PROS / Cricket Wireless is the latest cellular provider to offer its customers a truly unlimited data plan.
CONS / Despite operating on AT&T’s excellent network, Cricket customers have their LTE speeds artificially capped at 8 Mbps.
VERDICT / The opportunity to get AT&T’s coverage for rock-bottom prices shouldn’t be ignored; Cricket Wireless is the best non-carrier cellular provider around.
Cricket Wireless floundered for several years with its small, private cellular network and coverage that paled in comparison to what the nationwide cell phone companies offered. When AT&T acquired the company and merged it with Aio Wireless, Cricket transformed. Today, it runs on AT&T’s network and has the benefit of coast-to-coast coverage. With a recent announcement that brought truly unlimited data plans to customers, Cricket’s place atop the lesser providers was assured. Sure, it might not have the feature list or device selection of one of the Big Four, but it has some of the best cell phone plans around.
Cricket's base plan offers unlimited talk, texts and 2.5GB of high-speed data for just $40 a month. You can increase your high-speed data limit to 5GB, and add unlimited international messaging to boot, for $50 a month, while 10GB costs $60. Regardless of the plan you pick, Cricket throttles your speeds once you hit your data limit rather than charge you overage fees. If you sign up for automatic payments, it knocks $5 off each bill, bringing the basic 2.5GB plan down to just $35.
Ten gigabytes of data for $55 (after that auto-payment credit) is a pretty great deal, but if you want to go all-out, Cricket now offers an unlimited 4G LTE data plan for $70 per month, or $65 with autopay. That’s $10 cheaper than Sprint and $30 cheaper than T-Mobile, but there’s a catch: All Cricket 4G LTE connections have data speed caps. Whether you get the basic 2.5GB plan or the unlimited plan, the best speeds you can hope for are 8 Mbps. Given the best-in-class cell phone service you get from AT&T’s network, this is rather disappointing, though it’s par for the course with the smaller providers.
The company doesn't have designated family share plans, but it does provide a $10 discount to every additional line of service you put on your account, with the discount increasing the more phones you have on an account – $10 off for the second phone, $20 off the price of the third and so on. You can get four lines of smartphone service, each with unlimited talk, text and its own dedicated 2.5GB data allocation, for just $100 a month. If you sign up for automatic payments, that goes down to just $80, a truly incredible price for family connectivity. Make no mistake, considering what you get for your money, these are the cheapest cell phone plans you can buy.
When you compare Cricket's plans with the competition, you’ll find them nearly unbeatable. For $35, its basic 2.5GB data tier tends to be great for many users, while its $65 unlimited plan is the cheapest avenue to truly unlimited data on the market. The AT&T network, meanwhile, is the strongest available from any prepaid provider. If you're looking for the service and support of a small company with the network authority of a large one, Cricket could win your heart. It’s the best non-carrier cell phone provider we reviewed.