Tello Cell Phone Service Review

If you don’t need fast unlimited data, Tello is an inexpensive prepaid option.
tello logo
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5
No contracts
No extra fees
No unlimited data plan

Tello is an inexpensive prepaid wireless phone service for folks who don’t like getting locked into long-term contracts. Plus, aside from the usual random taxes and whatnot, Tello doesn’t charge any unnecessary fees (like phone activation).

However, if you’re looking for a provider that’ll let you use unlimited data at 4G LTE speeds all month, Tello isn’t it. Tello doesn’t have an unlimited plan, which makes it a bit of an oddball in today’s cell phone service landscape.

How Tello prepaid data plan prices compare

Tello isn’t geared toward big families or folks with multiple devices, but instead focuses on providing cheap individual cell phone plans.

You can’t get any big discounts like you would with other cell phone plans from bigger companies. In fact, you can’t even add multiple lines to the same account, meaning everyone has to get their own service setup, which also means separate bills.

Tello prepaid plans

Tello offers quite a few low-data plans. And you don’t have to get data with Tello, either, if you don’t want it. If you do want it, though, plans start at $12 for 200 MB a month.

Tello prepaid data plans and prices

You’ll probably want to get at least a couple of gigs of data use. Getting 2 GB for under $20 a month isn’t a bad way to go if you seldom use your cell phone for surfing the net, but we think it’s worth the extra money to get the 3 GB or 4 GB plans for those trying to save. That way you won’t lose your 4G LTE speeds toward the end of the month.

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What happens when you hit your data limit?
It won’t cost you extra money to go over your data limit with Tello. After you’ve hit your prepaid data allowance, your service will be reduced to 2G speeds, which is annoying, but not life or death. You won’t actually be on a 2G network, so it will work, but it will be slooooow.

And if you can afford the $40 per month, then you’ll still come out with a 10 GB plan cheaper than any of the four big providers (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon).

Tello’s best features:

  • Plans start at $5 (for talk and text only)
  • No contract
  • No early termination fees
  • No activation fees
  • No overage charges
  • Includes calls to Canada, Mexico, and China
  • Free tethering
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What is Tello’s free tethering?
Some cell phone services charge an extra fee to tether, or to use a device as a mobile hotspot. Tello doesn’t charge a fee, so next time you’re on vacation you can use your cellphone’s data for your laptop instead of paying a $10 per day hotel Wi-Fi fee.

Tello cell phones and devices

You can get iPhones and Androids, but not the latest models. Tello’s focus is saving cash, so it offers a wide variety of inexpensive models.

Tello covers a wide variety of big-name cell phones and ones we hadn’t heard of. You can bring your own device easily if you have a phone from Verizon, but you may want to double-check if you’re coming from AT&T or T-Mobile.

What top phones does Tello have?
MakeModels availableLearn more
iPhoneiPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 7, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s and 6, iPhone 5SView prices
SamsungGalaxy S8, Galaxy 7 Edge, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S5View prices

Tello isn’t trying to be the flashiest player in the game but instead goes for “this phone was the best a year or two ago” or “this phone isn’t brand new, but it works just fine, and you can save some money” route.

It has solid options and some that are as low as $25 with no activation fee. Once again, Tello aims for value at low costs.

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Does Tello use CDMA or GSM networks?
Tello works with CDMA devices, meaning phones from Sprint and Verizon will work with Tello. Phones from AT&T and T-Mobile run on GSM networks, though, so you will need to get them unlocked to use with Tello. Switching phone carriers and keeping your phone is not typically a hard process, even if the companies use different networks.

How good is Tello performance?

Tello uses T-Mobile’s nationwide coverage, which isn’t the best, but will still cover most people in most areas.

Tello uses T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network, which currently ranks in third for best cell phone coverage in the United States. We wouldn’t worry about not getting coverage in major urban areas, but for our homies out in the boonies, you may not always be able to find a signal easily.

Tello customer service

What’s up with the customer service?

Tello gets good reviews from its customers, and with good reason. It offers a simple and straightforward service that doesn’t cause the typical confusion that some of the bigger companies bring by tucking in activation fees. You can hit them up 24/7 on the phone via talk or text, or you can chat with them online.

The agents we chatted with answered our questions very quickly and followed up with useful links. Much better than some of the automated chatbots that we’ve encountered across various services.

Recap: is Tello good?

Tello is an inexpensive option for people who want to save on their monthly cell phone bill. You’ll get low costs and no hidden fees.

Tello is great for high school and college students who are getting their own cell service for the first time—or anyone who doesn’t need unlimited data, really. It’s also great for anyone who uses their phone for talking and texting and not for trading pictures or browsing the internet.

  • Plans: We wish Tello offered an unlimited data plan, but for anyone who needs less than 5 GB of high-speed data, it’s a great way to save a lot of money.
  • Performance: Tello’s coverage will work for most people since it uses T-Mobile’s towers, but if you’re switching from Verizon, don’t be surprised if Tello’s service is spotty by comparison.
  • Customer service: You get 24/7 support from Tello, and most customer service reviews are decent.
  • Overall: We’d recommend Tello to single users who don’t require much data and want to avoid paying an arm and a leg to talk and text. We wouldn’t recommend it for rural folks, but most others will enjoy coverage just about everywhere.


Q: Does Tello have overage charges or hidden fees?

You won’t see anything aside from the cost of your phone (if purchased), service, and local taxes.

Tello avoids hidden fees by using a prepaid monthly model that you can always choose to upgrade or downgrade without early termination fees either.

Q: Does Tello charge an activation fee?

Activation fees suck—and for other providers, they can be as high as $30–$45. Luckily, Tello does not charge activation fees for phones.

Q: Does Tello let you bring your own phone?

You can save money by bringing the phone you already have to Tello. BYOD (bring your own device) is especially easy from Verizon since they are CDMA carriers.

Q: Can I keep my phone number?

You can totally keep your number, homie. When you sign up, let Tello’s customer service reps know and they’ll help set it up.

Q: What’s Tello’s return policy and early termination fee?

You get 30 days free returns on phones, meaning no delivery fees either. Service is non-refundable.

Q: Does Tello have a military or student discount?

No, but Tello’s a cheap service, generally speaking. And it’s customizable to your needs.

  • Tayo

    This is for phone coverage. Any smart phone can take photos. I highly recommend Tello for a budget plan. I only pay $14 a month for unlimited text and talk and 2gb of data. It’s an absolute steal, and the customer service at Tello is great. There’s not need to pay $50+ for one line of coverage in my opinion unless you really need unlimited data. If you have Wifi at home, though, I don’t see a need for it.

  • Connie Peace

    My borhter who I bought this for has moved up to needing wifi and steaming capabilities. Is this available?