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Answering all those burning questions you didn’t know you had about home ownership.

My Failed Experiment with Mint Mobile

Picture of Jessica Dabkowski

Jessica Dabkowski

Helping you with all things homeownership!

All right, you all seem to like the articles where I detail my real life misadventures. Bonus points if I fail in a big way.

In that vein, this week I’m dishing on my failed experiment with Mint Mobile and the accompanying silver lining. Ryan Reynolds is a good-looking man, but his cellular company is totally on my $h*t list.

I have been with Verizon since the dawn of time. Okay, fine, since I received my first cell phone in 2001 (which feels like the dawn of time). First on my parents plan and then as an adult, I let inertia carry me forward.

In March, Verizon implemented a price increase on our family plan. I’ll be honest; I was irrationally angry with this increase. First of all, because I had just moved us onto our current plan LAST YEAR. It’s not as though we were on some archived plan from 5-10 years ago.

Second, Verizon couldn’t be bothered to email me to let me know in advance I was getting a billing increase. They just quietly implemented the increase. Unfortunately for Verizon, the way it was implemented (both prorated retroactive and next month’s billing) made it look like a $15 increase, instead of the $8 increase that was the reality. An $8 increase, I probably would have been too lazy to shop out, but that $15, boy, I was on fire. I decided it was time to look around at other options.

What is Mint Mobile?

Like most of America, I’ve been bombarded with Mint Mobile commercials. Ryan Reynolds, one of the founders of the company, pops up everywhere hawking his wares. 

Mint Mobile is a budget phone carrier that leases rights to the T-Mobile network. Mint’s sales pitch is that by prepaying for 3, 6 or 12 months in advance, you can save money. You can bring any unlocked phone to the Mint Mobile network.

Mint Mobile offers several plans based on data usage, ranging from 5 GB per month up through unlimited data use. There’s no contract locking you in, but since you prepay for your package you won’t get your money back if you leave before you finish your plan.

At the time, Mint was running a special where you could order three months of ANY plan for $15/mo or $45. I figured I had very little to lose with only $45 on the line. We decided The Mathematician would stay on Verizon while I went to experiment with Mint.

Porting My Line

Porting my line over to Mint was actually incredibly simple. My iPhone 11 allows me to use either a physical SIM or eSIM. I chose to order the SIM card from Mint because I am old school like that.

Once the SIM arrived, I logged into Verizon and generated a transfer account number and pin. I plugged this information into Mint and within three minutes my phone had transferred service to Mint. My phone worked immediately. I was elated!

Testing Out the Coverage

Over the first few weeks, I was tentatively optimistic. Call coverage seemed fine. Texts messages worked as normal. I was getting data connectivity when and where I needed it.

But then . . . I was sitting in my chiropractor’s office and I had no data coverage. I was in a typical strip mall-type building, nothing crazy. I had previously had coverage in this building so that troubled me.

The next hiccup affected one of my clients, so my tolerance shrunk. I occasionally need to show a home with a FaceTime call, which has never been a problem before. Now, I’m in the home and I have no coverage – zip, zilch, zero. Luckily, this home was not “the one,” but my clients need to know I am equipped to perform my job. This home was in a more rural area, so I decided to take a wait-and-see position chalking it up to the area.

Next time, I was in a populated suburban area (Farmington Hills) and my phone wouldn’t connect to Waze. I had just wrapped up a showing and was programming my route to drive to the next showing. I could not pull down a route for the life of me. I had to drive my car a half mile before I could get the route to load.

The Final Straw

The final straw came during my attendance at the critically-acclaimed Second Grade Fairy Tale Plays at my local elementary school gym. One of the second-graders had a breakout performance in a retelling of Cinderella set in the context of a lumberjack family. When I went to shoot a quick text to this child’s mom congratulating her on her child’s notable (and hilarious) performance, my text came back as “undeliverable”. 

What. The. Hell. Yes, I was in a cinderblock gym, but there are massive windows along one wall that should have let in plenty of signal. Friends, I raced to my car after the standing ovations wrapped up and drove straight to my neighborhood Verizon store, tires screeching as I whipped into a parking spot.

The Silver Lining

When I went into Verizon, I found out that by being off the plan for over 60 days, I qualified under their “win back” program. This meant, Verizon treated me like we were adding a new line onto The Mathematician’s plan instead of reconnecting an existing line. 

As part of this win back, I was eligible for one of the phone promotions. Although my iPhone 11 was holding up pretty well, I knew after four years of hard use that battery was moving into it’s final stages of life. I had just planned to replace the battery for $100 dollars, but this opportunity prompted me to upgrade my phone entirely because I knew this opportunity wouldn’t come around again.

Well, there you have it. I tried something new, it failed, and I accidentally gamed the system. To be clear, who qualifies for this “win back” program apparently varies as the sales rep had to plug my info in to see if I was eligible for anything.

NOTE: In May 2024, T-Mobile officially acquired Mint Mobile. Whether that fact means service will get better or worse is anyone’s guess.

Thanks for joining me this week! As always, I’m here to help with all your homeownership questions, concerns and dreams.

Photo by cottonbro studio

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jon Bentley

    I’m being tempted by my AARP friends to go with Consumer Cellular. I’m still with Verizon because I’m not ready to take that budget carrier leap plus living in a very rural area poses additional risks. I appreciate the info on Mint! Have a great week Dabs!

    1. Dabs

      I was out in Pinckney/Hamburg area and had zero reception in places. At one house, I said something to a neighbor and she replied, “Oh, really? I have Verizon and I have never had any issues.” I’m glad I tried it – at least now I know what my monthly Verizon bill is buying me!

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