Although Tello is one of the newest carriers in the U.S., the company is a spin-off of a popular UK prepaid carrier in business for more than a decade. Known for its affordable plans with no hidden fees or extra charges, this carrier leases bandwidth from Sprint.
All of Tello’s plans are prepaid. Options starting as low as $5 per month for a single line of service. From there, simply add a la carte services to create your ideal plan. The most expensive plan at the time of writing is $63 per month for a single line of service.
If you need a phone, Tello sells many popular options. They also support a wide range of Sprint certified phones. If you’re hoping to bring your own phone, they support unlocked CDMA phones.
Does This Carrier Fit My Needs?
- No hidden fees
- Pay-as-you-go credits available
- Prepaid plans available
- No early termination fees
- No activation fees
- No monthly device fees
- Data throttles instead of charging overage fees
- PayPal payment options
- CDMA network limits phone options
- No roaming voice, data or text access
- No multi-line plans or discounts
- All Tello phones are refurbished
- No device financing
No hidden fees: While Tello isn’t the only budget-friendly prepaid/pay-as-you-go carrier in the US, they are one of the few that doesn’t tack on additional monthly fees for devices and services. Everything you pay on your plan or pay-as-you-go top up goes directly to service.
Unlimited talk and text: For those who love to stay in touch, the unlimited options are some of the most affordable amongst U.S. carriers.
No additional fee for calls to Mexico and Canada: While they’ll still count toward your minute allotment, calls to landlines or cellphones in these popular destinations is included with any plan.
Awards and Recognitions
With Tello being so new in the States, there’s not much to see here. However, looking at their community forums, comments on their blog and searching for reviews on the Internet, people seem quite impressed with their service.
They have an A- rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau with 1 complaint closed in the past 3 years.
How is the Network Coverage and Speed?
While they don’t list percentages, access to Sprint’s nationwide 4G network brings coverage for more than 280-million Americans. We’ll use their network for the following benchmarks.
Data from OpenSignal breaks down the network types as follows:
- 72% LTE (4G)
- 18% eHRPD (3G)
- 10% EVDO Rev. A (3G)
You can check coverage and network types in your area on their Coverage Map.
Notable considerations include:
- As they do not have roaming agreements with other providers, you may find yourself without service in areas without a strong Sprint network presence.
Crowdsourced data from OpenSignal indicates that 4G download speeds on the network are roughly 6.3Mbits per second. Uploads clock in at 3.4Mbits per second. 3G speeds are slower coming in at 0.5Mbits per second downloading and 0.6Mbits per second uploading.
Speeds from PC Magazine’s 2016 “Fastest Mobile Networks” study are faster. They found download speeds of 20.58Mbits per second and 6.9Mbits per second for uploads.
Additional data from Ookla’s US “Speedtest Market Report” sit in the middle with download speeds of 15Mbits per second and 4.7Mbits per second uploading.
Do They Charge Roaming Fees?
No. However, this comes with an important distinction--they don’t offer domestic or international roaming either. If you’re not within the coverage area, your only option for service is Wi-Fi calling through the My Tello app.
Do They Charge Long Distance Fees?
All plans include calls within the United States, Canada and Mexico. International calls are billed separately from prepaid plans using pay-as-you-go credit.
Rates to other countries vary. However, they offer a simple calculator to see how many minutes or texts a pay-as-you-go card is worth based on your calling destination.
Can I Tether My Phone?
Yes! All plans include tethering if the phone supports the feature. Tethering data counts toward your 4G data allotment. Once you deplete your high-speed data, speeds throttle to 64kbps--slightly faster than dial-up.
Can I Rollover Unused Data?
Tello does not offer data rollover.
What Add-ons or Bundles are Available?
With their a la carte pricing method for monthly plans, there is no need for add-ons or bundles. If your plan doesn’t suit your needs, simply upgrade or downgrade your voice, text or data allotment. There’s no fee to change your plan and you’ll be billed immediately to reflect the difference between plans.
Can I Bring My Own Device?
Yes! However, it is important to note they use a different network type from many major US carriers--CDMA. In many cases, Sprint-compatible phones work with Tello. However, if you’re trying to bring a phone from one of the other carriers--or you purchased an unlocked phone online--you’ll want to contact their customer care team to ensure compatibility before signing up.
Does This Carrier Require a Credit Check?
This carrier does perform checks for new lines of service. At the time of writing, this is a "soft" check--meaning the check should not impact your credit report.
To run the credit check, the carrier will need:
- Your name
- Current address
In some cases, a government-issued ID--such as a Driver's License, State Identification Card or Passport--is required as well.
NOTE: Credit checks from carriers that pull your credit bureau report may impact your credit score. If you're not sure the best options for your credit profile, we suggest contacting the carrier directly before attempting to obtain service.
Do They Charge an Early Termination Fee?
No! Monthly plans have no term commitments and devices are purchased upfront. This means no worry about surprise fees should you switch providers.
Can I Port My Number To or From Tello?
Yes! They support porting numbers from any area in which Wireless Number Portability is in effect.
To start the porting process, you’ll need some information. Common items include:
- The phone number you wish to port
- The carrier with which the number is currently assigned
- The account number with that carrier
- The PIN or security password for that account
- The billing address listed on that account
- The first and last name of the account holder
You can find out more about the process at their Help Center.
Will They Unlock My Phone?
All phones sold by Tello are unlocked when you receive them.
For additional questions about pricing, features and coverage, be sure to check our Tello Q&A Forum. It’s filled with questions and answers from people like you looking to get the most out of their mobile service!
If you spot any errors or missing information, please let us know, it's definitely appreciated and will help make this page better for everyone.