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Prepaid Operator Profile: Cricket

This one of a series of Prepaid Phone News' profiles covering the major US mobile operators and MVNOS. 

Overview: Cricket Communications is a subsidiary of former regional operator Leap Wireless. Cricket operates its own network and is not an MVNO. It's the seventh largest US mobile network operator with 7 million subscribers, all of them prepaid. 

Cricket's own network covers about 35 metropolitan areas including Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Baltimore. In areas where Cricket doesn't have its own network it operates an MVNO reselling Sprint services. 

Technology: Cricket uses the 1700 Mhz AWS and 1900 Mhz PCS bands for CDMA voice and 1xRTT (2.5G), EVDO (3G) and LTE (4G) data.

Plans: Cricket currently offers only monthly plans. Plan pricing and features in markets where Cricket operates its own network are different than in markets where Cricket operates as a Sprint MVNO.

Cricket Native Market Plans
Plan Details1 $35/mo. Feature Phone $45/mo. Feature Phone $50/mo. Smartphone $60/mo. Smartphone $70/mo. Smartphone
Unlimited Talk * * * * *
Unlimited U.S. LD * * * * *
Unlimited Text * * * * *
Enhanced Calling Features2 * * * *
Unlimited Multimedia Text * * * *
Unlimited International Text *
* *
Unlimited Music Muve Music3 * * *
Visual Voicemail * *
Unlimited Data 2G (1xRTT) 1 GB full speed data (2 GB with LTE phones) unlimited 2G 2.5 GB full speed data (5 GB with LTE phones) unlimited 2G5 GB full speed data (10 GB with LTE phones) unlimited 2G
Tethering * *
1 All monthly rate plans include voicemail and caller ID
2 Enhanced Calling Features includes: call waiting, 3-way calling and call forwarding
3 Includes unlimited song downloads, ringtones and ringback tones. Muve Music capable phone required.

Here are the plans available in MVNO markets which Cricket calls PAYGo although they are monthly plans not traditional pay as you go one:

Cricket MVNO Plans
Plan Details4 $25/mo. Feature Phone $35/mo. Feature Phone $45/mo. Feature Phone $50/mo. Smartphone $60/mo. Smartphone
Voice Minutes/Mo. 300 1,000 1,000 Unlimited Unlimited
Unlimited Text * * * * *
Additional Calling Features5 * * * * *
Unlimited Multimedia Text * * * * *
Unlimited Muve Music6 * * *
Visual Voicemail *
Unlimited Data 2G (1xRTT) 2G (1xRTT)500 MB 3G, unlimited 2G 1 GB 3G, unlimited 2G 2.5 GB 3G, unlimited 2G
Tethering *
4 All monthly rate plans include voicemail and caller ID
5 Additional Calling Features includes: call waiting and 3-way calling
6 Includes unlimited song downloads, ringtones and ringback tones. Muve Music capable phone required.

International Rates: Cricket offers a $10/month Unlimited International Long Distance plan add-on for plans priced at $35/month or more that lets you make international calls to over 100 countries (check if a number is covered) using direct dialing. Even without a plan Cricket's international rates are fairly low (Canada .10; Mexico (landline) .10; China .10; UK (landline) .10; Philippines (landline) .20.

Unlimited international messaging is included with the $45, $60 and $70 native market plans. On other plans international texts cost 20¢ each

In order to make pay per use international calls or use pay per use international messaging you need to add money to your Cricket Flex Bucket at a Cricket store or by calling *729 form nyour Cricket phone or 1-800-Cricket from another phone. Unused Flex Bucket funds expire after one year.

Coverage: Cricket's native coverage is limited to about 35 metropolitan areas. Extensive no extra cost voice, text and data roaming on Sprint and MetroPCS is included with all plans. Roaming on networks other than Sprint is 25¢/minute. Text messaging while roaming is free

Devices: Cricket offers a large selection of feature phones and Android devices, the full iPhone line and a lone BlackBerry.

There is a limited Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) option for CDMA phones from other operators that's available from some Cricket dealers for a fee. Data doesn't always work on BYOD phones.

How to Buy: Cricket prepaid are available online at mycricket.com and from Cricket stores, authorized dealers, "big box" like Walmart and BestBuy and from online retailers including Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy. Cricket dealer locator

SIMs: Cricket phones are CDMA and only use SIMs for LTE. Cricket LTE SIMs are locked to the phone they come with and can't be used in any other phone. SIMs are not available to users except as replacements for Cricket LTE phones

How to Activate: Cricket phones can be activated at a Cricket store or authorized dealer or by calling 1-800-CRICKET from another phone

Payment Options: Cricket offers a number of ways to pay. There's an extra charge for many of them. There's no extra charge for payments made by the following methods:
  • Online using a debit or credit card or checking account.
  • Auto-pay using a debit or credit card or checking account. Setup auto-pay here.
  • Using the MyAccount app on the phone.
  • Sending a text message to “*PAY” with the last 4 digits of a previously used credit card, debit card or bank account. Example: *PAY 2468.
  • Mailing a check to Cricket Communications, PO Box 660747, Dallas, TX 75266-0747 (allow 10 days for delivery and processing and write your Cricket account number on the check).
Other payment methods carry an extra charge as follows
Account Management: You can check your rate plan, payment amount, expiration date and flex bucket balance and make payments and plan changes using the My Account section of the Cricket web site or the My Account app on the phone or by calling *611 from your wireless phone, or 1-800-CRICKET (1-800-274-2538) from any phone. Online call records are not available.

