Choosing a cellphone plan can get overwhelming quickly. You need to worry about things like lines, coverage, and of course, price. Plus, there are an absolute ton to choose from.
In this article, we’re going to help speed up your search by introducing you to plans from two of the best MVNO carriers around: Mint Mobile and Google Fi. We’ll be comparing everything from add-ons to coverage, so by the end you should have a pretty good idea about which carrier (and plan) is best for you. Let’s get started!
- What is an MVNO Carrier?
- What is Mint Mobile?
- What is Google Fi?
- Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi: Single-User Plans
- Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi: Family Plans
- Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi: Coverage
- Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi: Extras and Add-ons
- Should you switch to Google Fi from Mint Mobile?
- Should you switch to Mint Mobile from Google Fi?
- In Conclusion: Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi
What is an MVNO Carrier?
Before we get to our comparison, we need to explain what an MVNO carrier is. An MVNO—or mobile virtual network operator—is a wireless service provider that doesn’t actually own any of the infrastructure it uses to serve customers. MVNO carriers buy access to networks from companies that actually own network infrastructure (e.g., Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T) at wholesale rates. They then brand, package, and resell that access to customers. This business model allows MVNO to sell access to a wireless network without actually having to build or maintain that network. This is great news for you because it means that MVNO carriers like Mint Mobile and Google Fi are able to offer plans that are ridiculously cheap!
What is Mint Mobile?
Mint Mobile is an MVNO that provides its customers with access to the T-Mobile/Sprint network. The company was founded in 2015, but really came to life in 2019 when actor Ryan Reynolds came on board as the majority owner and public face of the company.
Mint Mobile operates with the mission of reimagining the way people buy and use cellphone plans by simplifying and streamlining the entire process. The company does this by offering a small selection of plans that are all-inclusive (i.e., they come with unlimited talk and text) and that don’t require customers to sign any long-term contracts.
Check out our Mint Mobile full review.
What is Google Fi?
Google Fi, formerly Project Fi, is an MVNO telecommunications service by Google that provides telephone calls, SMS, and mobile broadband using cellular networks and Wi-Fi. Google Fi uses networks operated by T-Mobile/Sprint and U.S. Cellular. Google Fi is a service for US residents only, as of late 2019.
Google Fi was designed to be a flexible and adaptable cellphone plan. One of the ways it does this is by automatically connecting you to whichever network—Wi-Fi or cellular—is fastest at any given moment.
And with that background information out of the way, let’s dive into our in-depth Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi comparison!
Check out our Google Fi full review.
Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi: Single-User Plans
True to the company’s word, Mint Mobile has an incredibly easy-to-understand set of plans. In total, there are four plans that offer different monthly data allowances:
- 4 GB
- 10 GB
- 15 GB
Everything about the plans except for the data allowance and the price is identical. You get access to the same features, same speeds, and same network. The only difference is how much data you get each month.
One of the coolest things about Mint Mobile’s plans is that they’re sold in multi-month bundles that offer duration-based savings. So, if you sign up for a 12-month plan, you’ll actually be paying less than you would if you signed up for a 3-month plan. This gives you a nice discount since Mint Mobile’s prices are already pretty darn low to begin with.
Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll pay for each plan if you choose to sign up for a 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month bundle, in that order:
- 4 GB – $45 ($15/mo), $60 ($10/mo), $75 ($6.25/mo)
- 10 GB – $60 ($20/mo), $75 ($12.50/mo), $90 ($7.50/mo)
- 15 GB – $75 ($25/mo), $90 ($15/mo), $105 ($8.75/mo)
- Unlimited – $90 ($30/mo), $105 ($17.50/mo), $120 ($10/mo)
As you can see, the per-month price decreases significantly the longer you commit to a plan. So, if you know you’re going to stick with Mint Mobile for the long haul, it definitely pays to sign up for a longer-term plan.
Google Fi operates on a very different pricing structure than Mint Mobile. Instead of offering a set of plans with different data allowances, Google Fi two basic plans with different pricing structures and a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plan:
- Simply Unlimited – $50/mo for unlimited data (tethered after 35 GB)
- Unlimited Plus – $65/mo for unlimited data (tethered after 100 GB)
- Flexible – $20/mo + $10 per GB of data
Winner: Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile wins this category hands down, with the cheapest plan starting at $15 a month, or even cheaper if you commit to a longer time period.
Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi: Family Plans
Mint Mobile’s upfront pricing is great for individuals because it allows them to keep their expenses low by buying service in bulk. However, this pricing model starts to become a problem for families.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you wanted to get Mint Mobile Unlimited for your family of four using their standard pricing. A 12-month contract for the Unlimited plan costs $30/mo/line. That means the upfront cost for your family would be… $1,440! That’s a lot of money to spend upfront, even if the monthly cost is low.
What I’m getting at here is that the problem isn’t the price of the plan (which is incredibly affordable), it’s the payment structure. That’s where Mint Mobile’s Modern Family plan comes in. This plan is designed to make it easier and more affordable for families to get Mint Mobile service by allowing families to pay for their plans quarterly as opposed to all at once.
This means that, instead of spending $1,440 upfront for Unlimited plans for a family of four, you would only have to pay $360 every 3 months. This makes it much more manageable to budget for your family’s cell phone service. Mint Mobile’s Modern Family plans start at only 2 lines, so they’re extremely inclusive. Plus, not everyone on the family plan needs to be using the same amount of data. You can mix and match different plans to fit each family member’s needs.
