Best Cell Phones & Cell Phone Plans for Seniors in 2019

Our experts have researched 14 cell phone companies and recommend 6 of them (for seniors)

Last Updated On: May 29, 2019
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Top Cell Phones and Cell Phone Plans for the Elderly

Cell phones have become a vital part of everyday life. Cell phones allow seniors to connect with their loved ones and stay in touch with friends and family. Nowadays, seniors can easily find less complicated cell phones and cell phone plans so that they can stay in touch with those that matter most. For the more tech savy senior, smartphones provide tools, safety and entertainment on top of the standard communication functionality. Seniors can access their Facebook, pay bills online, text their friends and do so much more with a senior cell phone plan!
  • Jitterbug - As one of the original phone plans designed specifically for seniors, Jitterbug/GreatCall is the perfect phone for seniors looking for ease of use and affordability.
  • FreedomPop - With absolutely free cellular, text and data service available, it is hard to compete with FreedomPop concerning seniors on a budget.
  • AT&T - As one of the nation’s largest carriers that touts having the most reliable network, ATT&T’s Senior Nation plan is a good option for those looking for solid coverage.
  • Republic Wireless - Those looking for unlimited talk and text at an amazing low price will appreciate Republic Wireless, even though it’s not specifically designed for seniors.
  • Sprint - Sprint’s Unlimited 55+ Plan along with their brand-new cell phone designed for senior’s convenience makes Spring a top mobile carrier choice again this year.
  • Consumer Cellular - Design your own plan and enjoy nationwide talk, text and data with no contract at Consumer Cellular for low prices and no hidden fees.
  • Verizon - The Verizon Go Unlimited Plan for Seniors lets users talk, text and use data without limits making it a popular choice for those seeking a reliable network with nationwide coverage.
  • T-Mobile - Those 55+ will appreciate T-Mobile’s unlimited plans designed for seniors that have flexible features for one low all-included rate.
  • Snapfon - Snapfon has all of the senior-friendly features on could expect in a basic phone that’s designed for talking only, but users also enjoy an SOS feature that can save lives.
  • Cricket Wireless - Cricket boasts a solid line of phones and offers several packages at low cost including a ONE Unlimited 55+ Plan and other discounts.

How We Chose Our Top List

There are a lot of cell phone providers out there. You probably see commercials constantly for all of the different providers. It could make it difficult to determine which provider is the best since they all seem to be so popular. Luckily, we did all of that work for you. We looked through the 20 most well known cell phone providers and picked the top 6 providers that offered the best solutions for seniors. We looked at everything from features, to customer service, to ease of use and overall cost. See who we picked as our favorites.

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Products considered
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Hours of research
1. Jitterbug
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Excellent
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

Jitterbug is by far one of the most recognize cellular phone and phone plan providers for seniors. With their connection with GreatCall, Jitterbug service not only has some of the best no-contract prices, but they arguably have the best senior friendly phones on the market. Whether one wants to simply use their phone to make calls or text, or if they want to integrate additional services into their plan to stay well-connected, Jitterbug has a solution. The GreatCall Jitterbug Smart Plan incorporates the best designed phones for seniors with the best features including health and safety packages and app options for emergencies even at the basic level of service.

Pros
  • No contracts required and low initial phone costs
  • 5-star urgent response system on each phone
  • Medical and health packages to assist with medication and health management
  • Instant access to Lyft service
Cons
  • Service only available to GreatCall plans
  • Lacking a few features other carriers offer
  • Limited phone modes to choose from

Pricing

There are limited phones to choose from, and they are all very reasonably priced under $50, with lower end models available for around $20. GreatCall and Jitterbug offer two highly competitively priced plans, with the basic plan starting at $14.99 per month that. Basic plans offer a set number of minutes and texts per month, while the Great Call plan gives consumers unlimited talk, text and data for under $60. There is a $25 upfront fee for activation unless you catch a Jitterbug special.

The Bottom Line

Seniors looking for an easy to use phone with large buttons, screen fonts and user-friendly options will find Jitterbug and GreatCall to be the ideal solution. There are no long-term contracts, they boast US based customer service and plans for those who are power users and those who use their phone minimally. With the complimentary medical alert agent access and other features available, this is a bargain for those seeking to stay connected.

