As you shop for the right cellular service provider, you should take into account things like coverage area, how much the plans cost, what perks you can get with each one, and how many retail store locations there are for each company. You should also see what devices each provider will allow you to use and whether you get any special discounts if you sign up for multiple lines rather than a single one. We’ll be looking at all of those factors for Cricket and T-Mobile, two of the more popular companies out there.
The first thing we’ll do is list a few of the more compelling factors about each of these companies, of which you should be aware.
- If you sign up for one of their unlimited plans, then you get international texting, as well as roaming in Mexico and Canada
- Their coverage network is considered to be pretty reliable, particularly if you live along the Eastern Seaboard or in a densely populated region of the US
- Group Save discounts are a way for you to save a good deal of money with them
- They have a plan that costs only $30 per month, but you get just 1GB of 4G LTE data with it; if you go with that plan, you’ll need to be careful about how much streaming you do
- Signing up for autopay and a family plan with them can net you some significant discounts
- Their coverage network is second-best in the nation for 4G LTE streaming, at 59%, behind only Verizon
- Their popular T-Mobile Tuesdays program gets you discounted sports tickets, movie tickets, and restaurant savings
- You can get a line for $30 per month with them as well, but you’ll have to sign up for at least four lines, and taxes and fees are extra
- Any of their plans get you texting while you’re abroad, and you can get data in Canada and Mexico as well
The full name of the company known as Cricket is Cricket Wireless LLC. AT&T is their parent company. As a subsidiary, they’re able to use AT&T’s financial resources to gain national attention through aggressive ad campaigns. Cricket was founded in Chicago in 1999, but its current headquarters is in Atlanta, GA. They have approximately 5,000 retail stores nationwide.
AT&T bought out Leap Wireless International in 2014, which had been Cricket’s parent company up till that point. The takeover cost $1.2 billion, and Cricket had 4.5 million subscribers at the time. Cricket is probably known as more of a regional service than some of the other major service providers. They have a strong presence in some parts of the country, but in others, they are less well known.
T-Mobile is one part of the German company Deutsche Telekom AG. It is active in Poland, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, in addition to the US. They are a vast telecommunications conglomerate. The name was also once used by divisions in other countries, such as Slovakia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. T-Mobile still operates in all of these nations but under different names.
The company was founded in 1990, in Germany, by Amir Suhail. In ‘99, they were purchased by Deutsche Telekom, which chose to keep using the T-Mobile name for its brand recognition. In 2009, the company saw a significant restructuring. Their focus was kept mainly on the US market, along with certain parts of Europe. In the US, the company uses an LTE-based cellular network. They’ve maintained financial stakes in mobile operators elsewhere in the world, such as Eastern and Central Europe.
The company employs 44,000 people. Its revenue in 2017 was more than $40 billion. They have about 230 million subscribers worldwide, making them the 13th largest telecommunications network in the world, behind ones like India’s Airtel and UK’s Vodafone.
Does Cricket or T-Mobile Have the Better Network?
Network reliability is certainly something of which you should be aware if you are comparison shopping among cellular services. Cricket’s network is that of AT&T since that’s their parent company. AT&T’s network is third-best in the nation, behind Verizon, which has 70% 4G LTE coverage, and T-Mobile, which has 59%. AT&T has 58% coverage, and Sprint is number four, with just 27%.
Since T-Mobile’s service is second-best, they have a clear advantage in this category. However, most people still think of Cricket’s coverage as being pretty decent, particularly in areas of the country that are heavily populated. Along the Eastern Seaboard is where Cricket’s coverage seems to be best.
Which One of These Has the Better Plans?
As for which of these two has better cellular plans, Cricket has one where you can get a line for $30 per month. That gets you unlimited nationwide talking and texting capabilities. You receive 1GB of 4G LTE data, which is not that much as compared to some other plans and companies. You get low-speed data after the 1GB is used up. Any further data you use will come to your device at 128kbps.
If you get one of these limited plans, then you’ll need to be strategic about how and when you use your data. This would not be the sort of plan where you can stream movies, TV shows, and music indiscriminately. Cricket does also has an unlimited GB plan for $60. That’s on the pricier side, but you can purchase one for $55 if you sign up for their autopay feature. A second line will cost you ten dollars less, and a third one will be ten dollars less than that.
With T-Mobile, there are plans available that are called Essential, Magenta, and Magenta Plus. They will cost you $30 per line, $35 per line, and $43 per line, respectively. Those prices only apply, though, if you sign up for autopay and get at least four lines. If you elect not to do that, then each line will cost you a little bit more. Taxes and fees are not included either unless you get the Magenta or Magenta Plus plans.
