Tello vs. Verizon

Tello costs way less, but Verizon has more to offer

Cheaper unlimited data
Tello
Tello
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • Icon Blank
    Plan price range: $5.00–$25.00/mo.
  • pro
    Affordable data plans
  • pro
    Fast data speeds with T-Mobile’s network
  • con
    Data throttling
Better network coverage overall
  • Icon Blank
    Plan price range: $65.00–$90.00/mo.
  • pro
    Priority 5G data and other perks
  • pro
    Awesome coverage
  • con
    Much pricier
Tyler Abbott
Dec 07, 2023
Icon Time To Read5 min read

Tello and Verizon are basically polar opposites of each other in the wireless world. Tello focuses on barebones cell phone plans with minimal perks that cost much less than the planes offered by major carriers. Verizon, on the other hand, gives users a premium experience with priority data and offers perks like phone upgrades and discounted streaming subscriptions.

Deciding between Tello and Verizon really comes down to your budget. Do you just want a cheap unlimited talk, text, and data? Tello offers one of the best unlimited plan deals in the country. But if you want the best coverage with the fastest speeds, you’ll need to fork over at least $65 a month to Verizon.

Tello vs. Verizon data plans

Budget vs. premium data plans

Tello offers a huge variety of cheaper, limited- data plans, whereas Verizon focuses on three major unlimited plans that start at $65 a month for one line. Check out the price comparison below.

As you can see, there's a huge difference between Tello and Verizon prices. The smallest gap is between Verizon’s 15GB prepaid plan and Tello’s unlimited plan—but that’s still a $10-per-month difference. No matter your Verizon plan, you’ll end up paying more than you would for any Tello data plan. Full stop.

If price were the only consideration, then Tello has Verizon beat, but it gets a little more complicated when you factor in premium 5G data, excellent coverage, and built-in perks. The only real perk Tello offers is free international calling.

Since Verizon no longer offers built-in perks with its unlimited plans, the only real difference between Verizon unlimited plans is the amount of hotspot data you get.

Free international calling with Tello

One of the few perks Tello offers is free international calling to landlines in over 60 countries, including Canada and Mexico. Verizon offers free unlimited texting to over 200 countries worldwide, which certainly doesn’t hurt, but you’ll incur annoying fees for every minute you spend on the phone with loved ones abroad. If you’ve got to call people around the globe, Tello offers a better deal than Verizon.

Perks that come with Verizon plans

Verizon used to give out free subscriptions to streaming and music services with unlimited plans, but now you have to pay an extra $10 a month for the perk package you want. Granted, that’s less than paying for each subscription on its own. (For example, the Disney bundle normally costs $18.99 a month.) Here’s the full list of the paid perks that Verizon offers:

  • 100GB mobile hotspot
  • Smartwatch & Data Safety
  • 3 TravelPass Days
  • 2TB cloud storage
  • Disney Bundle (Disney+, Hulu, & ESPN+)
  • Netflix & Max (With Ads)
  • Walmart+ membership
  • AppleOne
  • Apple Music Family
  • +play monthly credit

It’s nice that you can add these perks with any Verizon unlimited plan. You used to have to pay for the most expensive plan access to these perks, but now you can opt for the cheapest Verizon unlimited plan and still get the perk deals.

Tello vs. Verizon family data plans

Verizon offers family plan discounts; Tello does not

Big carriers have a big advantage over smaller carriers when it comes to family plans. For example, if you can get a family plan with four or more lines bundled together, you can get the Verizon Unlimited Welcome plan down to $30 a month per line. With the family plan discount, you can get a Verizon unlimited plan for even cheaper than a Tello unlimited plan. Here’s what the pricing looks like for every Verizon unlimited plan for family plans with four lines:

If you can get a couple of people to go in with you on a Verizon family plan, you definitely end up getting a better deal than anything Tello can offer.

