Cricket Wireless Review
Our Cricket Wireless Review
Acquired by AT&T in 2013, Cricket Wireless shines among mobile broadband providers for its affordable prepaid group plans, ranging from $30-60 per month per plan at base price before discounts are applied. It’s cheaper than both Verizon and T-Mobile, whose mobile broadband plans range from $40-80 per month. By coverage, Cricket is the 5th largest mobile broadband provider nationwide, with widest and fastest coverage in Texas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Tennessee, Nevada, New Jersey, Arkansas, Delaware, and Mississippi. Cricket’s main con is its rather mediocre speed offerings. Despite being on AT&T’s network, Cricket’s 8Mbps max speeds lag behind those of bigger mobile broadband providers. If you’re a speed fiend and don’t mind paying extra for the convenience, we’d recommend looking into faster providers like AT&T or Verizon.
Cricket Wireless offers four mobile broadband internet packages to choose from, all of which are prepaid and offer optional add-ons to increase your data cap. It also offers some of the most affordable “unlimited” data plans on the market: for $50-60 per month (or cheaper, if you apply AutoPay or group discounts), you’ll have up to 22GB of data to use before your speeds are reduced. This is on par with other companies’ unlimited data plans, but at a lower price compared to more expensive carriers like T-Mobile (who offer 22GB for $95 per month).
Our Deep Dive
Cricket Wireless offers four data plans for a range of price points and users: whether you use your broadband just to surf the web, or you’ve got a family full of HD video streamers, there’s a plan for you.
Depending on which plan you choose, you may be able to apply discounts or add-ons. We’ve read the fine print and broken down the options here:
|Plan||Base Price||Data and Speed Caps**||AutoPay or Group Save discount eligibility||Add-Ons|
|2GB||$30||2GB data, 8Mbps speed||No||+1GB for $10|
|5GB||$40||5GB data, 8Mbps speed||Yes||+1GB for $10; International Service|
|Cricket Unlimited 2||$50||22GB data, 3Mbps||Yes||Mobile Hotspot; International Service|
|Unlimited||$60||22GB data, 8Mbps speed||Yes||Mobile Hotspot; International Service|
Group Save: Shopping for your family? Cricket Wireless offers discounted group plans with the 5GB, Cricket Unlimited 2, and Unlimited plans. Assuming you’re the first person on the plan, you'll get $10 off for the second user added, and $20 off for each additional user. The discount applies up to five users total, but can’t be stacked with any other promotions or discounts.
The exception (as of 1/11/18) is Cricket Unlimited 2, which is only $80 per month for two lines or $100 per month for four lines.
AutoPay: Available for the 5GB, Cricket Unlimited 2, and Unlimited plans. If you sign up for AutoPay, you’ll get a $5 credit at the end of each monthly statement. This can’t be stacked with the Group Save discount, so it’s only a smart deal if you’re the only person in the plan.
+1GB: For the 2GB and 5GB, you have the option of topping up your data if you’ve hit your monthly data cap. You can add an extra 1GB as either a one-time or monthly purchase for $10, making this a perfect solution for people who occasionally exceed their data limit. This is a nice alternative to have if you’re interested in more data but aren’t ready to upgrade your plan. We recommend only doing this once you’ve hit your cap, as any “leftover” data won’t roll over into the next month.
Mobile Hotspot: Available for the Cricket Unlimited 2 and Unlimited plans at $10 per month. Hotspot allows you to share your monthly plan's high-speed data allowance among multiple devices. The Hotspot data allowance is 8GB/month: speeds slow from 3-8Mbps to 128 kbps once you hit the cap. It’s only available for compatible phones, which you can check here.
2GB: For extra-light data users
At $30 per month, the 2GB plan is one of the cheapest mobile broadband plans around. The plan includes unlimited calls, texts, and photo messaging nationwide. That 2GB of data comes with speeds up to 8Mbps — enough for sending and receiving over 2,000 emails, surfing the web for 54 hours, streaming music for 14 hours, posting 200 photos to social media, and streaming non-HD video for 1.5 hours. That means it’s best for users who partake only in light web surfing and occasional streaming, and want to avoid paying for more data than they’ll ever use: if you’re on the fence, we recommend erring on the side of caution and springing for the 5GB plan, which gives you more than double the data for just $10 more.
Note that with the 2GB plan, you won’t be able to apply any Group or Autopay discounts (we suppose Cricket thinks you’re already saving enough money). But if you know you don’t eat up much data on a monthly basis, it might be a good match for you.
5GB: For light data users
If you frequently surf the web, post on social media, and occasionally stream short videos or music clips, the 5GB per month plan will likely work for you. You’ll be able to stream non-HD video for 5 hours, listen to music for 35 hours, surf the web for 135 hours, post 500 photos to social media, and send/receive 5000+ emails at speeds up to 8Mbps. That might not be enough if YouTube is your family’s favorite app The plan starts at $40 per month, though you can save $5 per month by signing up for Autopay, or even more if you’ll be signing up for a group plan.
As with all of Cricket’s mobile broadband plans, you’ll be able to top up 1GB for an additional $10 once a month, have unlimited calls, texts, and photo messaging nationwide, and be reduced down to 128 kbps if you exceed your data cap.
Cricket Unlimited 2: For heavy data users
For the data heavy-hitters who expect to frequently stream videos and music, play games, and post on social media, at moderate-high speeds— the $55 per month plan is a good choice. Though “Unlimited” suggests that you should have literally unlimited data usage, the reality is that you’ll have 22GB of high-speed data to play with — exceed that, and Cricket warns that speeds may “temporarily be slowed during periods of network congestion” for the remainder of the month. This is pretty on par for mobile broadband — AT&T and Verizon also cap their data usage at 22GB.
22GB is nothing to scoff at, though: that’s enough for sending and receiving over 22,000 emails, surfing the web for 594 hours, streaming music for 154 hours, posting 2200 photos to social media, and streaming non-HD video for 16.5 hours. The main catch is that speeds will only go up to 3Mbps, which we must admit is pretty measly as far as mobile broadband providers go. If you know you’ll be using a lot of data, but don’t need it to be lightning-fast, Cricket Unlimited 2 might be a good option for you. Otherwise, you can choose to pay $5 more per month for the Unlimited plan (we know, these plan names are not as clear as they could be), which allows you speeds up to 8Mbps.
Unlimited: For extra heavy data users
If you know that you (or your family) are best friends with your phones and that anything less than high-speed is no-go, consider the Unlimited plan for $60 per month. As with the Cricket Unlimited 2 plan, you may be subject to temporarily slowed speeds “during periods of network congestion” after exceeding 22GB of data. But until you hit that cap, you’ll be able to send emails, surf the web, stream music, post on social media, and watch HD videos for as long as you can with the Cricket Unlimited 2 plan — but at faster speeds, up to 8Mbps. If you and your family are data fiends, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more generous plan at this price from other mobile broadband providers.
The Bottom Line
Cricket Wireless is best for families who value low prices over the fastest broadband speeds, or anyone who prefers an affordable phone bill over the speediest connections. Audit the phone habits and data usage of anyone joining your plan to decide which will be right for you. If you need faster speeds or aren’t shopping for a group, we recommend reading our other reviews to find the right provider for you.