Tello is a Sprint network mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that offers inexpensive cell phone plans under $40. Tello offers great customization, allowing customers to choose the exact amount of talk, text, and data they think they’ll need. They sell their own phones and also have a referral program to help you reduce monthly costs by recruiting more Tello customers.

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Tello Plans are flexible and include Free calling to anyone in North America and China

Individual Tello Plans

Tello offers prepaid cell phone plans that you pay for at the beginning of the month. Plans can be tailored to your own needs when it comes to calling minutes and data, while texting is always free and unlimited. If you don’t want to customize your Tello plan, the carrier offers four basic plans with preset talk, text, and data allotments ranging from $10 to $39.

Tello Ready-Made Plans

Plan High-Speed Data Minutes Texts
Economy Plan 1GB Unlimited Unlimited
Value Plan 2GB Unlimited Unlimited
Smart Plan 4GB Unlimited Unlimited
Data Plan 25GB Unlimited Unlimited

With Tello’s unlimited data plan, you get 25GB/month of 4G LTE data and then your speeds are slowed to 2G and hotspot use is discontinued until the next billing cycle.

All Tello cell phone plans include the following:

  • Free unlimited texting
  • Calling to Canada/Mexico/China
  • Mobile hotspot use
  • Plan auto-renewal every 30 days
  • Balance rollover to the next month
  • Ability to upgrade or downgrade plans for free at any time

The main bonus of Tello plans is their flexibility for choosing exactly the amount of minutes, texting, and data you need while also being able to call anyone in North America (Mexico and Canada included) and China at no extra cost. If you need to call international friends or family on a regular basis, Tello also has an option for that—Tello Pay As You Go credit.

Tello Pay As You Go

Tello’s Pay As You Go credit option lets you add $10, $15, $25, or $50 of credit to your plan to use for U.S. minutes, texts, and data, as well as international calls and texts. You can actually mix this option with a regular Tello plan or purchase it as your standalone Pay As You Go plan.

Within the U.S., a $10 Pay As You Go credit will get you 333 minutes or 1,000 texts, or 500MB of data per month. Any international calls and texts will have predefined rates per minute/text and are deducted from your Pay As You Go balance. You can check your international rates easily online. If your balance is not used within six months, the plan will expire.

Tello Pay As You Go Plan Minutes Texts Data
$10 333 OR 1,000 OR 500MB
$15 500 OR 1500 OR 750MB
$25 833 OR 2,500 OR 1.25GB
$50 1666 OR 5,000 OR 2.5GB

Tello’s Pay As You Go credit is a nice standalone plan if you only want to pay for what you use or have a lot of family outside of North America and China you want to communicate with. However, if you’re only calling and texting within the U.S., you’re better off using a traditional Tello plan by itself and adding on Pay As You Go credit if needed.

Considering Tello offers plans with unlimited calling, texting, and some data for as low as $9/month, the Pay As You Go credit won’t be helpful or necessary for most domestic customers who can already call between U.S., Canada, Mexico, and China on regular Tello plans.

Tello Family Plans

Unfortunately, Tello does not offer family plans or discounted rates for adding multiple lines. Nevertheless, you can get a referral credit towards your own account if you successfully refer friends or family to sign up. Like many other smaller carriers, the cost of each plan is already very affordable, so multiple accounts should not stress your wallet. Regardless, there are other Sprint MVNO carriers like Boost Mobile and Twigby that offer multi-line family plans.

Buy a Tello Phone

Tello sells about 25 phones on its website, including flip phones, mid-range Android phones, and newer flagship iPhones and Android devices. However, Tello does not have a device repayment program, so you must buy them outright.

Bring Your Own Phone

Like other smaller carriers, a benefit to Tello’s service is that you can switch carriers and bring your own phone without any activation fees or a contract.

To do so, simply check the compatibility of your device on their website. Any Sprint or other CDMA network-compatible device will be eligible so long as it’s unlocked.