Call Forwarding, Call Waiting and 3-Way Calling (Available on most plans, call forwarding is not available on MVNO (PayGo) plans).

To forward all calls to another number: Press *72 followed by the number you want calls forwarded to (*72-123-456-7890), press Send and wait for a confirmation tone or message.
To cancel call forwarding: Press *720 SEND and wait for a confirmation tone or message.

To forward unanswered calls only (conditional call forwarding): Press *74 followed by the number you want calls forwarded to (*74-123-456-7890), press Send and wait for a confirmation tone or message.
To cancel conditional call forwarding: Press *740 SEND and wait for a confirmation tone or message.

Call waiting: Call waiting lets you place one call on hold while you take another call. When you are on a call and have another incoming call, you will hear a short tone. You'll have approximately 30 seconds to answer before the second caller is forwarded to voicemail.

To answer Call Waiting: To put the first call on hold, press "SEND." You'll automatically be connected with the second call. To return to the first call, press "SEND" again. To switch between the two calls, press "SEND."

3-Way Calling: Lets you create a conference call between yourself and two other people.
  • While on the first call, dial the 10-digit number of the second person and press "SEND." The first person is automatically put on hold while the call is made.
  • When the 2nd person answers, press "SEND" to create the conference call.
  • If the second person does not answer, press the "SEND" key twice to end the connection and go back to the first person. To end both conversations completely, press the "END" key
Cricket Prepaid "Secret" Codes:
*611 - call customer support
*PAY - with the last 4 digits of a previously used credit card, debit card or bank account. Example: *PAY 2468.

Free information services calls
711 - Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) for the hearing and speech impaired
911 - Emergency services

Customer Service:
Phone support: Call *611 or 1-800-CRICKET (1-800-274-2538) for 24/7 customer telephone support. Some users report shorter hold times using 1-866-384-4425
Mail support: Cricket Communications 5887 Copley Dr., San Diego, CA, 92111 United States
Cricket on social media: Facebook, Twitter

Phone Sales and General Information Web Site: mycricket.com

Cricket Pros: inexpensive unlimited plans, strong retail presence in native coverage areas, some BYOD, 24/7 telephone support. Call waiting, call forwarding and 3-way calling supported. Text (and extra-cost voice) roaming available almost everywhere that has CDMA mobile service.

Cricket Cons: Data and no extra charge voice coverage is somewhat limited (similar to Boost and Virgin Mobile). BYOD is limited. Extra charges for some payment methods. No online call records.

4 comments:

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  1. iPhone is not for sale in my area. How do you find out what 60 Cricket markets sell iPhone without entering dozens of zip codes?
    No wonder they have only sold half of their commitment to Apple ($100M short).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The iPhone is only available in markets where Cricket uses 1900 Mhz, which are:
      Albuquerque, NM; Austin, TX; Boise, ID; Brownsville, TX; Bryan/College Station, TX; Buffalo, NY; Burlington, NC; Charleston, SC; Charlotte, NC; Chattanooga, TN; Cincinnati, OH; Colorado Springs, CO; Columbus, GA; Corpus Christi, TX; Dayton, OH; Del Rio/Eagle Pass, TX; Denver, CO; El Paso, TX; Eugene, OR; Fayetteville, AR; Fort Collins, CO; Fort Smith, AR; Fresno, CA; Greensboro, NC; Houston, TX; Jonesboro, AR; Kansas City, MO; Knoxville, TN; Laredo, TX; Las Cruces, NM; Lexington, KY; Lincoln, NE; Little Rock, AR; Louisville, KY; Macon, GA; McAllen, TX; Memphis, TN; Modesto/Merced, CA; Nashville, TN; Omaha, NE; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Pueblo, CO; Raleigh, NC; Reno, NV; Rochester, NY; Salem, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; Santa Fe, NM; Savannah, GA; Spokane, WA; Syracuse, NY; Temple/Killeen, TX; Tucson, AZ; Tulsa, OK; Visalia, CA; Wichita, KS

      Delete
  2. Can anyone explain to me what is the advantage of using Cricket's $35 monthly over Air Voice's $30 plan?? I am in San Diego and travel extensively to L.A. from what Cricket's rep told me I have to use at least 60% of my minutes in San Diego, or they will disconnect me, a restriction that Air Voice doesn't have.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Aio will soon be Cricket.

    ReplyDelete
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