main carriers (AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile), and so my search first looked at those carriers that used the AT&T towers…I was familiar with the coverage and signal I got from AT&T (although ALL CARRIERS HAVE DEAD SPOTS)! The MVNO’s I looked at seemed promising and their cost was much better than the AT&T prepaid I had used for several years.
My 3 brother’s all use Straight Talk (which is a MVNO) and Straight Talk uses Verizon towers. Again, I found about the same thing with Verizon that I did with AT&T…and though there is a difference in coverage (Verizon has the best), the coverage was very similar. The cost of the Verizon MVNO plans were similar to the MVNO plans of AT&T. Actually, the MVNO plans that used the AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile towers were are close to the same costs, but the difference was in the features offered and payment plans.
I researched the T-Mobile tower MVNO’s last because I’ve really never thought of T-Mobile as being a “powerhouse” carrier, and has the fewest customers of all the big 4 carriers. That’s when I looked at the Mint Mobile plan and decided to give them a try… A FREE TRY. Yes, you can actually get a “trial kit” from Mint Mobile where you can swap out your SIM cards (or if you have an iPhone 11 or 12 you can actually just download an “E-sim) and try the Mint Mobile service plan without effecting your other plan at all. The free trial is good for an entire week, and I did the full 7 day trial before switching over myself.
One thing I must mention is that before you can switch to ANY carrier, whether it be a MVNO or premier carrier, you cannot switch carriers unless your phone is PAID OFF and UNLOCKED. When you unlock your phone, this allows you to use any carrier with your smartphone. To unlock your phone, just contact your carrier and tell them you wish to have your (paid for) phone unlocked. It’s free, easy and takes only a couple of minutes of your time (unless you’re on hold with AT&T for 30 minutes).
Since I have the iPhone 12 Pro Max, I just downloaded the e-SIM and used both SIM cards on my phone and found that I could actually use both SIM’s at the same time. In other words, I could actually compare BOTH the AT&T and Mint Mobile services AND cellphone signal at the same time. I compared both services for an entire week, and everywhere I had signal with AT&T, I had a signal with Mint Mobile. I’m estimating here, but about 10% of the time, I had a better AT&T signal than I did Mint Mobile, and about 20% of the time I had a better signal from T-Mobile (yes, I was surprised). MOST of the time, the signal between AT&T and Mint Mobile was exactly the same, and I had ZERO dropped calls on either service during this time. I drove around my surrounding area which included some small towns around me and even went to Little Rock. I was very pleased how the trial went and at that point I focused more on the VALUE of what I was getting from Mint Mobile and what I might be giving up. When I made those comparisons, it was pretty clear to myself I would be switching carriers.
The 3 main points I considered when I thought about switching was that 1) I was getting the same quality of signal (and sometimes better) from Mint Mobile, 2) I was reducing my cost to a more reasonable level for how I used my phone, and 3) The 5G coverage from Mint Mobile FAR SURPASSED that of AT&T (especially since AT&T prepaid did not offer 5G service). I have now been on Mint Mobile for about 2 weeks…I’m totally satisfied so far and I recommend it (see caveats below). I just switched my wife (Lee Ann) over to Mint Mobile last week, and again…not a single issue at all so far.
When I finally decided to switch permanently, I was able to KEEP MY NUMBER (called porting), and the procedure was easy and completed very quickly.
Mint Mobile works on both iPhones and Android and you can check compatibility on their website. And speaking of their website, it’s VERY easy to navigate within your account and it’s laid out in an intuitive manner so that you don’t ever feel lost in your account. The app is where you’ll probably spend most of your time (which is rarely)…the app is VERY EASY to use and you can perform any task on the app (Android and iPhone) that you do on the website…including payments, checking your data usage, changing plans, and even managing other accounts for your family members (I manage both mine and Lee Ann accounts from just my app).
LET’S TALK DATA (PLANS)
OK before we actually look at the Mint Mobile plans, let’s talk about DATA. Data is the “meat” of any plan. But maybe some of us can cut some of that meat out without the really effecting the quality of our plan. Who really needs UNLIMITED DATA? Seriously, have you ever just looked at the amount of data you use over the course of several months or even a year. If you’re like me, I use on average less than 2GB/month of data. In fact, most months it’s just barely over 1GB of data. Lee Ann uses LESS THAN 1 GB of data per month. I googled it and most people use between 3-7GB per month. WHY ARE YOU PAYING FOR SOMETHING YOU ARE NEVER USING???? An unlimited plan can sometimes DOUBLE the monthly cost of your plan. Face it…many places you go now have free WiFi…it’s there for the taking, but you have to access it.
