Cricket Wireless vs. Boost Mobile: Which carrier should you get?

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Cheap and growing

Boost Mobile

From $30/month at Boost Mobile

Pros

  • T-Mobile network on new phones
  • Great international add-ons
  • Cheap data plans
  • Comes with hotspot data

Cons

  • Older devices stuck on Sprint
  • Weak phone selection

Boost Mobile has earned a reputation for offering cheap data and excellent packages to call and roam in Mexico. The weakest part has always been the Sprint network but thanks to Boost’s new Expanded Network, based on T-Mobile, Boost customers now have access to much greater coverage. All plans come with hotspot data if you want to share your connection as well.

Multi-line discounts

Cricket Wireless

From $30/month at Cricket

Pros

  • Huge AT&T network
  • Great phone support
  • Multi-line discounts

Cons

  • Hotspot only on the top plan
  • Data speed limits
  • Limited phone selection

Cricket’s biggest value comes with its family plans. With two or more lines, Cricket’s top unlimited plan is one of the best values for heavy data users. All of the smaller plans come with a speed cap but for many people, it won’t be a huge issue. If you’re a heavy streamer or want to multitask on your phone it’s worth going with the top unlimited plan.

At first glance, the plans from these two carriers seem similar, ranging from 2GB data plans up to unlimited options but Boost Mobile’s plans are consistently more data-focused with even its limited data plans having hotspot access. Cricket requires its top plan for hotspot access but it does come with a healthy 15GB portion. For a long time Cricket would have had an easy win in the network section but thanks to T-Mobile taking the reins at Sprint, Boost customers can now activate compatible phones on T-Mobile’s network, making it a better value overall.

How much speed do you need?

All phone carriers will throttle and limit your connection in some way depending on your usage, but Cricket seems to keep a tiger grip on its customers more than most carriers, with an 8Mbps speed limit on its 2GB and 5GB plans and a 3Mbps limit on its Core Unlimited plan. While many people will be able to get by on these speeds, there’s no denying that Cricket is going to be one of the slowest carriers around.

Boost Mobile gives its customers much more breathing room with unlimited music streaming on its 3GB plan and speed limits only on video, music, and gaming. Still, you need a solid connection before you can download anything and there’s no getting around that AT&T’s network is larger than either the Sprint or T-Mobile network — though the differences aren’t as stark as they used to be.

Boost Mobile Cricket Wireless
Network Sprint or T-Mobile AT&T
International calling Available Available
Mexico and Canada Add on available Included with unlimited plans
Hotspot data Yes 15GB with Unlimited Cricket More

Both carriers excel when it comes to calling and traveling to Mexico and Canada. Boost Mobile has a few different add-ons. There is a $5 per month Todo Mexico PLUS add-on that enables calls to and from Mexico as well as calls to Canada. It also comes with international texting and 8GB of data roaming in Mexico. Additionally, there is an International Connect PLUS add on that enables calls to many more countries.

Cricket’s unlimited plans come with service in Mexico and Canada. Data is often slowed to 2G speeds, but that might be all you need. You also get texting to 37 additional countries.

The networks

Cricket uses the AT&T network, which will work well for the majority of Americans. You should check out the coverage map to be sure. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Cricket does not yet support AT&T’s 5G network.

Boost Mobile is owned by Sprint and for years has used the Sprint network exclusively and most Boost Mobile customers still do. T-Mobile purchased Sprint and, by extension, Boost Mobile. Recently, Boost Mobile started offering coverage on what it’s calling the Expanded Network, although it’s really just the T-Mobile network. If you have a compatible phone, you can use that network. If you find Sprint’s services to be superior in your area, you can still use the Nationwide network.

Check your coverage on the Expanded Network as well as the Nationwide network to see which one is best for you. Most people will find better service on the T-Mobile network. It’s also worth noting that T-Mobile’s 5G service is available on the Expanded Network map.

Boost plans

Boost Mobile starts with a basic 2GB data plan at $30 for those looking to save as much as possible. The 3GB plan for just $5 more will be worth it for most people, especially since it has unlimited music streaming. If you’re a big streamer the top unlimited plan is a good fit since it will support HD streaming. For many people, SD is fine on a phone screen and not worth the extra cost.

3 Gigs 4G LTE Unlimited Gigs Boost Unlimited Plus
Data 3GB unlimited unlimited
Hotspot Shares data 12GB 30GB
Video streaming SD SD HD
Features Tidal 6 months
Unlimited music streaming
Tidal 6 months Tidal 6 months

For most people, either unlimited plan will work. The 12GB of hotspot data is a nice bonus for someone that wants to share data with a tablet or laptop. The 3GB plan is also a good value for music streamers since they won’t have to worry about using their data on streaming. Including six months of Tidal is a nice bonus.

Cricket plans

Cricket has four main rate plans that all include unlimited talk and text in the U.S. The main difference is data with the first two data plans being limited to 8Mbps. The cheaper unlimited plan is limited to 3Mbps while the most expensive unlimited plan isn’t limited in speed. 3Mbps is close to what you could expect on 3G as far as speed.

2GB 5GB Unlimited Core Unlimited More
LTE Data 2GB 5GB Unlimited Unlimited
Data speed 8Mbps 8Mbps 3Mbps Unlimited
Hotspot None None Add-on available 15GB
Price per month $30 $40 1 line: $55
2 lines: $80
3 lines: $90
4 lines: $100
5 lines: $125
1 line: $60
2 lines: $90
3 lines: $110
4 lines: $130
5 lines: $160
Mexico and Canada usage None None Included Included

If you can afford it, the Unlimited More plan will be a much better fit for smartphones. If you’re only doing one thing at a time on your phone, you could probably get by on the slower speed plans, but if you do a lot of multitasking or media-rich social media, you’ll want the extra speed.

The phones

On Cricket, you can use just about any unlocked GSM phone. If you want to bring your own phone, you can check your IMEI on Cricket’s website. Your phone will need to be unlocked and you can’t owe any money to another carrier on it.

If you’re ready for a new phone, Cricket has a reasonable selection of affordable devices including both Android devices and iPhones. You could also buy an unlocked phone to bring to Cricket.

With Boost Mobile, your choice depends on which network you want to use. Many unlocked phones can work with either network. You can check your IMEI to be sure. When you sign up for service, you will be able to get the SIM that works best for you.

If you want to buy a new phone, there are quite a few affordable choices available directly from Boost Mobile. Like Cricket, you could also just buy an unlocked phone that works with T-Mobile’s network.

Which should you get?

Cricket could have a lot of value for many people, especially if they are well served by the AT&T network. For many smartphone users, the speed limits will be too much and force them onto the most expensive plan. Boost Mobile offers a superior balance of features for most people with a lot more data and speed. With the T-Mobile network becoming available to Boost customers, one of the biggest weaknesses has been fixed.

Cheap and growing

Boost Mobile

More coverage options than ever

From $30/month at Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile is focused on delivering data and streaming. With the improved network, you can make the most of your smartphone.

Multi-line discounts

Cricket Wireless

Solid data plans

From $30/month at Cricket

AT&T’s network is large and reliable and Cricket is a cheap way to get connected. You can save a lot by adding more lines as well.

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