In this post, I go through a detailed analysis of what I consider to be the best phone plan for kids. In the process, it also provides a detailed review of the Mint Mobile Phone Plan.
If you don’t have time to read the whole post, here’s what it says:
Mint Mobile is the plan you should get for your kids and probably for yourself. Why?
- You can bring your own phone
- 12-month plan for $15/month
- Unlimited talk, texts and 4GB of data (with the $15/mo plan)
- Unlike other MVNO’s, they actually have good customer service
- The SIM card is free (some companies make you pay for the SIM card pack)
- $45+taxes/fees lets you try it for 3 months with no longer term commitment whatsoever (depending on the state that you live in, there will be additional taxes and fees tacked on to that. For example, where I live it is $52.05 with recovery fee, taxes and surcharges)
- Good referral program
- Need social proof? Read the reviews.
What it’s Like to Sign-up and Use Mint Mobile
I want to tell you about my experience using Mint Mobile. I started out getting this for my Teenage daughter and tried it out for about six months. After that, I also transitioned my son over to Mint mobile. Eventually, I even switched my wife over to Mint mobile as well.
So I’ve got 3 close family members on Mint, all started at different times, the longest for about a year and a half. This is my review on the process, the good, the bad, and how it’s going now.
If you’re thinking about getting signing on with Mint Mobile, this is the review for you.
Choosing a Mobile Phone Plan for Kids
Okay, here’s some of the backstory. To begin with, when you have kids, you don’t want to get them right onto the most expensive mobile plan. You also don’t necessarily want them on a shared “family” plan with you because they have a tendency to use up all of your allotted data for the month, sometimes in the first couple of days…
1st Attempt: FreedomPop
So, I started out my daughter on FreedomPop to begin with. It’s (or at least, was) $7/month for, I think 1 GB of data per month, if you bought 12 months. I’m going to be honest with you. That was a complete disaster. The plan just wasn’t very good.
It was a cheap plan, so that was good, but there was very little support. Really almost no support to speak of, and the phone calls and data were always cutting out and glitching.
And they were always trying to get your credit card number. And I read horror stories of people getting charged for overages, being unable to quit the plan, people cancelling their credit cards in order to stop the charges, and the like, so I was bound and determined not to give them my cc number. So I mainly used gift cards.
Trying out Mint Mobile
So when I first started out with Mint, I was thinking it was going to be something similar. It’s a relatively inexpensive plan. So I was wondering if I was going to face some of these same issues with glitchy service and nonexistent support.
So I started out trying the 1-week free trial. With the starter pack, you get one week free to try it out.
So my daughter tried out the one week and liked it, so I was thinking that I would maximize the amount of free time that I had on that one week before starting to pay for the initial three-month plan.
Unfortunately, I let the week go a little bit too long. I thought I could change on a Friday, but it turns out that it ended at midnight on Thursday. So when I went to activate the plan, my account had already been closed because it had expired. So that was a fair amount of back and forth with customer support to get the account reinstated.
I finally just used the other SIM card in the starter pack to initiate a new plan, so with that I was able to get it activated again and then paid for the three months through the Mint Mobile App.
Mint 3-Month Plan
The first three months were $15 a month for the 4 gigabyte plan. So this means that you get unlimited calling, unlimited texts, and then 4 gigabytes of data per month.
And that was plenty for what my daughter needed. She’s usually connected to Wifi. So the data portion wasn’t a problem.
Mint Works off of the T-Mobile network, which is pretty strong in my area. So, getting a connection when it’s needed, has been pretty straightforward.
There were times where she has lost coverage in certain areas. One time, we went on vacation to Door County, Wisconsin, and she basically didn’t have service the entire time we were there. That was not good.
So that’s something you should probably be aware of. Check the coverage map for the areas that you live and frequent to make sure that T-Mobile has adequate coverage there.
The three months with Mint went really well: she liked it, she could hold calls, and she got the data she needed, so when I got a cellphone for my son, I put him on Mint as well.
I have both my kids using Google Voice for their primary phone number. So, it was quite simple to just use the number that you get with your Mint Mobile account and then link that to Google Voice, so that when their phones ring, it rings to their Google Voice number. It’s more of a permanent number for them.
Since both of my kids were really happy with their Mint plans, when my wife started to complain about issues with her Family Mobile plan (his is a T-Mobile system that is run through Walmart), it was a no-brainer to switch her over as well.