Some people do need unlimited plans. Maybe college kids, high school kids or possibly someone that uses their phone for watching TV or posting videos, but if you’re an average user like me, you’re probably not using much data. The great thing about Mint Mobile (and some of the other plans), is they don’t “cap” you off or turn off your data if you use it all, they just slow your speed down…there are NEVER any overcharges. EVER. In all the years I have used a cellphone plan, I have never had an unlimited plan, I have always had a 2GB plan except for several years ago when I had a 6GB plan that I never used and switched to the 2GB plan. TO THIS DATE, I have never went over on my data plan. And once I saw my average data usage (<2GB/month), I never worried about it…even with AT&T. Now I’m on a 4GB Mint Mobile plan…and for sure I’ll never worry again.
Mint Mobile has only 4 plans to choose from, and have 4GB, 10GB, 15GB and Unlimited plans. The cost of each plan is determined by the length of the plan you pay for in advance. The longer the duration you pay for, the greater the savings. In other words, you get a better deal paying for an entire year in advance than you do paying for just a 3 month plan (with the exception of the introductory offer). The other great thing about Mint Mobile is that not all MVNO’s are the same as some don’t offer all the same features with their plans as Mint Mobile does. Luckily, Mint Mobile offers almost all of the features that a premium plan offers, things like: full speed access, 4K streaming, unlimited 2K data (your data is never capped), hotspot (many of the MVNO’s don’t offer hotspots), visual voice mail, mms messaging, imessages on the iphone, WiFi calling, VoLTE, great 5G access and e-sims (iPhones 11 and up).
The plan I am currently on is the introductory 4GB for $15/month for 3 months which is a total of $45. Once this plan expires in December, I will change my plan to the 4GB plan for $15 by paying in advance for the entire YEAR. The total cost of the plan for my iPhone for the entire year will be $180 ($15/month) excluding taxes. My cellphone bill will go from AT&T with 2GB data and $360/year down to a Mint Mobile 4GB plan of $180/year. I save 50% on my cellphone bill. For the past 10 years or so, my yearly cellphone bill for both me and Lee Ann totaled approximately $720/year and it will now go down to $360/year. I get the same coverage, sometimes better and faster signal and more data…at half the cost. Here’s a quick look at their plans… (the one circled in red is the plan I am using).
First and foremost…do your due diligence on researching what is best for YOU. If you are retired, work from home, or have WiFi at work, you should ask yourself if you really need unlimited data. Especially if you have WiFi at your home and places you visit. You probably don’t need the unlimited data…and again, why pay for something you are not using.
All MVNO plans are what they call DEPRIORITIZED. You’re probably wondering what that means. It means that (in this case T-Mobile) if the carrier becomes very congested, the “premier” customers will get the best speed on their data. This does not effect talk or text (at least that’s my understanding). Just data. So lets say you’re at a Razorback game and they are playing Alabama…and we win at the end of the game….more than likely Joe Blow next to you with his premium T-Mobile account will be able to surf the web or watch a video at a much better speed than you. But if Arkansas loses that game…you probably both have the same speed. Basically, during congested traffic on their network, you are not priority when it comes to the speed of data connections, not effecting calling.
Take reviews (even mine) with a grain of salt. Remember when you look at reviews, you almost always have someone that’s gonna give a piss poor review based on their experience…and sometimes that experience is way over the top in expectations. When referring to carriers, ALL CARRIERS HAVE DEAD SPOTS. EVERY ONE OF THEM. That’s the great thing about Mint Mobile…you can try them out in your area or areas you think you might travel to…When I asked about the coverage in my area, I had people say AT&T was the worst, some said Verizon was terrible and one person even told me that T-Mobile would not work on the road she lived on…so I drove down “her” road with my “trial version” of T-Mobile…and you know what…I had signal, I made a call and texted my brothers. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.
The best deal with Mint Mobile is always going to be the YEARLY plan. This can be a deterrent for some of you to pay out this much cash at one time (but you don’t have to worry about it for another year). However, the website for Mint Mobile is EXCELLENT…and they have in their app and website a WALLET feature where you can add money to your account…so that when your yearly payment is due, you can use what is in your Mint Mobile wallet to pay your bill.
Be sure and check the Mint Mobile coverage map to see if you have good coverage, and check areas that you travel to or frequent to be sure you’ll have coverage. The coverage map is actually pretty accurate. And again (I can’t say this enough)…be aware that ALL of the carriers have dead spots. I also did research on the various tower construction by the major carriers and T-Mobile is putting up more towers at a faster rate than AT&T or Verizon…in addition, T-Mobile has the absolute best 5G of any of the carriers right now.