2. FreedomPop
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Excellent
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

FreedomPop has taken the mobile phone industry by surprise by offering a free (yes FREE!) phone service option. How can they do this? FreedomPop simply offers Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, which is the same tech used to make calls such as Skype. There is no contract required for consumers to sign up for a free package that includes 200 minutes of talk time, 500 texts, and 500 MB of data. Seniors with minimal data needs and who only require minimal talk time will appreciate FreedomPop—for free. FreedomPop also offers a 55+ plan that upgrades users to more minutes, texts, data and VIP support. However, one can downgrade to the free plan anytime. Those who want more bandwidth can also upgrade, making this a flexible option for senior son a budget.

Pros
  • Absolutely free plan
  • Upgradable if more minutes, text or data is needed
  • Low cost Alcatel Conquest LTE Smartphone
  • Nationwide 4G LTE coverage
Cons
  • Phone options are limited and are not senior specific
  • Limited data plans are available

Pricing

FreedomPop currently offers one smartphone model that can be bought for anywhere between $50 and $150 depending on where the device is purchased. Purchasing directly through FreedomPop typically gets consumers the best deal and they may qualify for free activation. As mentioned, users can get up to 200 minutes, 500 texts and 500 MB of data for no cost. However, there is a 55+ plan that is exclusively for seniors for only $24.99 per month with unlimited talk time and texts and 2 GB of data. Those who want more data can purchase additional plans.

The Bottom Line

Those looking for affordability and simplicity will appreciate FreedomPop’s no nonsense approach to cellular service. While their phone options are not necessarily senior-friendly with large buttons and other features, the phone option is relatively simple and straightforward. And let’s face it—you can’t beat free service with packages that are upgradable anytime with no cancellation fee whatsoever.

3. AT&T
Ease of use Above Average
Equipment Above Average
Service & Response Above Average
Features & Tech Above Average
Pricing

Overview

AT&T Wireless offers a Senior Nation Plan that is aimed at consumers 65+, and the plan gives users 200 anytime minutes, unlimited minutes to other AT&T customers along with 500 night and weekend minutes. However, no data or texts are included in this plan, and only basic phones work with the plan. Those looking for data and more service will find the Unlimited & More plan to be a good match. Seniors can bring their own compatible phone or enter a contract with AT&T. AARP members get additional discounts, as well.

Pros
  • Senior Nation Plan available for 65+
  • Unlimited prepaid and international services available
  • AARP discounts and AT&T Rewards
  • Can bring own unlocked phone
Cons
  • Long term contracts are costly to cancel
  • Senior plan doesn’t include data or texts

Pricing

The AT&T Senior Nation plan runs $29.99 per month, but those who want to text or use data might find the Unlimited & More plan at $40 to be more adequate. Bringing your own unlocked phone can help you save money, as AT&T devices can be costly, and they will require you to lock into a 2-year contract with a new phone typically. AARP members get an additional 10% off qualifying plans and 15% off wireless accessories.

The Bottom Line

Seniors who don’t want to use a smartphone, send texts or use data will find the AT&T Senior Nation plan to be a good deal. However, if moving up to a smartphone and delving into the world of data is on the agenda, AT&T has seniors covered with an array of devices and compatible plans. They also offer substantial coverage throughout the US and much of Mexico and Canada.

4. Republic Wireless
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Excellent
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

While it’s not senior-specific, Republic Wireless is extremely user-friendly and quite a great value. This provider takes advantage 4G LTE cellular services and Wi-Fi that provides consumers with fast connectivity options across the nation for much less than major carriers charge. For a flat rate of $15, users get unlimited calls and texts and add on data 1GB at a time as needed or desired for $5. No contracts, no complex options or hidden fees makes Republic Wireless an excellent option for seniors.

Pros
  • No long-term contracts
  • 14-day money-back guarantee
  • Affordable plans with no frills
  • Bring own phone or buy through Republic
Cons
  • No international coverage
  • Not compatible with iOS

Pricing

For just $15 per month, consumers get unlimited talk and text with no contract required. To add on 4G data, users only pay $5 per GB and this can be done right from the phone. There are no fees, hidden charges, or cancellation fees with Republic Wireless.

