Tello vs. T-Mobile

Tello’s cheap plans are a great deal for low-data users, but families and high-data users will get more from T-Mobile

Best for Data Speeds and Family Plans
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    Plan price range: $20.00–$85.00/mo.
Best for Low Prices
Tello
tello
4 out of 5 stars
4
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    Plan price range: $5.00–$25.00/mo.
Easton Smith
Dec 07, 2023
Icon Time To Read7 min read

Comparing T-Mobile and Tello is kind of like comparing a fancy Italian restaurant with an Olive Garden. Both offer a similar thing (mobile service on T-Mobile’s network), but the quality and prices are very different.

Tello has almost a dozen plans to choose from, and they are all very cheap. The catch is that you won’t get very much high-speed data, even on its unlimited data plan (which has a paltry 35 GB data cap).

T-Mobile has pricier plans in general. But these plans give you tons of high-speed, unthrottled data (with 50 GB, 100 GB, and truly unlimited data), plus some cool extra perks, like T-Mobile Tuesdays. And, if you bundle up in a family plan, T-Mobile’s prices start to look a lot more like Tello’s.

We’ll go over everything you need to know about both carriers in this article, from prices and plans to coverage and customer service.

T-Mobile and Tello unlimited data plan comparison

Tello Mobile vs. T-Mobile unlimited data plans

Winner: T-Mobile offers more data and perks, but Tello’s prices will be hard for some customers to pass up.

Tello and T-Mobile both offer unlimited talk, text, and data plans. But there are some significant differences between these plans, in both price and performance. Here’s what you need to know, beginning with Tello.

Tello’s unlimited data plan

At $25 a month, Tell’s unlimited plan is among the most affordable on the market. With other carriers, you can easily spend $60, $70, or even $80 dollars for an unlimited plan. Plus, Tello gives you access to 5G and lets you use your data for a mobile hotspot, which some other discount carriers don’t allow.

Tello unlimited data plan

That said, Tello’s plan has at least one major drawback: it has a super low data cap of 35 GB. If you exceed that data cap, your speeds will be drastically reduced, meaning you’ll have a hard time scrolling through Insta, streaming music, or playing online games. What good is unlimited data if it’s slower than your old dial-up modem?

T-Mobile unlimited data plans

T-Mobile has way more to offer when it comes to unlimited data plans. But its plans are significantly more expensive. Here’s a quick peek at the options, which we’ll review in more detail below.

T-Mobile unlimited data plans

Let’s dive deeper into these three T-Mobile unlimited data plans:

  • Essentials: This plan is the simplest and cheapest of the bunch. It gets you unlimited talk, text, and data on both 4G LTE and 5G networks, but there’s a caveat. Your data can always be slowed down during times of congestion (it’s called data deprioritization), and it will be even further slowed down after you use 50 GB.
  • Magenta: With the Magenta plan you’ll get a full 100 GB of high-speed data before you see any data deprioritization. It also gives you 5GB of mobile hotspot data and other perks, like free in-flight Wi-Fi and texting.
  • Magenta MAX: This plan gives you truly unlimited data, with no deprioritization or data caps. That means you’ll get full-speed 4G/5G speeds all the time, no matter how much time you spend gaming, streaming, and browsing on your phone. You'll also get 40GB of speedy mobile hotspot data. Plus, T-Mobile will throw in a free Netflix subscription because, why not when you’re paying $85 a month?

T-Mobile Tuesdays

The perks don't stop with a free Netflix subscription. T-Mobile wireless and home internet users can access new discounts and even win prizes, money, or gift cards every week with the T-Mobile Tuesdays app.

Here are a few examples of T-Mobile Tuesday benefits:

  • 10% cash back at participating restaurants on Tuesdays (5% any other day)
  • 15 cents off per gallon of gas (save 5 cents per gallon every day of the week)
  • $5 off popcorn at AMC
  • Exclusive access to tours and Las Vegas residencies
  • 30% off ski lift tickets
  • 40% off cruise credits
  • 30% off theme park and attraction admission

These are just some examples of benefits available in the past, but T-Mobile changes it up each week. And if you aren't happy with the week's perks or have codes for services not available in your area, many T-Mobile customers are sharing discount codes on Reddit. That means someone a couple of states away can get you $10 off your Jersey Mike's order.

In short, T-Mobile’s plans come with a lot more high-speed data and a whole wide world of perks, but they can cost more than twice as much as Tello.

Tello vs. T-Mobile limited data plans

Winner: Tello has options for every kind of customer, while T-Mobile seems to be focused on other things (like its unlimited plans)

While unlimited data plans may be all the rage in the age of Tik Tok, there are plenty of people who don’t need (or want) that much data. For those customers, Tello has a lot to offer (and T-Mobile not so much).

Tello’s limited data plans

While T-Mobile specializes in unlimited data plans, Tello has taken another tack. It offers more than 10 different plans for those who don’t need unlimited data, ranging in price from $5 to $24 a month. Take a look.

Tello limited data plans

That's a lot to choose from.

