Cricket Wireless Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

Cricket Coverage Map S20+
(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Cricket Wireless is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that's owned by AT&T and offers great prices, and access to AT&T's vast network. It uses the AT&T network exclusively, with LTE and 5G access on all plans. Unlike signing up for AT&T's service, there's no contract and there's no credit check needed if you go for Cricket Wireless. The prepaid carrier also works with most unlocked phones out there, thus making it a quick and easy way to get great coverage.

Cricket Wireless plans

Cricket Wireless has four primary plans for phones, and they all come with unlimited talk and text in the U.S., access to AT&T's nationwide 5G network, as well as Cricket Call Defense. Cricket Call Defense is basically a service designed to identify and block fraudulent calls, plus identify spam and telemarketing callers. All the Cricket Wireless plans, except the 5GB option, are also available with a $5 auto-pay discount.

The topmost unlimited plan comes with 150GB of cloud storage that's offered via the myPhotoVault app, and access to ad-supported (HBO) Max streaming service. When you sign up with this plan, you can sign into (HBO) Max with your carrier information as long as your Cricket Wireless account is active.

Cricket Wireless also has multi-line discounts, so you can save more when you bring the whole family over. These are available for up to five lines.

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Cricket Wireless Plans
Header Cell - Column 0 5GB10GBUnlimitedUnlimited + 15GB Mobile Hotspot
Talk, text, and picture messagesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited premium
5G accessNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5G
HotspotNoneNone$10 for 10GB15GB
Video streamingNo limit (480p default)No limit (480p default)480p (1.5Mbps)480p (1.5Mbps)
HBO (Max)NoneNoneNoneWith ads
Single line price$30$40 ($35 with autopay)$55 ($50 with autopay)$60 ($55 with autopay)
Multi-line prices2 lines: $603 lines: $904 lines: $1205 lines: $1502 lines: $703 lines: $904 lines: $1105 lines: $1302 lines: $803 lines: $904 lines: $1005 lines: $1252 lines: $903 lines: $1104 lines: $1305 lines: $160
Other benefits2GB cloud storage2GB cloud storage2GB cloud storage150GB cloud storage

Cricket Wireless has also partnered with Wi-Fi provider Boingo, as well as LinkNYC to provide Wi-Fi access for customers in the network's range. This benefits customers by providing fast and reliable data access in areas that may not be optimally suited for cellular connectivity, while not using up their data while connected. These areas include places such as sports stadiums and even military bases. LinkNYC has many points across New York City that provide Wi-Fi and other services, and your Cricket Wireless phone can automatically connect to these points too.

Cricket Wireless also offers three data-only plans under the 'Simply Data' brand, with 20GB, 50GB, and 100GB data sizes. All of these plans have nationwide 5G access and unlimited data speeds. They're great for someone who only needs data on a device without a phone number.

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Cricket Wireless - Data-Only Plans
Header Cell - Column 0 20 GB Simply Data50 GB Simply Data100 GB Simply Data
Cost$35 per month$55 per month$90 per month
Mexico and Canada usageYesYesYes

International benefits

Cricket Wireless offers free calling in Mexico and Canada with all but the base 5GB plan. Do note that the 10GB plan has free calling in Mexico and Canada only for the new accounts. If you sign up for one of the unlimited plans, you'll also get unlimited texts to 37 countries worldwide. These destinations include:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy

  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Nigeria
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • UK
  • Venezuela

Cricket Wireless also has some calling add-ons available with certain plans. You can add 'Cricket International' for $5 per month for calls to landlines in 35 countries. You can also pay $15 per month for 'Cricket International Extra' add-on, which gives you 1,000 minutes of mobile-to-mobile calling in 31 countries. Finally, a few individual countries can be added for $10 to $15 per month, with features varying by country.

(Image credit: Cricket)

Phone compatibility

Notification panel on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

If you're ready for a new phone, you can buy one directly from Cricket Wireless. The MVNO has a decent selection of Androids and iPhones, including fairly new devices like the Galaxy A54 5G.  If you need help with paying for the device, easy financing is available through Affirm.

That being said, if you don't want to buy through the Cricket Wireless website, one of the best things about using AT&T's network is how well the majority of the best unlocked phones work with it. Almost any unlocked GSM-compatible device will work with a Cricket Wireless SIM card.

Cricket's BYOD program

(Image credit: Cricket Wireless)

Cricket Wireless still has a small list of compatible 5G phones on its website, but the users online have reported that 5G is working on compatible phones like the Galaxy S23 series without issues. Some less common phones may only work with LTE even if they support AT&T 5G bands, so it's worth checking online on the carrier's website or asking customer support if 5G is important for you.

Going the BYOD route gives you a few more options. The brand-new Galaxy S24 series, for example, is supported on 5G even though Cricket Wireless does not sell this model. Some other phones that should work on the network with 5G, like the OnePlus 9 Pro, are not supported, however. Other BYOD 5G devices may work with the proper APN settings, though it's best not to bet on unofficial support just yet. Still, with AT&T's growing 5G footprint, it's best to get a 5G phone at this point.

Should you go with Cricket Wireless?

If you live and work in an area with great coverage, there's little reason not to try out a prepaid carrier. However, one of the main reasons to get AT&T postpaid instead of Cricket Wireless is premium data. This data is prioritized over other data on AT&T's network. The result is that if a tower is very congested, the Cricket Wireless customer may see speeds plummet while an AT&T customer won't. For most people, it won't be a big deal and for many, won't even be noticeable. Unfortunately, this all comes down to your area and the congestion, so it can be hard to predict.

At least you're not locked into Cricket Wireless if you decide it's not a good fit.

If you're looking at other prepaid carriers, there's a lot of competition. Mint Mobile, for example, offers similar data amounts for less money. And since it's based on T-Mobile, it also has great 5G coverage.

Still, Cricket Wireless continues to be among the best prepaid carriers you can get as long as you're looking at the unlimited plans, especially when you bring over more than one line.

Samuel Contreras

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.

With contributions from