Cricket Wireless is a prepaid carrier that's owned by AT&T and offers great prices on access to the vast AT&T network. Cricket uses the AT&T network exclusively with access to LTE and 5G on some plans. Unlike signing up for AT&T service, there's no contract and there's no credit check. It also works with most unlocked phones making it a quick and easy way to get great coverage.
Cricket Wireless Buyer's Guide AT&T's network
AT&T has been hard at work for years building one of the largest and fastest LTE networks. Cricket customers will have access to the vast majority of the network that AT&T customers have and as long as things don't get too crowded, similar speeds are possible. This network has great compatibility with unlocked phones as well, making it a quick choice to get connected.
AT&T's network is rather fast but you need to keep an eye on your plan to make sure you can fully utilize it. Only the top-end Unlimited Cricket More plan will be able to use the full speed of the network. The other phone plans will have limited speeds though the standalone data plans will not.
5G coverage is another component of the AT&T network that hasn't reached all of Cricket's plans. While many other prepaid carriers based on Verizon and T-Mobile have been quick to implement 5G, Cricket only allows Unlimited More customers and data-only plans to use the next-gen network. If you're looking to test out 5G on AT&T, Cricket is still one of the cheapest ways to do so.
Cricket Wireless Buyer's Guide The plans
Cricket has four main plans for phones and they all come with unlimited talk and text in the U.S. as well as access to Cricket Call Defense. Cricket Call Defense is software designed to identify and block fraudulent calls as well as identifying spam and telemarketing calls. Starting with the 10GB plan, all of Cricket's plans also get a $5 autopay discount.
Cricket also has multi-line discounts so you can save when you bring the whole family. That's up to five lines.
|2GB||10GB||Unlimited Cricket Core||Unlimited Cricket More|
|Talk, text, and picture mail||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Data speeds||LTE: 8Mbps
|5G access||None||None||None||Nationwide 5G|
|Hotspot||None||None||$10 for 10GB||15GB|
|Video streaming||No limit||No limit||480p 1.5Mbps||480p 1.5Mbps|
|Single line price||$30||$40
$35 with autopay
$50 with autopay
$55 with autopay
|Multi-line prices||2 lines: $60
3 lines: $90
4 lines: $120
5 lines: $150
|2 lines: $70
3 lines: $90
4 lines: $110
5 lines: $130
|2 lines: $80
3 lines: $90
4 lines: $100
5 lines: $125
|2 lines: $90
3 lines: $110
4 lines: $130
5 lines: $160
One very important thing to keep in mind with Cricket is the speed caps. While most carriers allow data speeds to run as fast as possible all the time, Cricket limited many of its customers to just 8Mbps on LTE and 4Mbps on 4G. Luckily, this only pertains to the three cheapest plans, and the top Unlimited More plan will have unlimited speeds.
While this speed should be enough for standard browsing, HD video streaming, video, and audio calls, as well as social media, smartphone users will likely feel the limitation. Sending large photos and videos, downloading large apps, and backing up your phone to the cloud can take much longer than other carriers.
Cricket also has three data plans called Simply Data. These plans come in 20GB, 40GB, and 100GB sizes. All of these plans come with 5G and unlimited data speeds. These plans are a great fit for someone that only needs data on a device without a phone number.
Cricket Wireless Buyer's Guide International Service
Calling other countries with Cricket is a breeze as long as you sign up for one of the unlimited plans. These plans come with calling to 37 countries for no additional cost.
- Dominican Republic
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
Cricket also has some calling add ons available to those with an unlimited plan.
Both of the Cricket unlimited plans come with usage in Mexico and Canada. Keep in mind that Canada usage must stay under 50%. This can be great for people that travel to Mexico or Canada often and don't watch to switch SIMs.
Cricket Wireless Buyer's Guide The phones
If you're ready for a new phone, you can buy one directly from Cricket. Cricket has a wide range of Androids and iPhones including some high-end devices like the Galaxy S20+. You can also get a mid-range device like the attractive LG Stylo 6. If you need help paying, financing is available through Affirm.
One of the nicest things about AT&T's network is how well unlocked phones work with it. Just about any unlocked GSM-compatible device will work.
5G support is a bit more restricted still. As of March 2021, only the iPhone 12 series, LG K92, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy A51 are listed as compatible with 5G. Other BYOD devices may work with the proper APN settings though it's best not to bet on unofficial support just yet. Don't be surprised if your BYOD 5G device only connects to LTE. Especially with AT&T's currently quite limited 5G footprint.
Cricket Wireless Buyer's Guide Do you go with Cricket?
If you live and work in an area with great coverage, there's little reason not to try out a prepaid carrier. One of the main reasons to opt for AT&T postpaid over Cricket is premium data. This data is prioritized over other data on the AT&T network. The result is that if a tower is very congested, the Cricket customer may see speeds plummet while an AT&T customer does not. 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 if it's not a good fit.
If you're looking at other prepaid carriers, there's a lot more competition. Mint Mobile, for example, offers similar data amounts for less money. Since it's based on T-Mobile, it also has great 5G coverage.
Still, Cricket continues to be one of the best prepaid carriers you can get as long as you're looking at the unlimited plans especially when you bring more than one line.