My First 48 Hours on Cricket Wireless

I finally made the leap to Cricket Wireless!

In our efforts to lower our expenses, our cell phones seemed like an obvious place to start, particularly since we are so far over the average in cell phone spending for our income bracket. Moreover, while we do need some cell phone capabilities, for the most part our phones are a luxury item. It’s hard to justify spending so much on a toy! You’ll remember from our July monthly review that we paid off Mr. Steward’s cell phone, so that we could switch to a discount provider.

Why Did We Choose Cricket?

Cricket is one of several discount phone providers on the market. The Simple Dollar has a great list of discount offerings here. We went with Cricket for a few reasons. First, we have always had AT&T and are quite happy with the coverage for the areas where we live and travel. Since Cricket is owned by AT&T and uses their network exclusively, we knew we would have the same coverage.

We also didn’t really want to replace our phones, particularly Mr. Steward. He purposefully bought a phone with SD card capability so his phone could replace his very large, much loved MP3 player when it finally bit the dust. Plus, our phones work fine and are paid off. I was surprised to see that the price margin between former personal finance darling Republic Wireless, which requires a specific type of phone, and providers like Cricket, which support most phones, is pretty much nonexistent these days, meaning we weren’t going to take a financial hit for keeping our old phones. Hooray! We were also able to carry over our old numbers, saving us the hassle of updating all of our information with both businesses and friends.

Finally, Cricket opened up a store in our area right before we switched. Knowing we could (theoretically) get in-person assistance was the icing on the cake.

Switching Over

Unfortunately, the process of switching our service hit a snag precisely because of that Cricket store. We thought it might be better to switch in-person, so we rearranged a Sunday to go while we ran other errands on that side of town. Both the internet and the store hours on the door said the shop was to open at noon, but by 12:20, there were still no employees present. I have no idea if that was a fluke or a typical Cricket store experience.

I can say, however, that having spoken to customer service reps multiple times using the nifty chat feature on their website, the customer service seems quite helpful otherwise. When the local store failed to be a resource, I ordered my plan and universal sim card online, and it was as painless as filling out a form.

To forewarn you, you have two non-ideal options if you want to switch multiple lines. Option one is to order both lines at once, buying the plan and sim card separately for each phone, and then have them fused into one account once both lines are activated. The other option is to buy the first line, activate it, then order a second line that will automatically be linked with the first. That leaves a longer delay before everyone is on the new service. Since they were offering a shipping promotion where we could order the second sim card free and quickly at a later date, we chose the second option. That way, I could test the waters on my phone before transferring Mr. Steward’s.

I filled out the line transfer request (and did not cancel my old service) before checking out. When the universal sim card came in the mail the next day, I popped it into my phone and allowed it to update. I then had to go into my e-mail and hit a single activation button. Boom, done. They even closed out my service with AT&T when they transferred the line.

How is the Service?

Just as expected, we have the same coverage as before. The only difference between Cricket and AT&T is that Cricket throttles your cellular data speed to 8 mbps. That’s why the service is cheaper. Nonetheless, I have only seen a marginal difference in the performance of most apps. It takes perhaps one second longer to load pages on cellular data than before, and GPS apps still work just fine.

My most taxing app on cellular data, Pokemon Go, which requires a constant, fast connection to cellular data, no longer works consistently. Is that a deal-breaker? Heck no! Having used the GPS on the data connection without a hiccup, this is literally the only flaw I can find. It definitely is not serious enough to negate the price drop.

How Much Is It?

We are paying $40 for the first line with a 2.5 gb (per phone) plan. A second line gets a $10 discount, so we will be paying $70 total for two phones to have unlimited nationwide calling and texting, plus 2.5 gbs of cellular data per month. The universal sim card kits also cost a one-time fee of $9.99 each. We were previously paying $113 per month for two lines with AT&T, after an employee discount from my work. Once we get totally swapped over, we will be saving $43 per month by switching to Cricket, or $516 per year. That’s a lot of tasty, tasty cash.

If you’re interested, now through October 7 Cricket is offering a deal with free next-day shipping on items purchased from their store, including the universal sim card. (No, they aren’t paying me to tell you that. I do have a referral code if you really want it, but I seriously just want you to save money!)

Do you use a discount wireless provider? What do you think of it? If not, what’s holding you back?

9 Replies to “My First 48 Hours on Cricket Wireless”

  1. Steve Goodwin

    Great idea! I think a lot of people are ditching the big carriers for the generic, off-brand carriers these days. I think the big carriers think of it like having an off brand vs a store brand. Glad to hear that you are saving all that moolah over the year! I’m still with a local carrier that I used to work for and get a fantastic rate through them so I haven’t had to make any jumps yet!

    • Ms. Steward

      I hope more people do ditch the major carriers. On the other hand, that’s makes me a little nervous prices are going to “normalize” as time goes on. Again, I’ve seen what people used to pay for Republic and what they’re paying now, and the prices have definitely gone up!

      I view it in line with trend of young folk cutting the cord on cable, to subscribe to Hulu or Netflix instead.

      • Steve Goodwin

        That’s very true! As more demand comes into play, they are going to raise prices.

        Yeah, I’m a cord cutter myself and only have Comcast’s basic 50 channel package because they gave it to me for free with my Internet + HBOGo for 3 years so they could get the ratings 🙂

        • Ms. Steward

          Same here. We currently have cable only because they offered me a deal where we got it, plus Showtime and the internet we were buying anyway for the same price as I paid for the internet only before.

          I’m still actually considering downgrading, though; we don’t use HBO except for GoT, and I can simply get HBO Go or call them for a deal in six months when it returns.

  2. Emily Jividen

    We switched from Verizon to Cricket last year. While I don’t love the cheapo phones we got at the same time (our Motorolas weren’t compatible), I am happy enough with Cricket and the $85 a month it saves us.

    I will say I don’t think your store experience was all that unusual unfortunately. The one we went to was the one drawback to the entire experience. (Dirty and staffed by one surly employee). Since the store can pretty much be avoided 90% of the time, it’s hardly a deal breaker.

    • Ms. Steward

      Good to know about the stores! I was afraid of that, but as you say, we can just do it all online!

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