December 26, 2021

Cricket Wireless Review [2021]: Is It Worth It?

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Ready to switch mobile providers? Review the features, pricing, and coverage of Cricket Wireless to compare it to the top prepaid competition.

Prepaid phone plans like Cricket Wireless offer flexibility and convenience that mobile contracts can't match.

But for such a low price, is the service even good?

Find out if Cricket Wireless is worth switching to, and what you can expect in coverage, customer service, and more.

What is Cricket Wireless?

Cricket was founded in 1999 by Leap Wireless International. This cellular service provider is considered a "mobile virtual network operator," or MVNO.

This means that Cricket doesn't own the infrastructure it uses (like cell towers). Instead, they buy usage rights from another provider at wholesale prices β€” in this case, AT&T.

Bottom line: Cricket offers AT&T coverage at discounted rates.

Largest MVNO Providers by Subscriber Count[1]
  1. Metro by T-Mobile: 20,000,000 users
  2. Cricket Wireless: 11,000,000 users
  3. Straight Talk: 9,717,000 users
  4. Boost Mobile: 8,900,000 users
  5. Consumer Cellular: 4,000,000 users

Pros and Cons of Cricket Wireless?

Cricket Wireless offers flexible prepaid options and discounts that are perfect for families, but this wireless carrier isn't for everyone. Let's take a look at the advantages and downsides of Cricket:

Pros

  • Great family discounts
  • 2nd-best 4G and 5G data coverage networks
  • Free HBO Max included with the $60/month plan ($55 with AutoPay)

Cons

  • Unhelpful customer support
  • Phone prices are fairly expensive
  • Poor phone selection (no Samsung flagship devices, no Google phones)
  • Expensive basic plan compared to the competition ($30 for only 2GB of high-speed data)

Is Cricket Wireless Any Good?: Full Overview

Below, review the data plans, phone selection, and network coverage of Cricket Wireless to see how it compares to other top prepaid companies.

Overall Score: 4.0
Prepaid Plans and Pricing: 3.5
Phone Selection and Pricing: 2.5
Network Coverage: 4.5
Customer Reviews: 4.0

Prepaid Plans and Pricing: 3.5 Stars

If you don't use much data, Cricket probably isn't for you. The company offers the most expensive basic plan with the least amount of data. For half the cost of Cricket's 2GB plan, you can get twice the amount of data from Mint.

However, if you use a fair amount of data, Cricket offers a competitive suite of prepaid plans starting at $35 per month β€” which is equal to Boost and equivalent to Verizon.

Data Plans and Pricing
CricketBoost MobileVerizon PrepaidMint Mobile
$30: 2GB$15: 2GB**$25: 5GB****$15: 4GB
$35: 10GB*$25: 4GB***$35: 15GB****$20: 10GB
$50: Unlimited (no mobile hotspot)*$35: 10GB$50: Unlimited (no mobile hotspot)$25: 15GB
$55: Unlimited + 15GB hotspot*$50: 35GB$65: Unlimited + hotspot$30: 35GB
*With AutoPay
**Lowest tier Boost plan is for new Bring Your Own Phone customers
***Second-lowest tier Boost plan is for new customers only
****All Verizon plans include a $5-$15 higher introductory price for the first 10 months of prepaid membership

It's also one of the few smaller wireless service providers that offers true unlimited data plans, unlike Boost and Mint.

