Tello Review: Customizable Phone Plans for the Entire Family

Tello Review
tello logo 2024

Product Name: Tello

Product Description: Tello is a discount wireless provider offering customizable cell phone plans for the whole family.

Summary

Tello is a cell phone carrier that provides affordable and customizable data plans. It operates on the T-Mobile network and offers nationwide 5G/4G LTE speeds. There are no contracts, and you can change your plan anytime. 

Overall
4

Pros

  • Build-your-own, customizable plans
  • No contracts
  • Free talk and text to 60+ countries
  • Add or change plans anytime

Cons

  • Data speeds may be slower at times
  • Family plan lines purchased are billed individually
  • International features are limited

Tello is a discount cellular phone service provider offering customizable phone plans with no contracts or additional fees. You can select affordable plans that fit your individual data, talk, and text needs. You can also add family members to your plan at any time. This Tello review covers the key features, pricing, pros and cons, and a few Tello alternatives.

At a Glance 

  • Customized, affordable plans
  • Individual and family plans
  • Free tethering
  • Change your plan at any time
  • International calling to 60+ countries

Who Should Use Tello?

Tello is suitable for those looking for customizable cell phone plans at an affordable price and who are willing to compromise on their data speeds to get them. Light-data or no-data users will benefit from Tello’s build-your-own plans for cost-effectiveness.

Tello’s family plans allow you to customize plans for each connected family member. This option could save you money if you have users in your family with different phone needs.

Lastly, Tello offers one of the cheapest family cell phone plans available. If you want to save money on your family’s cell phone bill, Tello is definitely worth checking into. 

We don’t recommend Tello if you do a lot of streaming or gaming on your phone. Also, if you’re a heavy international user, you could find Tello limiting when you travel to countries not on Tello’s included list.

Get Started with Tello

Tello Alternatives

mint mobile logoTwigby LogoUltra Mobile Logo 2024
Pricing$15 to $30/month$10 to $35/month$13 to $49/month
Payment Plan3, 6, 12 monthsMonthly1, 3, 6, 12 months
NetworkT-MobileVerizonT-Mobile
Learn MoreLearn MoreLearn More
Table of Contents
  1. At a Glance 
  2. Who Should Use Tello?
  3. Tello Alternatives
  4. What Is Tello?
  5. Pricing
  6. Multi-Line or Family Plans
  7. Mobile Hotspot
  8. International Calling
  9. My Tello App
  10. Referral Program
  11. Tello vs Alternatives
    1. Mint Mobile
    2. Twigby
    3. Ultra Mobile
  12. FAQs
  13. Summary 

What Is Tello?

Tello is a discount cellular phone service provider and a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), meaning it doesn’t own its own wireless network. Instead, it leases network space from the major cell phone carriers, in this case, T-Mobile.

Tello homepage

Because of this, Tello subscribers may sometimes experience slower speeds; the big-name carriers will always consider their subscribers first. However, even with a quality discount carrier, you can expect 5G/4G LTE speeds most of the time. 

Tello’s pricing is quite attractive. For this reason, you may find it well worth the risk of occasionally dealing with slower speeds. Like big-name carriers, Tello offers cell phone plans and cellular phones for sale. 

Pricing

Tell offers build-your-own plans to all customers. For example, you can choose cellular plans such as:

  • $5 per month for no data, free text, and 100 minutes of talk
  • $8 per month for 1GB of data, free text, and 500 minutes of talk
  • $14 per month for 5GB of data, unlimited talk and text
  • $25 per month for unlimited data, talk, and text

There are many other build-your-own plans available as well. There are no contracts with Tello, and payments are auto-deducted on a monthly basis. 

You can cancel, upgrade, or downgrade your plan at any time. Check the Tello website for student and grad discounts.

Tello plans

Multi-Line or Family Plans

Tello has a Family Plans page on its website; however, it doesn’t offer family plans in the way you might expect.

You can order up to four lines on Tello’s Family Plan. However, each order must be placed separately and billed separately.

