If you’re looking for ways to save on your cell phone bill, you may be considering Cricket Wireless as your provider.
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at Cricket Wireless’s plans and pricing, how to get started, and what to expect from Cricket Wireless’s service.
I signed up for Cricket Wireless for 30 days to try out the service myself. I’ve also compared more than 70 different available phone plans to see how Cricket holds up.
What To Know Before Signing Up for Cricket Wireless
Cricket Wireless is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that provides access to AT&T’s cellular network. It’s a reliable service provider and was even named one of the best full-service MVNOs by the American Customer Satisfaction Index earlier this year.
At Clark.com, we also recommend Cricket Wireless as one of AT&T’s best MVNOs and highlight its unlimited plan as one of the best multiline phone plans.
Plans begin as low as $30 per month per line for 5GB of high-speed data. It’s easy and free to activate service by buying a SIM card online, but know that there’s a $25 activation fee if you visit a Cricket Wireless store in person. For this reason, I recommend activating your service online.
That’s what I did when I tested out Cricket Wireless’s 5GB plan for 30 days to explore its coverage, call and text performance, customer service and more.
Table of Contents:
- Plans and Pricing
- Activation Process
- Call and Text Performance
- Data Speeds
- Customer Service
Below, you’ll find more information about Cricket Wireless including what plans are available, how reliable the service is and whether or not you should consider it as your mobile carrier.
Plans and Pricing
Cricket Wireless offers four different plans. You can join any plan with just a single line and add up to five lines for additional discounts.
In the table below, you’ll see how much each Cricket Wireless plan costs per line per month. Prices include autopay where discounts apply; taxes and fees are included.
|1 Line||2 Lines||3 Lines||4 Lines||5 Lines|
|Unlimited + 15GB Mobile Hotspot||$55||$45||$37||$33||$32|
All of these plans include unlimited talk, text and picture messaging in the United States as well as HD voice and Wi-Fi calling. Each Cricket Wireless plan also provides 5G access on capable devices and unlimited data at 128 Kbps after your monthly data usage limit is reached.
One of the plans worth noting is Cricket Wireless’s unlimited plan: It’s available for $25 per line with four lines. That means all four lines will get unlimited high-speed data for $100 total! This is the plan that earned Cricket Wireless a spot in our top picks for the best multiline phone plan.
Customers on this unlimited plan will have access to unlimited high-speed data; however, they may notice slow data speeds when the network is busy. Cricket Wireless’s top-tier unlimited data plan claims to offer premium data that won’t slow based on usage.
The most expensive unlimited plan is also the only plan from Cricket Wireless that includes mobile hotspot. It includes 15GB of mobile hotspot data, 150GB of cloud storage and a free HBO Max subscription (with ads).
When it comes to charges and additional fees, I didn’t experience many with Cricket Wireless. I avoided the activation fee by purchasing my SIM card online. The SIM card did cost $9.99 online, but the alternative is to pay a $25 activation fee at a Cricket Wireless store.
All Cricket Wireless plans are prepaid monthly. There aren’t any long-term contracts or overage fees. To learn more about each specific plan, visit Cricket Wireless’s website.
If you decide to switch to Cricket Wireless, I recommend activating your service online to avoid the $25 activation fee. The process is fast and easy to do. In this section, I’ll walk you through the process I followed when I tried out the 5GB plan myself. I’ll also share how I was able to get a month of service for less than $16!
To get started, I visited Cricket Wireless’s website and chose the 5GB monthly plan. Then, I was able to choose between buying a Cricket Wireless phone (some are even free) and bringing my own device. I chose to bring my own.
Then I checked my device’s compatibility by entering its IMEI number.
Once I verified that my phone was compatible, I selected the type of SIM card I’d need. The options included voice and data or data only, new customer or current customer, and porting my old phone number or getting a new one.
The SIM kit cost $9.99 online. Once I added it to my shopping cart, I was prompted to enter my ZIP code. Then, I was able to add an additional line or proceed to checkout.
The total was $30 for the monthly plan plus $9.99 for the SIM card and free next-business-day shipping. My bill came to $40.74 after taxes. The taxes were applied only to the SIM card; the monthly plan rate was $30 exactly moving forward.
Fortunately, I was able to find an offer from my Chase credit card for $25 cash back on Cricket Wireless, so I was actually able to test the phone plan for only $15.74 total! Be sure to check offers on your cash back credit cards before switching phone service providers for potential additional savings.
During this process, I was also able to choose whether or not I wanted to opt into autopay. After verifying the information and agreeing to the terms and conditions, I placed my order.
The next day, I received an email shipment confirmation. I received my SIM card in the mail the following business day.
I inserted the Cricket Wireless SIM card, turned my phone on and went to cricketwireless.com/activate. There, I had to choose my device type, purchase location and the fact that I’m a new customer.
I was then able to enter my order number and Cricket phone number to activate my service. All of this information was in my initial email order confirmation.
After that, I restarted my phone, and I was able to place a test call.
Call and Text Performance
Over the course of 30 days, I tried out Cricket Wireless’s service by making and receiving phone calls as well as sending and receiving text messages.
During the month that I tested Cricket Wireless’s service, I experienced consistently reliable, clear service with no dropped calls or undelivered text messages. However, service can vary from one area to the next.
