Ultra Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: Which is right for you?

Ultra Mobile and Cricket Wireless are both MVNOs that use T-Mobile's and AT&T's networks, respectively. Ultra Mobile was recently purchased by T-Mobile and offers several data plans with features such as 5G, free international calling, and mobile hotspot usage included with every plan. Also, by signing up for multiple months of service in advance, you'll be able to get an even better deal.

While Cricket Wireless doesn't offer the same perks with every plan or any multi-month discounts, there are impressive multi-line benefits that make it a great choice for families.

Ultra Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: What kind of plan do you need?

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There's one thing that's clear when comparing Ultra Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless, and it's that even though both offer a variety of plans and have some differences, both offer unlimited talk and text. As such, the major difference for most users will be the amount of high-speed data they get per month. With data plans starting at a mere 250MB and going all the way up to 40GB, Ultra Mobile has the advantage here. It also allows you to buy up to twelve months of service at a time, which can help you save quite a lot.

If you're thinking of signing up for Ultra Mobile, make sure you have good coverage on the T-Mobile network because that's all you're going to get. As a matter of fact, T-Mobile recently acquired Ultra Mobile and this isn't a bad thing, given T-Mobile's 5G network is the largest in the country. And with so many of the best Android phones shipping with 5G support, it's about time to step up to 5G.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Ultra MobileCricket Wireless
5GIncludedNationwide 5G on all plans
International calling90+ destinations includedAdd-on feature
Mexico and CanadaAll except base planAll except base plan
Hotspot usageAvailable on all plansAvailable with unlimited plans

Cricket Wireless has four main plans starting at 5GB of data, going all the way up to unlimited & premium data. While Cricket used to limit the speed of your connection, those days are gone and you're free to use your smartphone at full speed, unless the network is busy. The carrier has also enabled 5G access on all its plans as long as you have a compatible smartphone. Cricket has multi-line savings as well, so if you're looking to bring more than one line, you can save even more.

Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T, so it uses AT&T's network exclusively with access to both LTE and nationwide 5G networks on all plans. In some ways, comparing the two MVNOs is like comparing AT&T and T-Mobile.

Ultra Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: Ultra's plans

Ultra Mobile has several data plans you can pick from no matter what your needs are, starting at just 250MB and going up to unlimited (with speeds getting reduced after 40GB usage). Prices drop down as you sign up for three, six, or twelve months, with the best deal being available when you pay for a year upfront. Fortunately, you can change your plan at any time, and should you run out of data, you can add 1GB of data for $10 or 3GB of data for $20.

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Header Cell - Column 0 $15/month$19/month$24/month$29/month$31.20/month (Limited Time)$39.20/month (Limited Time)
International talk & textUnlimited to 90+ countriesUnlimited to 90+ countriesUnlimited to 90+ countriesUnlimited to 90+ countriesUnlimited to 90+ countriesUnlimited to 90+ countries
Mexico and Canada usageUnlimited talk & textUnlimited talk & textUnlimited talk & textUnlimited talk & textUnlimited talk & textUnlimited talk & text
NetworkNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5G

Each plan includes talk, text, high-speed 4G LTE & 5G data, and free mobile hotspot usage. Hotspot usage draws from your plan's high-speed allotment, except on the Unlimited plan where the hotspot data is capped at 10GB. This should be a decent amount for most people who like to use the internet when Wi-Fi isn't available.

The unlimited plan comes with 40GB of high-speed data, as well as a monthly $5 credit for international calls and a one-time $5 credit for international roaming. You can also stream videos, but the quality is capped at 480p.

Ultra Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: Cricket's plans

Cricket Coverage Map S20+

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Cricket Wireless is a prepaid carrier owned by AT&T that offers four data plans with AT&T's network. Its cheapest plan comes with 5GB of data, along with unlimited talk and text. At $30 per month, this should be a good fit for light users but if you're bringing multiple lines, it's worth noting that this plan won't get you any multi-line discounts. The 10GB plan offers the same features with double data but, comes with multi-line discounts. If you have three or more lines, there's no reason to get the smaller plan.

The smaller unlimited plan starts at $55 per month and while there is no data cap, your data priority is set to a lower level than that of other Cricket Wireless and AT&T customers. That means that if you're in an area with network congestion, speeds may be reduced until the load on the tower lightens up. This won't be noticeable to many users who live in suburban and rural areas.

The highest $60 per month unlimited plan is a big upgrade. It gives you unlimited premium data, meaning that your data will stay as fast as possible even when the tower is crowded. This plan also comes with 15GB of mobile hotspot data to use with other Wi-Fi devices. This plan also comes with 150GB of cloud storage to keep your photos and videos safe, along with ad-supported Max. Do note that you get 2GB of cloud storage with all other plans.