Porting a Phone Number from Family Mobile to Mint Mobile
She was facing things like dropped calls and slow data speeds. So I thought why not? Let’s switch her over to Mint Mobile as well.
The main difference in her case was that I wanted to transfer the telephone number as well. So this was a good chance for me to be able to test how well that was going to work. And I’ll tell you right to begin with that it worked extremely well. Very straightforward.
The thing that is very important – because you hear horror stories about people losing their number that they’ve had for a hundred years – the thing is that you need to make sure that you have some time overlap between your previous plan and your new plan with Mint.
I would recommend having at least a week just to make sure everything goes through perfectly, especially if you’re really dedicated to keeping your existing telephone number. But really, you probably only need about a day. In fact, for my wife’s case, it was about an hour or so, and the transition was complete.
The reason you need some overlap between the old and new plans is that you need access to your old account in order to transfer the telephone number to the new account. So, keep that in mind, make sure you don’t push things to the last minute when you’re doing the transition, and then you’ll be just fine.
How to Port a Telephone Number from TracFone to Mint Mobile
Since writing this post originally, I have now also swapped my dad over from TracFone to Mint Mobile. His TracFone plan was the type where you buy cards to add ‘minutes’ to your plan. This got confusing because when you transfer (port) your number to a new carrier, you need to know your existing account number with TracFone.
I found out that the account number is the IMEI number on the phone, NOT the 15-digit number associated with the last card you bought from TracFone and is listed in their app when you login! (He was even using a BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) with the plan.)
If you are transferring to Mint Mobile from TracFone, I would recommend the following:
- Find the IMEI number on your phone (it is printed on the back of iPhones).
- Find and know your 4-digit PIN. If you don’t know or haven’t set one up, go into the TracFone app and reset your 4-digit PIN to 0000.
- Know the ZIP code that was used when you set up the service originally.
With that information you should have no issue doing the transfer. One more thing to mention: TracFone is extremely slow in ‘releasing’ the telephone number. We did the transfer at about 4pm on a weekday, and we didn’t hear back from them that it had failed (the first time) until the next day at around 11am. So be prepared to be a bit patient…
Mint Mobile – How is it going 6-Months In?
So far, my wife has been on Mint for about six months. My daughter has been on Mint for about a year and a half and my son for about a year. All three of them are very happy with their plans. They’re all on the 4 GB plan, which is the most economical plan and costs $15 a month. If you buy the one-year plan.
Comparing the Mint Mobile Data Plans
So the introductory rate is $15 a month for three months. Once that introductory rate ends, in order to continue to get the $15 a month plan, you have to sign on for at least 12 months.
You can sign on for shorter periods. For example, there’s a three-month plan and a six-month plan but those will cost more per month. For example, the 6-month plan is $20/month for the 4 GB plan.
At the time of this writing, I believe the three-month plan is $25 a month and the six-month plan is $20 a month and the One year (12 month) plan is $15 a month.
For the 12-month plan, that comes out to $180 per year. You have to pay that up-front. And with that, you get the unlimited calling, unlimited texts, and 4GB of data.
You can also upgrade to higher level plans. The “unlimited” plan – as they call it – is $30 a month. I find the name unlimited, kind of strange because the amount of data you get with the so-called unlimited plan is actually 35GB. After that, it’s throttled. To very slow speeds.
So just bear in mind that the unlimited plan is not actually unlimited (as is the case with most plans from most of the major carriers as well).
Another thing I need to mention explicitly is that the SIM card is free. Some companies charge you several dollars to have them send you the SIM card that you need to put in the phone. With Mint at least, the SIM card is free.
What Happens if you go over your Data Limit on Mint Mobile?
The other thing I want to mention is that on the 4GB plan, my wife has gone over the her limit before, and the speeds are incredibly slow and almost unusable. So be aware of that. The speeds are like 2G speeds – it’s like dial-up or worse.
One month, the Wifi at home had gone out, so she was using data to watch movies and ate through all 4GB in about a day, maybe two. For the rest of that month, she was on super slow speeds. I used the phone several times when it was off of Wifi, and it was pretty unbearable.
It would work in emergencies. She could still make telephone calls and texts. And with data you could check web pages and check email, however, it was just incredibly slow. So it did work. It was just very slow.
