Editor's note: Because evaluating wireless coverage requires experience with the network in a wide variety of physical locations, CNET does not rate wireless carriers. We can, however, tell you everything you need to know about the major carriers. We invite your feedback and ratings in our user opinions section--the more input we get from around the U.S., the better our users can evaluate coverage at a national level.
A subsidiary of Leap Wireless International founded in 1999, Cricket Communications serves 3.8 million customers in select communities in 27 states. Like MetroPCS, Cricket caters to casual or budget-minded users. It does not require a contact, nor does it require a credit check for new customers. Like MetroPCS, fewer rebates mean you will pay for more your phone. All of Cricket's monthly calling plans offer unlimited anytime minutes, however, other basic features such as voice mail, caller ID, and call waiting are not always included. Cricket's phone lineup includes many basic CDMA models, but it offers some higher-end models as well. Though you'll be using another carrier's network when roaming, Cricket signed a ten-year roaming agreement with MetroPCS in 2008. Also, its "Premium Extended Coverage" provides almost nationwide coverage thanks to agreements with 14 wireless carriers.
Things you should know:
- As a CDMA carrier international coverage is limited.
- Cricket offers only monthly plans but it does not require contracts.
- Unlike most carriers, all of Cricket's plans offer unlimited anytime minutes. Rather, plans differ on which services they include. For example, otherwise basic features such as voice mail, call waiting, and caller ID can cost extra.
- Additional services at an extra fee include unlimited texting, unlimited directory assistance, and unlimited mobile Web for games and application downloads.
- Carries mostly UTStarcom, Motorola, Samsung, and Kyocera handsets. It does not offer smartphones but some of its handsets have alphabetic keyboards, Bluetooth, or multimedia features such as music players and megapixel cameras.
- Most plans include free long distance, but roaming outside the carrier's native coverage area will cost extra. Also, you'll be using another carrier's network when roaming.
- Cricket says independent studies have shown that is has one of the best networks in the nation. Tell us what you think in the user opinions section.