These two MVNOs are a little different from the rest and can offer something most other MVNOs can't: Unlimited LTE data.

Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless aren't like most MVNOs. Instead of buying service in bulk from another carrier and reselling it at a low price, they are actually owned by a bigger, more familiar name when it comes to cellular service: Boost Mobile is a part of Sprint and Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T. This unique arrangement works well for every company involved and may even work well for you.

Let's compare Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless and see which might be better for you.

Boost Mobile background

Who owns it? Sprint

Which network does it use? Sprint 3G CDMA and 4G LTE

How long has it been around? Since 2001, acquired by Sprint in 2006

Tethering allowed? Yes with qualifying plans or as an add-on

Cheapest plan: $30 for 1 month: 2GB 4G LTE, unlimited nationwide talk, text, and 2G data

Cricket Wireless background

Who owns it? AT&T

Which network does it use? AT&T EDGE, HSPA+, and 4G LTE

How long has it been around? Since 1999, acquired by AT&T in 2013

Tethering allowed? Yes with qualifying plans or as an add-on

Cheapest plan: $30 for 1 month: 1GB 4G LTE, unlimited nationwide talk, text, and low-speed (128kbps) data

Advertisement

Boost plans

Boost Mobile offers two tiers of single line and family plans: a 2GB LTE package and an unlimited LTE data package. Unlimited 4G LTE data is something most MVNOs don't offer, but because it's fully owned by Sprint, it's one of the ways Boost can differentiate itself.

Single line 2GB LTE Unlimited GBs (up to 23GB LTE)
Price $35/month $50/month
With Auto Re-Boost $30/month No discount
Extras Streaming music without data charges Unlimited HD streaming for $20/month

Family plan 2GB LTE Unlimited GBs (up to 23GB LTE)
Primary line price $35/month $50/month
Primary line with Auto Re-Boost $30/month No discount
Secondary lines (up to 5) $30/month $30/month
Extras Streaming music without data charges Unlimited HD streaming for $20/month

Note: Data is not shared between lines on a family plan. Each line gets its own allotment, based on its plan.

Unlimited plans use mobile-optimized streaming for video, games, and music. Full speed media streaming is available for an extra $20 per month.

Add-ons

Extra data:

  • 1GB/month: $5
  • 3GB/month: $10

International services

Todo Mexico Plus: $5 per month gets you unlimited calls to Mexico (including mobile numbers) and unlimited calls to all of Canada except the Northern Territories. You'll also get 8GB of data roaming while you are in Mexico and calls from Mexico to the US are free. Unlimited international texting is also included.

International Connect PLUS: Includes everything from Todo Mexico Plus and unlimited calls to landlines in over 70 countries and 200 minutes of calls to mobile numbers in 50 countries.

International Minute Packs allow you to purchase a bundle of minutes to use for calling select countries. See this list for pricing and availability.

International Text Messaging can be added at the cost of $0.10 per text (inbound and outbound).

Media and entertainment

Unlimited plans use mobile-optimized streaming for video, games, and music. Full speed media streaming is available for an extra $20 per month.

Boost TV packages are available starting at $10 per month. See the list of channels and packages here.

Tethering packages

The $50 unlimited plan (single line and family) offers tethering. If you use the $30 plan you can purchase tethering packages: $25 per month for 1.5GB of LTE data or $50 for 10GB of LTE data.

Cricket plans

Cricket Wireless offers several tiers of service for people with different LTE data needs. Like Boost, their unique position as a company owned by AT&T allows them to offer unlimited data on the highest tier plan.

Cricket also does LTE (and HSPA "4G") data a little differently than anyone else. Download speeds are capped at 8Mbps while using LTE and 4Mbps while using HSPA "4G". Once you reach your monthly limit of high-speed data, download speeds will be reduced to 128Kbps.

8Mbps speeds are more than sufficient for doing anything but streaming a 4K video without buffering. Most users won't be able to tell the data speeds are capped during normal use. But you still need to know.

1GB Basic (3GB LTE) Smart (8GB LTE) Unlimited (22GB LTE)
Price (monthly) $30 $40 $50 $60
With Auto Pay $25 $35 $45 $55
Extras Basic, Smart and Unlimited plans eligible for Group Save Discount International texting, roaming in Canada and Mexico, eligible for Group Save Discount International texting, roaming in Canada and Mexico, eligible for Group Save Discount

Advertisement

Family Plan

Cricket also does family plans a little differently. If you have two or more qualifying lines on the same account you are automatically enrolled in what Cricket calls Group Save. The qualifying plans are: $40 with 3GB, $50 with 8GB, $50 with 5GB (grandfathered), $60 with 12GB (grandfathered), and Unlimited.

The discount you'll receive depends on how many lines of service you have.

  • The primary line is always full price
  • The second line will get a $10 discount
  • The third line will get a $20 discount
  • The fourth line will get a $30 discount
  • The fifth line will get a $40 discount

These discounts are cumulative. If you have three eligible lines, you save a total of $30. If you have five eligible lines you save a total of $100 each month, which is the maximum discount.

Add-ons

Extra data:

  • 1GB/month: $10

International add-ons:

  • Cricket International: Unlimited calling to landline numbers in 36 countries for $5 per month.
  • Cricket International Extra: Unlimited calls to landline numbers in 36 countries, unlimited picture and video messages (MMS) to 36 countries, 1,000 minutes of mobile-to-mobile calling to 32 other countries. The list of approved countries and full details are here.

Tethering:

Users on the $50 8GB LTE data monthly plan can add the Mobile Hotspot feature. You will need a supported phone and it costs $10 per month to share your connection with up to 6 other devices. Extra LTE data can be added for $10 per GB.

Boost phones

Boost Mobile allows you to bring your own phone as long as it is on their list of approved models.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Special Edition
  • Sprint and Verizon-branded iPhones 5 to 7

They also sell phones for use on their network and have popular models from Apple, LG, Samsung and more.

Note: While it's possible to enable Boost service on unsupported phones from Sprint, this is against the terms of service.

Cricket phones

You can bring your own phone to Cricket if it meets two requirements:

  • It is network compatible GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ with 3G bands 2 and 5 (1900/850) and LTE bands 4G LTE Bands 2, 4, 12, 17 (1900/1700abcde/700bc). If you're not into the technical terms and numbers you can check your phone here.

Cricket also offers devices from popular companies like Apple, HTC, and Samsung. You can shop for a new Cricket phone here.

Advertisement

Which should I go with?

Both Boost and Cricket offer a selection of plans for casual users and power users alike. They also have the luxury of being able to offer unlimited LTE plans at very competitive prices that undercut their parent company by a large margin. Even the add-on services are similar. Which is best for you depends on three things:

  • Coverage. A great phone plan does you no good if you can't use it reliably. This is always a consideration and we think it should be your first consideration. Cricket has a much better network in parent AT&T than Boost on Sprint.
  • Uncompressed media streaming on Boost costs an extra $20 per month.
  • Cricket caps your LTE speeds at 8Mbps.

Do you need data with download speeds faster than 8Mbps? If so, Boost is probably better for you. If you want to stream media at full resolution without paying extra, Cricket is probably better for you. Both companies support the most popular devices and have nationwide coverage, but we can say from experience that Cricket is a better choice for most rural customers.

Both choices are good choices and we can recommend either, so pick the one that better fits your usage when it comes to data speeds and streaming caps.