Mint Mobile Referral Program
One nice thing about Mint is that they have a really great referral program. This is how the referral program works as of the time of this writing:
If you refer 5 people within the course of a year, you can earn a free year of service. And the way that works is that the first referral is $25 toward your next pay period. The second person you refer is $30. The third person is $35, the fourth is $40, and the fifth is $110.
So basically, they’re saying, if you can refer 5 people, then you have a free year of service. You can only refer a maximum of 10 people per year. So you could potentially earn two years worth of service. But then you’re capped and you can’t earn anymore.
The nice thing is that anyone who uses your referral link to set-up their Mint account also earns credit towards their next payment. Each person you refer burns $15 off of their next renewal. So it’s really a win-win situation.
How to Make Sure you Get your Referral Bonus from Mint
I want to mention a few things about how to make sure you get your referral bonus, both for you and the person you are referring because I found it a bit unintuitive at first.
The first thing to be aware of, is that when you click through someone’s referral link, there is no indication at all from the Mint Mobile website that the referral link is working! It just looks like a regular Mint webpage where you sign up for them to send you the plan with the SIM card.
There is also nowhere during the sign-up process to enter a “Referral Code” or anything like that.
The other thing to be aware of is that the $15 credit does not show up in your account right away. It takes 15-days for the credit to show up in your account, and then you will see it. Because it shows up later on – the credit can’t be applied to your initial sign-up, but can be applied to your next payment, for example if you continue after the initial 3-months with a 12-month plan, you would have $15 off of the $180-cost of the 12-month plan.
Mint Mobile Referral Link for $15 Credit
If you have any friends or family members who are on Mint, contact them and ask them to send you their referral link (they can find it in the Mint Mobile App). Then you click the link and follow the instructions to purchase the plan. They will mail you the SIM card to install in your phone.
If you don’t know anyone who’s already using Mint to get the $15 credit from, you are welcome to use mine, and I would appreciate it. My referral link is:
After you sign up with Mint, make sure you use your own referral link to refer other friends and family.
I hope you found this review from my experience helpful!
- Very reasonable price. $15/ month for unlimited calling, texts. And 4 GB of data
- Good coverage if T-Mobile has towers in your area
- Support is good (I was able to talk to a real person)
- Did not charge my credit card when my free 1-week trial expired
- Poor coverage in areas without T-Mobile towers.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mint Mobile
The following are several commonly asked questions in regards to using Mint as a cell phone plan provider.
Is Mint Mobile Really $15 per Month?
The short answer is no. There are additional taxes and fees that vary from state to state. For example, where I live, the introductory 3-month plan advertised as $45 is actually $52.05 with recovery fee, taxes and surcharges.
The SIM card is free and there is free 2-3 day shipping on the starter pack that includes the SIM card.
Is Mint Mobile a “No Contract” Plan?
It depends how you define “contract.” Even though the plans are advertised as “no contract plans” you should be aware that in order to get the $15/month plan, you must sign up for more than a month – usually 12-months at a time which must be paid up-front.
There is an introductory plan that is 3-months for $45, but once that expires, you must sign on for the 12-month plan in order to remain at the $15/month.
What is an MVNO?
MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator, which is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure that it uses to provide services to its customers.
There are currently between 100 and 150 MVNO’s in the U.S. These MVNO’s service about 7% of the US wireless subscriber market, representing about 23 million customers. MVNO’s sell service on one or more of the three U.S. national network carriers owned by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
Interestingly, the number of MVNO customers doubled between 2009 and 2012. This was driven mainly by the FCC which made rules making it easier for customers to switch networks.
MVNO’s are able to offer less-expensive mobile phone plans because they are effectively online-only businesses. For this reason, they do not have the overhead of supporting not only the physical networks (towers and phone lines), but also brick and mortar stores and sales people to run the stores.
Does my kid need a phone?
That’s really a question you need to answer for yourself, but a good place to start is safety. Basically it offers you peace of mind. If your child is in a strange place or feels uncomfortable, they don’t have to rely on another adult in order to get access to a phone to call you. There’s also the ability to track their location at any time which of course can contribute to safety as well.
Thanks for visiting! I hope you found the information in this article helpful!
How did you sign your kids up?
Signing them up is pretty straightforward. Just go to the link, use mine if you want the discount:
Then click the plan you want for them. I entered my contact information as the account, so I will get any communications that they send.
When the SIM card comes in the mail (or if you sign up for eSIM, it is immediate), then pop it into their phone and follow the instructions they send you in a text.
I hope this helps!