Mint Mobile saves you the most money when you can buy 12 months of service upfront, but you can still save over other carriers with three or six months. Mint Mobile uses the T-Mobile network with the fastest and largest 5G network around, so it's a great carrier to make the most out of a new 5G phone.
+ T-Mobile LTE and 5G network
+ Unlimited talk and text
+ Free calls to Canada and Mexico
+ Hotspot on every plan
+ Save more when you pay for the year
- Minimum term is three months
- Unlimited plan is slowed at 35GB
- 5GB hotspot cap on the unlimited plan
AT&T's LTE network is huge, and if you live in a rural area, it may be your best choice. Cricket gives customers affordable access to the network with nationwide 5G included. The best way to save with Cricket is to sign up with multiple lines, with savings available for up to five lines. The top plan even comes with HBO Max included.
+ AT&T LTE and nationwide 5G network
+ Service in Canada and Mexico (unlimited plans)
+ Unlimited talk and text
+ Multi-line discounts
+ 15GB hotspot data (unlimited plan)
- SD quality videos (unlimited plans)
Cricket has an advantage when it comes to multi-line discounts, and the AT&T LTE network is one of the strongest available, with 5G coverage continuing to expand. But the T-Mobile 5G network which supports Mint is the largest and fastest 5G network with much more mature mid-band coverage, and if it's available in your area, you can get excellent speeds on most of the best Android phones you can buy. Always be sure to check coverage to determine which network will work for you.
Mint Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: What is the prepaid advantage?
Mint Mobile and Cricket Wireless are both MVNOs, which means that they don't build and operate their own networks and instead utilize other carriers' networks. Mint uses T-Mobile's network while Cricket uses and is owned by AT&T. This can be an excellent option for someone who wants to get connected on a network with excellent coverage but doesn't want a contract.
Prepaid carriers can also offer a more streamlined experience, which keeps costs down. For example, Mint Mobile does not need to maintain storefronts, and neither carrier needs to worry about investing in the network as time goes on. That does mean that Mint Mobile and Cricket Wireless have a little less flexibility in what they can offer, but with the current plans, most people can find something they'd be happy with on either carrier.
|Minimum||3 months||1 month|
|5G access||All plans||All plans|
|International texting||Not included||Included with unlimited plans|
|Mobile hotspot||5GB (unlimited plan)||15GB (unlimited plan)|
|Mexico and Canada||Calling to countries only||Service in countries (unlimited plans)|
|Multi-line discounts||None||Up to 5 lines|
The best network will vary depending on where you live and which device you have. So make sure to check Mint Mobile or Cricket's coverage map before checkout. T-Mobile's 5G network is a lot larger than AT&T's, so if you're looking to use 5G, T-Mobile is your best bet. Cricket supports AT&T's nationwide 5G network, which includes its low-band 5G service, but it will lack speed compared to T-Mobile's combination of low-band and mid-band spectrum.
Keep in mind that Cricket's coverage will be more robust in rural areas, but either carrier should have coverage for most people.
Mint Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: Mint Mobile's plans
Mint Mobile doesn't operate with standard month-to-month terms. Instead, you pay upfront for your term of 3, 6, or 12 months. Buying in bulk will save you more money in the long run, with the most incredible savings at 12 months. All plans include unlimited nationwide talk, text, and data, though you only get so much LTE and 5G per month. Unlimited international texting is included in all plans.
If you go with the unlimited plan, your data is slowed after 35GB of usage, and you get 5GB of hotspot data.
|3 months (introductory price)||$15/mo. ($45)||$20/mo. ($60)||$25/mo. ($75)||$30/mo. ($90)|
|3 months||$25/mo. ($75)||$35/mo. ($105)||$45/mo. ($135)||$40/mo. ($120)|
|6 months||$20/mo. ($120)||$25/mo. ($150)||$35/mo. ($210)||$35/mo. ($210)|
|12 months||$15/mo. ($180)||$20/mo. ($240)||$25/mo. ($300)||$30/mo. ($360)|
You can add data at $10 for 1GB or $20 for 3GB if you need more. You can also upgrade your plan in the middle of your billing cycle if your data needs change.
