I hear you. I run pretty minimal with the exception of tweaks. Use ADW launcher, uninstall all bloat ware, then make my phone look pretty. But the choice if kernels, init.d scripts, and being able to free up about 40% of the storage speaks volumes to me. Being able to run cm, aosp you get even more storage back.
I started with t mobile service and was happy while in city limits, but had to switch to att due to travels outside. They are bigger than Verizon where I live. Cricket has some good plans, but aren't you forced to purchase the phone outright? If this is the case, and you want options, might as will go with the one that allows for greater use.
The phone price is about the same, just one allows you to do more with it. Just a quick online search indicates that att full price phone is $764.99, and the t mobile variant is only $717.60.
Sent from the dirty flashed note 3!