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

Ultra Mobile SIM card
(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Ultra Mobile and Cricket Wireless are both MVNOs that use the T-Mobile and AT&T networks, respectively. Ultra Mobile offers several data plans with features such as 5G, free international calling, and mobile hotspot usage included with every plan, and by signing up for multiple months in advance, you're able to get an even better deal. While Cricket Wireless doesn't offer the same perks with every plan or any multi-month discounts, it does have impressive multi-line advantages that make it an excellent choice for a family.

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

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Both of these prepaid carriers offer a wide range of plans but they all have one thing in common, unlimited talk and text. The major difference for most people will be the amount of high-speed data you get each month and here Ultra Mobile has an advantage. Ultra Mobile's data plans start at just 250MB and range all the way up to 60GB on the largest plan. Ultra Mobile also lets you buy up to 12 months at a time for some extra savings on your plan.

If you're thinking of signing up to Ultra Mobile, make sure you have good coverage on the T-Mobile network because that's all the coverage Ultra Mobile has. This isn't a bad thing as T-Mobile's 5G network is the largest in the country and with so many of the best Android phones shipping with 5G, it's about time to step up to 5G.

Cricket has four main plans starting at 5GB of ranging up to unlimited with premium data. While Cricket used to limit the speed of your connection, those days are gone and you're free to use your phone at the full speed the network allows. Cricket has also enabled 5G access on all plans as long as you have a compatible phone. Cricket has multi-line savings so if you're looking to bring more than one line, you can save some money.

Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T so it uses AT&T's network exclusively with access to LTE and nationwide 5G on all plans. 

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Header Cell - Column 0 Ultra MobileCricket Wireless
NetworkT-MobileAT&T
5GIncludedNationwide 5G on all plans
International calling80+ destinations includedAdd-on feature
Mexico and CanadaNot includedIncluded with unlimited plans

Like with most MVNOs, your data speeds might be slower when towers are congested. On the plans with a data cap, your data will be reduced to 2G speeds until the end of the month.

Ultra Mobile vs. Cricket Wireless: Ultra Mobile's Plans

Ultra Mobile has several data plans you can pick from no matter what your needs are, starting at 250MB and going up to unlimited. Prices drop down as you sign up for three, six, or 12 months, with the best deal when you pay for 12 months upfront. Fortunately, you can change your plan at any time, and should you run out of data, you can always add 1GB for $10.

Ultra Mobile plans

(Image credit: Ultra Mobile)

Each plan includes talk, text, high speed 4G LTE and 5G data, and free mobile hotspot usage. Hotspot usage draws from your plan's high-speed allotment, except on the Unlimited and Unlimited+ plan where the hotspot data is capped at 10GB and 20GB respectively. This should be a decent amount for most people who like to use the internet when Wi-Fi isn't available.

The cheaper unlimited plan comes with 40GB of high-speed data while the more expensive plan takes it up to 60GB. Both unlimited plans, as well as the 15GB plan, will have video streaming quality reduced to SD.

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. Cricket's cheapest plan comes with 5GB of data and unlimited talk and text. At $30 per month, this is a good fit for a light user but if you're bringing multiple lines, it's worth noting that this plan does not get any multi-line discounts. The 10GB plan offers the same features with double the 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 other Cricket and AT&T customers. That means that if you're in an area with a congested network, your speeds may be reduced until the load on the tower lightens. This won't be noticeable to many people that live in suburban and rural areas.

The largest $60 unlimited plan is a huge upgrade. You get 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 and HBO Max with ads.

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Header Cell - Column 0 5GB10GBUnlimited (Cricket Core)Unlimited (Cricket More)
Data5GB10GBUnlimitedUnlimited (premium data)
HotspotNoneNone10GB add-on available15GB included
International textNoneNone37 countries37 countries
Mexico and Canada usageNot includedNot includedIncludedIncluded
Video streamingFullFull1.5Mbps (480p)1.5Mbps (480p)
5G accessNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5GNationwide 5G

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

Cricket also has a deal with Boingo wireless and LinkNYC to provide 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.

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 80+ 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 or $5 to use on any countries not covered in the 80+ destinations, as well as a one-time international roaming credit of $5.

If you're planning a vacation and you need more roaming credit, you can add $5, $10, or $20 to your "UpRoam" balance to be able 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 to 39 destinations beyond the 80+ 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 add-on compatibility

(Image credit: Cricket Wireless)

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 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S22. 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 A53 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 and the best part is, you don't need to pay for multiple months to save.

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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