What Carriers Use Sprint’s Network?

Breaking down the best, and the worst, Sprint alternatives

Sprint may not be the biggest, fanciest cell phone provider in the world. But it offers decent network performance in most areas at rock-bottom prices. And you might be able to get on Sprint’s network for even less if you’re willing to use a prepaid provider.

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How are carriers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?
All of the major carriers, including Sprint, have taken important steps to keep their customers connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these measures include giving customers extra data and foregoing service cancellations. Read our updated COVID-19 info article for more details.

There are five prepaid providers—also called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs)—that use Sprint’s network exclusively. There are several more that use Sprint’s network in conjunction with other networks, like Verizon’s.

Sprint alternatives:

MVNOs that use multiple networks (including Sprint): 

  • Red Pocket
  • Twigby
  • Ting
  • Pix Wireless
  • Tracfone
  • TextNow
  • Republic Wireless
  • Net10 Wireless
  • Google Fi
  • Straight Talk

We’ll give a quick run down of every prepaid company on the Sprint network, but first let’s look at some of our top picks.

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What about the Sprint and T-Mobile merger?
If you’re wondering how the Sprint and T-Mobile merger will affect customers on these networks, and the many MVNOs that piggyback on them, then look no further. Here’s a full breakdown of what we know so far and how to prepare.

Our picks for the best Sprint alternatives

There are many Sprint MVNOs to choose from. Some might say too many. Don’t worry, we’ve got all you decision fatigued customers covered. Here’s what we think are the best prepaid plans on the Sprint network.

Best value: Tello has some fantastic deals on midlevel plans with unlimited talk and text, and a few GBs of data.

Best for budget: Gen Mobile’s stripped down, low-cost plans offer the bare essentials for those who want to save money.

Best for music lovers: Boost Mobile offers cheap plans that will get you premium perks, like unlimited music streaming and HD video quality.

Best for data lovers: Straight Talk’s unlimited data plans are some of the cheapest in the industry, even if they don’t include a bunch of fancy features.

How good is Sprint’s network?

Everyone knows that Sprint’s plans are cheap. But when it comes to network power among the Big Four cellular companies, Sprint is pretty much the runt of the litter. It has the slowest data speeds, and its nationwide 4G coverage stands at a paltry 30%.1, 2

But for those who live in urban areas, Sprint’s budget plans are still a great deal. Let’s dive into the details of Sprint’s performance.

Sprint coverage

Sprint boasts about its “reliable nationwide coverage for connections that last.”3 But, to paraphrase Smash Mouth, the reviewer man begs to differ, judging by the holes in the coverage picture:

Sprint coverage map

Sure, you’ll be totally fine with Sprint if you live in New York City, Los Angeles, or even Boise, Idaho. But as soon as you veer away from major metropolitan areas and big interstate highways, you’ll see your coverage slip away.

All you city slickers shouldn’t worry much, then. But adventurers, road-trippers, and rural dwellers beware.

Sprint data speeds

When it comes to data speeds, Sprint lags behind the other carriers. But not by a huge margin.

Speed rankings from Opensignal

Image source: screenshot taken from Opensignal

A data speed of 23.9 Mbps may put Sprint in last place among the Big Four networks. But it’s still enough speed to stream videos and music and play most online games. And you won’t have any issues browsing, scrolling, or posting on social media.

Honestly, most people in urban areas probably won’t actually notice the difference in speeds between different networks, at least until the rollout of 5G.

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What about deprioritization?
Most of these discount MVNO plans will be periodically deprioritized. This is when the network owner (in this case, Sprint) decides to favor its own customers’ data speeds over those on prepaid plans. This is most likely to happen when many people are using the network in the same area.

That’s enough about Sprint’s performance. Let’s talk about the MVNOs that piggyback on the network.

Gen Mobile

Gen Mobile offers one of the cheapest ways to get unlimited talk and text.

Pros

  • Cheap unlimited talk and text
  • Free international texting

Cons

  • No unlimited data plans

Sure, everyone and their ten-year-old niece has an unlimited data plan these days. But there’s something to be said for going against the grain. Plus, unlimited plans cost like a bazillion dollars, while a talk and text plan from Gen Mobile starts at just $9 a month!

Here’s a look at that dirt-cheap plan and a few of Gen Mobile’s other most popular plans.

Gen Mobile cell phone plans by popularity

As you can see, Gen Mobile’s $9 plan will still get you 1 GB of data, which is plenty for using Google Maps or checking your email occasionally. It’s no surprise that this plan made it into our lineup of the best cell phone plans under $30.

Who really talks on the phone for more than 300 minutes a month these days, anyways?

Tello

Tello is a budget provider that has a plan for every kind of customer.

