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Prepaid Operator Profile: Tello

Tello Logo
This is one in a series of Prepaid Phone News' series of US prepaid mobile operator profiles. These profiles cover all the major US mobile operators' and MVNO's prepaid plans.

Overview: Tello launched in 2015. It's an MVNO operating on the Sprint network and is part of KeepCalling, a global telecommunications company that was founded 2002.

Tello uses the Sprint network which runs voice, 1xRTT and EVDO data on the 800 Mhz and 1900 Mhz bands and LTE on bands 25, 26 and 41.

Plans: Tello offers "Build Your Own" and Pay As You Go plans.

Custom (Build Your Own) Plans

Tello's "build your own" plans  let you combine bundles of minutes, messages and data to build a plan. The following bundles are available. Prices are per 30 days:
Talk 1 100 min $3 200 min $5 300 min $7 500 min $10  unlimited min $15
Text 2 200 texts $2  unlimited texts $3
High Speed Data 3 200 MB $4 500 MB $8 1 GB $11 2 GB $21 4 GB $31  5 GB $45
Calls to Mexico and Canada are included
2 MMS are charged based on the amount of data used but do not count as texts.
3 All data bundles include unlimited 64 Kbps throttled data after the high speed data allotment is used up.

Tello doesn't charge a monthly line fee but there's a minimum monthly plan cost is $5.

On its website, Tello lists four sample Custom plans created using various combinations of the "build your own" bundles. Many other combinations are possible.
Name Minutes Texts Data Total Cost
Economy 100 minutes $3 200 texts $2 200 MB $4 $9
Value 500 minutes $10 Unlimited texts $3 500 MB $8 $21
Smart Unlimited minutes $15 Unlimited texts $3 2 GB $8 $39
Data Savvy 500 minutes $10 No texts $0 5 GB $45 $55

Pay As You Go Plans.
  • Rates: 3¢/minute, 1¢/text, 2¢/MB. MMS are charged based on the data used, not as texts.
  • Available top ups: $5, $10, $20 and $50. Top ups do not expire provided a call or a top-up is made at least once every six months.
International Calling: Tello Custom plans including calls to Mexico and Canada at no extra charge.  For other countries, Tello offers pay per minute international calling on all plans.  Build Your Own Plan users need to add a Pay As You Go top up to pay for international calls. Sample rates per minute for calls to mobile numbers: Canada 1¢, China 1.2¢, Mexico 1¢, Philippines 13.9¢, United Kingdom 1.7¢. Click here for calling rates for other countries.

International SMS: International texts are 1¢ each to send. Custom plan users need to add a a Pay As You Go top up to be able to send international texts. Click here for a list of the countries and operators you can send international messages to.

Taxes and fees: In addition to applicable state and local taxes, Tello adds 7.25% to plan prices for Federal Cost Recovery and the Federal Universal Service Fund fee.

Add on minutes, texts or data: Not available. If you run out of minutes, texts or data on a build your own plan you can switch to a more expensive plan using the My Tello Dashboard. Plan changes are effective immediately. Any remaining minute, text or data balance in the old plan rolls over to the new plan and is good for 30 days.

WiFi Calling:

Tello offers iOS and Android apps that let you make calls over Wi-Fi in the US or abroad. Wi-Fi calls are charged against your available plan minutes or Pay As You Go balance.

International Roaming: Tello does not offer international roaming. Calls can be made over Wi-Fi using the My Tello app from anywhere in the world.

SMS Short Codes: texting to and from short codes is supported.

Coverage: Tello uses the Sprint native network. Off network roaming is not available. You can use Tello's Coverage Checker to see if service is available at an address.

Devices: Tello sells a variety of phones are including iPhones and Android flagships.

BYOP: You can bring your own Sprint phone to Tello. SIMs are $9.99.

How to Activate: Use Tello's Bring Your Own Phone page to activate BYOP phones.  Activate phones purchased from Tello by clicking the Activate Device button on your My Tello online dashboard. You can also activate by calling Tello at 866-377-0294 or 678-306-1436.

CDMA Data Settings:
New Tello phones should automatically configure themselves when you turn them off and on after activating the phone with Tello online.
For used phones or it turning a new phone off and on doesn't work, perform a network reset by:
iPhones: dial ##873283#
Most Android phones and feature phones : dial ##72786#
Nexus phones: dial *#*#72786#*#*
If prompted for a passcode enter your phone's six digit MSL which is available on your My Tello online dashboard.

Payment Options: Tello accepts credit or debit cards and Paypal. Auto pay is required for Custom plans and is optional on Pay As You Go.

Account expiration: If your Pay As You Go account balance is zero or your Custom plan auto-payment fails your service will be suspended.

Account Management: Tello offers an online dashboard called My Tello that lets you track usage, top-up your Pay As You Go account, change your payment method and change plans. Plan changes take effect immediately. The Tello iOS and Android apps let you perform the same functions as the My Tello app.

