Buy in bulk

Mint Mobile

One month at a time

Cricket Wireless

Save money by buying in bulk. Plans come with unlimited talk and text and have no overages after you've used your data. Speeds are lowered, but you can upgrade your plan mid-cycle or easily add more data.

From $15/mo. at Mint Mobile

Pros

  • T-Mobile LTE network
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Free calls to Canada and Mexico
  • Hotspot on every plan

Cons

  • Minimum term is three months
  • No unlimited option

Take advantage of the massive AT&T network without the contracts. You can start as small as just talk and text and go all the way up to unlimited data with 15GB of hotspot data.

From $25/mo. at Cricket Wireless

Pros

  • AT&T LTE network
  • Service in Canada and Mexico (unlimited plans)
  • Unlimited talk and text

Cons

  • SD quality videos (unlimited plans)
  • Speed limits

Cricket has an advantage in travel to Canada and Mexico with its unlimited plans, and the AT&T LTE network is one of the strongest available. The T-Mobile network that supports Mint has been one of the fastest-growing networks, and if it's available in your area, it will serve you well. Always be sure to check coverage where you go to be sure each network will work for you.

What is an MVNO?

Mint Mobile app start screenSource: Samuel Contreras / Android Central

Mint Mobile and Cricket Wireless are mobile virtual network operators or MVNOs for short. They're "alternative carriers," meaning that they're not the Big Four (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint).

Switching to an MVNO can save you money because they lease coverage from one of the more extensive networks and resell it to customers. Plans are often prepaid, so you don't have to worry about overages.

Mint Mobile Cricket
Network T-Mobile AT&T
Minimum 3 months 1 month

Mint plans

Mint Mobile doesn't operate with traditional contracts. You pay upfront for your term, which can be three months, six months, or twelve months, with "buying in bulk" saving you more money in the long run. All plans include unlimited nationwide talk, text, and data, though you only get so much 4G LTE per month. Unlimited international texting is included in all plans.

Duration 3GB 4G LTE 8GB 4G LTE 12GB 4G LTE
3 months $15/month ($45 upfront) $20/month ($60 upfront) $25/month ($65 upfront)
6 months $18/month ($108 upfront) $24/month ($144 upfront) $35/month ($210 upfront)
12 months $15/month ($180 upfront) $20/month ($240 upfront) $25/month ($300 upfront)

Add Data at a rate of $10 for 1GB or $20 for 3GB if you need more. You can also upgrade to the next plan up if you feel you'll need more every month in the middle of your billing cycle.

Since you have to commit to a longer-term with Mint Mobile, you should keep in mind there is a seven-day money-back guarantee. Also, there is a promotion to get your first three months at the twelve-month rate. If you find the network doesn't work for you, you're not out of the whole year's cost.

Cricket 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/month if you opt for the $30 plan, for example. All plans come with unlimited talk, text, and 2G data. Pricing varies depending on how much 4G LTE data you opt for.

One thing to keep in mind with Cricket is the speed caps. The two data plans are limited to 8Mbps on LTE and 4Mbps on its older network. For the most part, this will be fast enough for anything you do on your phone but when it comes to downloading files or trying to watch HD video, you'll see some buffering.

The Unlimited Core plan is much more restrictive with a 3Mbps cap on data. This is closer to what you would expect from 3G and unless you can make a lot of use of Wi-Fi, it's going to feel slow on a smartphone. At this speed, it's just not worth it for most people.

2GB 5GB Unlimited (Core) Unlimited + 15 GB Mobile Hotspot (More)
Data 2GB 5GB Unlimited Unlimited
Hotspot None None add-on available 15GB
International text None None 37 countries 37 countries
Max data speed 8Mbps LTE 8Mbps LTE 3Mbps No limit

With Cricket you can save money with more lines on the unlimited plans. With the base unlimited plan, you can save up to $150 with five lines. On the larger unlimited plan savings are smaller at $140, but with five lines coming in at $160 per month on the AT&T network, it's not a bad deal.

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 also add individual countries for $10-$15 per month.

You are only able to roam in Canada and Mexico on Cricket as long as it is less than 50% of your overall usage. This is included with the unlimited plans. The unlimited plans also come with texting to 37 countries.

Mint does things a little differently but perhaps more directly. 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.

On Mint Mobile, calls to Canada and Mexico are included with the plan, however. The cost per minute for international calls depends on the country.

If you plan to call internationally, a lot of Cricket can be less expensive, but you'll likely pay more upfront. Mint is a lot more flexible and makes more sense for those that don't call that much,

Which should I go with? Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile app on woodSource: Samuel Contreras / Android Central

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. It's hard to recommend the slower Unlimited plan for most people but if you need to get an entire family connected Cricket can be a great value even on the top plan.

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 solid, 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. Need more reasons? Read our review!

Save in Bundles

Mint Mobile

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 network.

Tons of Data

Cricket Wireless

More network for more data

Starting as low as talk-and-text and going all the way up to unlimited, Cricket has a plan that works for you. You can even save more with more lines.

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