Pros

  • Inexpensive plans
  • Unlimited data option

Cons

  • Throttled data speeds

Tello is another carrier with talk and text plans starting below $10 a month. But Tello also offers higher-data (and higher-cost) plans for those who want to be able to stream, game, and post all day long.

Check out these popular plans from Tello.

Tello plans by popularity

There are plenty of plans to choose from, but we’re partial to the cheap, limited-data plans like the Smart Plan. For many people, like kids and retirees, 4 GB is plenty of data. And if you go over that allotment you’ll still get access to data, just at significantly slower speeds.

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Do you actually need an unlimited data plan?
While most of us play, post, and scroll constantly these days, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need an unlimited data plan. Figure out exactly how much data you actually need using our handy guide.

Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile’s plans feature some fantastic perks, like unlimited music streams and extra hotspot data.

Pros

  • Unlimited music streaming on all plans
  • Generous hotspot data on Unlimited Plus plan

Cons

  • Pricier than other MVNOs

Boost Mobile is Sprint’s very own MVNO (much like Visible is an MVNO owned by Verizon), and it’s got a lot to offer customers who love streaming.

Boost Mobile plans by popularity

Boost’s plans come with unlimited music streaming (as long as it’s with one of Boost’s music partners, like Pandora or Spotify). This means you can stream music all day while you’re driving, working, or just chilling, and it won’t count against your allotted data.

Boost also gives you HD quality video streams, which is rare for a prepaid provider.

But for all of its media perks, Boost is not the best Sprint MVNO for everyone. The carrier’s prices are definitely on the higher end of the spectrum.

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile is dead. Long live Virgin Mobile. 

Sorry to break it to you, Richard Branson fans, but Virgin Mobile is no more. Sprint has decided to move existing Virgin Mobile customers over to its own MVNO, Boost Mobile.

And if you just really want a celebrity name attached to your cell phone plan, check out Mint Mobile, which is partially owned by Ryan Reynolds. It’s a better carrier than Virgin ever was, anyways!

CREDO Mobile

With CREDO you’ll pay a bit extra, but it will be for a good cause.

Pros

  • Directly supports social change
  • Powerful unlimited plan

Cons

  • Expensive

Whether or not you like CREDO Mobile might have more to do with your political leanings than your needs as a mobile customer. CREDO explicitly uses its money and platform to promote progressive political causes, like Planned Parenthood and the Rainforest Action Network.

If those causes are close to your heart, then CREDO will make supporting them easier than ever. (Hint: they’ll charge you a lot for your cell phone bill). Here’s a look at this Sprint MVNO’s plans.

CREDO Mobile plans by popularity

If you’re willing to pay the higher prices, CREDO’s plans are actually pretty great. The company’s unlimited data plan includes 20 GB of hotspot data and HD video streaming.

Other carriers that use the Sprint network

Here’s a roundup of other carriers that work on multiple networks, including Sprint’s. 

As you’ve seen, there are plenty of prepaid carriers that use the Sprint network exclusively. But some of the best options out there for those who want to be on the Sprint network are MVNOs that use multiple networks.

Carriers that use multiple networks, including Sprint: 

Yes, that’s 10 carriers! Don’t worry, we’re not going to drag you into the nitty-gritty details on all of them (you can read a more comprehensive breakdown of each carrier on our AT&T alternatives page). Instead, we’ll give you a quick roundup of our favorite ones.

For budgeters: Red Pocket has very cheap phone plans for those who just want a little bit of data and talk time.

For pay as you go: Pix Wireless offers some great pay as you go plans for those who aren’t totally sure when they’ll need minutes, texts, and data.

For unlimited data: Straight Talk offers cheap, prepaid unlimited data plans for the people.

For international benefits: Google Fi offers very flexible plans with amazing international perks for all kinds of budgets.

For low-data plans: Tracfone offers all kinds of unconventional low-data plans that are great for many younger and older folks (like a yearly prepaid plan with 1,500 minutes).

Here’s a look at how the most popular plan on each of these carriers compares.

Multiple-network MVNO most popular plan comparison 

Recap: which Sprint MVNO is best for you?

The lineup of prepaid carriers that use Sprint’s network is pretty impressive . . . and overwhelming. So, here’s a quick recap of our favorite Sprint MVNOs.

Best value: Tello is a great choice for those who just want a simple plan with talk, text, and a few GB of data.

Best for budget: Gen Mobile will give you basic talk and text for less than almost any other carrier.

Best for music lovers: Boost Mobile is loved by many for its premium perks, like unlimited music streaming and HD video quality.

Best for data lovers: Straight Talk offers one of the cheaper unlimited data plans in the industry.

Phew! That’s it. We hope that these reviews of carriers that use the Sprint network has helped you find the right plan for you. Chime in down below to let us know what you think of your Sprint MVNO plan.