Mint Mobile and Cricket Wireless are mobile virtual network operators or MVNOs for short. At the end of the day, 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 simply lease coverage from one of the larger networks and resell it to customers. Plans are often prepaid, so you don't have to worry about overages.

Let's take a look at two major players — Mint Mobile and Cricket Wireless — and see how they compare to one another.

Mint Mobile background

Mint SIM coverage map

Who owns it? Ultra Mobile

Which network does it use? T-Mobile 4G LTE

How long has it been around? Since 2016

Tethering allowed? No

Cheapest plan: $35 for 1 month: 2GB 4G LTE, unlimited nationwide talk, text, and 2G data

Cricket Wireless background

Cricket Wireless data coverage

Who owns it? AT&T

Which network does it use? AT&T 4G LTE

How long has it been around? Since 1999

Tethering allowed? Yes, $10/month

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

Mint Mobile plans

Mint Mobile doesn't operate with traditional contracts. You pay up front for your term, which can be 3 months, 6 months, or 12 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 Small (2GB LTE) Medium (5GB LTE) Large (10GB 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) $30/month ($180 upfront)
12 months $15/month ($180 upfront) $20/month ($240 upfront) $25/month ($300 upfront)


As far as add-ons are concerned, Mint Mobile's selection is very slim:

Extra data:

  • 500MB: $5
  • 1GB/month: $10
  • 3GB/month: $20

International credit:

Mint Mobile's plans contain no international calling, though unlimited international texting is included. You can add international calling credit to your account in $5, $10, or $20 increments.

You can see a list of international rates here.

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, except the $25/month Talk & Text plan, come with unlimited talk, text, and 2G data. Pricing varies depending on how much 4G LTE data you opt for.

1GB Basic (4GB LTE) Smart (8GB LTE) Unlimited 2 (22GB, slower LTE) Unlimited (22GB, faster LTE)
Price (monthly) $30 $40 $50 $55 $60
With Auto Pay $25 $35 $45 $50 $55
Extras Eligible for Group Save Discount Tethering included, International texting, roaming in Canada and Mexico, 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

The base plan is $25/month and includes only unlimited calling and texting, with no data access or multimedia messaging. $30/month gets you 1GB of 4G LTE data (max 8Mbps) ; $40/month gets you 4GB of 4G LTE and the plan is eligible for the $5/month Auto Pay discount (max 8Mbps) ; $50/month gets you 8GB of 4G LTE and the $5/month Auto Pay discount (max 8Mbps) ; $55/month gets you 22GB of data (max 3Mbps); and $60/month gets you 22GB of 4G LTE up to 8Mbps.

Note: If you want tethering (mobile hotspot), the only compatible plan is the 8GB $50/month plan. It's weird, but that's the way it is.

Learn more


1GB of 4G LTE data:

$10/month. All remaining data expires at the end of your monthly plan cycle.


Included in 8GB/month plan.

Cricket Protect:

For $7/month, Cricket protect covers you if your phone is lost, stolen, accidentally damaged physically or by liquid. You're also covered for in-warranty exchanges and out-of-warranty mechanical/electrical problems. Deductibles vary from $10 to $250, depending on your phone model.

Click here for more info.

Terms and conditions

Group Save Discount: Cricket gives you a monthly discount for each line you add to your account. Each line must have a plan of at least $40 a month. Lines with the $30 per month plan are ineligible.

  • 2 lines: $10 monthly discount
  • 3 lines: $20 monthly discount
  • 4 lines: $30 monthly discount
  • 5 lines: $40 monthly discount
  • Up to $100 in total monthly savings

International texting: This only covered text messages to select countries and does not cover picture or video messaging.

Mexico and Canada roaming: Calling and texting while in Mexico and Canada are included, as well as calling between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Usage in Canada and Mexico cannot exceed 50% for texts, voice minutes, and data usage sent, received, or used. For example, if you send 100 texts in a month, no more than 50 can be sent to or received from Mexico and Canada.

Best phones available from Cricket Wireless

You can bring an unlocked phone to Cricket Wireless; just check compatibility first. If you don't have a phone to bring, we recommend the following:

  • Samsung Galaxy S8: $699.99 with upgrade
  • Samsung Galaxy S7: $549.99 with upgrade
  • ZTE Grand X Max: $129.99 outright, $99.99 with upgrade
  • ZTE Grand X 4: $79.99 with upgrade
  • LG Stylo 3: $149.99 outright, $129.99 with upgrade

Which should I go with? Mint Mobile

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 sign up for 3 months or longer at a time, you get a lot more data for your money. Need more reasons? Read our review!

If discounted phones and roaming in Canada and Mexico are important to you, then you'll have to go with Cricket (if you're choosing between the two).

Alternative carriers (MVNOS)


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