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Cricket Wireless is a prepaid phone carrier owned by one of the nation's largest wireless providers, AT&T. Unlike T-Mobile with its 55+ phone plans, Cricket Wireless doesn't cater to older adults with discounted senior plans or phones designed for seniors. But that shouldn't stop you from considering Cricket Wireless as your next wireless provider.
From a “bring your own phone” policy to steep multi-line discounts, Cricket tries to keep rates low for everyone, regardless of your age. Plus, several iPhone and Android phones are available for $0 (or at a large discount) when you purchase one to three months of service. What a deal!
To help you decide if Cricket Wireless may make sense for you, we tested it out. Below, we cover price, who it's best for, what the signup process looks like, and even a few phone recommendations for seniors.
You can purchase a plan or a cell phone and a plan in person at a Cricket Wireless store or on their website. I decided to buy on the website and quickly learned that it's a very smooth shopping experience. It's no wonder Cricket won the J.D. Power Award for Purchase Experience in 2020.1
In case you want to shop online, here's how I did it:
Did You Know: Before bringing your own phone, you need to make sure it's unlocked and compatible with Cricket Wireless. To check if it's unlocked, call your current service provider and ask. To check if it's compatible with Cricket, dial *#06# on your phone and type the device ID number in Cricket's compatibility checker.
I was also pleased to learn during checkout that Cricket offers free next-business-day shipping and no activation fees for SIM cards and phones purchased on the Cricket website. Plus, service taxes and fees are included in the monthly plan cost, so the advertised cost is actually what you're paying. That's transparency you don't always find from wireless companies.
You can also shop in a store for Cricket Wireless if you want. In-store shopping might be easier if you want help making sure that your phone is compatible with the network. Plus, some people just prefer that human touch; we get it.
Cricket Wireless has just under 4,500 stores with locations in 49 states (not in Maine) plus Washington, D.C.2 Just know that Cricket stores charge a $25 activation fee. You can also purchase Cricket Wireless SIM cards and phones from Best Buy, Walmart, Target, and GameStop and then activate online to avoid the activation fee.
To find out some more information, I decided to chat online with customer service. You can do this by clicking on the round question mark button at the bottom left of the Cricket Wireless website.
I chatted with William, who was courteous, knowledgeable, and quick to respond. I asked William which Cricket plan he'd recommend for older adults who wouldn't use their phone too often. He asked if the customer would be watching videos or streaming things on the phone, to which I answered, “Not often.” Then, he recommended the 2 GB data plan with unlimited talk and text, which costs $30 per month.
I also asked William about any activation fees or special discounts for seniors or veterans. I learned that Cricket doesn't offer any special discounts, even for AARP members or veterans. William also explained that you won't have to pay activation fees if you purchase a new phone or plan online.
After my interaction with William, I can see why Cricket Wireless' customer service team won customer service awards in 20173 and 2019.4
Cricket sells 30 different cell phones on their website, including one that made our list of the best cell phones for seniors. Many of their phones are available for $0 or at a major discount when you purchase one to three months of service. The phone will be locked into Cricket's service for at least six months, though. You also have the option of bringing your own phone.
Here's a closer look at a couple of phones that impressed us.
The Debut Flip is the only flip phone Cricket Wireless sells. We think it's perfect for older adults who want a simple cell phone that'll keep them connected. It has a compact, durable design with an easy-to-see keypad. Don't enjoy typing? You can make calls, send texts, and more with just your voice thanks to Google Assistant. Unlike other phones we've tested, including Lively's Jitterbug Flip2, the Debut Flip works with a data plan. You can surf the web, view your calendar, check email, and add apps and games.
FYI: Want to compare the Debut Flip to other easy-to-use phones? Visit our list of the easiest cell phones for seniors.
The Debut Flip costs $49.99 if you bring your own number and activate at least a $30 monthly plan. Otherwise, it costs $69.99. This price point is excellent but still higher than Consumer Cellular's price for the comparable Link II ($35).
Our favorite features for seniors:
For tech-savvy older adults, there's the Apple iPhone SE. This phone offers all the bells and whistles, and it's a great choice if many of your loved ones already use iPhones. The SE has everything from a large Retina HD touchscreen to Haptic Touch to a 12 MP camera. Plus, you can access thousands of apps from the Apple Store, FaceTime your loved ones, and control the phone with your voice thanks to Siri.
The Apple iPhone SE normally costs $349.99. However, Cricket offers the phone for $0 when you activate a new line on the $60 plan. When you go to purchase the phone, Cricket will charge you $180 – $60 pays for the first month of service and the other $120 goes on your Cricket account. You can put the $120 toward future months of phone service on any plan.
Quick Tip: If you want, you can stretch that $180 to get you the iPhone SE, one month of service on the $60 plan, and four months of service on the $30-per-line 2 GB plan. That's five months of service and a $350 smartphone for only $180!
Our favorite features for seniors:
Cricket Wireless provides prepaid plans that use AT&T's 4G LTE and 5G network (where available). AT&T is one of the largest networks in the United States and was recently named the Most Reliable 5G Network by Global Wireless Solutions (GWS).5
If you know that the AT&T network works well in your area, then Cricket Wireless should too. The spottiest places for service are typically remote or rural homes. If that's you, you'll want to check the coverage map on Cricket's website.
Cricket's prepaid plans do away with contracts, so there's no need to worry about being locked into a two-year contract like you would be with AT&T's senior plans. You don't need to worry about cancellation fees either. However, Cricket doesn't offer prorated refunds if you cancel during an active month of service.
Of course, things are a little trickier if you decide to purchase a phone from Cricket. To unlock a phone purchased from Cricket (and therefore be able to use it with a different cell phone provider), you must use Cricket's service for six months. That might seem like a long time, but it's not bad compared to other providers. For example, when you buy a phone from Lively, it only works with Lively's service; it can't be unlocked and used with another carrier.
