Cheap and growing

Boost Mobile

Multi-line discounts

Cricket Wireless

Boost Mobile has earned a reputation for offering cheap data and excellent packages to call and roam in Mexico. The weakest part has always been the Sprint network, but thanks to Boost's new Expanded Network, based on T-Mobile, Boost customers now have access to much greater coverage. All plans come with hotspot data if you want to share your connection as well.

From $10/month at Boost Mobile

Pros

  • T-Mobile and Sprint network available
  • Great international add-ons
  • Comes with hotspot data
  • 5G on all expanded coverage plans

Cons

  • Older devices stuck on Sprint
  • Confusing network options

Cricket's most significant value comes with its family plans. With two or more lines, Cricket's top unlimited plan is one of the best values for heavy data users. All of the smaller plans come with a speed cap, but for many people, it won't be a huge issue. If you're a heavy streamer, want 5G access, or just want to multitask on your phone, it's worth going with the top unlimited plan.

From $30/month at Cricket

Pros

  • Huge AT&T network
  • Great phone support
  • Multi-line discounts

Cons

  • Hotspot and 5G are only on the top plan
  • Data speed limits

Compared to Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless has a simple selection of plans though Boost is much more generous with its data with no speed caps in place on its more extensive plans. Cricket requires its top plan for hotspot access, but it does come with a healthy 15GB portion. For a long time, Cricket would have had an easy win in the network section. Still, thanks to T-Mobile taking the reins at Sprint, Boost customers can now activate compatible phones on T-Mobile's network, making it a better value overall.

Cricket Wireless vs. Boost Mobile How much speed do you need?

All phone carriers will throttle and limit your connection in some way depending on your usage, but Cricket seems to keep a tiger grip on its customers more than most carriers, with an 8Mbps speed limit on its 2GB and 5GB plans and a 3Mbps limit on its Core Unlimited plan. While many people will be able to get by on these speeds, there's no denying that Cricket is going to be one of the slowest carriers around.

Boost Mobile gives its customers a lot more options to find the perfect fit. Still, you need a solid connection before you can download anything, and there's no getting around that AT&T's network is larger than either the Sprint or T-Mobile network — though the differences aren't as stark as they used to be. T-Mobile has also taken the clear lead in 5G coverage.

T-Mobile 5G network on the OnePlus 7T ProSource: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

Boost Mobile Cricket Wireless
Network Sprint or T-Mobile AT&T
International calling Available Available
Mexico and Canada Add on available Included with unlimited plans
Hotspot data Yes 15GB with Unlimited Cricket More

Both carriers excel when it comes to calling and traveling to Mexico and Canada. Boost Mobile has a few different add-ons. There is a $5 per month Todo Mexico PLUS add-on that enables calls to and from Mexico as well as calls to Canada. It also comes with international texting and 8GB of data roaming in Mexico. Additionally, there is an International Connect PLUS add on that enables calls to many more countries.

Cricket's unlimited plans come with service in Mexico and Canada. Cricket notes that data speeds may be reduced to 2G. You also get texting to 37 additional countries.

Cricket Wireless vs. Boost Mobile The networks

Cricket uses the AT&T network, which will work well for the majority of Americans. You should check out the coverage map to be sure. It's also worth keeping in mind that Cricket does not yet support AT&T's 5G network.

Boost Mobile is owned by Sprint and, for years, has used the Sprint network exclusively, and most Boost Mobile customers still do. T-Mobile purchased Sprint and, by extension, Boost Mobile. Recently, Boost Mobile started offering coverage on what it's calling the Expanded Network, although it's just the T-Mobile network. If you have a compatible phone, you can use that network. If you find Sprint's services to be superior in your area, you can still use the Nationwide network.

Check your coverage on the Expanded Network as well as the Nationwide network to see which one is best for you. Most people will find better service on the T-Mobile network and T-Mobile's 5G service is available on the Expanded Network map. There are a ton of other T-Mobile MVNOs that offer the same coverage as well.

Cricket Wireless vs. Boost Mobile Boost's plans

Boost Mobile now operates on two separate networks and consequently has two sets of plans. If you're bringing the whole family, you will need to choose one set or the other for all of the lines.

If you want to use the older Sprint network, you will need to choose one of Boost's plans on its Nationwide Network.

