Report: The Best Cell Phone Providers in America

If you’re looking for a cell phone provider, before you make your decision perhaps you should consider which companies impress their customers the most.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index's (ACSI) Wireless Phone Service and Cell Phone Study 2021-2022 gauged customers' happiness with their cell phone providers in terms of network coverage, call reliability and quality, data upload/download speed, quality and reliability of the mobile app and call center helpfulness.

Who Is the Best Cell Phone Provider in America?

The report separates the providers into three categories:

On a 100-point scale, with an average score of 75, value MVNOs outperformed both MNOs (73) and full-service MVNOs (73) in the latest rankings.

Let’s take a look at the scores for the top MNOs, then full-service MVNOs and value MVNOs according to the ACSI.

Mobile Network Operators

Key Takeaway: T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular both earned three-point gains this year. That put T-Mobile in the top spot, with a score of 74, but it didn't help U.S. Cellular to get out of the basement in this category.

Customer service benchmarks such as network coverage, call center satisfaction and mobile app quality either saw slight gains or were the same as last year except for website satisfaction, where in the latest results, they lost a point (78 this time compared to 79 in the previous survey).

Mobile Network Operator2022 ScoreGain/Loss
From Previous Year
U.S. Cellular713

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MNOs are wireless cell phone providers that have their own towers.

Full-Service Mobile Virtual Network Operators

Key Takeaway: Optimum Mobile appeared in the survey for the first time and finished in first place with a 77. Xfinity Mobile, which was tops last year, made the biggest fall, slipping 3%.

Among customer experience benchmarks, staff courteousness/helpfulness was the only metric that increased (78 in the new report compared to 77 in the previous survey).

Full-Service MVNO2022 ScoreGain/Loss
From Previous Year
Optimum Mobile77NA
Cricket Wireless761
Xfinity Mobile76-3
Metro by T-Mobile740
Spectrum Mobile74-1
Boost Mobile710

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“Full-service” MVNOs rely on their MNO partners only for use of their towers. 

Value Mobile Virtual Network Operators

Key Takeaway: While Consumer Cellular stayed in first place, its lead among the value MVNOs continues to be slim. Straight Talk Wireless and Tracfone are competitive with Consumer Cellular in customer satisfaction. Ranking last is Q Link Wireless, which scored a 68.

Several customer experience benchmarks saw gains this year compared to last year, including call quality, voice and/or data plan range and network coverage.

Value MVNO2022 ScoreGain/Loss
From Previous Year
Consumer Cellular781
Straight Talk Wireless760
Walmart Family Mobile747
Simple Mobile733
Total Wireless73-3
SafeLink Wireless72-1
Assurance Wireless704
Q Link Wireless680

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“Value” MVNOs rely heavily on their partner MNOs to provide network infrastructure.

To compile the report, ACSI interviewed 23,411 customers via email between April 2021 and March 2022 to ask about their experiences patronizing some of the largest U.S. companies.

Read more about the results here or you can register to download the full report for free here.

Final Thoughts

Switching cell phone providers is one of the easiest ways to reduce your monthly bills, and using an MVNO can often cut your cell phone bill even more.

While Clark doesn't normally love cable companies, in this case, he recognizes the big benefit to your wallet if you're already an Xfinity internet customer: "You have to pay them $45 a month for a single line: unlimited data, unlimited text, all that stuff. I mean, it's a decent deal," Clark says.

If you're not an Xfinity customer or you simply don't want to bundle your cell phone and cable bills, check out Team Clark's comprehensive guide to the best cell phone plans and deals for you.

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