The Bottom Line

While Republic Wireless is only available in the US currently, it’s a great choice for seniors who don’t want a lot of bells and whistles on their phone but who command reliable service for calling and texting. The ability to add data at will means seniors won’t pay for services they don’t need while still enjoying access to them if the need arises. While not senior-specific, this company is definitely a top choice for seniors seeking ease of use and affordability.

5. Sprint
Ease of use Above Average
Equipment Above Average
Service & Response Average
Features & Tech Above Average
Pricing

Overview

The Sprint Unlimited 55+ Plan is designed for seniors who enjoy getting the most out of their cellular devices. That’s why Sprint created this affordable plan that includes unlimited text, talk and data with unlimited mobile hot spots. Seniors can enjoy DVD-quality video streaming, live chat and global roaming in over 180 countries with Sprint’s Unlimited 55+ Plan. Seniors seeking two lines will be impressed at this provider’s steep discounts for multiple lines. However, seniors must appear in person at a Sprint retailer to enroll in this program.

Pros
  • Ideal for frequent phone users
  • 200 worldwide destinations enjoy connectivity
  • Keep all devices connected through mobile hotspot
  • $5 per line credit for enrolling in Sprint AutoPay
Cons
  • Must enroll in store for senior plans
  • Limited to 2 lines for Unlimited 55+
  • Costly cancellation for contracts up to $350

Pricing

The Sprint Unlimited 55+ Plan runs $50 per month for one line and $70 per month for two lines when you enroll in auto pay. This plan is great for seniors wanting unlimited services at a great price that lets them use their phone as much as they want. One can bring their own phone and get into a no-contract program at Sprint, but to enroll for the senior plan, a two-year contract may be required.

The Bottom Line

Seniors who are heavy data users and those who love staying connected with love the Sprint Unlimited 55+ plan. With worldwide connectivity, it’s a great choice for those who love to travel or get of the grid occasionally. The unlimited hotspot and incredible deal for two lines makes Spring a top choice for seniors.

6. Consumer Cellular
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Above Average
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

Consumer Cellular has phone plans that are affordable for everyone, so seniors on a tight budget may find their services to be more than adequate. Consumer cellular lets users design their own plan, so you can choose how many nationwide minutes, texts and the amount of data you want to include. Plans can be upgraded or downgraded at any time without any fees or penalties. Users can bring their own device or buy a new one, and they can add a shared connection anytime. There are no activation fees, and AARP members also receive and additional discount on services and accessories.

Pros
  • Low cost, no contract plans
  • Users choose between T-Mobile or AT&T networks for service
  • Basic flip phones and iOS phones available
  • Easy to change plans anytime
Cons
  • No unlimited data option

Pricing

Consumer Cellular’s Unlimited Talk & Text + 2GB Data Plan goes for $30 per month and they have a variety of talk and text and data add-ons that allow you to get up to 20 GB of data for an additional $40 monthly. Users can add a line for as little as $15 and can share data usage between the two lines. Essentially, the price will depend on how much data you want and how many lines you have.

The Bottom Line

Consumer Cellular gives consumers the ultimate freedom to choose their phone plan and even to choose between T-Mobile or AT&T, making it widely popular with seniors. Furthermore, with both flip phone options and smartphones available, it’s a great choice for those seeking simple or modern phones. Flexible pricing and plans that can be changed at any time without penalty puts Consumer Cellular in the top 10 choices for seniors, but one doesn’t need to be older to enjoy the benefits of this provider.

7. Verizon
Ease of use Average
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Above Average
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

Verizon Wireless offers a Go Unlimited plan for seniors aged 55+, and they are by far one of the nation’s most recognized carriers due to solid coverage and longevity in the business. However, budget-minded seniors might shy away from some of their pricing models even with the senior plan and discounts. However, the plan gives consumers unlimited talk, texts, 4G LTE data and mobile hotspot use in the US, Mexico and Canada. They offer senior discounts in addition to reduced rates for veterans and first responders. There’s no doubt that Verizon is excellent for those seeking the latest technology, as they offer phones, tablets, watches and other devices that many seniors enjoy using today.

Pros
  • Greater coverage areas and service than competitors
  • Unlimited, single device and shared plans available
  • Impressive array of phones and devices available
  • International coverage is available with a TravelPass-5 Above Unlimited Plan
Cons
  • Monthly plans are more expensive than competitors
  • Contract plans are challenging and costly to cancel

Pricing

Verizon has both contract and no-contract plans starting at $40 per month. However, the Verizon Go Unlimited plan geared towards seniors is truly unlimited but comes at a steeper price of $60 per month in select states. Seniors not living in one of their currently discounted states will likely pay the full price of $75 per month for the Go Unlimited Plan at Verizon. Customers often have to pay an activation fee, but can receive a $5 auto pay discount. Occasionally, Verizon offers pre-paid MasterCard perks with certain phone and contract purchases.

The Bottom Line

Verizon Wireless plans are excellent for seniors who enjoy using their phone for everything from calling friends and family to browsing the web or playing games. While the Unlimited Go plan is somewhat costlier than most competitors, Verizon offers flexible plans and touts the nation’s most reliable service, making it a great choice for frequent travelers or those living in rural areas.

8. T-Mobile
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Above Average
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

Those wanting to keep their same number and their own phone who are 55 and older can enroll in T-Mobile’s ONE Unlimited 55+ plan. Seniors will enjoy unlimited talk, text and data with unlimited tethering at impressive 3G speeds. Unlimited roaming texts and data in over 140 countries is also included in T-Mobile plans. What we love about the plan is that taxes or fees are included in the price and no contract is necessary. Auto pay signup qualifies users for additional discounts, as does signing up for two lines. Furthermore, the ability to bring a phone you already are familiar with eases the learning curve and curbs initial costs.

Pros
  • Can keep current phone and number
  • Flat rate monthly plans
  • Unlimited texting and data and 1 hour on Gogo-enabled flights
  • Senior-friendly phone models available
Cons
  • Data may slow down during peak times for high-level users

Pricing

T-Mobile launched the ONE 55+ plan in 2017 to a great reception with seniors, as for just $50 per month (taxes included) consumers get unlimited talk, text, data and hotspots at 3G speeds. Two lines can be had for just $70 per month with Auto Pay enrollment. There is no contract required and one can cancel at any time. A one-time activation fee is often required if you bring your own phone and port your number.

The Bottom Line

For seniors who enjoy using their phone for more than calling or texting will appreciate T-Mobile ONE plan and the other low-cost no-contract options they offer. The extra features such as two lines at reduced cost and roaming and texting in 140+ countries make this a great plan for couples and those who frequently travel. With unlimited usage, seniors can browse the web, social media and talk or text as much as they want with T-Mobile plans.

9. Snapfon
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Excellent
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

A relatively new player in phones, the Snapfon ezTWO 3G is arguably one of the most senior-friendly phones on the market today. Designed with their needs in mind, Snapfon offers a classic style phone for $79.99 that only works to make phone calls and send texts, and it will work with an array of low-cost prepaid carriers. However, it features an emergency SOS button that sounds an alarm and automatically alerts up to five preset contacts. Upgrade to the 24/7 monitoring plan for even greater safety features that other phones just don’t offer. With large buttons, large text, a talking keypad and the fact that it is hearing aid compatible, Snapfon is highly popular with seniors seeking basic phone service at great prices.

Pros
  • Numerous senior friendly phone features
  • Urgent SOS response system
  • 24/7 monitoring plans available
  • Hearing aid compatible
Cons
  • Very limited functions
  • No LTE for low-band coverage
  • Talk and text only, no data

Pricing

Snapfon cost $29.99 when users activate it for service with the company, and the model is available for $79.99 unlocked so it can be used with other carriers. However, the phone is not compatible with Sprint or Verizon. Current plans include unlimited talk and text for $30, 300 minutes for $15, and 60 minutes for just $10 for minimal users. On the limited plans, three texts count as one minute. Those seeking 24/7 mobile monitoring can enroll in SOS Plus Mobile for $15 additional per month.

The Bottom Line

Seniors looking for a phone designed with their needs in mind will appreciate Snapfon’s easy design and low cost plans. Arguably, its greatest appeal lies in the presence of an integrated SOS button that save lives through a three-part chain reaction by simply pressing the button. While one can only talk and text on the device, it’s ideal for seniors seeking a basic phone to stay connected and get help in emergencies.

10. Cricket Wireless
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Excellent
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

Cricket Wireless is a top choice for seniors looking for a reliable network that offers user-friendly phone options. These fuss-free phones are complemented by the option to use any phone offered by AT&T that is unlocked if you want to enjoy wireless features on a smartphone device. Cricket offers affordable plans that range from $30-60 per month, and there are no contracts or cancellation fees required. Cricket Wireless offers deals for AARP members and frequently boasts online rebates for consumers.

Pros
  • Large selection of phone options
  • No contract required
  • Multiple senior discounts
  • Unlimited talk, text and 2GB data for low cost
  • 4-line family plan available
Cons
  • Activation fee required
  • Basic phone selections are limited

Pricing

The basic plan for unlimited talk and texting is $30 per month, and those wanting an unlimited talk, text and data plan will find Cricket’s $60 per month plan to be a great deal. The company also offers a family plan with four lines of unlimited talk, text and data for just $190. There is a required $25 activation fee and often a $9.99 one-time setup fee.

The Bottom Line

Cricket is known for being one of the nation’s first low-price, no contract wireless companies and has a solid reputation for great plans at reasonable rates. Whether seniors want to bring their own compatible smartphone or get started with a basic Cricket phone, they will find a plan that meets their needs and perhaps even the whole family’s mobile needs.

Finding the Best Cell Phones for Seniors

Cell phones have become so much more than a mere phone. They have so many uses, often limited only by the apps you choose to load onto them. You can use them to take and store pictures and videos, to calculate an equation, to see what the weather is like anywhere in the world, and to give you step-by-step driving directions to wherever you want to go. It can serve as a flashlight, tell you what time it is, serve as a stopwatch or timer, become your own personal portable library and act as a PDA or calendar. Cell phones occupy our time with an unending supply of games. The list of what cell phones can do goes on and on. With the addition of an app, a cell phone can do almost anything. They are essentially small computers, which means you have the world wide web at your disposal anytime and anywhere which can certainly be a huge benefit. Whether you want to check local movie schedules, look up the address of a store you want to visit, or check out some odd bit of trivia, all you need to do is whip out your cell phone and the world wide web is at your fingertips.

The very first cell phone call was made in 1973. Back then, cell phones were bulky (even requiring a base unit that resembled a briefcase to be carried around with it) and expensive. Reception was an issue and the locations in which a call could be made were very limited.

We have seen many advancements since then. Cell phones are smaller, more versatile and, due to the use of satellites and wireless services, reception is much improved. In fact, cell phone service is available worldwide, even in remote areas.

Cells phones are an excellent way to stay connected with family and friends and provide users with a sense of security. Cell phones even go beyond having the ability to call for assistance. Since most cell phones are equipped with GPS technology, the phone (and its user) can be located in the event of an emergency (as long as the GPS capability is available and turned on).

Why Do Seniors Need a Cell Phone

Cell phones are no longer a luxury item, especially for older adults. Despite the tremendous benefits seniors receive from owning a cell phone, nearly one-quarter of all seniors sixty-five and over still don’t own one. This is unfortunate. From having the ability to connect with those they love to being able to get assistance with emergencies to the enjoyment of apps that are easily loaded onto a phone, a cell phone can greatly enhance the life of a senior.

Benefits of cell phone ownership include:

  • Helps You Maintain Social Connections: Whether you’re calling, texting, using Skype or FaceTime, cell phones make it easy to stay connected to friends and family.
  • Provides Emergency Assistance: From trips and falls to strokes or heart attacks, seniors are more likely to be faced with a medical emergency than any other segment of the population. With a cell phone, a person has instant and easy access to lifesaving assistance wherever and whenever it is needed.
  • Gives You Peace of Mind: Knowing you have a way to connect with friends and family when you need to or want to can’t help but give you peace of mind. When driving alone in a remote area and your car breaks down, when you’ve fallen and need assistance, when you’re running late and need to let someone know, and many other scenarios just like these, it’s nice to know you have a phone and can do what you need to do, especially when you need help or assistance.
  • Monitors Everyday Health: There are lots of easy-to-use apps that make it simple to monitor your health conveniently on your cell phone. Plus, these tools enable seniors to keep current on their medical needs, all in one convenient location.
    With this many choices, you are sure to find the app that meets your needs and makes it easy to monitor your health wherever you are.
  • Unending Entertainment options: Cell phones are so much more than a calling device. From music to games to movies, nearly every cell phone on the market offers options for entertainment. With just a few keystrokes, you can find everything from cognitive training to mindless entertainment to music and videos and everything in between. Check out the Google play store to find a zillion ways to entertain yourself and keep your boredom at bay.

Choosing the Right Cell Phone

With so many choices, finding the right cell phone for you can seem like a daunting task. Here are a few easy tips to help you find the perfect cell phone:

  • Smart vs. Basic: When it comes to cell phones, you essentially have two options – a smartphone or a basic flip phone. Your choice between these two will depend on how you intend to use your phone. If you want to be able to have apps, games and video capabilities, then you will want to choose a smartphone. If you want to have a simple, straightforward, easy to use cell phone for voice calling and text messaging capabilities only, then a basic flip-phone will easily meet those needs and do so with a much cheaper price tag.
  • Create a list of all the features you want or need, such as large buttons, ability to take good-quality pictures or videos and voice command. Here’s an article you might find useful, 10 smartphone must-have features. You may not find a phone that has everything you’re looking for, but you’re more likely to find what works best for you in the end if you have a good idea of what you are looking for.
  • Read reviews of the cell phones you are considering. Make sure reviews meet your standards.
  • Visit stores and check out the phones. Try out phones in person to make sure the buttons and displays are what you need. Make sure they are large enough if you have vision problems. Those with hearing issues need to make sure the phone’s volume is adequate, both call volume and the ringer. Be sure to see what others are saying about concerns such as these when you read the reviews.
  • Take advantage of the return policy. Be prepared to return the phone if it does not meet your needs. Almost every carrier allows no questions asked returns during a 14- to a 30-day trial period.
    There are quite a few cell phones that are specifically designed for seniors. We will be discussing them later in this article. After reading the reviews and trying one out for yourself, you can determine if a certain phone meets your needs.

Cell Phone Service Plans

A cell phone service plan is a paid agreement between you and a mobile carrier that allows your cell phone to use their network for calls, text messages and internet access (also called mobile data).

There are five major mobile phone service carriers in the U.S.– Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular (only provides regional coverage). Each of these companies is classified as a Mobile Network Operator (MNO).

Other carriers, like Cricket, Straight Talk Wireless and Boost Mobile are resellers, also referred to as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). Mobile Virtual Network Operators purchase network access from one of the major carriers, the MNOs, and resell that access to their own customers, often at a lower rate because they don’t have to pay to maintain the network infrastructure and licensing. MVNOs primarily offer pre-paid/no contract plans and services.

Benefits of Using an MNO

Why would you choose an MNO when you can use the same network for less by choosing an MVNO?

  • Ability to purchase cell through a monthly payment plan, rather than paying for the total cost up front. This does require a credit check.
  • Offers a larger selection of cell phone brands and models.
  • Option to post-pay for services at the end of the service month instead of paying before you use the service.
  • When mobile traffic is high, MNOs prioritize their customer’s network access ahead of that of MVNO customers. In areas with spotty service/less coverage, MNO customers have fewer service disruptions and dropped calls.
  • When new advancements in technology are made, MNO customers are the first to benefit.

Benefits of Using an MVNO

Besides being able to pay cheaper rates, MVNO customers have other benefits to consider as well:

  • Since almost all of the plans are prepaid, they generally don’t do credit checks. This can be a big bonus if your credit is less than stellar. Not all MVNO plans are prepaid.
  • By paying in advance, you are never surprised with extra unexpected fees and overages.
  • You have the option to use your own existing phone rather than buying a new one as long as the phone you intend to use is configured to work on the network you choose.