Boost Mobile Nationwide PlansSource: Boost Mobile

Plans on this network are available in 3Gb, 6Gb, and 35GB sizes. There are two 35GB plans coming in at $50 and $60 per month with 12GB and 30GB of mobile hotspot data, respectively. The 3GB and 6GB plans cost the same, though the 6GB plan being exclusive to Walmart. If you're interested in this price tier, it's in your best interest to sign up at Walmart, if possible.

All of these Nationwide Network plans have multi-line discounts available for up to four lines.

Boost Mobile Unlimited Expanded PlansSource: Boost Mobile

If you're more interested in the Expanded Network, you can choose between two 35GB plans with additional lines available at a discount. The $50 unlimited plan is limited to SD quality video streaming. If you want crisper videos, you'll want to go with the $60 plan. Keep in mind that many streaming apps will let you download videos in the background in HD, so if you are looking to binge-watch shows, a little planning ahead can keep the quality high on either plan.

Boost Mobile Expanded Data PlansSource: Boost Mobile

The Expanded Network is also home to a solid array of smaller plans. The cheapest 1GB and 2GB plans are only available to new in-store customers at these rates. The 5GB plan is also exclusive to new customers but drops the inconvenient in-store requirement. Finally, a straightforward 10GB plan will be a nice sweet spot for many people, If you need more data, a 15GB plan is available for $10 more, but if you make six consecutive on-time payments, the price comes down to $35 per month.

All of the plans on this network include mobile hotspot data.

Cricket Wireless vs. Boost Mobile Cricket plans

Cricket has four main rate plans that all include unlimited talk and text in the U.S. The main difference is data, with the first two data plans being limited to 8Mbps. The cheaper unlimited plan is limited to 3Mbps, while the most expensive unlimited plan isn't limited in speed. 3Mbps is close to what you could expect on 3G as far as speed.

2GB 5GB Unlimited Core Unlimited More
Data 2GB 5GB Unlimited Unlimited
5G support No No No Yes
Data speed 8Mbps 8Mbps 3Mbps Unlimited
Hotspot None None Add-on available 15GB
Price per month $30 $40 1 line: $55
2 lines: $80
3 lines: $90
4 lines: $100
5 lines: $125
1 line: $60
2 lines: $90
3 lines: $110
4 lines: $130
5 lines: $160
Mexico and Canada usage None None Included Included

If you can afford it, the Unlimited More plan will be a much better fit for smartphones. If you're only doing one thing at a time on your phone, you could probably get by on the slower speed plans, but if you do a lot of multitasking or media-rich social media, you'll want the extra speed. The Unlimited More plan also comes with 5G support if you have a 5G compatible phone.

Cricket Wireless vs. Boost Mobile The phones

Boost Website on LG G8Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central

On Cricket, you can use just about any unlocked GSM phone. If you want to bring your own phone, you can check your IMEI on Cricket's website. Your phone will need to be unlocked, and you can't owe any money to another carrier on it.

If you're ready for a new phone, Cricket has a reasonable selection of affordable devices, including both Android devices and iPhones. You could also buy an unlocked phone to bring to Cricket.

With Boost Mobile, your choice depends on which network you want to use. Many unlocked phones can work with either network. You can check your IMEI to be sure. When you sign up for service, you will be able to get the SIM that works best for you. For the most part, unlocked phones should be on the expanded network, especially if you want 5G access.

If you want to buy a new phone, there are quite a few affordable choices available directly from Boost Mobile. Like Cricket, you could also just buy an unlocked phone that works with T-Mobile's network.

Cricket Wireless vs. Boost Mobile Which should you get?

Both of these carriers have plans and coverage competitive with the best MVNOs out there. Cricket could have a lot of value for many people, especially if they are well served by the AT&T network. For many smartphone users, the speed limits will be too much and force them onto the most expensive plan. Boost's dual networks and larger variety of plans will require more research than Cricket. Still, Boost Mobile offers a superior balance of features for most people with a lot more data and speed. With the T-Mobile network becoming available to Boost customers, one of the most significant weaknesses has been fixed.

Cheap and growing

Boost Mobile

More coverage options than ever

Boost Mobile is focused on delivering data and streaming. With the improved network, you can make the most of your smartphone.

Multi-line discounts

Cricket Wireless

Solid data plans

AT&T's network is extensive and reliable, and Cricket is a cheap way to get connected. You can save a lot by adding more lines as well.

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