The big mobile carriers can provide all the bells and whistles of a full mobile plan, but for those who are just looking for the basics for an easier and more affordable option, companies like Cricket Wireless and Mint Mobile are good alternatives.
Both companies are MVNOs, or Mobile Virtual Network Operators. MVNOs pay larger mobile providers to use their network. For instance, Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network. MVNOs usually offer prepaid services at a lower price than major carriers.
Cricket and Mint are two of these MVNOs. Which one is better? We break down Cricket Wireless vs. Mint Mobile to give you our take on the best company.
Cricket Wireless vs. Mint Mobile: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Cricket Wireless||Mint Mobile|
|What it is||Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)||Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)|
|Talk and text||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Limited plans||5GB, 10GB||5GB, 15GB, 10GB|
|Unlimited plans||Unlimited, Unlimited + 15GB Mobile Hotspot||Unlimited|
|Cost||Lowest plan: $30/month||Lowest plan: $15/month|
|Compatible phones||iPhone 14 series, Samsung Galaxy A14, iPhone SE||iPhone 14 series, Samsung Galaxy S23 series, Galaxy Z fold 4, Pixel 7 devices|
Cricket Wireless vs. Mint Mobile: What’s the Difference?
When comparing the plans that Cricket Wireless and Mint Mobile offer, there isn’t a huge gap. Both offer multiple types of individual plans, as well as group plans with up to five lines. Both have unlimited plans to choose from. There are, however, two ways in which they differ.
First, Cricket Wireless, owned by AT&T, offers more additional features than Mint Mobile, and more than many other MVNOs to be honest. AT&T has an unlimited plan that includes 15GB of hotspot data, which no other MVNO offers. This unlimited plan also won’t slow your internet service if you go over a certain amount of data. It’s truly unlimited.
Data usage is the other key difference. Technically, all of Cricket and Mint’s plans are unlimited, your service just slows if you go over a certain limit. For limited plans, Mint has plans capped at 4GB, 10GB, and 15GB. Cricket has only two plans, one capped at 5GB and one at 10GB.
For the unlimited plans, Mint owners may see their data throttled at around 35GB. Cricket says it won’t throttle your data unless the network is congested. If you live in a congested area, that could mean slower service happens more often.
Like most MVNOs, both Cricket and Mint offer lower pricing than the major carriers. Mint Mobile starts off with a $15/month plan for 5GB of limited data if you prepay for a year of service. The same plan costs $25/month if you only prepay for three months. Mint’s 10GB plan is $20/month for a year of service, or $35/month for three months of service. Mint’s Unlimited plan is $30/month for a year of service, or $40/month for three months of service.
Cricket Wireless works in a similar way, although its plans can be more expensive. Its 5GB plan is $30/month, no matter how many months you prepay for. Its 10GB plan is $40/month. The Unlimited Plan is $55/month, and the Unlimited Plan + 15GB Mobile Hotspot plan is $60/month. For most plans, if you enroll in autopay, Cricket will knock $5 off your monthly fee.
If you are looking for a specific type of phone, Mint Mobile may be the better choice for you. Mint offers a wider range of options for phones, including the most popular models like the iPhone 14 series, the Samsung Galaxy S23 series, the Galaxy Z Fold4, and Pixel 7 devices.
Cricket Wireless, on the other hand, offers a small range of phones, but the service is compatible with some of the most popular phones like the iPhone 14 series, the Samsung Galaxy A14, and the iPhone SE. Both companies offer a phone compatibility checker on their sites so you can search to see if the phone you want is compatible.
Which is better? AT&T is known for providing more coverage in its network. T-Mobile has good coverage, but the network isn’t as extensive as AT&T. If you live in a city, you probably don’t need to worry about coverage. If you are in a more rural area, you may want to check out both AT&T and T-Mobile’s coverage maps to see which one covers your area.
If you are looking for a family plan, both Mint Mobile and Cricket Wireless offer up to five additional lines added to your plan.
For Mint Mobile, you can choose which plan to include with each additional line. This is where Mint Mobile can get more expensive. If you add more than a couple of lines, you will end up paying more per month than Cricket. Five lines for the Unlimited Plan on Mint would cost you $225/month.
Cricket Wireless offers a $125/month Unlimited Plan for up to five lines. This would save you $100/month on your family plan. Of course, it all depends on how many lines you plan to add.
Cricket Wireless offers roaming for all its plans (except the 5GB plan) to make calls in Canada and Mexico, as well as make calls to those countries. Mint only offers free calling to those countries, but not free roaming while you are there.
Cricket Wireless also offers a few extras with its Unlimited Plan + 15GB Hotspot plan, including a subscription to HBOMax and up to 150GB of cloud storage. Mint does not offer any other extras, which allows them to keep prices down.
Cricket Wireless: The Complete History
Cricket Wireless was started in 1999 while mobile was still a growing field. It was owned by Leap Wireless International, a global wireless company, and initially focused on the community of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
During its early life as a company, Cricket focused on small communities and rural areas. In 2008, it struck an agreement with MetroPCS to share roaming markets. Shortly after in 2010, Cricket signed an agreement with Sprint to use their network for Cricket’s service.
In 2013, AT&T agreed to buy Cricket’s parent company, Leap Wireless. Once the deal was approved in 2014, AT&T merged Cricket with its own prepaid brand, and Cricket began to use AT&T’s network for its service. In 2020, Cricket upgraded from 3G to 5G along with AT&T.
Mint Mobile: From Modest Beginnings
Mint Mobile has a more modest history. It was started in 2015 as Mint SIM, which was owned and run by parent company Ultra Mobile. In November 2019, the company spun off from Ultra Mobile to become its own company. Actor Ryan Reynolds acquired 20-25% ownership in the company and also became its spokesperson.
In March 2023, T-Mobile made an agreement with Mint Mobile’s parent company to acquire the whole company, including Mint and Unique Mobile. Since T-Mobile now owns Mint Mobile, the company uses T-Mobile’s 5G network for its service.
Cricket Wireless vs. Mint Mobile: 5 Must-Know Facts
- Both Cricket Wireless and Mint Mobile offer more affordable prices than the major carriers, but Mint Mobile has the better deal.
- Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T, while Mint Mobile is owned by T-Mobile.
- Mint Mobile offers a larger variety of phones to choose from, although Cricket Wireless also offers the most popular iPhone and Galaxy options.
- For Mint Mobile, you can save money if you prepay for an entire year. It also offers 3-month options and 6-month options.
- The Cricket Wireless Unlimited Plan + 15GB Mobile Hotspot plan gives you truly unlimited data without major slowdowns if you go over a certain data limit.
Cricket Wireless vs. Mint Mobile: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?
All prepaid mobile services are going to save you money over the larger carriers. When choosing between Mint Mobile and Cricket Wireless, it comes down to options.
Mint offers more plan options, which allows you to save money if you prepay for a year of service or just want one other line added. If you have a specific phone in mind or want to transfer your phone to the new service, Mint Mobile offers more options for you. Cricket Wireless has fewer phone options, although if you want or have a popular phone like an iPhone, either service will work for you.
If you want month-to-month freedom with your plan, then Cricket Wireless is a better option, since they stick to month-to-month plans, while Mint encourages you to prepay for up to a year. Granted, those longer prepay options end up saving you money on the monthly fee.
If you live in a populated area, both services use major networks for coverage. Mint uses T-Mobile’s network, and Cricket uses AT&T’s. If you live in a more rural area, it’s important to check the coverage maps for T-Mobile and AT&T to see which services your area.
All of these factors considered, Mint Mobile is the more affordable choice with better options for phones and service plans, making it the best option of the two.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com.