New Report: The Best Cell Phone Providers in America

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Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile earned the top spot among cell phone providers for customer satisfaction according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report.

Xfinity Mobile’s 78 score (on a 100-point scale) beat several of the industry’s major carriers including VerizonAT&T and T-Mobile.

What Makes Xfinity Mobile #1?

The ACSI used 12 criteria, what the report calls “crucial elements of the customer experience,” to determine its rankings.

The benchmarks included network coverage, call reliability and quality, data upload/download speed, quality and reliability of the mobile app and call center helpfulness.

The report separates the providers into three categories:

Here’s the full breakdown of the 2021 ACSI rankings:

Mobile Network Operators

Key Takeaway: T-Mobile fell from its perch at #1 to third place, which ACSI attributes, at least in part, to its merger with Sprint, which ranked last among MNOs in ACSI’s 2019-2020 report

Per the ACSI press release: “Mergers usually negatively impact customer satisfaction. Given T-Mobile’s sudden fall from grace, it appears we’re now witnessing the implications of the carrier’s union with a former MNO bottom dweller.”

AT&T saw its customer satisfaction rating slightly improve; it’s now tied with Verizon for first place.

OperatorScoreChange From
Previous Report
AT&T741%
Verizon740%
T-Mobile72-5%
U.S. Cellular69-3%
Category Average: 73Average Change: 0.0%

MNOs are wireless cell phone providers that have their own towers.

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Full-Service Mobile Virtual Network Operators

Key Takeaway: While Xfinity Mobile saw a small drop, it still ended up as #1 among all wireless carriers in customer satisfaction with a score of 78. (Note that Xfinity Mobile is available only to people who are already Xfinity internet customers.)

Spectrum Mobile appeared in the survey for the first time and finished in a tie for second place with Cricket Wireless at 75. Boost Mobile made the biggest fall, slipping 4%.

OperatorScoreChange From Previous Report
Xfinity Mobile (Review)78-1%
Cricket Wireless (Review)75-1%
Spectrum Mobile (Review)75N/A
Metro by T-Mobile (Review)740%
Boost Mobile (Review)71-4%
Average Score: 73Average Change: -2.7%

“Full-service” MVNOs rely on their MNO partners only for use of their towers. 

Full-Service Mobile Virtual Network Operators

Key Takeaway: While Consumer Cellular stayed in first place, its lead among the value MVNOs fell considerably. Straight Talk Wireless, Total Wireless and Tracfone are now competitive with Consumer Cellular in customer satisfaction. Appearing on the list for the first time, Total Wireless tied for third with a score of 75.

OperatorScoreChange From Previous Report
Consumer Cellular (Review)77-7%
Straight Talk Wireless (Review)76-3%
Total Wireless (Review)75N/A
Tracfone75-1%
SafeLink Wireless733%
Simple Mobile71NA
Walmart Family Mobile69NA
Q Link Wireless683%
Assurance Wireless67NA
Average Score: 75Average Change: -2.6%

“Value” MVNOs rely heavily on their partner MNOs to provide network infrastructure.

The ACSI Wireless Service and Cellular Telephone Report 2020-21 is based on survey responses from more than 21,000 people contacted between April 1, 2020, and March 29, 2021.

Read more about the results here or you can register to download the full report for free here.

Final Thoughts

Switching cell phone providers is one of the easiest ways to reduce your monthly bills, and using an MVNO can often cut your cell phone bill even more.

Unlimited service with Verizon costs $60/month for one line. Xfinity internet customers can switch to an unlimited plan on Xfinity Mobile, which runs on Verizon’s network, and save $180/year.

While Clark doesn’t normally love cable companies, in this case, he recognizes the big benefit to your wallet – if you’re already an Xfinity internet customer: “You have to pay them $45 a month for a single line: unlimited data, unlimited text, all that stuff. I mean, it’s a decent deal,” Clark says.

If you’re not an Xfinity customer or you simply don’t want to bundle your cell phone and cable bills, check out Team Clark’s comprehensive cell phone guide to find the best plan for you. 

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