What is an MVNO? A Complete Guide to Prepaid Wireless

Is MVNO right for you?

Trickut Mint mobile - What is an MVNO? A Complete Guide to Prepaid Wireless Deals Product Reviews Coupons

If you avoid contracts like the plague and saving money on your wireless bill is important to you, then MVNOs are worth checking out.

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) stand out with bottom-dollar pricing, but low-costs don’t mean a compromise on quality. On the contrary, MVNO carriers secure long-term wireless customers with flexible terms, reliable service, and exceptional consumer satisfaction.

Here’s what you need to know before you make the switch. I‘ll also share with you my top 3 favorite MVNO, plus a full list of MVNO carriers to help you find the right fit.

Cheapest MVNO: Mint Mobile plan $20/mo 8GB of 4G LTE data with unlimited talk/text Best Unlimited Plan: Tello $39/mo Unlimited Everything plan (throttled at 25GB)

Reliable Worldwide Coverage: Google Fi Unlimited plan $45/mo per line with four lines (throttled at 22GB)

What is a MVNO?

MVNO definitionA Mobile Virtual Network Operator is a prepaid carrier that leases wireless service from larger, established networks owned by major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for a wholesale rate. These savings are passed onto its customers in the form of low-cost wireless plans.

A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a prepaid wireless carrier that piggybacks off of a more extensive network. MVNOs are unique because they operate virtually, meaning they don’t own their infrastructure or radio spectrum.

Instead, MVNOs purchase or lease their network from one of the big four MVNO providers, known as mobile network operators (MNO) – Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, or Sprint. Some MVNO networks will use more than one MNO carrier to give their consumers broader coverage options.

The relationship between an MVNO and MNO is mutually beneficial; MNOs earn a return for unused data, and MVNOs gain access to a premium wireless network at a wholesale rate. The savings are then passed on to the consumer in the form of lower prices and flexible MVNO plans.

MVNO: Pros and cons

Pros Cons
●      Cheaper than traditional wireless

●      No contracts or credit checks

●      Quality network access

●      Flexible plan choices

●      Affordable international calling rates

●      Lower priority than primary customers

●      Must bring your own compatible phone

●      Prepay for service.

The most significant benefit of MVNO plans is access to high-quality network coverage at a low-cost. You may have to prepay for your service, but the plans are diverse, and you avoid restrictive contracts or credit checks. Additionally, many MVNOs offer international calling rates that are much cheaper than postpaid carriers.

Of course, prepaid wireless is not without its downsides. Because MVNOs borrow their network, there is a potential of slower speeds in areas of congestion. For example, if you attend a concert or another crowded event, customers on the primary MNO carrier (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint) could receive mobile data priority.

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile is one of the most compelling prepaid wireless options on the market. Mint Mobile is worth switching to.

However, on the brink of the 5G network release and other infrastructure advancements, prioritization is expected to become less of a concern as time goes on.

Top 3 best MVNO plans

Thanks to prepaid wireless carriers, our wireless options have never been more competitive or flexible than they are today. In fact, the $54 billion virtual-mobile industry is continually expanding.

Some MVNO carriers, like the Mint Mobile network, are changing the way we approach our smartphone plans with huge savings on bulk packages. Others, like Tello, give you everything you need with bargain-basement pricing on unlimited plans.

Here is an MVNO comparison of the best MVNO plans available this year and why they are worth considering. Skip ahead for even more choices and a full list of MVNO by carriers!

Recommended: The 9 Best Stores that Sell Prepaid Wireless Plans

MVNO Highlights
Cheapest MVNO
Trickut - What is an MVNO A Complete Guide to Prepaid Wireless - mint mobile Deals Product Reviews Coupons
Source: Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile


●      Cheap mvno network

●      Mint mvno plans as low as $15/mo

●      Available in bulk 3-, 6-, 12-month bundles.

●      Best Deal: $240 for the entire year 8GB/mo LTE high-speed data, unlimited talk/text ($20/mo).

●      No speed restrictions and free mobile hotspot.

●      Same great coverage as T-Mobile network

●      International and WiFi calling

Best MVNO Unlimited Data Plan
Trickut - What is an MVNO A Complete Guide to Prepaid Wireless - tello Deals Product Reviews Coupons
Source: Tello



●      Tello mvno $39/month Unlimited Everything plan.

●      That’s unlimited talk, text, and LTE data (speeds throttled after 25 GB)

●      Free calls to Canada, Mexico, and China.

●      Free mobile hotspot.

●      Uses the Sprint network

Reliable Worldwide Coverage
Trickut - What is an MVNO A Complete Guide to Prepaid Wireless - google fi Deals Product Reviews Coupons
Source: Google fi

Google Fi

Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular

●      Multi-carrier mvno – T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular

●      Mvno Google unlimited talk, text, LTE data (speeds throttled after 22GB)

●      Best $45/mo each for four lines

●      Best mvno family plan $15/access per line

●      International roaming in over 200 countries

●      Data abroad for the same price you pay at home.