Phone accounts are billed on the anniversary date of service activation. For that reason, if you purchase multiple lines through Tello, buying them all on the same day can be helpful so that your billing dates are the same. 

You can choose build-your-own options for your Tello family plan or one of the ready-made deals listed on the Tello website.

Mobile Hotspot

All Tello plans that include data come with a mobile hotspot, but know that if you’re using a mobile hotspot, you will draw from your plan’s monthly data allowance.

If you have the unlimited data plan, your plan includes 5GB of hotspot data. Your mobile hotspot will become inactive if your data runs out and your Pay as You Go account is below $0.50.   

Get Started with Tello

International Calling

Tello offers free international calling and text to over 60 countries around the globe. To qualify for this feature, you do need to have a mobile plan that includes minutes. 

If you wish to call or text someone in a country not on the list of free international talk and text countries, you can, but it will cost you extra. You must purchase a separate, one-time package with a set number of minutes. 

The minutes allotted with your Pay as You Go package will vary based on which country you designate with the package. 

As with a traditional long-distance service, rates differ for each country. The Tello website has a Pay as You Go rate page that can help determine what you’ll pay for talking and texting with countries outside the “free” list. 

My Tello App

The My Tello app is a custom app that makes it easier to manage your Tello account. You can use the Tello app for a variety of tasks, including:

  • Making domestic and international calls over wi-fi
  • Changing your Tello plan
  • Making purchases of extra data, Pay as You Go minutes, and more
  • Checking your usage and balance information
  • Changing payment information (Android only)

The app does not allow you to perform certain functions. For example, you can’t activate a new line, transfer a phone number to Tello, or reset your security pin from the app.

Referral Program

When you sign up for Tello Mobile, you receive a unique referral link for referring others to the service. You can share this link with friends and family via email or social media. 

If a friend or family member uses your unique referral link to sign up for Tello, you will both get $10 in Tello dollars. These dollars can be used to pay your bill, purchase a phone, or purchase pay-as-you-go plans. There’s no limit on how many referrals you can get paid for.

Tello dollars expire after six months if no purchases or calls are made on your phone. You cannot transfer Tello dollars to another person’s Tello account. 

Get Started with Tello

Tello vs Alternatives

Mint Mobile

mint mobile logo

Mint Mobile operates similarly to Tello. The carrier boasts custom prepaid talk and text plans with multiple data choices and 5G/4G LTE speeds.

As with other discount carriers, Mint Mobile rents space from one of the big three carriers (in this case, T-Mobile). In fact, Mint Mobile was acquired by T-Mobile in March 2023.

Mint Mobile handles billing differently than Tello. Whereas Tello offers monthly billing only, Mint Mobile will give you higher discounts on service if you pay six months or 12 months in advance. 

As with other discount carriers, Mint Mobile is meant for use in the U.S. only. However, the company offers a feature that allows you to call outside of the U.S. and make calls from outside of the U.S. 

Minternational Pass makes international usage of your Mint Mobile phone easy.

You can purchase one of three Minternational Passes:

  • 1-day pass, 60 talk minutes, 60 texts, and 1GB of data for $10
  • 3-day pass, 200 talk minutes, 200 texts, and 3GB of high-speed data for $20
  • 7-day pass, 500 talk minutes, 500 texts, and 10GB of high-speed data for $40

Note that Mint Mobile does include free talk to Canada and Mexico. See our full Mint Mobile review for more information. 

Get Started with Mint Mobile

Twigby

Twigby Logo

Tello is similar to Twigby, another independently owned discount cell phone carrier.

Like Tello, Twigby also offers build-your-own customizable service plans. Here are some options that Twigby offers:

  • 2GB of high-speed data for $15 per month
  • 5GB of high-speed data for $20 per month
  • 10GB of high-speed data for $25 per month
  • 20GB of high-speed data for $30 per month

Your payment will be due on a monthly basis, there are no contracts and you can cancel anytime, just as with Tello.

