AT&T Prepaid Adds 6 Month Option To Its 8GB Plan

In one of my recent posts, I discussed the awesome deals AT&T is offering on its prepaid plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 8GB of data each month. At the time I wrote the post, AT&T offered the plan with three different price structures:

  • Month-to-month payments ($40 per month)1
  • Three months purchased upfront ($33 per month or $180 total)
  • One year purchased upfront ($25 per month or $300 total)

Now, AT&T has added another option. Customers that purchase six months of service upfront can get the 8GB plan for $30 per month.

Before AT&T added the six-month option, I was comparing AT&T’s plan to Mint Mobile’s 8GB plan. The plans look even more similar now that both carriers offer 3, 6, and 12-month payments options.

Mint Mobile Extends Unlimited Data Again

Mint Mobile has extended its COVID-19-related unlimited data offer. Subscribers that joined Mint prior to April 14 can continue to receive data add-ons in 3GB increments at no charge.

Mint first said this offer would be available from mid-March through mid-April, but ended up extending the offer through mid-May. The company has now extended the offer for another month.

Image showing that Mint's unlimited data offer has been extended

I don’t know if we’ll see further extensions of the offer. More information can be found on Mint’s website.

Mint Mobile’s iPhone SE Promotion

Mint Mobile is running a promotion on the iPhone SE. For $720, customers can get an iPhone SE and two years of cell phone service on Mint’s 3GB per month plan. Customers who want more data can pay an extra $120 for 8GB of data or an extra $240 for 12GB of data.

Customers have the choice of either paying outright or paying 12-24 monthly installments through Mint’s partner Affirm. If a customer’s credit is good enough, they may not have to pay Affirm any interest. On a 24 month plan with zero interest, a customer would pay about $30 per month for the iPhone SE and Mint’s 3GB plan.

I recommend avoiding paying for phones on installment plans, and this latest promotion isn’t an exception. That said, there is something unusual worth pointing out here. Typically, I think Mint only lets customers finance phones through Affirm. With this promotion, customers can effectively finance both their phones and their service with Affirm.

The iPhone SE is usually priced at about $400. Mint’s promotional bundle has a base price of $720. Two years of Mint’s 3GB plan would typically cost $360. You can think of the promotion as discounting the iPhone SE’s price by $40 (from $400 to $360).

While I’m a big fan of Mint, I don’t think this promotion is a great deal. In most situations, I don’t think a savings of $40 justifies locking yourself into a long-term arrangement with a wireless carrier.

If you take advantage of Mint’s promotion, you’ll be charged a $32.50 recovery fee during checkout. This fee isn’t for the iPhone SE. It’s consistent with the recovery fee Mint usually charges on wireless plans.1

Mint Mobile Makes COVID-19 Data Add-Ons Easier

In response to COVID-19, Mint Mobile began offering unlimited data at no charge to all its customers. Initially, subscribers who ran out of their regularly allotted data had to purchase 3GB data add-ons that would later be refunded.

Mint has now streamlined the process. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Reddit post by Rizwan Kassim, a co-founder of Mint Mobile:

We heard your feedback, and once we made the decision to extend the program – we rebuilt it in a way with an experience that’s more .. well, Minty. On Apr 15, whenever you purchase the data-bolton, if you qualify, the dollar cost will be $0. No credit card charge, no wallet pull. Easy. You’ll need the latest build of the app.

I thought Mint might have intentionally put a bit of friction in the data add-on process to deter abuse and waste. It looks like there’s a better explanation:

The idea was hatched, planned, got financial and brand approval, configured, launched and messaged the unlimited bolt-on offer in 36 hours, over a weekend by an entirely WFH staff. No joke. The fastest method was not to use our billing system, but to tack on a series of jobs that ran post-charge to refund the balances.

Mint has added some sensible eligibility terms for the free data add-ons:

  • Only subscribers who were customers before April 14 are eligible for free data add-ons
  • Subscribers that downgrade their plans lose their eligibility for free data add-ons

Mint Extends Unlimited Data Through 5/14/20

Last month, I wrote about Mint Mobile offering its subscribers unlimited data at no extra charge from 3/14/2020 through 4/14/2020. I just got an email from Mint explaining that the carrier has extended the unlimited data through 5/14/2020.

Mint’s policies around the free data remain the same. Subscribers that use up all of their regular, allotted data can add more data in 3GB increments. Mint will initially charge for these 3GB data add-ons, but subscribers will be refunded within a day. To be eligible for additional data add-ons, a subsciber must have already used 95% of his or her last data add-on.

UNREAL Mobile Duplicates Mint Mobile’s Pricing Structure

The MVNO UNREAL Mobile recently revamped the structure of its plans. Here’s a screenshot of the carrier’s new offerings:

UNREAL Mobile Plan Options

Copying Mint

If you follow the wireless industry closely, this may look familiar. UNREAL Mobile has duplicated Mint Mobile’s plans and pricing.1 The structure isn’t just similar between the companies. It’s exactly the same. Mint even offers the same special deal for new customers that purchase 3 months of service.

UNREAL runs over AT&T’s network. In many respects, AT&T has a better network than T-Mobile, Mint’s host operator. Still, I’m not ready to say UNREAL is a better option than Mint. I had a lousy experience with UNREAL’s current parent company, Red Pocket. Joe Paonessa of BestMVNO had a lackluster experience with UNREAL itself.2 That said, the new prices are excellent for service over AT&T’s network. Despite my reservations, I’m still tempted to trial UNREAL’s service.