Google Fi takes a more standard approach to family plans. You choose the plan you like best and decide how many lines you’d like to add. The more lines you add, the cheaper the plan is per line.
To illustrate, let’s look at a breakdown of the Simply Unlimited plan:
- 1 Line: $50/month per line
- 2 Lines: $40/month per line
- 3 Lines: $25/month per line
- 4 Lines: $20/month per line
- 5 Lines: $20/month per line
- 6 Lines: $20/month per line
As you can see, the savings potential here is pretty substantial. The only downside is that everyone in your family needs to be using the same Google Fi plan. So, if you have kids and want to limit their data usage, you won’t be able to do that through your family plan.
Winner: Google Fi
If you have more than 4 people or more, Google Fi is only $20 a month for unlimited data, which is amazing! On top of that, you do not need to pay upfront for 3-12 months.
Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi: Coverage
Mint Mobile uses the T-Mobile network, which is currently the third-largest wireless network in the United States. According to Open Signal’s most recent report on US mobile networks, T-Mobile has an LTE download speed of 26.1 Mbps and an LTE latency of 53.9 ms.
In terms of coverage, Mint Mobile (via T-Mobile) offers 4G service to 62% of U.S. residents and 5G service to 41.38% of U.S. residents. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Mint Mobile does not offer free roaming services outside of the United States. So, if you’re planning on traveling internationally, you’ll need to add roaming credits to your Mint Mobile account before you leave.
Lower your mobile bills without compromising on service.
Google Fi uses a combination of the T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular networks. This gives Fi customers access to even more LTE coverage than they would get with Mint Mobile alone, but the difference isn’t massive. According to Open Signal’s most recent report, the combined LTE network of T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular offers an LTE download speed of 29.4 Mbps and an LTE latency of 49.8 ms. In terms of coverage, the combined network offers 4G service to about 62% of U.S. residents and 5G coverage to about 53.79% of U.S. residents.
All Google Fi plans allow you to call, text, and use data at no extra cost when you’re traveling in Mexico or Canada. If you’re on an Unlimited Plus or Flexible Plan, you’ll have full coverage in 200+ countries around the world at no extra cost.
Winner: Google Fi
Although both are great choices, Google Fi does have the added towers from a second network.
Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi: Extras and Add-ons
Mint Mobile doesn’t really offer many extras or add-ons beyond the standard features that come with your cellphone plan. Still, there are a few that definitely deserve a mention:
- Mint Mobile App: The Mint Mobile app (available for iOS and Android) makes it easy to manage your account, add features, and track your usage.
- Visual Voicemail: With Visual Voicemail, you can see a list of your voicemails and choose which ones you want to listen to. This is a great way to organize your voicemails and make sure you don’t miss anything important.
Google Fi offers a few extras that Mint Mobile doesn’t:
- Google Fi App: The Google Fi app (available for iOS and Android) is almost identical to the Mint Mobile app in terms of features and usability (i.e., it’s great).
- Visual Voicemail: Like Mint Mobile, Google Fi offers Visual Voicemail for all its customers.
- VoIP Calling: With Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling, your calls are made over the internet instead of through the traditional phone network. This can save you money if you make a lot of international calls, and it also offers some extra features, like video calling and call forwarding.
- Fi VPN: Google Fi also comes packages with a built-in VPN service. This service encrypts your data and helps to keep your information safe and secure while you’re online. Oh, and it also filters out those annoying spam calls!
- Google One Storage: With an Unlimited Plus or Flexible plan, users get access to 100 GB of Google One cloud storage at no extra cost.
Winner: Google Fi
Google Fi offers a lot of additional features that Mint Mobile simply does not have.
Should you switch to Google Fi from Mint Mobile?
You should switch to Google Fi from Mint Mobile if any of the following apply to you:
- Your place of work covers Google Fi phone bills.
- You would like to take calls from your Chromebook.
- The Mint Mobile payments upfront really mess with your cash flow and make it financially stressful on the months that you need to pay for your Mint Mobile plan.
- You lack coverage in certain spots and may benefit from access to extra towers due to the dual carriers that Google Fi utilizes, that is, the T-Mobile/Sprint and U.S. Cellular towers combined.
- You need better international coverage.
Should you switch to Mint Mobile from Google Fi?
Likewise, you should switch to Mint Mobile from Google Fi if any of the following apply to you:
- Your place of work covers Mint Mobile phone bills.
- You need the absolute cheapest option possible between the two providers.
- You have an iPhone and can’t get 5G coverage (Google Fi doesn’t seem to be truly addressing this issue, and hasn’t for years).
- You hate the customer service provided by Google Fi and would appreciate great customer service for once.
- You’re on the Google Fi Flexible plan and think you are paying too much for data.
In Conclusion: Mint Mobile vs. Google Fi
So, which is the better cellphone plan—Mint Mobile or Google Fi? Well, that really depends on what you’re looking for in a cellphone plan. If you’re simply looking for the cheapest possible option, then Mint Mobile is probably your best bet. However, if you’re looking for a bit more in terms of extras and add-ons, then Google Fi might be a better choice. At the end of the day, it really all comes down to personal preference. So, take a look at both options and see which one seems like a better fit for you and your needs.
We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, and we’ll do our best to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!