Choose from prepaid or customized data plans
Tello Cell Phone Service Review
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).
Tello's family plans are great for big families or folks with multiple devices, offering fully customizable family plans for up to four lines. And adding more devices won't require a shared balance or extra fee per line.
You can’t get any big discounts like you would with other cell phone plans from bigger companies like AT&T or Verizon, but their Multiple Lines option is great for those trying to save a few dollars with friends or family.
Is Tello right for you?
Tello’s prepaid plans are an excellent option for those who only use their phones to make calls and just want to pay for minutes they’d use within 90 days. (Your “pay as you go credit” expires after three months.)
You can pay as low as $5 for 100 minutes or as high as $7 for 500 minutes.
If you’re someone who wants unlimited minutes and texts but only uses the internet or your apps a few times per month, Tello also has a plan for you.
You’d still be saving a good chunk of money if you were to get Tello’s unlimited everything plan. For $25 per month, you can get unlimited talk, data, and texts.
We recommend Tello’s unlimited data plan
Tello’s unlimited data, minutes, and texts plan is only $25 per month. If you’re trying to save money to upgrade your home, Tello might be the service for you.
But Tello’s unlimited plan is average compared to other cell phone companies. Companies that charge about $25–$30 for unlimited everything include Mint Mobile, Visible, and US Mobile—three services with the best prepaid plans.
Tello uses T-Mobile’s data network (a reliable network), so we can safely say Tello is not a bad choice.
Tello’s cell phone data plans
As we’ve mentioned above, Tello offers data and prepaid plans. First, we’ll go over the different data plans for those who like to play Wordle, make work calls, and text their family.
As you can tell from the table below, Tello makes it easy for you to customize your cell phone plan. You can choose how much data you want (ranging from 1 GB to unlimited) and how many minutes you want to use each month (100, 300, 500, or unlimited). All of the data plans come with unlimited text.
Tello’s cell phone prepaid plans
Today, it isn't easy to use less than 2 GB of data if you're a frequent user of social media, Safari, and health apps. In fact, most smartphone owners use 2–5 GB per month each.
You can get 5 GB of data with unlimited call and text for $14 per month. Not bad at all. This plan is best for those who want to save, but like we said above, Tello’s unlimited everything plan is a steal compared to other mobile companies.
It's the same story with Tello's new $25/month pricing for its unlimited plan. Tello dropped its price by $4/month, which makes it one of the most affordable unlimited plans on the market.
You might be thinking, is all that data necessary? It’s essential if using your cell phone for many hours per day is part of your job. Tello's unlimited data plans are technically unlimited, but there's a 35GB cap on high-speed data.
35GB isn't bad, but if you’re not sure how much cellular data you need, check out our data guide to help you. And if you're interested in an inexpensive postpaid phone service, take a look at our comparison of Tello and Boost Mobile's new service Boost Infinite.
Pay as you go
Tello has this thing called “Pay-As-You-Go Credit,” where you can order however many minutes you’d like at any time.
You can choose a prepaid cell phone plan ranging from $20 to $50. And those minutes are good for 90 days (then they expire).
But there’s a little bit of a catch—a good catch.
You can use your “Pay-As-You-Go” balance for US calls, texts, and data, as well as for international calls and texts. The number of minutes and texts you can use internationally vary with each country, but this provider gives you free minutes to 60+ countries. Pay-As-You-Go gives you 1¢/min for the United States.
How does Tello compare to other cell phone plans?
Tello has a good reputation with its customers, partly because it gives money savers the option to get plans for an excellent price.
We highlighted above how Tello’s unlimited data plan compares to other cell phone providers, but how do the prepaid plans compare?
Tello's prepaid plans allow you to order minutes for just $20, and you can use these minutes for 90 days. Other cell providers charge at least $50, and you’ll need to pay it monthly.
We also like Tello’s unique prepaid plans that allow you to call and text your family from countries such as Nigeria, Peru, or Ukraine.
So Tello is perfect for those who need a burner phone, make international calls, or if you need a temporary phone while staying in the US.
Read more about how Tello stacks up against the competition:
How much are Tello’s family cell phone plans?
Let’s start with the most important part of Tello’s family plans: you don’t have to pay an extra fee to add a member to the plan!
Add unlimited lines to one account, and you can choose how much data and minutes each member receives. (All plans have free unlimited texts.)
You won't have to pay any extra fees for family plans either. The prices below are for each person. For example, if you, your spouse, and your two kids want unlimited everything, your monthly bill will be about $80.
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.
How does Tello compare to other family plans?
Tello’s family plans are considered budget-friendly, but there a few companies that can match its pricing when it comes to family plans.
In the table below, we’ve highlighted the cost of unlimited data plans for families with other mobile carriers. (Might as well set the bar high so there aren’t any surprises.)
When you add four lines to your Tello service—and each line has unlimited everything—you’ll have a cell phone bill aroundtello $116/month.
US Mobile, Visible, and Xfinity Mobile still have Tello beat when it comes to unlimited family plans, but Tello still easily beats out the major carriers when it comes to price.
Although we can’t say Tello has the best deal for an unlimited data family plan, we encourage you to check if it’s perfect for you when you customize each person’s allowed data and minutes for the month.
Tello used to operate on Sprint’s 4G LTE network, but now Tello runs on T-mobile nationwide network, giving you better coverage.
Tello is available in most states, but it’s more favored on the East side of the US and not available for all rural dwellers. Make sure to check out the map below to see if your state and city are in Tello’s coverage area.
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 many big-name cell phones and ones we hadn't heard of. If you're bringing your own phone instead of purchasing a phone from Tello, make sure to check your phone's compatibility here.
We've had readers tell us that Tello wasn't compatible with devices they just bought, so make sure to find out before purchasing an unlocked device.
If you want to buy a new phone, you can always go directly through Tello. Here are some of the phones you can purchase.
Tello isn’t trying to be the flashiest player in the game but instead goes for the “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 as low as $25 with no activation fee. Once again, Tello aims for value at low costs.
Does Tello use CDMA or GSM networks?
Tello works with GSM devices, meaning unlocked, GSM-compatible phones will work with Tello. Switching phone carriers and keeping your phone is not typically a hard process, even if the companies use different networks.
How is Tello’s 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 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 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 a good mobile provider?
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 get their own cell service for the first time and want to start with a more affordable option. It’s also ideal for anyone who uses their phone for talking and texting and not for trading pictures or browsing the internet.
- Cell phone plans: We like how Tello offers both prepaid minutes and inexpensive monthly data plans. Tello charges $20–$50 for 2,000–5,000 minutes, or customize a data plan starting as low as $5 per month.
- Family cell phone plans: We like how Tello doesn’t charge a fee to add a line to your family plan. You can have a total of four people on a family plan, and each member can have their own data and minutes.
- Cell phones and devices: Tello is all about saving money. So, not only do they offer low-cost plans, but they offer low-cost used phones that still work well. You could say Tello isn’t materialistic.
- Customer service: You get 24/7 support from Tello, and most customer service reviews are decent.
We spent hours researching and evaluating data to write this article to help our readers. Our analysis and suggestions are based on a deep knowledge of the industry (having written in-depth reviews of dozens of cell phone carriers), but that’s not all.
To research for this review, we began by using Whistleout to help determine which plans and phones are better than others. We then evaluated Tello based on its array of plans, price, data speeds, network coverage, smartphones, and more.
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.
Activation fees suck—and for other providers, they can be as high as $30–$45. Luckily, Tello does not charge activation fees for phones.
You can save money by bringing the phone you already have to Tello. CDMA devices are no longer compatible with Tello Mobile.
You can keep your number, friend. When you sign up, let Tello’s customer service reps know, and they’ll help set it up.
You get 30 days free returns on phones, meaning no delivery fees either. Service is non-refundable.
Yes! Use code StudentBeans to unlock Tello's student discount.
Yes. Tello's free mobile hotspot feature lets you pull from your monthly data balance on any hotspot-capable phone.