There’s an unlimited talk and text plan with 5 GB of data, perfect for your teenage kid who needs some data for socializing and communicating, but should probably have some limits so they can do their homework and touch grass every once in a while.

There’s a stripped down, unlimited talk and text plan with no data, which could be ideal for your nana, who just needs to make a few calls to keep in touch with family.

There’s really something here for everyone who doesn’t need all the data.

T-Mobile limited data plans

T-Mobile offers just three plans that don’t have unlimited data.

There’s an unlimited talk and text plan that comes with 1 GB of data. It’s just $10, which is a pretty solid deal. There’s also a 12 GB plan for $35, which is a little less impressive. And then there’s a talk and text only plan for $20 is basically highway robbery.

T-Mobile limited data plans

We’re less impressed with T-Mobile’s limited data options. But, to be honest, T-Mobile probably doesn’t care much as the company is really focused on capturing the unlimited data market.

Tello vs. T-Mobile family plans

Winner: save big bucks when you bundle multiple lines with T-Mobile. Tello, not so much.

We recommend family cell phone plans to pretty much every reader whenever we can. That’s because bundling multiple lines together can save you a ton of money and get you access to some cool perks (and it’s really easy to do).

So, we’re sad to announce that Tello doesn’t really have any family plans. You can add additional lines to your account, but you won’t see any cost savings for doing so. Meanwhile, T-Mobile has some of the best family plan deals on the market. 

T-Mobile family plans with unlimited data

It’s hard to overemphasize just how amazing these family plan discounts are from T-Mobile. As you can see in the chart above, an unlimited Magenta plan with four lines costs $160 a month. That’s just $40 a month, per line, which is just about half the cost of a single line. Imagine if you could save 50% every month on your other bills?

You can also score some other cool perks for bundling up in a T-Mobile family plan, like a free Netflix subscription.

So, if you’re thinking of signing up the whole family, there’s a clear winner in this Tello vs. T-Mobile competition. It’s T-Mobile.

Tello vs. T-Mobile

Tie: both carriers use the same network, so there’s not much to compare

Fun fact: Tello and T-Mobile have exactly the same coverage. That’s because Tello is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that leases network bandwidth from T-Mobile rather than operating its own mobile towers.

Luckily, T-Mobile has pretty good coverage. Despite a few gaps in rural areas, T-Mobile tends to have a strong signal in urban and suburban areas. It also boasts more 5G infrastructure than any other network, meaning you can expect lightning fast data speeds.

You can see how T-Mobile’s coverage stacks up in your neighborhood using the interactive coverage map here.

Tello (T-Mobile) coverage map

Tello vs. T-Mobile customer service

Winner: T-Mobile has more resources to devote to customer service, but Tello does just fine in most cases.

When you’re having issues with your phone service or bill, the last thing you want is to sit on hold for an hour or talk to an automated system. So, which of these two carriers has better customer service?

T-Mobile has more resources to devote to taking customer calls and complaints, meaning it's easier in many cases to get a real human on the phone. But it also has a lot more customers to deal with, so wait times can add up.

One promising sign is that T-Mobile is the top ranked mobile network operator, according to Customer Satisfaction Index’s most recent Wireless Phone Service and Cell Phone Study1.

Tello, on the other hand, is a small MVNO carrier. That means its customer service department is smaller and probably more reliant on automated services. That said, the company scores a 4.5/5-star rating from Trust Pilot2 and there are many positive online reviews from customers.

Recap: Which is the best cell phone provider?

That’s about it for our Tello vs. T-Mobile review. Now it’s up to you to pick the best carrier. Here’s a quick recap to help you make up your mind.

  • Unlimited plans: T-Mobile wins. T-Mobile offers a variety of powerful unlimited plans that give you tons of unthrottled data and nice perks. The biggest drawback is the relatively high price tags on these plans. Tello’s unlimited plan has a small data cap of just 35 GB, but is much cheaper.
  • Limited data plans: Tello wins. While T-Mobile focuses on offering high-performance, high-data plans, Tello has taken the other route. It has tons of great, affordable, low-data (or no-data) plans for all kinds of customers.
  • Family plans: T-Mobile wins. Tello doesn’t offer anything in terms of family plan discounts. But with T-Mobile you can cut the cost of your plan in half by adding additional lines for family members!
  • Coverage: Tie. T-Mobile and Tello literally use the same network, so their coverage is identical!
  • Customer service: T-Mobile wins. Tello does a decent job dealing with customer complaints, it seems. But T-Mobile simply has more resources to devote to customer service (and has a great rating from the ACSI).

Sources

  1. American Customer Satisfaction Index, “Wireless Phone Service and Cell Phone Study 2021-2022
  2. Trustpilot, “Tello.com
Easton Smith
Written by
Easton Smith
Easton has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for several years, reviewing health, lifestyle, and technology products. He has probably read more Terms of Use contracts than any human alive. When he’s not sitting in front of a computer, Easton spends his time camping, climbing, and volunteering with humanitarian aid organizations.

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