Tethering and Hotspot: Tethering and using your phone as a hotspot is allowed on all Tello plans.

Call Forwarding: not supported

Call Waiting and 3-Way Calling

Call waiting:  Call waiting is enabled by default. It lets you place one call on hold while you take another call. When you are on a call and have another incoming call, you will hear a short tone. You'll have approximately 30 seconds to answer before the second caller hears a standard message or is forwarded to voicemail. You will be billed for both calls.

To answer Call Waiting: To put the first call on hold, press "SEND." You'll automatically be connected with the second call. To return to the first call, press "SEND" again. To switch between the two calls, press "SEND."

3-Way Calling: To add a second person while on a call press SEND and dial the new number or choose it from contacts. When the other party answers press SEND to join the two calls.

Secret" Codes:
*#06# displays the phone's IMEI and or MEID on most phones

Free information services calls
611 - Tello Mobile customer care
711 - Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) for the hearing and speech impaired
911 - Emergency services
Other 3 digit codes like 211, 311 and 511 are not free on Tello.

Customer Service:
Phone support: : 611 from your Tello phone or 866-377-0294 or 678-306-1436, available 24/7. Support is US based.
Email support: customerservice@tello.com or use the web form on the Tello Contact page to email Tello.
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube

Phone Sales and General Information Web Site: https://tello.com/

Tello Pros: 24/7 US based support,  BYOP, Tethering and Hotspot allowed, low pay as you go rates, low international calling rates, no line charge on build your own plans.

Tello Cons: Limited Sprint coverage, no roaming, extra charge for international texts on build your own plans, higher taxes than most prepaid operators.


Comment Page :
  1. Thanks for the info! But meh on the pricing, good luck guys...

  2. Thanks for info. But NO SPRINT haha.

  3. While the monthly rates are not competitive, they beat Project Fi and Ting.

    Paygo appears reasonable.

    Thanks for the information. Choice is good.

  4. Can they activate a new or used Boost or Virgin phone that has never been used on Boost or Virgin?

    1. No Tello is subject to the same Sprint restrictions on eligible phones as every other Sprint MVNO.

  5. Also with Tello, you can check your paygo balance by calling 611 then option 2. Detailed call and text records are included in the online account management website and app. Data usage is consolidated into one record per day. No online chat support, but you can submit a help request online and they will call or email you back.

  6. I have a line on tello used it for couple weeks no problem. Minor data problem. Emailed C/S expected to wait for 8 to 12 hours.Called me 10 minutes later.Was not expecting them to call! They were calling to see if it was fixed.It was! Great C/S call was from Atlanta. They called me Very impressed with the service I got. Hope their C/S stays this good.Happy Customer!

  7. Hear some news about an actual abuser. A carrier that ripped off its customers by not providing them the service they promised.


    1. That has nothing to do with Tello. Why post it here?

    2. Tello is not mentioned in the article you quaoted...what is it you are trying to say? Your post has nothing to do with the provider being discussed ??? Seems like Tello has some decent prices for low end users although the prices on their phones seem a little high! I think I could easily get by for about 9 bucks but I hate the added taxes after the fact! Thanks Dennis for these profiles !!!

  8. Call Forward *72 is supported

    1. Do you know that call forwarding is supported from personal experience or is it documented somewhere on the Tello site?

      Most Sprint MVNOs don't support call forwarding, although Ting does.

  9. Thank you Dennis. I love these Profiles, and their prominent (fixed) location on the main page.

  10. I agree, the profiles of new MVNOs are extremely helpful.

    Does Tello ever have promotions?

  11. Check their Facebook page for a 15% discount coupon.

  12. Im out here in Honolulu, Hawaii and currently om my 3rd month of service with Tello with the 1GB ($11) data only plan (no text no phone usage-but they do give you a new phone number). Activated my spare galaxy s3 (previously with boost) with no problems, just followed the Tello website instructions. Service was activated less than 15 minutes later. Coverage is good. I currently use the phone for a hotspot only, feeding the s3 hotspot data into a ipad while while driving for uber. Also have google voice on the phone and am able to make free phone calls/text thru google voice if needed. This is the cheapest straight up 1GB of 4gLTE hi speed data (sans the "free" plans" ie ring plus)

    1. Anyone currently using Tello share what the extra charges--tax etc that they add on after the fact ??

  13. > Anyone currently using Tello share what the extra charges--tax etc that they add on after the fact ??

    For a recent PayGo top up in Maryland:

    Pay As You Go $20 + Federal Cost Recovery Charge $0.14 + Federal Universal Service Fund $1.33 + MD Prepaid Wireless E 911 Fee $0.60 + State Sales Tax $1.29 = $23.35.

    (Old invoices are kept online in your Tello account, too.)

  14. What would cost less, paying 1¢ per text or using a messaging app with the data rate of 2¢/MB on the paygo plan?

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