Bogus “Unlimited” Plans

UNREAL offers extra data at vastly reduced speeds for customers that use up all of their allotted, regular data.3

In Unlimited Plans At 2G Speeds Are Bogus, I argued that it’s ridiculous to describe plans with this policy as “unlimited plans.” Mint has enough integrity not to advertise its basically identical plans as “unlimited.”

Mint Mobile Giving Unlimited Data To All Subscribers

The MVNO Mint Mobile is temporarily offering all subscribers unlimited data at no charge. Here’s an excerpt from an email I just received:

Starting on 3-15-20 through 4-14-20, Mint Mobile will be providing all current and new customers with FREE unlimited high-speed data add-ons.

Further details

Like many other carriers, Mint Mobile is making changes in its policies in response to the coronavirus. Mint’s subscribers can take advantage of Mint’s new policy by adding data to their plans in 3GB chunks. Subscribers will need to use up most of their add-on data before they’re eligible for additional add-ons:1

95% of data add-on must be used prior to adding an additional data add-on
Data add-ons can be processed from the Mint Mobile app or through Mint Mobile’s online account system. Subscribers’ credit cards will temporarily be charged for add-on data, but Mint will quickly refund the charges.

It looks like even new customers will be eligible for unlimited data.2

Reflections

I’m not sure if Mint Mobile is taking a huge financial hit to offer this policy or if Mint’s host operator, T-Mobile, is doing something unusual that makes the new policy possible.

Mint is one of my favorite budget-friendly carriers, and I’m happy to see the carrier’s latest move. If you’re thinking about switching to Mint, consider checking out my detailed review of the carrier.

Mint Mobile’s Super Bowl Promo: A Retrospective

During the Super Bowl, Mint Mobile was offering new customers three months of free service. In my earlier post about the promotion, I said that I thought the deal wouldn’t have any serious catches or gotchas that made it less appealing. Sure enough, that’s how things panned out. I really appreciate that Mint Mobile doesn’t engage in gimmicks to nickel-and-dime its customers.

As expected, new customers were able to get free service, a free SIM card, and free shipping:

Mint Checkout

Before the promotion launched, I wondered whether Mint Mobile would try to push people into plans that renewed automatically. I’m happy with the approach Mint took. On the checkout page for the promotion, Mint conspicuously featured details about its auto recharge program. While the auto recharge box was checked by default, the program was clearly explained, and the box was easy to uncheck:

Mint Mobile Auto Recharge

Promotion duration

In my last post, I wrote:

It sounds like the promotion will last for something like 3-5 hours. Mint is suggesting that the promotion will end when the final whistle blows at the end of the Superbowl (though I won’t be shocked if the promotion stays available for a bit longer).

Sure enough, Mint extended the promotion. Here’s a screenshot from Mint’s website last night:

When I checked Mint’s website shortly after midnight on the West Coast, the promotion looked like it was still running. When I checked Mint’s website this morning, the promotion was over.

Mint Mobile Offering 3 Months Free During The Superbowl – No Serious Catches

Mint Mobile is going to run a huge promotion this Sunday during the Superbowl. Once the game starts (around 3:15PM PST), new customers can go to mintmobile.com/free/ to get 3 months of service for free on Mint’s plan that includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 3GB of data per month. The promotion doesn’t appear to involve any serious catches. There’s no long-term commitment or device purchase required.

Those who take advantage of the promotion will need to give Mint a credit card number and temporarily pay a $0.01 charge. Here’s how Mint explains it:

This 3-month 3GB plan is 100% on us. There is just a $0.01 temporary payment verification to verify the credit card used is valid. And even that will be refunded within 5-7 business days.

It sounds like the promotion will last for something like 3-5 hours. Mint is suggesting that the promotion will end when the final whistle blows at the end of the Superbowl (though I won’t be shocked if the promotion stays available for a bit longer).

This promotion looks like an awesome deal for people who want to try Mint. I’ll be surprised if there end up being any unexpected catches or gotchas.

Terms

Here are some more details about the terms of the promotion.

  • Only one person per household may take advantage of the promotion.
  • Service must be activated within 45 days.
  • As usual, Mint will allow subscribers to port existing numbers or receive new numbers.
  • As with Mint’s other plans, if you use up your 3GB data allotment, you can continue using additional data at very slow speeds.
  • If you want more than 3GB of high-speed data, you can upgrade by paying the prorated difference between the 3GB plan’s price and the price of a plan with a larger data allowance.
  • After the 3 free months are over, you can purchase further service according to Mint’s standard plans and prices.

Reynolds’ tweet

Actor Ryan Reynolds, an owner of Mint Mobile, tweeted about the promotion earlier today:

Ryan Reynolds tweet about Mint Mobile's 3 months free promotion

Ryan Reynolds Acquires An Ownership Stake In Mint Mobile

Actor Ryan Reynolds recently announced that he has acquired an ownership stake in Mint Mobile. I expect that Reynolds only owns a part of Mint Mobile rather than the entire company, but I’m not entirely sure. In many places, Reynolds is described as the owner of Mint Mobile in a way that doesn’t seem incompatible with him having complete or near-complete ownership of the company.

From Reynolds’ Twitter bio:


Reynold's Twitter Bio Screenshot


From Reynolds’ tweet announcing involvement with Mint:


Ryan Reynolds tweet screenshot


From a banner on Mint’s website:


Image from Mint Mobile's website


However, Mint Mobile’s press release makes it sound like Reynolds only acquired partial ownership:

Mint Mobile, the wireless company offering carrier-grade service for a fraction of the cost, today announced actor, writer, producer and mobile phone enthusiast Ryan Reynolds has purchased an ownership stake in the company.

The press release suggests that Reynolds will become involved with Mint’s marketing and communications efforts. I’d love to see Mint come up with ads similar to this one that Reynolds used to promote his gin brand: