Straight Talk vs Cricket Wireless: two prepaid plans that run on AT&T's LTE network

Straight Talk vs Cricket Wireless is a battle of two great prepaid plans that run on AT&T's LTE network. The Cricket brand was relaunched by AT&T and AIO was folded into it. Since then, Cricket has added several new plans and increased the amount of data in other. Straight Talk is a joint venture between TracFone Wireless and Walmart and offers a smaller number of great plan. Although both plans run on AT&T's LTE network, one big distinction is speed. Cricket limits speeds while Straight Talk does not. Read on to see how else these two plans compare and which is the better choice for you.

Straight Talk vs Cricket Wireless: two great prepaid plans

First off, both of these carriers offer a great value and you can't really go wrong with either of them. AT&T has a good nationwide network with lots of fast HSPA and LTE coverage. Either of these plans are probably going to save you quite a bit of money over a contract plan. With that said, let's get into the details.

Prepaid plans can be a very affordable alternative to traditional contract plans. You'll need to bring your own phone or purchase one at full price though (up to $650 for the newest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones).  Even with that large upfront purchase you'll save hundreds of dollars over time.

 Straight Talk vs Cricket, both offer great value

Straight Talk vs Cricket, both offer great value

Straight Talk offers a popular $45 smartphone plan with unlimited calling and texting, 3GB of 4G data, and unlimited 64kbps data after your 4G data is used. They also offer a $30 plan with just 100MB of data and a $60 plan with international calling. Discounts of $2 to $3 per month can be had by purchasing 3-12 months of service in advance.

You can purchase several smartphones including iPhones from Straight Talk or purchase a SIM card and bring your own compatible phone. Shop service plans, SIM cards, and phones at Walmart online or in stores. Straight Talk also offers plans on T-Mobile, but AT&T has better coverage and is probably a better choice for most users.

update 5/8/15: Straight Talk now includes 5GB of high-speed data if you bring your own phone. Phones bought from them will continue to get 3GB.

Cricket was previously a CDMA carrier owned by Leap Wireless. AT&T acquired Leap in 2013 and recently relaunched Cricket on the AT&T LTE network. In the process, AT&T also folded their other prepaid carrier, AIO Wireless, into Cricket.

Cricket now offers three main smartphone plans ranging from $35 to $55 (after $5 autopay credit). All plans offer unlimited calling and texting, and unlimited 2G data after your monthly 4G data allotment is used. That allotment is 2.5GB for $35, 5GB for $45, and 10GB for $55. An additional 1GB of data can be added to any plan for $10 at any time. As I write this they are offering a limited time promotion with 20GB of data for $55. That is a lot of data for the money, but Crickets caps speeds at 8Mbps, whereas Straight Talk does not and can see speeds up to about 20Mbps. Speed is important, but unless you're streaming lots of video or downloading large files, 8Mbps is likely enough for most users.

Cricket also offers a discount for adding multiple lines to one account: $10 for the second device, an additional $20 for the third device, and an additional $30 for devices four and five, giving a total discount of $90 per month for five lines.

Straight Talk vs Cricket: data, speeds, and flexibility

Straight Talk offers a great plan and doesn't cap data speeds. Cricket caps speeds, but offers more data for the money and a broader range of plans. Cricket is the clear choice for families, with big discounts on multiple lines.

I have used Straight Talk for about a year now and have been impressed. Recently I've been bumping up against the 3GB limit and am considering moving to Cricket to get 5GB of data for the same price. I don't think I'll notice the 8Mbps cap, but if I do I can always move back to Straight Talk. That's the beauty of a contract-free prepaid plan. I think it's the better choice for most people, and probably the best overall prepaid cell phone plan on the market right now.