One important difference between the two is that while Tello does operate internationally, Twigby has some limitations in this area. Twigby is meant to operate only in the U.S. However, in the U.S., you can call over 80 countries from your Twigby phone. 

However, using your Twigby phone outside the U.S. requires a Wi-Fi connection, iMessage or Facetime for Apple users, and WhatsApp for Android users. 

See our full Twigby review to learn more.

Get Started with Twigby

Ultra Mobile

Ultra Mobile Logo 2024

Ultra Mobile is an MVNO wireless service that operates on the T-Mobile network. 

The carrier offers six plans to choose from:

  • 250MB of data, unlimited talk and text for $15 per month
  • 3GB of data, unlimited talk and text for $19 per month
  • 5GB of data, unlimited talk and text for $24 per month
  • 10GB of data, unlimited talk and text for $29 per month
  • 15GB of data, unlimited talk and text for $39 per month
  • “Unlimited” plan with 40GB of data, unlimited talk and text for $49 per month

With the “unlimited” plan, your speeds will be slower once you surpass 40GB of data. With the exception of the cheapest plan, Ultra Mobile includes international call and roaming credits with each package. 

Ultra Mobile includes unlimited free talk and text to over 90 countries and a free mobile hotspot.

Prices are higher with Ultra Mobile than they are with Tello. However, if you’re a frequent international traveler or caller, you may find Ultra Mobile’s higher pricing worth it.  

It’s also important to note that Ultra Mobile offers deeper discounts when you pay 3, 6 or 12 months in advance. Some discounts are labeled “special offer” and may not continue indefinitely. 

Get Started with Ultra Mobile

FAQs

What if I call a destination not included on the international calling list?

If you want to call a destination not listed on the free call list, purchase a Pay-as-You-Go package first. The rates for each destination are listed on the Pay as You Go page. 

How does data add-on work?

When you have less than 1G plan-allotted data remaining on your phone, Tello lets you purchase more data. You can buy either 1GB or 3GB of data through your account dashboard. When your cycle ends, all add-on data expires and does not roll over. 

How can I contact Tello’s customer service center?

You can contact Tello customer service in two ways: via email using a contact form or the chatbot on the Tello website. Tello’s customer service is available 24/7.

Get Started with Tello

Summary 

Tello is a reliable MVNO offering customizable cell phone plans at an affordable price. It operates on T-Mobile’s network, offering nationwide 5G and 4G LTE speeds. If you’re a light data user or don’t require the fastest speeds, Tello is a nice compromise over the major carriers, which are more expensive.

Because speeds may be slower and data packages aren’t “unlimited,” Tello is not as well suited for high-data users and frequent international travelers. Before signing up, compare Tello with similar offerings from similar MVNOs such as Mint Mobile, Twigby, and Ultra Mobile.

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About Laurie Blank

Laurie Blank is a blogger, freelance writer, and mother of four. She’s psyched about teaching others how to manage their money in a way that aligns with their values and has been quoted in Bankrate.

She's a licensed Realtor with Edina Realty in Minneapolis, Minnesota (also licensed in Wisconsin too) and has been freelance writing for over six years.

She shares powerful insights on her blog, Great Passive Income Ideas, that will show you how you can create passive income sources of your own.

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Jeff Borders
22 days ago

I’ve used Tello phone service for years now. It’s reliable and relatively inexpensive (compared to other carriers). I’ve never needed to use customer service because one never has any problems. I see that they are using the T-Mobile network. It was previously Sprint. I vacationed to Georgia once and had “NO SERVICE” for the entire duration. A waiter explained to me that they didn’t have Sprint service in Georgia!

Jim Wang
Admin
22 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Borders

That’s one of the downsides of these MVNO is the reliance on other networks and not knowing how good they are in certain areas. I know that Verizon is terrible in my parents’ home on Long Island, fortunately they have wifi so we use that when we’re there. But if you’re on an MVNO that uses Verizon, you’re out of luck if you’re visiting and don’t know.

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