Boost Mobile is transitioning from the Sprint network to T-Mobile, which has not only improved coverage but also phone compatibility. You also have access to the new Shrink-It! Plan, robust international calling options, and even roaming in Mexico and Canada if you need it.
Straight Talk is a more traditional MVNO with fewer plans but the ability to use any of the Big Four's networks, making bringing your phone a breeze. You can start with a basic plan or move all the way up to an unlimited plan with international options.
If you're just looking to get a data connection on your phone, Straight Talk is going to be one of your quickest and simplest options thanks to its wide range of networks. If you're willing to make a bigger investment, you can save some money with Boost Mobile either by bringing multiple lines or staying longer. Keep in mind that Boost Mobile requires that you use the T-Mobile network for the loyalty discount.
How many lines do you need?
Boost Mobile has multi-line discounts up to five lines on all of its major plans and multiple promotions for four lines. If you want to get your whole family connected, Boost Mobile will more than likely work out to be the best value for you. Straight Talk does have a plan for two lines but no more than that. At two lines, the Straight talk plan that comes with unlimited data is a good deal at $90 but if you need more than that Boost Mobile takes the lead in value.
Unlimited International plan
Until recently, Boost Mobile was owned and operated by Sprint. As part of T-Mobile's deal to buy Sprint, Boost Mobile was sold to Dish, which plans to operate on T-Mobile's network for seven years while it readies a full 5G network for its customers. This is likely far enough out that most people won't be bothered by the change if they sign up for the T-Mobile based Expanded Network.
Pick your Boost Mobile network
Boost Mobile used Sprint's network exclusively until recently, adding an option to switch to what it's calling the Expanded Network. This network is based on T-Mobile and brings with it denser coverage than the older Sprint network, especially in rural and suburban areas. That's not to say it will be an improvement for everyone but the majority of people should see some benefit.
For now, Boost Mobile customers can choose between the two networks. You'll most likely find better coverage with the new network but you should still take a look at the Expanded Network coverage map and the Nationwide coverage map to make sure they work for you. The Expanded network also has 5G access included.
What to know about Straight Talk's networks
With Straight Talk, you'll be able to use either the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon, depending on which network your phone is compatible with and which one has coverage for you. You can check this coverage map by entering your zip code and selecting which network your phone came from. Keep in mind that if you want to use hotspot data, you need to select something other than AT&T.
What are Boost Mobile's plans?
Boost Mobile has three main plans that start with just 3GB of data before moving up to unlimited. The three plans are available on either network and have discounts for adding additional lines up to five.
3 Gigs 4G LTE
Boost Unlimited Plus
Talk and Text
Tidal 6 months
Unlimited music streaming
Tidal 6 months
Tidal 6 months
In addition, there's the Shrink-It! Plan that comes with 25GB of data and is only on the Expanded Network. This plan starts at $45 per month but comes down to $40 with three on-time payments. It comes down another $5 to $35 with six payments. There is also a 10GB plan on the Expanded Network for $35 per month with no associated discounts.
Additional features such as international calling and more hotspot data can be added on by signing into your account.
What are Straight Talk's plans?
Straight Talk has more straightforward plans starting at $30 per month with 1,500 minutes and 100MB of data. You get 50% more data if you enable auto-refill. Next up is a 5GB and a 25GB data plan with unlimited talk and text. These plans come in at $35 and $45 per month, respectively, and you can save a dollar by enabling auto-refill. The 25GB plan can be bought for extended periods of three, six, or twelve months for $130, $255, and $495 respectively.
If you're looking for unlimited, you have two options starting with a basic unlimited talk, text, and data with 10GB of hotspot data for $55 per month. Hotspot data isn't available on the AT&T network. You can get two lines with this plan for $90 per month but you don't get the hotspot data.
Finally, there's the Unlimited International plan that comes with 25GB of data and unlimited talk and text. You also get unlimited calls to mobile phones in Mexico, China, Canada, and India. If you need more high-speed data, it can be added at $5 per 1GB.
What phones are compatible with Boost Mobile and Straight Talk?
The easiest way to see if your phone will work with Boost Mobile is to enter the IMEI on Boost's website. Most unlocked phones will work on either of Boost Mobile's network excluding phones purchased from Sprint. Boost sells phones as well including a decent range of Androids and iPhones. You will still need to pay for the phones outright but some of the lower-end models are very affordable.
Pretty much any unlocked phone can be activated on Straight Talk thanks to its available networks. You can also check on Straight Talk's BYOD page if you want to be sure. If you're ready for a new phone, you can buy one from Straight Talk. You can choose from high-end Samsungs and iPhones down to cheap Androids. You can even sign up for a payment plan on some models.
Which should you subscribe to?
In some scenarios, Straight Talk is a great option and its international plan can be a great value for someone that needs it. It also excels at compatibility thanks to its support for all major networks. Still, for most people, Boost Mobile's Expanded Network will provide plenty of coverage and compatibility. Boost's plans also have more opportunities to save with multiple lines or simply paying your bill on time.