T-Mobile has recently been hacked. OK, yes they have been, but so has AT&T and Verizon. ALL OF THE CARRIERS HAVE ALL BEEN HACKED. Hell, even the Pentagon has been hacked, it’s gonna happen. If that scares you, then you don’t need a phone. In this age of technology, if you want to carry a SMARTPHONE then you are at the mercy of the carrier (any carrier) and their ability to thwart or lessen these hacks.
It’s scary changing carriers. Yes it is…very few of us like change, I know I don’t like change at all. We become complacent and prefer to just leave things as they are, so I understand it’s hard to change. You’ll get no pressure from me, but if you want to save yourself some money with about the same service, then you must get past the desire to not change, besides…there is no contract and you can always go back to your original carrier if not completely satisfied.
I’m relaying my experiences with Mint Mobile. YOURS may be different. It might be better or it might infuriate you, but Mint Mobile does give you the option to try the 7 day free trial, so I recommend you take advantage of the offer and try it out.
Even if you decide that Mint Mobile is not for you, PLEASE check your data usage to determine if you TRULY need the extra expense of an unlimited data plan vs a data plan that is more suitable (and affordable) for you. You’ll be glad you did and enjoy the savings for other things.
REFERRAL CODE – WHAT IS IT?
OK, so you know now that the introductory offer is pretty dang good, but then the prices go up UNLESS you pay for the entire year, however you can actually lower that yearly payment through referrals…just like DISH and other companies do (even AT&T is doing it now). When you refer another person to Mint Mobile, you’ll get a $15 credit added to your Mint Mobile Wallet that you can use for the next plan you purchase. So how does it work exactly…here’s how. You click on the MY referral code (see below), and I’ll get a $25 credit, and you will get a $15 dollar credit added to your Mint Mobile Wallet for joining. AND, If you refer someone, YOU WILL get a $25 credit and they will get a $15 dollar credit for joining. The referrals MUST use the link to receive the credit. Please feel free to use my referral credit. Here’s the LINK to begin your MINT MOBILE FREE TRIAL – CLICK HERE!
So when you click on the referral code, Mint Mobile will send you a free Trial kit in the mail (usually within just 2-3 days) which includes a SIM card with a temporary number to use for the 7 full days. You can swap this SIM card in and out with your current carrier at any time without effecting your current carrier plan. By doing this you can check the coverage, the signal strength and the quality of calls, texts and data. Again, here’s MY REFERRAL CODE.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION IF YOU DECIDE TO CHANGE
OK….let’s say you’re ready to pull the trigger on switching over to Mint Mobile (or any other carrier or MVNO). Here’s some things you should know.
FIRST and very important. Contact your current carrier and get your ACCOUNT NUMBER and PIN CODE before you do anything, in fact do this even if you don’t change carriers and keep this information handy for when and/if you ever decide to switch carriers. You must have both of these pieces of information. My experience with AT&T was this… I went to the website to get my account number (I already knew my PIN CODE), and when I started looking…it wasn’t listed. AT&T does NOT list your account number so that you have to call in to get it (the only reason you need an account number is to switch carriers…thus they want to know when you do that and also to try and change your mind). Without those two pieces of information, you will be unable to “port” your number to the new carrier.
**IMPORTANT**: DO NOT end your current carrier plan UNTIL after you have implemented the new plan (this goes for any carrier)…especially if you want to keep your current phone number.
If you are on a bank draft or use a credit card for your current payment, STOP it before you change anything else on your current account. Once you change carriers, you may not have access to your account to change those payments.
Albeit preliminary, my conclusion is that for what I give up (basically deprioritized data) and really not much more than anything else, my recommendation is not to switch UNTIL you try their free trial. Now you can change to Mint Mobile without the trial, but I think you should definitely “kick the tires” so to speak to make sure that Mint Mobile is for you. For me, I don’t feel I have given up a single feature, not talk, not text and not even data…in fact I have more data in my plan now!
MINT MOBILE is not for everyone. Let me say it again…MINT MOBILE is not for everyone! Obviously if you don’t have a good signal, then it’s no good for you. Obviously if you use a LOT of data, the cheaper capped data plans are no good for you (although their unlimited plan might be). But for me, every place I went, I had a good signal, out of town places I went …I had a good signal. I also had 5G much of the time when in downtown areas of Searcy, Little Rock of course) and LTE signals when a 5G signal was not available. I haven’t had any issues at all…zero, and all I can do is let you know that you can try them for FREE. You don’t have to use my referral code, but it helps us both. Be sure and CHECK THEIR COVERAGE MAP because there are dead spots (especially out in the western United States).
This is a preliminary review by ME and my opinion only, it could change over time…I can’t promise anything other than what I have experienced so far. I will update this in about a month and again when it’s time for me to renew to the YEARLY PLAN (in December). The next move is up to you. Thanks for reading my review.