Cricket Wireless floundered for several years with its small, private cellular network, its coverage paling in comparison to what the nationwide carrier giants could offer. AT&T acquired the company in 2013 and began merging it with Aio Wireless, but the process was long and arduous, and for some time customers remained tied to a patchy network. Now, with the Aio merger complete and Cricket phones finally able to take advantage of AT&T's coverage, the prepaid cell phone provider has transformed from an also-ran option to a stalwart name in the business, offering some of the best cell phone plans around.

Cricket's base plan offers unlimited talk, texts (including international messaging) and 2.5GB of high-speed data for just $50 a month. You can increase your high-speed limit to 5GB for $60 a month, or go for a basic, 500MB plan for just $40. Regardless of the plan you pick, Cricket throttles your speeds once you hit your data limit, rather than charge you overage fees.

The cell phone company doesn't have designated family share plans, but it does provide a $10 discount to every additional line of service you put on your account, with the discount increasing the more phones you have on an account – $10 off for the second phone, $20 off the price of the third, and so on. You can get four lines of smartphone service, each with unlimited talk, text and its own dedicated 2.5GB data allocation, for just $140 a month.

Like all prepaid providers, Cricket doesn't subsidize its phones, so if you want a top-of-the-line model like the Samsung Galaxy S5, be prepared to pay hundreds more up front. However, you can bring your own phone to the service, so if you already own a phone or want to buy one used and connect it to your Cricket account, you can do so and save yourself a great deal of money.

Cricket Wireless Summary:
7.9/10

Compare Cricket's cell phone plans with the competition and you'll find them nearly unbeatable. For $50, its 2.5GB data tier tends to be a comfortable sweet spot for many users, while the AT&T network is the strongest available from any prepaid provider. If you're looking for the service and support of a small company with the network authority of a large one – and you're willing to pay the full price of a new phone, or bring your own – Cricket will win your heart.

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Cricket Wireless

Pros
Cricket has some of the cheapest monthly prices for smartphone plans you can find, anywhere.

Cons
You'll have to either pay the full, unsubsidized price for a new phone, or bring your own.

The Verdict
: 7.88/10

Now that it runs on AT&T's network, Cricket Wireless offers some of the best no-contract options on the market. We just wish it offered payment plans for new phones.