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Cricket Wireless vs Metro by T-Mobile

They're more similar than you might realize.

Published onJuly 20, 2023

cricket vs metro pcs.
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

MVNOs make affordable alternatives to the largest providers. And since many of them are now owned by the major carriers, they can benefit from the network coverage of their parent company. Two popular choices in this category are Cricket Wireless and Metro by T-Mobile. Both carriers offer affordable plans and use the networks of major carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile, respectively. But which one is the better option for you?

We’ll compare Cricket Wireless vs Metro by T-Mobile in terms of pricing, promotions, coverage, and more to help you make an informed decision. Let’s get into it.

Cricket vs Metro — Pricing

cricket vs metro pcs.
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Both Cricket Wireless and Metro by T-Mobile offer affordable prepaid plans that don’t commit you to a long contract. While that might mean you sacrifice the perks that the big beasts of the industry can offer — you’re not gonna get a free Galaxy S23 Ultra or iPhone 14 Pro Max here — it does give you a budget-friendly and flexible option.

Both carriers target the same market, so the plans are relatively similar in scope, but some key differences exist. Here’s a comparison table before we look at each provider’s plans in more detail.

Cricket 5GB
$30 per line
Cricket 10GB
$40 for one line
$70 per line for two lines
$90 per line for three lines
$110 per line for four lines
$130 per line for five lines
Cricket Unlimited
$55 for one line
$80 per line for two lines
$90 per line for three lines
$100 per line for four lines
$125 per line for five lines
Cricket Unlimited + 15 GB Mobile Hotspot
$60 for one line
$90 per line for two lines
$110 per line for three lines
$130 per line for four lines
$160 per line for five lines
Metro $40 Prepaid Unlimited Plan
$40 for one line
$80 per line for two lines
$90 per line for three lines
$110 per line for four lines
$125 per line for five lines
Metro $50 Prepaid Unlimited Plan
$50 for one line
$80 per line for two lines
$110 per line for three lines
$140 per line for four lines
$170 per line for five lines
Metro $60 Prepaid Unlimited Plan
$60 for one line
$90 per line for two lines
$120 per line for three lines
$150 per line for four lines
$180 per line for five lines

Cricket Wireless

Unlike Metro, Cricket has two limited-data plans: 5GB and 10GB. These data allowances are more than enough for many people, and it means that, of the two carriers, Cricket offers the lowest-price option at $30 per month for one line on the 5GB plan.

Both carriers offer discounts on the price per month per line if you add more than one line of service. This won’t be a consideration for a lot of buyers, but there are good savings to be had. For instance, the Cricket Unlimited plan starts getting cheaper than the 10GB plan as you add more than three lines.

The higher up the Cricket Wireless price tiers you go, the more extras you get. So while the 5GB plan is pretty bare bones, the unlimited plan with hotspot also includes things like ad-supported HBO Max, as well as 150GB of cloud storage.

Some of these features that aren’t part of the base package with the more affordable plans can be purchased as add-ons. For example, free international text messages aren’t included with the 10GB plan, but you can pay a bit extra to have them included.

Metro by T-Mobile

Metro still technically has limited-data plans, although they are unavailable to new customers. They are ongoing plans of Sprint customers post-merger between the two MVNOs. Fortunately, the three remaining unlimited plans are all relatively affordable.

The difference between the plans comes down to the added extras you get. While the $40 plan has a couple of perks, you need to step it up to the $50 plan to get 5GB of hotspot data, with 20GB available on the $60 plan. The latter also comes with unlimited texting to over 210 countries, as well as 100GB Google One membership.

Cricket vs Metro — Coverage

Cricket Wireless Coverage Map in cricket vs metro pcs
Matt Horne / Android Authority

Cricket Wireless and Metro by T-Mobile both rely on the networks of their parent companies, AT&T and T-Mobile, respectively. This means their coverage is very good overall and should be comparable in most areas. However, it’s always a good idea to check the coverage map for your specific location.

The coverage of Cricket Wireless, which you can see on its coverage map here, indicates that 4G LTE coverage covers the vast majority of the US. 5G coverage is available in most major cities and is becoming more widespread, but it is not yet available in more rural areas. The dark green color indicates it on the map.