Cricket offers a seven-day return policy for qualifying devices, which is the same length as the trial for Mint Mobile's cell phone plans. Devices purchased online must be mailed back in like-new condition with all of their original accessories. There is no fee for returning qualifying devices. Cricket will email you a prepaid shipping label.
Devices purchased in a store must be returned or exchanged at the same store where purchased. You will receive a full refund, minus a $25 fee if you return the device without all its original accessories.
After the seven-day return period, most phones sold by Cricket are covered by a one-year manufacturer's warranty, which is standard in the industry. Cricket-brand phones have a two-year warranty, which we found impressive.
Cricket also has the optional Cricket Protect plan for certain smartphones, which costs $8 per month. It covers loss, theft, physical and liquid damage, and other out-of-warranty problems. Plus, you get cracked-screen repair for $29 — a real nice feature if you're prone to dropping your phone! Other fees include a $10-$250 deductible, depending on the claim. This may or may not be worth it, depending on the value of your phone.
|Cricket plan||2 GB||10 GB||Unlimited||Unlimited + 15 GB Mobile Hotspot|
|Monthly price||$30||1 line: $40
2 lines: $35 per line
3 lines: $30 per line
4 lines: $28 per line
5 lines: $26 per line
|1 line: $55
2 lines: $40 per line
3 lines: $30 per line
4 lines: $25 per line
5 lines: $25 per line
|1 line: $60
2 lines: $45 per line
3 lines: $37 per line
4 lines: $33 per line
5 lines: $32 per line
|Talk and text||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|High-speed data||2 GB||10 GB||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Cricket's 2 GB plan costs $30 per line per month, including taxes and fees. As Cricket's most affordable prepaid plan, this one's great for older adults on a tight budget. Unfortunately, this plan doesn't qualify for Cricket's autopay or multi-line discount. Other fees include a $9.99 SIM card fee if you bring your own phone and a $25 activation fee if you activate a new phone in stores.
If you're interested in getting a gig more data for that same price point, consider Consumer Cellular or Lively. Lively charges $30 per month for a 3 GB plan, while Consumer Cellular charges $25 per month.
Cricket's 2 GB plan includes 2 GB of high-speed data along with unlimited talk, text, and picture messages. That amount of data is just right for seniors who have Wi-Fi at home and don't plan to use data to stream videos. In fact, it's the plan that Wiliam from Cricket's customer service team recommended for older adults.
Buyer's Tip: Still not sure which phone plan is right for you? Visit our senior buyer's guide for cell phones to learn more.
If you have a compatible phone, the 2 GB plan also includes Wi-Fi calling, HD Voice, and Cricket Call Defense. Cricket Call Defense automatically blocks fraudulent calls and gives nuisance warnings. When a call comes in, you'll see a warning that it's likely spam, a telemarketer, political, etc. Cricket Call Defense is our favorite feature for seniors, because an FTC report from 2019 found that phone scams caused the most financial damage to seniors of any type of scam.6
Cricket's unlimited plan costs $55 per month, or $50 per month when you set up autopay. For comparison, Consumer Cellular charges $55, T-Mobile charges $40, and AT&T charges $65 for the same type of service.
What sets Cricket's unlimited plan apart is its multi-line discount. For two users, the price drops to $40 per line per month. For three, it drops down to $30 per line per month, and for four, it decreases to $25 per line per month. If you're looking to purchase a phone plan with your spouse and/or family, this prepaid plan is hard to beat.
If you bring your own phone, this plan also includes the $9.99 SIM card fee.
Cricket's unlimited plan includes unlimited high-speed data, talk, text, and picture messages in the U.S. Plus, you can send texts from the U.S. to 37 countries, which is a rare perk that's great for older adults with family members living or studying abroad. Cricket even lets you use your phone service in Canada and Mexico, so we'd certainly recommend this one if you spend time in either country. Other features include SD-quality video streaming, HD Voice, Wi-Fi calling, and Cricket Call Defense for spam call protection.
Overall, this plan is our pick for older adults who plan to use their phones a lot, whether they're at home without Wi-Fi or frequently on the road. One thing worth noting is that, although this plan comes with unlimited high-speed data, Cricket does temporarily reduce data speeds if the network gets busy.
Cricket Wireless may not cater exclusively to seniors with its prepaid phone plans, but after conducting our review, we're certainly impressed with the value this carrier has to offer. We love the steep multi-line discounts and Cricket Call Defense. When shopping, just keep in mind that Cricket's phones weren't designed with seniors in mind like phones we've reviewed from Lively or Consumer Cellular. However, they're still an excellent choice for older adults.
AT&T owns Cricket Wireless.
No. Like most prepaid carriers out there, Cricket is pay-as-you-go.
Cricket Wireless doesn’t offer any senior discount, even if you’re a veteran or an AARP member.
No, Cricket Wireless doesn’t offer phone plans specifically for seniors. However, several of the Cricket Wireless plans are on par with the features and prices of senior plans from other providers.
In most cases, yes, you can transfer your existing phone number to Cricket Wireless. You will need to visit Cricket’s website before purchasing to check if your number is eligible for transfer.
Yes, you can switch between Cricket’s different phone plans at the start of any month of service. For example, if you start out with the 2 GB plan and realize you’d prefer more high-speed data, you can go into your account and switch your next month to one of the higher-tier plans.
PR Newswire. (2020). Cricket Earns its Third Straight J.D. Power Award for Purchase Experience.
Cricket Wireless. (2021). Cricket Wireless Locations.
Cricket Wireless. (2017). Cricket Named #1 in Wireless U.S. Customer Experience!
Federal Trade Commission. (2019). Scams and older consumers: Looking at the data.