Cricket Wireless Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know
AT&T's prepaid brand has unlimited data, 5G, and even HBO MAX.
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 LTE and 5G access on all plans. Unlike signing up for AT&T service, there's no contract, and there's no credit check. The carrier also works with most unlocked phones, making it a quick and easy way to get great coverage.
AT&T coverage for less
Cricket is one of the cheapest ways to gain access to the massive AT&T network, with a range of unlimited and limited plans that work for just about any customer.
Cricket Wireless Buyer's Guide: AT&T's network
AT&T has been working hard 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; 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.
In the past, Cricket Wireless limited the speed of your data connection depending on which plan you chose, but in 2021, the speed caps were removed. Coverage has also been updated to allow 5G connectivity on every plan as long as you have a compatible phone.
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, plus identify spam and telemarketing calls. All Cricket plans apart from the 5GB option are also available with a $5 auto-pay discount.
The top Cricket unlimited plan also comes with 150GB of cloud storage via the myPhotoVault app as well as HBO Max with ads. When you sign up with this plan, you can sign into HBO Max using your carrier information as long as your Cricke account is active.
Cricket also has multi-line discounts, so you can save when you bring the whole family. That's up to five lines.
|Header Cell - Column 0||5GB||10GB||Unlimited Cricket Core||Unlimited Cricket More|
|Talk, text, and picture mail||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited premium|
|5G access||Nationwide 5G||Nationwide 5G||Nationwide 5G||Nationwide 5G|
|Hotspot||None||None||$10 for 10GB||15GB|
|Video streaming||No limit (480p default)||No limit (480p default)||480p 1.5Mbps||480p 1.5Mbps|
|HBO Max||None||None||None||With ads|
|Single line price||$30||$40 ($35 with autopay)||$55 ($50 with autopay)||$60 ($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
Cricket has partnered with Wi-Fi provider Boingo as well as LinkNYC to provide Wi-Fi for customers in range. This benefits customers by providing fast and reliable data in areas that may not be optimal for cellular connectivity, as well as not using up their data while connected. These areas include places like sports stadiums and even military bases. LinkNYC has many points across New York City that provide Wi-Fi and other services, and your Cricket phone can automatically connect to these points as well.
Cricket also has three data plans called Simply Data. These plans come in 20GB, 50GB, 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.
|Header Cell - Column 0||20 GB Simply Data||50 GB Simply Data||100 GB Simply Data|
|Cost||$35 per month||$55 per month||$90 per month|
|Mexico and Canada usage||Yes||Yes||Yes|
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 certain plans. You can Cricket International for $5 per month with calls to landlines in 35 countries. You can also pay for Cricket International Extra which ads 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.
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 S21 FE. You can also get a mid-range device like the Galaxy A53 5G. 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 with a Cricket SIM.
Cricket still has a small list of compatible 5G phones on its site, but users online are reporting that 5G is working on compatible phones like the Galaxy S22 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 around online or asking customer support if 5G is important for you.
BYOD devices give you a few more options. The Galaxy S22 series, for example, is supported on 5G even though Cricket 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.
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 you decide 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.
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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.