Full list of MVNO carriers

MVNO wiki sources reveal an astounding 139 MVNOs in the United States and more than 1300 active MVNOs worldwide. So, it’s safe to say you have a few options other than the best MVNO plans I listed above.

The good news is that the vast majority of MVNO networks are affordable and don’t have any contracts. This makes it easy to test out the service without a major commitment. The Mint Mobile MVNO I mentioned above offers a simple $5 starter kit, so you experience their coverage, completely risk-free. Want to know more about Mint Mobile and if it’s worth it? Read our Mint Mobile review

Here are the most popular US MVNO organized by the network they use (mvno Verizon, mvno T-Mobile, mvno AT&T, or mvno Sprint). Please note that this isn’t an endorsement of any of them, these are just lists, so you know where to begin your search!

*Indicates multi-network MVNO carrier.

Best Verizon MVNO list

●      Affinity Cellular

●      Armed Force Mobile

●      Best Cellular*

●      Boom! Mobile*

●      Credo

●      Eco Mobile*

●      EnTouch Wireless

●      Expo Mobile

●      Flash Wireless

●      Net10 Wireless*

●      Page Plus Cellular

●      Pulse Cellular

●      Puppy Wireless

●      Red Pocket Mobile*

●      Selectel Wireless

●      Straight Talk mvno*

●      Total Wireless mvno

●      Visible mvno

●      Xfinity Mobile mvno/Comcast mvno

●      Zing PCS

Best T-Mobile MVNO list

●      Best Cellular*

●      Boom! Mobile*

●      Consumer Cellular*

●      Eco Mobile*

●      FreedomPop mvno*

●      Google Fi*

●      GoSmart

●      KidsConnect

●      Lycamobile mvno

●      Metro by T-Mobile/MetroPCS mvno

●      Mint Mobile mvno

●      Net10 Wireless*

●      Red Pocket Mobile*

●      Republic Wireless mvno*

●      Simple Mobile mvno

●      Speedtalk Mobile

●      Straight Talk mvno*

●      Telcel

●      Teltik

●      Tempo Wireless*

●      TextNow Wireless*

●      Ting mvno*

●      TracFone mvno

●      Ultra Mobile mvno

●      US Mobile mvno

●      Walmart Family Mobile

●      Zip Sim

Best AT&T MVNO list

●      Airvoice Wireless

●      Altice Mobile*

●      Beast Mobile*

●      Best Cellular*

●      Black Wireless

●      Boom! Mobile*

●      Consumer Cellular mvno*

●      Cricket mvno

●      EasyGO

●      FreeUP Mobile

●      Good2Go Mobile

●      H2O Wireless

●      i3 Mobile

●      Net10 Wireless*

●      Pix Wireless

●      Pure Talk USA

●      Red Pocket Mobile*

●      Straight Talk mvno*

●      TracFone mvno

●      Unreal Mobile

●      Wing Alpha

Best Sprint MVNO list

●      Allvoi

●      Altice Mobile*

●      Beast Mobile*

●      Best Cellular*

●      Boost Mobile mvno

●      Chit Chat Mobile

●      Eco Mobile*

●      FreedomPop mvno*

●      Google mvno*

●      Gen Mobile

●      Hello Mobile mvno

●      Karma

●      Kroger Wireless

●      Net10 Wireless*

●      Patriot Mobile

●      Pix Wireless

●      Red Pocket Mobile*

●      Republic Wireless mvno*

●      Straight Talk mvno*

●      Tello mvno

●      Tempo Wireless*

●      TextNow Wireless*

●      Ting mvno*

●      TracFone mvno

●      Twigby

●      Unreal Mobile

●      Virgin Mobile mvno

Is an MVNO right for you?

An MVNO is an excellent option for those that want to bring lower costs and flexibility to their wireless plans. The best part about an MVNO network is that your coverage is the same as the big four premium wireless carriers.

Keep in mind that in order to get the best quality of service, you’ll want to choose the right device and an MVNO that is supported by a network with reliable coverage in your area.

The best way to find out if you love what MVNO carriers have to offer is trying it out for yourself. With prices that are more than affordable, no contracts, and no credit checks, testing out an MVNO plan is simple and completely risk-free.

If you don’t mind prepaying for your service and trading low-costs for slower speeds, an MVNO is the best option for you.

Stay up-to-date on MVNO news

Want to stay up to date on MVNO news and MVNO reviews? Check-in daily with Trickut for the latest in technology, electronics, gaming, and money, including first-hand reviews of the latest and most popular products.

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile is one of the most compelling prepaid wireless options on the market. Mint Mobile is worth switching to.

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