Tello vs. Visible: Battle of the Prepaid Carriers

Cheaper, limited high-speed data versus unlimited data with moderate speeds

Best performance
Tello
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • Icon Blank
    Plan price range: $5.00–$25.00/mo.
  • pro
    Cheap limited data plans
  • pro
    Top data speeds
  • con
    Data throttling
Best coverage
Visible
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • Icon Blank
    Plan price range: $25.00–$35.00/mo.
  • pro
    Cheap limited data plans
  • pro
    Awesome coverage network
  • con
    Data throttling
Tyler Abbott
Dec 07, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read

Tello and Visible both offer cell phone plans that cost way less than anything you’ll find from a major carrier, but you’ll get a different experience depending on which you choose. Visible only has two plans, and both of them come with unlimited talk, text, and data. Tello, on the other hand, offers a variety of cell phone plans that range from 1GB of data for $9 a month to an unlimited plan for $25 a month.

Do you want more options, including affordable limited data plans? Tello is the answer. Do you want a cheap unlimited plan with good data? Visible’s $35 unlimited plan makes the most sense.

Either way, Tello and Visible both make our top recommended list of best cell phone plans, so you should feel pretty good about either carrier.

Tello vs. Visible data plans

Tello has more variety, but Visible has the cheapest unlimited plan

Let’s start by taking a look at all the plan options we get from both carriers:

As you can see, we’ve got a lot more Tello plans to choose from than Visible plans. Only a few cell phone carriers offer limited data plans, so it’s sort of rare to see the type of variety Tello offers. It’s an easy choice between the two if you’re looking for a limited data plan.

High-speed limited data vs. low-speed unlimited data

At first glance, it seems like a no-brainer to choose Visible’s base $25 unlimited plan ($20 with Visible's $5 deal) over Tello’s 10GB plan, considering there’s only a dollar difference between the two, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Visible’s $25 unlimited plan gives you unlimited data, but you’ll only get data speeds between 5 and 12Mbps, which means you might need to wait a couple extra seconds while videos buffer in your TikTok feed.

Tello’s limited data plans give you a specific amount of data, but you should get much faster speeds than you would get with Visible. Check your data usage before you decide on either cell phone plan. If you routinely use less than 10GB a month, you’ll get a better experience with Tello. If you easily surpass 10GB of wireless data every month, it’s worth the slower data speeds with Visible.

Free international calling with Tello

Every Tello cell phone plan gives you free international calling to landlines in over 60 countries, including Canada and Mexico. If you’ve got loved ones abroad that you need to call on the regular, Tello makes more sense than Visible.

No family plans with either carrier

Most prepaid carriers like Visible and Tello don’t offer family plans, so it’s not a big surprise that we don’t get any family plan deals. Sadly, family plans are more common among big companies like AT&T or Verizon instead of Tello or Visible. Hopefully, some prepaid carrier bucks the trend soon, but for now, we’ll need to get family plan deals elsewhere.

Tello vs. Visible coverage and performance

Tello uses T-Mobile; Visible uses Verizon

Prepaid carriers don’t own their own wireless networks like T-Mobile or Verizon. Instead, they essentially rent space from the big networks. In this case, Tello rents space from T-Mobile, and Visible rents space from Verizon. Technically, Verizon offers the best overall coverage across the United States, but what matters most is which network covers your neck of the woods best.

Enter your zip code in the map below to get an idea of what coverage looks like from each network.

As for data speeds, T-Mobile’s network provides faster speeds (54.1Mbps) on average than Verizon’s (30.2Mbps) per our research and testing. Like coverage, your data speeds can vary depending on where you’re at in the country. It’s a good idea to ask some friends or neighbors in the area what their experience has been like with each network.

Occasional data throttling

The main downside with cheap prepaid carriers like Tello and Visible is that your data speeds might occasionally slow down. When a wireless network gets congested with a bunch of people accessing the internet at the same time, the major networks give priority to their own customers.

Imagine you (a Tello user) and a friend (a T-Mobile user) just left a crowded baseball stadium, and annoyingly, your Uber app can’t connect to the internet. Meanwhile, your friend tells you they had no problem connecting with the app and getting a driver to pick them up. The reason why your Uber app couldn’t connect was because—you guessed it—data throttling. You might not experience data throttling much (especially if you’re a homebody like me), but the times it creeps up will get super annoying.

Tello vs. Visible Recap

Choosing between Tello and Visible basically boils down to whether or not you want an unlimited data plan and what kind of coverage experience you’ll get with either T-Mobile or Verizon’s wireless networks. If we had to choose one or the other, we give the slight edge to Tello for the variety of plans and guaranteed high-speed data.

  • Data plans: Tello offers a bunch of cell phone plans (including limited data options) with high-speed data, but Visible offers better value for strictly unlimited plans.
  • Family plans: Unfortunately, neither provider offers family plans.
  • Coverage: Tello uses T-Mobile’s network, and Visible uses Verizon’s network. Your coverage experience mostly depends on where you live, but Verizon has more coverage overall.
  • Performance: On average, Tello customers will experience faster data speeds due to T-Mobile’s fast network and guaranteed high-speed data.

Methodology

This review draws upon years of monitoring Tello and Visible's plans, pricing, and performance. We've leveraged the most up-to-date plan details from both companies, factored in customer feedback, conducted some hands-on testing, and used our own proprietary data sourced from over 100,000 customers to weigh the pros and cons of 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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