Cricket Wireless provides access to AT&T’s network and nationwide coverage. To see if the Cricket Wireless network offers coverage in your area, check out its coverage map.
If you visit Cricket Wireless’s website, you can enter your address or ZIP code to see if you’ll have service in your area. You can also see what specific types of coverage is available including 4G/LTE and 5G data.
Cricket Wireless offers access to AT&T’s 4G/LTE and 5G networks. Based on my experience as well as AT&T’s coverage map, you’ll likely have reliable access to data with this MVNO.
To make sure you’ll be covered before switching to Cricket Wireless, be sure to enter your address on its coverage map online. You can also look at AT&T’s coverage map to get a better idea of service in your area since this is the network Cricket Wireless uses.
In addition to good coverage, you’ll also likely experience average download speeds with Cricket Wireless. When I tried out Cricket Wireless, I checked the data speeds using speediest.net by Ookla.
The download speed was usually around 20 Mbps. The fastest download speed I saw was 31.63 Mbps, while the slowest download speed I saw was 12.27 Mbps.
According to Consumer Reports, 18 Mbps is the minimum speed necessary for streaming 4K movies and TV shows. Netflix recommends a download speed of 25 Mbps for streaming 4K. Amazon says you’ll need a download speed of at least 8 Mbps for SD video and 40 Mbps for HD video on Prime.
Based on these numbers, Cricket Wireless’s high-speed data is fast enough to do most things online, including streaming SD video.
Unfortunately, the only plan that Cricket Wireless offers that includes mobile hotspot is its most expensive unlimited data plan. I wasn’t able to test Cricket Wireless’s mobile hotspot download speeds on the 5GB plan.
However, it was easy to monitor my mobile data usage throughout the month on the Cricket Wireless app. The plan I tried came with 5GB of high-speed data monthly, but there are several different options available. If you choose a plan that isn’t unlimited, you’ll experience slower speeds once you’ve exceeded your monthly high-speed data limit.
Good customer service is important in a phone carrier. Unfortunately, nearly all major companies seem to be struggling with it these days. Whether it’s extended wait times or unhelpful representatives, dealing with customer service with phone service providers can be a pain.
To see how long I’d have to wait for service and what type of service I’d get, I contacted Cricket Wireless in both possible ways: via phone and online chat.
To contact Cricket Wireless, you can visit the website or mobile app to chat with an agent or call Cricket Wireless at 1-800-274-2538 Monday-Saturday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. or Sunday between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. EST. Online chat representatives are available until 11 p.m. each night.
When I contacted the Cricket Wireless customer service phone line, I was warned that wait times were longer than normal. Ultimately, I had to wait around seven minutes to talk to a customer representative on the phone. The automated messaging system can be tricky to navigate, but I just continually asked to speak with a representative when I was offered automated assistance.
But I was connected with a live agent in under two minutes via online chat. The automated system for chat was also a little difficult to navigate, but the agent I was connected to was knowledgeable and polite.
Before I began testing phone plans, I highlighted the key factors that I would be exploring. This way, I would be able to accurately compare phone plans and get a full overview of what to expect from the service.
Here are the key factors I focused on while trying out each phone plan:
- Length of Time. I tested each phone plan for 30 days to observe the network’s reliability and gather feedback from friends and family regarding service.
- Signing Up. I signed up for each phone plan myself to document the process of getting started, testing phone compatibility or bringing your own device, how long it takes to receive the SIM card and the activation process.
- Reliability. I used my personal AT&T line as a base to see how often the tested phone plan had service and noted any dropped calls/undelivered text messages.
- Service. During the month, I made/received at least 15 calls and sent/received at least 15 text messages. I also tested the phone’s data speed speedtest.net.
- Customer Support. During my time testing out each phone service, I contacted customer support in all available ways to determine which method is best, how long it took to reach a person and how helpful the experience was.
Ultimately, I had a great experience during the month that I tested Cricket Wireless for this review. I had good service and coverage throughout the whole experience, and the data speeds were fast enough for basic browsing and streaming.
I didn’t experience any dropped calls or undelivered text messages with Cricket Wireless, and I didn’t have a bad experience with customer service either. The app was very intuitive and useful for checking data usage and paying bills online.
However, I do wish that all of the plans came with mobile hotspot data, and I hate that there’s a $25 activation fee for purchasing your SIM card in person at a Cricket Wireless store.
If you’re thinking about switching to Cricket Wireless, ask yourself these questions first:
- Is AT&T’s network strong in your area? You can check Cricket Wireless’s coverage map and AT&T’s coverage map online to see if you’ll have service in your area before switching.
- Is your current phone compatible with Cricket Wireless? You can check your phone’s compatibility online. Cricket Wireless does offer phones from $0, but you can save even more by bringing your own phone and opting for a cheaper plan.
- Are you comfortable activating the service online? Cricket Wireless charges a $25 activation fee in-store whether you’re bringing your own phone or buying a new one. You can avoid this fee by purchasing your SIM card online.
For more options, be sure to read our guide on the best cell phone plans and deals available now. Once you’ve decided on a new phone plan and you’re ready to make the switch, check out this guide that we put together to take you step-by-step through the process.
Have you seen a great deal lately on cell phone service? Let us know in our Clark.com Community or check out the latest conversations around cell phones.