When it comes to cheap, affordable prepaid phone plans, two companies really stand out right now – Mint Mobile (opens in a new tab) and visible wireless network (opens in a new tab). These two low-cost mobile carriers often vie monthly in our guide to the best prepaid phone plans, but we can’t help but compare the two head-to-head – after all, we love a good versus here at TechRadar.
So of these two excellent prepaid carriers, that is the the best at the moment, considering factors such as value, speed and benefits? This sounds like a fairly easy comparison, but you’d be surprised how different these two carriers are. We put these two companies in a head-to-head battle, starting with how much these plans will set you back each month. We then take a look at what you’ll get for your hard-earned money, after which comes the final verdict.
Two excellent prepaid plans
Scope and prices
It’s worth noting that while both Mint Mobile and Visible advertise themselves as “cheap” prepaid operators, they operate on completely different networks and business models.
Mint: $15 to $40/month
Visible: $30 to $45/month
For example, Mint Mobile works on the T-Mobile network (check your range (opens in a new tab)) and has a payment scheme where you pay upfront for more than a year of work at a time. Visible, on the other hand, works on the Verizon network (check your range (opens in a new tab)) with the more traditional one-month payment model.
Why does it matter? Well, not all phones are compatible with both networks and you will be billed very differently. If you prefer to pay once and forget about it, Mint Mobile will be a winner for you. On the other hand, if you prefer to avoid those large upfront fees and want to break them down into smaller installments instead, Visible is likely to be your carrier of choice. Visible promo codes are available which can also help you cut costs.
Speed and benefits
Both Mint Mobile and Visible use high-speed nationwide 5G networks. It is worth noting, however, that as prepaid operators, both are subject to “deprioritization” when home networks are loaded with heavy traffic. This may not be a deal breaker depending on your location, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you may not get consistently high speeds compared to big carrier plans.
Mint: without hat
Visible: 200 Mb/s limit (does not apply to Plus)
Mint: 5 GB (unlimited plan)
Visible: unlimited (at 5Mbps)
Mint: 480p video (unlimited)
Visible: without hat
Both Mint Mobile and Visible are listed as 5G networks, although only the latter has access to its home network’s most “premium” service for the best possible speeds.
In this case, the more expensive Visible Plus plan offers access to the Verizon Ultra Wideband 5G service, which is currently the best possible cellular network from the carrier.
On paper, the Visible Plus plan should provide more reliable speeds and services than regular Mint plans, as the latter are deprioritized. In this respect, the situation evens out when you compare Mint plans with the “standard” Visible Unlimited plan, which does not have any “priority” access to Verizon’s 5G network.
One thing we will say regarding the speed of Mint Mobile is that there is a “soft overlay” for heavy users. On the other hand, Visible Wireless will never slow down your connection based on usage alone. More on this in the section below.
In terms of benefits, both carriers offer unlimited calls and texts (as you might expect) as well as free mobile hotspotting. However, you will be limited to just 5GB of mobile hotspot allowance on Mint Mobile’s unlimited data plan, while Visible offers unlimited usage. Visible also offers extended international calling options, but only if you invest in a higher tier Plus Plus plan.
For families and multi-line users, Mint Mobile is currently the only operator offering something similar family plan (opens in a new tab)although we wouldn’t say it’s the best on the market right now. Essentially, this is an advantage that allows you to combine lines and reduce the associated admin, rather than getting the big savings per line often found with major carriers. However, it automatically registers each line at the cheapest (usually annual) rate, which can help add a level of flexibility.
Unlimited data wars
On paper, both of these carriers offer unlimited data packages for an extremely low price. That said, there are always a few limitations to the fine print that can be easily overlooked at first glance.
Visible really has very few limitations on its unlimited data plan. It used to limit speeds to 200Mbps, although we couldn’t find any mention of it in the mid-2023 fine print. If we see more information about this, we’ll update this page.
Mint Mobile, on the other hand, has a “soft” data allowance of 45GB of 5G data per month, and speeds are capped at just 128Kbps if you go over your limit. On paper, Mint loses out here, but it’s worth noting that 45GB is more than enough for most users per month – and that data allowance was actually raised from 35GB in 2023, which was a nice freebie!
As for the expected speeds on each network, according to a 2022 Report by Root Metrics (also mentioned in Verizon 5G website (opens in a new tab)), devices on the T-Mobile 5G network achieved an average download speed of 20 Mbps, while Verizon’s 5G network averaged 146 Mbps. However, this report does not consider prioritization and is based on testing in Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas, so actual speeds may be completely different.
Mint Mobile vs Visible Wireless: Final Results
Visible beat Mint Mobile on most of the criteria we’ve outlined on this page, but we’d be hesitant to call it a winner on all counts. Both of these prepaid carriers are currently at the forefront of value and offer extremely competitive options for those looking to save some cash and forego pesky contracts.
First, we recommend Mint Mobile to anyone who is either a single-line user who intends to use small amounts, or a multi-line user who wants to cut down on bureaucracy. If you’re going to use less than 15GB of data per month, it’s hard to beat something like Mint’s $20/month plan. If you’re not going to hit that data cap every month, you might as well save some cash and go with Mint.
However, if you’re an unlimited data user, then the 50GB of priority data offered by the Visible Plus plan is something Mint can’t match. Otherwise, Visible’s standard plan and Mint’s unlimited plan are roughly equivalent in features, although Visible has the advantage of a monthly pricing setup (as opposed to Mint’s bulk purchase system).
Either way, both prepaid carriers are fantastic and you’re sure to save some serious bucks over the usual big carriers like T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T.