It’s clear that T-Mobile wants you to sign up for a family plan and get that autopay feature if you’re going to receive their discounts. With any of T-Mobile’s plans, you can also get unlimited smartphone data and talking and texting capabilities within their network. You will get data in Mexico and Canada as well. How much you get depends on the package for which you’re paying.
Do You Get Any Perks with These Companies?
Perks are another area that is scrutinized closely by many consumers who are shopping for a new cellular service provider. What you get with Cricket probably isn’t going to excite you too much. If you buy their unlimited plans, you’ll get roaming in Mexico and Canada, as well as international texting. You will be eligible for their Group Save discounts if you sign up with some friends or family members.
T-Mobile gives you more, in the form of their popular T-Mobile Tuesdays program. You won’t have access to it if you went with the Essential or the Magenta packages, but it kicks in with the Magenta Plus plans. T-Mobile Tuesdays is a program where you get different exclusive offers every week. You can get discounts at restaurants, on movie tickets, clothing, and you can get the first shot at tickets to sporting events when they go on sale.
With Magenta Plus, you’ll get 20 GB of mobile hotspot data, as well as 2x the data speed and texting when you travel abroad. In Mexico and Canada, you can use 5GB of 4G data. If you have relatives in either country or you travel there often, this is doubtless going to appeal to you.
Limitations with These Companies
As far as limitations go, there are a few minor ones that you should consider. The first is that with both of these companies if you live in an extremely rural area, you might not get great coverage with either Cricket or T-Mobile. While both of them are thought of as providing pretty decent coverage, the king in rural areas is Verizon. That is because of the existence of their LTE in Rural America program that was designed to deal with this specific issue. If you go with either of these providers and you live far from a major metropolis, your coverage might be less than excellent.
It’s also true that occasionally, you might find a device that neither one of these providers will accept for use on their networks. That is most likely to happen when your phone or tablet is not as well-known as a brand. If you are using an Apple or Android device, you’re probably going to be okay. Still, if you are thinking about signing up with one of these companies, it’s best to contact them via their website or at one of their retail stores to see if what you have is going to work.
What Devices Can You Use with Them?
If you’re looking at what devices you are allowed to use on either network, both Cricket and T-Mobile have extensive selections of phones on their websites if you choose to buy one rather than bringing your own. Cricket features Samsung devices, iPhones, and a few HTC models as well.
T-Mobile prides itself on carrying the most recent and top-of-the-line devices. They have the new Samsung Galaxy Note, as well as the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The Note costs $36.12 per month for 36 months when you pay zero down. The Pro Max would be $31.25 per month if you paid $349.99 upfront.
T-Mobile also has a promotion where you can get “free” iPhones. You have to get four new lines and trade in your old phones to be eligible. You can look at their website and get more details if you are interested.
Which One Has Better Customer Service?
As is typical with most cellular service providers, there is a number on both Cricket and T-Mobile’s website that you can call if you need to talk to someone. You can also Live Chat if you’d prefer that option. Both of these are large, prominent companies operating within this niche, so you should have no trouble reaching someone if you have a question or issue to discuss.
If you’re the sort of person who would prefer to talk to a customer service representative face-to-face, then you can head to one of Cricket’s 5,000 retail stores around the country. T-Mobile, though, had 16,400 stores as of 2018. You would be hard-pressed to find anywhere in the US that doesn’t have a T-Mobile store nearby, which is definitely going to appeal to some consumers.
Which One of These is Right for You?
In making the choice between Cricket and T-Mobile, there are a few factors that are going to come into play. Both of them have limited data plans, where the price is quite reasonable. In the case of both, you can get lower rates if you sign up for multiple lines with some family members or friends.
It seems evident, though, when you look at them side by side, that T-Mobile has the edge in multiple areas. For one thing, Cricket doesn’t have anything that can compare to the popular T-Mobile Tuesdays program. Cricket has little in the way of perks since they’re more focused on giving you the lowest prices possible. In reality, though, Cricket’s plan prices are hardly better than T-Mobile’s.
There’s the issue of T-Mobile’s coverage area being better than Cricket’s. Neither one of these companies can boast that they are the best in the nation in this regard, but T-Mobile covers slightly more of the country than Cricket does, backed by AT&T, their parent company.
Finally, there is the fact that T-Mobile has so many more retail stores than Cricket. That might prove to be the difference if you know that there is a T-Mobile store in your neighborhood, but you will have to go much further afield to find a Cricket retailer.
Neither one of these is a poor choice, but it seems as though T-Mobile is the superior option for consumers in the majority of circumstances.