Tello vs. Verizon coverage and performance

Tello is a renter; Verizon is an owner

A prepaid carrier like Tello doesn’t own its own wireless network. Instead, Tello pays T-Mobile to rent network space on their network. Verizon, on the other hand, owns its own network, and that network offers the most overall coverage in the country. (Though Verizon also rents its towers to other prepaid providers, like Spectrum Mobile or Visible).

To put it simply, you’re essentially choosing between Verizon and T-Mobile’s networks. We recommend doing two things: putting your zip code in the coverage map below and asking some neighbors what wireless network they use and how their experience has been.

Tello vs. Verizon data speeds

Based on our research and testing, T-Mobile’s 5G network provides faster speeds (54.1Mbps on average) than Verizon’s 5G network (30.2Mbps on average). Data spends depend on your distance from a 5G tower while using a 5G network, so your experience still depends on your location.

But there’s one major difference between a small carrier like Tello and a major carrier like Verizon, and that is data throttling.

Occasional data throttling

Every budget-friendly prepaid carrier, like Tello, is subject to occasional slowdowns. Whenever the wireless network gets congested, a network will give priority data to its own customers over the folks who used smaller carriers. In this case, Tello customers can have their data speeds slow down randomly, whereas Verizon customers won’t need to worry about it.

Data throttling shouldn’t happen too often for Tello customers, but when it does, it will feel super annoying. The example I always use when explaining data throttling is the Uber-after-a-crowded-concert scenario. If you have tons of people trying to use the Uber app at the same time after leaving a crowded concert, a Tello customer will likely have a harder time getting the app to work than a Verizon customer.

Tello vs. Verizon new devices

Get regular deals on new phones with Verizon

Another perk of going with a major carrier like Verizon over a smaller carrier like Tello is the regular deals you can get on new smartphones. No doubt you’ve seen the Verizon commercials about trading in your phone for a new iPhone 15. As annoying as those commercials can be, the deal is pretty amazing. I just traded in my old, beat-up iPhone 13 and got an iPhone 15 Pro for free.

Tello does sell phones on its website, but it’s mostly older (and sometimes used) devices, and it’s surprisingly expensive. If you’re the type of person who likes to have the latest and greatest devices, Verizon makes a whole lot more sense for you over Tello.

Tello vs. Verizon Recap

Tello and Verizon offer pretty different experiences for customers. Verizon has Tello beat in just about every category, except for one crucial difference: price. Tello’s plans cost much less than what Verizon offers.

  • Data plans: Tello has a wide variety of data plans to choose from, all of which cost much less than anything Verizon offers. Tello’s unlimited plan only costs $25 a month, whereas Verizon’s cheapest unlimited plan costs $65 a month.
  • Family plans: Verizon offers awesome family plan discounts, and Tello does not. If you can get at least four people to go in on a Verizon family plan with you, you’ll each get a better deal than Tello’s $25 unlimited plan.
  • Coverage: Tello uses T-Mobile’s network, while Verizon owns its own network. The quality of your wireless coverage depends on where you live, but Verizon’s network has better coverage overall.
  • Performance: Tello can get faster data on T-Mobile’s 5G network, but will need to watch out for sudden data throttling if the network gets congested with too many users trying to access the internet at the same time.
  • New devices: Verizon regularly offers deals on the latest smartphones. Tello doesn’t specialize in selling new devices, it’s really all about porting your old phone over with Tello.

Methodology

This review focuses on five major categories to compare Verizon with Tello:

  • Plans
  • Family plan deals
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • New device support

We used the most up-to-date plan details from both providers, researched coverage maps, factored in customer input, and conducted firsthand testing. We also leveraged our speed test database, which includes results from over 100,000 users, to assess performance from each carrier.

Tyler Abbott
Written by
Tyler Abbott
Tyler has been obsessed with watching sports as efficiently as possible since the creation of the DVR. He is always on the lookout for the best tech in TV and wireless so he can watch all the sports and still have enough time to hang out with his baby. He has written about streaming, wireless, and TV for over three years. He hopes the Lakers will eventually get better.

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