From $45/three mo. at Mint Mobile
- Cheap plans
- Supports most unlocked phones
- Large T-Mobile network
- High-end phones sold
- Hotspot on all plans
- No unlimited option
- No multi-line discount
Mint Mobile is one of the better deals in wireless if you’re willing to buy multiple months in advance and don’t need more than 12GB of data at high speeds. Thanks to improvements to the T-Mobile network, most people will have great coverage.
From $30/mo. at AT&T
- Fast AT&T LTE network
- Unlimited available
- Discounts for multiple lines
- Data rollover
- More expensive for one line
- Lower end phones for sale
- Hotspot only on higher unlimited plan
AT&T Prepaid brings a fast LTE network to prepaid with great deals if you add multiple lines. Two unlimited plans mean that even the heaviest data users can find a plan that works for them. Rollover data on the lower plans minimizes waste when you take advantage of Wi-Fi.
Mint Mobile and AT&T Prepaid are based on completely different LTE networks that have both improved a lot this year. AT&T made up a lot of ground on speed while T-Mobile narrowed the gap when it comes to coverage. It’s safe to say that most people should have coverage on both networks. For one or two phones lines, Mint Mobile stays on top for price but when you start adding more lines, AT&T Prepaid’s multi-line discounts can put it back on top.
How many lines?
You can save a lot of money with one or two lines on Mint Mobile. The reduced introductory price in addition to the discounted rates for buying more months at once makes it an easy choice as long as you don’t have more lines. AT&T Prepaid wants you to bring the entire family and maybe a friend too. To do that, AT&T offers rather significant discounts for customers that are willing to bring four or five lines with them. These discounted rates can make AT&T Prepaid a competitive option, especially with the 8GB plan.
|Minimum period||3 months||1 month|
|Maximum period||12 months||1 month|
With Mint Mobile, you save money by buying data in bulk. Your savings increase with longer service terms. If you don’t feel comfortable making that jump right off the bat, you can start off with a three month plan and renew it for 12 months to keep your introductory price even longer.
Right now there is a promotion at Mint Mobile that brings the price of the 8GB and 12GB plans down to the same $15 per month as the 3GB plan when you buy three months. That’s $45 upfront. You’ll need to pay attention though because after your three months end, your price will return to standard rates.
|3 months||$15/mo. ($45) $25/mo. renewal||$15/mo. ($45) $35/mo. renewal||$15/mo. ($45) $45/mo. renewal|
|6 months||$20/mo. ($120)||$25/mo.($150)||$35/mo. ($210)|
|12 months||$15/mo. ($180)||$20/mo. ($240)||$25/mo. ($300)|
You can add more high-speed data at a rate of $10 for 1GB or $20 for 3GB if you need run out. You can also upgrade to the next plan up if you feel you’ll need more every month in the middle of your billing cycle.
AT&T Prepaid plans
One major advantage AT&T Prepaid has over Mint Mobile is its discounts for multiple lines. The cost of each additional line is reduced and may be mixed and matched to meet the needs of everyone on the account. You can see how much your best combination would cost on AT&T’s website.
All of these prices include an AutoPay discount. Currently a promotion is applied to the unlimited plans, bringing the discount up to $20 per line until January 2020. For a single line, Mint Mobile takes the cake, but AT&T gains back a lot of ground with multiple lines, especially if you aren’t comfortable buying more than a few months at a time.
If you want to go with a data package instead of unlimited, you do get data rollover so you can essentially stockpile data for a rainy day. You can also add more data as needed, though it’s not cheap.
In years past it would’ve been a foregone conclusion that the AT&T network was going to be better than T-Mobile’s, but continued investment and additions, such as band 71, have helped the T-Mobile LTE network. AT&T has also been investing with a focus on speed. PCMag, among others like Speedtest.net, have AT&T speeds firmly sitting at number one.
Of course you should check your coverage on both AT&T as well as Mint Mobile to be sure you will have a solid connection at home and anywhere you might go. Be sure to select “AT&T Prepaid” to see an accurate map since AT&T, like most carriers, provides more roaming coverage to postpaid customers than prepaid.
Both Mint Mobile and AT&T Prepaid offer international calling. On AT&T Prepaid, as long as you have the 8GB plan or higher you get free calls and texts to Canada and Mexico. The rates to other countries can vary quite a bit so you should check before you call. You can find AT&T Prepaid’s rates on AT&T’s website and Mint Mobile’s rates on Mint Mobile’s website.
If you’re traveling to another country, Mint Mobile and AT&T both offer service. On AT&T Prepaid, you get free talk, text, and data usage in Mexico and Canada as long as you have the 8GB plan or higher.
For other plans, service in Mexico costs $0.25 per minute, $0.25 per text sent, and $0.20 per text received; picture messaging is $1.30 for each sent and $0.25 for each received.
For Canada, service costs $0.39 per minute, $0.25 per text sent, $0.20 per text received, and picture messaging is $1.30 for each one sent and $0.25 for each received. If you intend to travel to Mexico or Canada often, the bigger plans will be worth it.
There are also add-on packages available containing a larger amount of service. You’ll need to sign in to see your options.
Mint Mobile’s simplicity is refreshing with a flat rate of $0.05 per text, $0.25 per minute, and $0.20 per megabyte for countries on the supported list. Service in Mexico and Canada is reduced to $0.02 per text, S0.06 per minute, and $0.06 per megabyte.
All of Mint Mobile’s plans have hotspot access. With Mint Mobile, you share the same data your get on your phone with your hotspot connections.
This works the same way on AT&T’s data plans such as the 1GB and 8GB plan. The smaller unlimited plan doesn’t have any access to hotspot usage while the Unlimited Plus plan has 10GB of high speed hotspot access. Hotspot data is nice to have if you’re in a pinch but if you make good use of free Wi-Fi, it shouldn’t be a huge deal.
AT&T Prepaid and Mint Mobile both sell phones on their websites. Mint Mobile offers many of the high-end devices you would expect from any carrier such as the Galaxy Note 10 series or the Pixel 4 series phones. Mint Mobile also sells a selection of cheaper phones that will provide a great value to someone that doesn’t need a ton of power or wants a cheaper secondary phone.
Of course you can also bring your own device to Mint Mobile as long as it is unlocked and supports the T-Mobile network. You can check online to see if your phone is compatible.
AT&T Prepaid also sells phones on its website though these phones are cheaper devices. There are some decent devices available but if you want something more premium you’ll need to buy it elsewhere and use the BYOD option to use it with AT&T Prepaid.
Which one should you get?
The answer here isn’t that cut and dry. AT&T Prepaid offers a great value for a lot of people thanks to its multi-line discounts but its more limited phone selection and higher cost with only one or two lines makes it a tougher sale. With Mint Mobile you get a much simpler approach with data packages and terms coming in three different sizes. If you have only a couple of lines and are willing to buy more months in advance, Mint Mobile is an easy choice.
Great savings even on one line
From $45/three mo. at Mint Mobile
Grab a few months months and save with Mint Mobile. The T-Mobile network backing the service has great coverage and speed and is set to get even stronger.
Save more with the whole family
From $30/mo. at AT&T
Connect the whole family with AT&T Prepaid. It has the tools to build a great plan and fast LTE with a ton of coverage will keep your phones feeling fast.