What every best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans has:
- Good selection of phones.
- Wide coverage.
- Responsive customer service.
Major carrier coverage for less than major carrier prices. Cricket's plans for individuals offer good value and include unlimited talk and text for as little as $25 per month. Plans with data start at $30 per month for 2 GB of LTE data, and larger plans ($40 per month for 5 GB of LTE data and up) offer a $5 discount if you sign up to pay your bill automatically. Data is unlimited, but exceed your plan's high-speed cap and things slow down to a crawl (2G speeds says Cricket's web site). Cricket also offers two unlimited plans, starting at $55 per month. For those looking for a prepaid monthly plan for their family (or other group), each line added to an account (you can have up to five) gets a discount, starting at $10 for the second line and $20 off each additional line (up to five in total). Unlimited plans include unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada as well as roaming while in those countries. Unlimited international texting and international calling can be added to capped plans for a surcharge. Like most prepaid carriers, the selection of phones isn't extensive, but you will find the latest Samsung and Apple flagship devices, such as the iPhone X. In addition, Cricket welcomes any unlocked, compatible phone bought elsewhere, such as at Amazon.
Nationwide coverage. Cricket is owned by AT&T and uses that carrier's network to provide coverage, and that's very good news. Though public perception says one thing, independent testing by organizations such as RootMetrics reveals that AT&T is second only to Verizon -- and not by all that much -- when it comes to providing excellent performance in the most areas, including rural areas where phones from some rival carriers won't work at all. One caveat is that speed is capped at 8 Mbps, much less than the native AT&T network can deliver in many areas, and the speed on the cheapest unlimited plan is capped further at 3 GB. However, experts and users say that the speed delivered is still more than ample for most activities, including standard definition streaming, which is all the service allows. Another negative is that if you plan to use your phone as a mobile hot spot, that capability is only allowed on unlimited plans, and costs $10 per month.
Could be better, could be a lot worse. When it comes to surveys that measure customer service, Cricket does better than many prepaid -- and postpaid -- cell phone plans. It finishes in second place in the latest J.D. Power and Associates survey of the wireless buying experience among non-contract providers, well above the industry average and only topped by Consumer Cellular, a postpaid non-contract provider profiled in our report on traditional cell phone plans. It doesn't fare as well in the J.D. Power survey of customer care, however, finishing just below the industry average. It also finished fourth in the latest PCMag Readers' Choice poll, which also includes traditional cell phone plans; its score there put it above the industry average for all providers. Finally, it finishes fifth among 20 providers in Consumer Reports' survey, which again includes both full-service (postpaid) and prepaid carriers. Feedback at PCMag and Consumer Reports indicates users are a lot happier with Cricket than its parent, AT&T, as that carrier finishes one spot above last in both surveys.