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Header Cell - Column 0 $30/month$40/month$55/month$60/month
Data5GB10GBUnlimitedUnlimited (premium data)
HotspotNoneNone10GB add-on available15GB included
International textNoneAvailable at additional fee37 countries37 countries
Mexico and Canada usageNot includedOnly with new accountsIncludedIncluded
NetworkNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5G
Other benefits2GB cloud storage2GB cloud storage2GB cloud storage150 GB cloud storage, ad-supported Max

All of Cricket's plans come with access to AT&T's nationwide 5G network. If you have a 5G-capable smartphone, you can access 5G network so long as you're covered. Even so, users on the unlimited plans have streamed videos limited to 480p (SD) resolution.

Cricket also has a deal with Boingo wireless and LinkNYC to provide you with public Wi-Fi access for better speeds and no data usage when you are connected. This is included for free with all Cricket plans and Cricket phones can connect automatically as well.

Ultra Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: International perks

Ultra Mobile has some international features that come with its plans, including unlimited global texting and unlimited calling to 90+ international countries. If you have family or friends that you like to call abroad, this is a great perk to have. If you get a plan other than the 250MB plan, you'll also be given a recurring monthly international calling credit of $1.50-5, and a one-time $5 roaming credit to use in any countries not covered in the 90+ destinations.

If you're planning a vacation and you need more roaming credit, you can add $5, $10, or $20 to your "UpRoam" balance to use call, text, and data while overseas. Ultra Mobile also has a "uTalk" feature for $10 that will give you 1,250 bonus minutes of talk time to 39 destinations beyond the 90+ included in the plan, which is a great way to save money if you need to make calls to other countries.

Cricket Wireless comes with some international advantages of its own, but only with its two unlimited plans. These include unlimited international texts to 37 countries, as well as usage in Mexico and Canada. This means that if you like to travel to these countries, you'll be able to call, text, and use data as you would back home, so long as more than 50 percent of your usage isn't in Canada.

If you want more international benefits, you can also sign up for Cricket International, Cricket International Extra, or individual country add-ons as long as you're on a plan above the 2GB one. For $5 extra, Cricket International gives you unlimited calling to landlines in 35 countries, while Cricket International Extra adds additional mobile-to-mobile minutes to 31 countries for $15 extra.

Cricket Wireless international add-ons

(Image credit: Cricket)

Ultra Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: Which phones are compatible?

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Ultra Mobile runs on T-Mobile's network, so as long as you have a GSM-unlocked device that supports VoLTE you should be good to go. However, it's never a bad idea to double-check online using Ultra's Bring Your Own Phone compatibility checker. All you need to do is type in your IMEI number to determine whether your device will work. If you're shopping for a new phone, Ultra Mobile also has a decent selection online for you to choose from, including some of the latest iPhones and Androids such as the Google Pixel 8 and the Samsung Galaxy S23. The best T-Mobile phones should also work flawlessly with Ultra Mobile.

If you're hoping to bring your phone to Cricket Wireless, just about any GSM unlocked device should also work, including many of the best Android phones and iPhones. Like with Ultra Mobile, you can head online to Cricket's compatibility checker to double-check by typing in your IMEI number. You can also purchase a phone directly with Cricket Wireless, which sells popular options such as the capable mid-ranger, the Galaxy A54 5G. The selection of phones isn't quite as extensive as Ultra Mobile's, but there are still a few good picks.

Ultra Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: Which is right for you?

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

If you're looking for service on just one line, Ultra Mobile's plans work out to be cheaper. You can save even more if you're willing to buy up to a year at once but unlike carriers like Mint Mobile, you can also go with just a single month if you want. There are a ton of data options so if you know how much you need, you can find a plan that's a great fit. Not only does hotspot data come included with each plan, but you'll also get great coverage with the T-Mobile network along with unlimited international calling.

Cricket Wireless is a better choice for you if you need multiple lines and are interested in one of its unlimited plans. The two unlimited plans cost $60 and $55 per month for a single line, but this price drops to $33 and $25 per month when you have four lines. Along with great AT&T coverage, the Cricket More unlimited plan gets you premium data, 15GB of mobile hotspot, and usage in Mexico and Canada. With multiple lines, Cricket's rates get a lot closer to Ultra Mobile's, and the best part is that you don't need to pay for multiple months to save.

Olivia Lipski

Olivia Lipski is a freelance writer for Android Central and loves testing out the latest smart home tech and discovering the best cell phone plans. When she's not busy running around NYC trying to find great food or coffee, she's in her kitchen trying to make it herself.

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