How to check data usage:
On Android: Go to your Settings > Connections > Data Usage
On iPhone: Go to your Settings > Cellular > Usage

Phone Selection and Pricing: 2.5 Stars

Phone selection and pricing are weak points for Cricket:

  • Cricket only offers 32 devices, the least among top prepaid competition (Verizon and Mint Mobile both offer 64, AT&T offers 50, and Boost Mobile offers 34)
  • Does not offer any Google Pixel phones
  • Does not offer any Samsung flagship devices, only budget models like the Galaxy A series
  • Phone pricing is more expensive than Boost Mobile across the board

Here's how Cricket's phone prices stack up to the competition:

Phone Pricing
ModelCricketBoostVerizonAT&TMint
iPhone 13 256 GB$929.99$929.99$899.99$899.99$929.00
iPhone 12 256 GB$879.99$879.99$849.99$879.99$879.00
Samsung Galaxy 20 FE 5G$449.99$399.99N/A$699.99N/A
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G$349.99N/AN/A$499.99$549.00
Moto G Stylus 5G$229.99$199.99$249.99$249.99$449.00

Interestingly, Cricket offers its own line of budget phones that run on the Android OS and are created by Emblem Solutions (which also makes AT&T-exclusive phones).

If you like Cricket's network coverage and plan pricing, you can find less expensive devices by shopping at third-party sites like Amazon or Back Market. Just make sure you buy a device that is fully unlocked for the AT&T network.

Does Cricket offer family plan discounts?
If you are purchasing a phone plan for your family or with your significant other, Cricket offers some great quantity discounts for each new line.

For example, the $50 unlimited plan is only $40 per line with 2 lines, $30 with 3 lines, and only $25 with 4 lines.

Network Coverage: 4.5 Stars

Curious if Cricket Wireless is a good network? Rest assured, as mentioned above, Cricket runs on the AT&T network, which gives customers some of the best nationwide high-speed coverage available.

AT&T ranks second in both 4G and 5G availability.[2]

4G Coverage by Carrier (% of the United States)

  1. Verizon: 70%
  2. AT&T: 68%
  3. T-Mobile: 62%
  4. Sprint: 30%

5G Coverage by Carrier (% of the United States)

  1. T-Mobile: 37%
  2. AT&T: 16%
  3. Verizon: 11%

It should be noted that T-Mobile uses a low-band version of 5G, which allows for broader reach but has the drawback of slower speeds compared to Verizon and AT&T.

Cricket also has a nationwide 3G network that is similar in scope to its 4G coverage. However, be aware that Cricket's 3G network will be taken offline in February 2022.

You can check coverage availability in your area by checking out the interactive coverage map on Cricket's website.

Customer Reviews: 4.0 Stars

Like many wireless service providers, Cricket comes with mixed reviews from customers online. However, it has favorable ratings compared to most other common carriers.

For example, while Cricket may have a 2.0-star rating on Trustpilot, compare this to AT&T, Boost Mobile, and Verizon, which have 1.3, 1.4, and 1.2-star Trustpilot ratings, respectively.

Consumer Affairs3.7 stars (out of 5)
Trustpilot2.0 stars (out of 5)
Google Play Store (for myCricket app)4.3 stars (out of 5)
Apple App Store (myCricket app)4.6 stars (out of 5)

Complaints about Cricket
As usual with wireless companies, customer service is the weakest point for Cricket. Here is one negative review that shows a common theme:

"Cricket wireless is a rip-off. None of their reps have a clue how to assist with issues. They are known to hang up on customers when they don't know what they are doing. And they hate to reimburse their customers and will definitely give you the runaround."
β€” Larry via Trustpilot

Praise for Cricket
However, customers do appear satisfied with the quality and cost of Cricket. Here's a typical positive review:

"I have had very few dropped calls within the 10-plus years that I've been with Cricket. My monthly payment has never gone up, no hidden fees, and no contracts ...Their plans fit perfectly in my budget."
β€”Ona via Consumer Affairs

The Bottom Line

Cricket Wireless offers savings, great family plans, and excellent network coverage.

The only real downside of Cricket is the lack of phone selection, but in today's day and age, it is very easy to shop around online to find the phone you want at the price you can afford.

For these reasons, Cricket Wireless is certainly worth considering. Check out the plans they have available to see if there is one that meets your needs.

References

  1. ^ "MVNOs": Best MVNO, 2021.
  2. ^ "How to Find the Best Cell Phone Coverage 2021: WhistleOut, 2021.

Write to Justin Barnard at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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