The Metro by T-Mobile coverage map paints a similar picture, with 4G LTE available in all but the most remote parts of the country. Zooming in, you’ll note that 5G is available in major cities and localities but drops off quite quickly outside these areas.

Metro distinguishes between 5G Ultra Coverage and 5G Extended Range. Extended Range 5G includes dedicated low-band 5G signals, while Ultra Capacity 5G includes dedicated mid- and high-band 5G signals. The latter is the more powerful signal, and T-Mobile is upgrading over 1,000 cell sites and towers monthly with Ultra Capacity 5G.

Cricket vs Metro — Perks and promotions

MVNOs are more affordable than the major carriers for a reason. You’ll get unlimited data packages from both, but the perks such as significant phone savings and additional extras like streaming services are where the sacrifices are made to keep costs down. That said, there are a few perks from both Cricket and Metro, which largely depend on which plan you subscribe to.

Outside of directly phone-related additions such as hotspot data, the two significant perks available to Cricket Wireless customers are 150GB cloud storage and HBO Max. Both are only available on the highest-tier $60 plan, and the HBO Max subscription is the ad-supported version.

A promotion from Cricket allows for some budget-tier phones to be free of charge when you bring your number to the network and activate a particular plan — usually the $60 per month package.

MVNOs are more affordable for a reason.

All the plans from Metro by T-Mobile include a one-year subscription to VIX Plus. It’s a nice additional extra, although if you’re not a Spanish speaker and not interested in live sports, then you might not find it to be as useful as an HBO Max subscription. The Scamshield app is also included on all plans, which is protection against scam callers.

A 100GB Google One membership is provided to those on the $50 and $60 plans with Metro. Other than that, the extra perks relate to hotspot data allowance and, on the $60 plan, international texting.

Metro also has a number of free phones that can be obtained when you bring your number and subscribe to a particular plan, such as the iPhone 11. There are also savings on other devices available in the same circumstances, like an instant rebate on purchasing a Galaxy Book Go.

Cricket vs Metro — Phone selections

google pixel 7a vs iphone se 2022 cameras
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Phone selection is the other main area in which the MVNOs don’t fully match up to the leading carriers in the US. While both offer the latest Apple devices in the form of the iPhone 14 range, neither of them have availability of the equivalent flagships from other manufacturers. So while there are some budget Samsung devices on offer, the Galaxy S23 series aren’t options, and neither are any Pixel devices.

Despite the omission of the flagships, Samsung devices make up a significant part of the Cricket Wireless phone selection. These range from budget and mid-range models such as the Galaxy A14 and Galaxy A53 to higher-end options such as the Galaxy S21 FE. Motorola and Apple phones also feature, as well as several of Cricket’s own-brand handsets, like the Cricket Ovation 2 and the Cricket Innovate E 5G.

The phone selection of Metro by T-Mobile is strikingly similar to that of Cricket, with budget and mid-range options from Motorola and Samsung strongly represented. Metro does feature some OnePlus devices such as the Nord N20 and Nord N200, but the flagship OnePlus phones aren’t on offer from either carrier.

Which carrier is right for you?

People using an Apple iPhone stock photo 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Such are the similarities between these providers that if one isn’t a good fit for you, the other won’t be either. They are both MVNOs aimed at the same market, with affordable prepaid plans and the limited perks that come with those cost savings. They both have impressive coverage thanks to their affiliation with large carriers but a less wide-ranging phone selection than those monoliths of the industry.

If we are to separate them, Cricket Wireless is where you can find the most affordable plan of the two. Assuming that you don’t burn through a large amount of LTE data each month and perks don’t matter to you, the $30 per month 5GB plan from Cricket is the best you can find in terms of price.

But given the similarities, perhaps a more apt way to choose between them would be your own personal preferences and circumstances. Despite the significant overlap in phone selection, maybe one of the two carriers has a phone that you have your eye on. Or, more likely, one of them offers better network coverage in your area.

If you’re not sure which is right for you, but you want a carrier of this type, you might want to consider other MVNOs such as Google Fi, Visible, and Mint Mobile.

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