Since you have to commit to a longer term with Mint Mobile, you should keep the seven-day money-back guarantee in mind. If you prefer, you can also get a free Mint Mobile SIM card for your phone by signing up for a free trial. If not, an introductory rate will get you your first 3 months at the 12-month rate. If you find the network doesn't work for you, you're not out of the whole year's cost.
Mint Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: Cricket's plans
Cricket offers fairly straightforward unlimited talk and text plans with varying allotments of 4G LTE data. All plan prices are flat fees, with taxes and fees included. So you will only pay $30 per month if you opt for the $30 plan, for example. All plans come with unlimited talk, text, and data. Pricing varies depending on how much data you opt for.
Cricket plans formerly came with speed caps, but those have been removed. In fact, the top unlimited plan has been upgraded with premium data that won't slow down based on usage. This plan also comes with 15GB of hotspot data.
|5GB||10GB||Unlimited (Core)||Unlimited + 15 GB Mobile Hotspot (More)|
|International text||None||None||37 countries||37 countries|
|5G access||Nationwide 5G||Nationwide 5G||Nationwide 5G||Nationwide 5G|
|Entertainment perks||None||None||None||HBO Max with Ads|
With Cricket, you can save money with more lines on unlimited plans. Four lines on the top unlimited plan bring the cost down to $33 per line. Cricket also has a few data-only plans with up to 100GB available if you want to skip calling and texting features altogether.
Cricket has also partnered with Boingo Wireless and LinkNYC to improve Cricket customers' connections with automatic connections to these hotspots. Boingo hotspots are available in areas like airports, military installations, sports stadiums, and transportation hubs.
Mint Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: International coverage
On Cricket, you can add calling to international landline numbers in 35 countries for $5 per month. You can also add 1,000 minutes to a mobile number and unlimited MMS texting for $15 per month. You can even add individual countries for $10-$15 per month.
Roaming is only included with the unlimited plans, which also include texting to 37 countries. If you plan on traveling to Canada or Mexico with an unlimited plan, you can also roam as long as it makes up less than 50% of your overall usage.
Mint does things a little differently but perhaps more directly regarding international coverage. While roaming, you pay by the minute, text, or MB. The rates are $0.05 per text sent, $0.25 per minute, and $0.20 per MB. These rates come down to $0.02 per text, $0.06 per minute, and $0.06 per megabyte for Canada and Mexico.
However, on Mint Mobile, calls to Canada and Mexico are included with every plan. The cost per minute for international calls depends on the country. China, for example, is a reasonable $0.01 per minute on landline or mobile, while France comes in at $0.01 for landlines and $0.18 for mobile.
If you plan to call a lot internationally, Cricket may ultimately be less expensive, but you'll likely pay more upfront. On the other hand, Mint is a lot more flexible and makes more sense for those who don't call abroad frequently.
Mint Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: Which is better for you?
Cricket's plans tend to be more expensive than what you can get from Mint, but the price comes down quite a bit with multiple lines on unlimited. Cricket also has some great international perks, including its Mexico and Canada usage. If you're looking for something simple, the 5GB plan is enough to keep light users connected without worrying about buying multiple months at once.
From a purely price-conscious perspective, Mint Mobile is the better option, especially if you have an unlocked phone of your own. T-Mobile's network is one of the best with 5G, and Mint Mobile's plans are straightforward. So long as you are willing to sign up for three months or longer at a time, you get a lot more data for your money.
Save in bundles
Buy more to save more
Mint Mobile saves you money by offering plans in a bundle. Buy a large chunk to increase your savings with plenty of data on T-Mobile's LTE and 5G network.
Tons of data
More network for more data
Starting as low as talk, text, and 5GB of data and going up to unlimited, Cricket has a plan that works for you. You can even save more with more lines.
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.
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