How to Choose a Cell Phone Plan

Mobile carriers offer various types of plans that cover talk time, messaging and mobile data. To determine which plan is right for you, consider the following:

  • Which cell phone carrier provides good signal strength where you live? Ask others who live in the area and those who visit, which carriers they use and if they are satisfied with the service they receive.
  • How much data do you typically use? Taking the amount of talk time, the number of texts and mobile data you typically use into consideration, will the plan you are considering work for you?
  • Do you have a phone you would like to continue using? Will the plan and carrier you are considering allow you to do so? Will they allow you to keep your number as well?
  • How many lines do you want or need?
  • Are you able to piggyback onto a spouse’s or other family member’s plan for $10-$20 per month extra (instead of getting a plan of your own)?
  • Many carriers offer discounts to veterans, seniors, and persons who are low income. Ask the carrier if you qualify for one of these discounts. See how low-income seniors can even qualify for a low cost or free phone later in this article.
  • Even if you already have a plan, consider checking into others, especially if you’ve been on the same plan for a long time. You may be able to find a plan that can save you money every month just by switching. Be aware that switching may cause you to pay early termination fees. Some carriers are now willing to pay all or part of those fees for you if you switch. Be sure to ask before you switch and reread your current phone plan and compare it to your new proposed plan.
  • How important is cost? Know how much you’re willing to pay and how much your budget can withstand. Costs range from plans going for $20 a month with a $60 flip phone to a $100+ a month plan with a $1100+ iPhone. So, it’s important to narrow this down a bit or you’re liable to be overwhelmed with choices.

Types of Cell Phone Plans

There are several categories of cell phone plans:

  • Inexpensive (cheap) cell phone plans with limited minutes for talk and text. Overages can add up quickly on inexpensive post-paid plans.
  • Family mobile phone plans allow for multiple lines. There are two types of family plans. One, where all users share an allotment of mobile data and, the other, where each line has their own allotment.
  • Pre-paid cell phone plans where you pay in advance, refilling as you use up the data. You never have an overage with pre-paid plans, but if your phone runs out and you run into an emergency before you refill it, you’re out of luck.
  • Unlimited data phone plans offer unlimited data; however, they intentionally slow down your data speeds when certain scenarios come into play. For instance, when you reach certain limits, service drops from 4G to 3G services.
  • Senior cell phone plans generally offer discounts to older adults, different carriers offer this discount at differing ages. Some also offer medical assistance/advice or the ability to call for emergency help with the push of a button.

Best Cell Phones and Cell Phone Plans for Seniors

Now that you understand the importance of having a cell phone, let’s take a look at various top-rated cell phones and cell phone plans. You’re sure to find one that meets your needs at a price that fits within your budget.

Senior cell phone usage patterns generally fall into two different groups:

  • Individuals who simply want a phone for the occasional call and for emergencies
  • Individuals who want a phone to chat with friends and family frequently

Knowing how you intend to use your phone will help you select the best cell phone and cell phone plan for you.

Cost

Cell phone manufacturers have designed a variety of phones that sell for a wide range of prices. Some of the phones themselves are priced well under $100 while others go for more than $1000. For example, the iPhone X, which came out in the fall of 2017 with facial recognition, a studio-quality camera and animated poop emojis (you heard that right!) came in at just over $1000. Options range from the basic cell phone that is used only to make phone calls to a complex, technologically advanced piece of equipment that can perform more tasks than the basic home computer. Over the last ten years, cells phones have become more and more a necessity for people the world over. Satellites have made it possible for even the most remote and underdeveloped countries to have access to some amount of wireless services and cell phone technology.

Cell phone prices span a wide range of dollar amounts. Cell phones designed for seniors, tend to be more basic with very few bells and whistles. Some cell phones can be purchased outright, like the Alcatel Go Flip with Consumer Cellular, which sells for $30.00 plus a monthly plan with free activation. The Jitterbug Smart2 with GreatCall regularly sells for $149.99 plus monthly plan and activation. Plans using the Jitterbug Flip cell phone are available for as low as $14.99 per month. The Kyocera Verve goes for $19.99 per month on-contract. The Kyocera Cadence LTE retails for $120.00 and can be purchased for $5.00/month in 24 monthly payments with a contract. These are just a few examples from phones previously discussed in this article. Prices vary depending upon the method of purchase, from an outright purchase to being paid out as part of a purchase plan and contract.

Some phone plans have a one-time activation fee while others wave this fee.

Since 2011, when smartphones reached the global average price of $348, the average global price has steadily declined to an average of $229 in 2018. It’s expected to drop even further to $214 by the end of 2019.

The average price varies around the world with North American paying the highest average price. In 2013, North American consumers paid an average of $531 compared to the $306 global average. In 2017, the average North American selling price was $567, up from the 2013 price, although globally the price continued to drop.

The average selling price for a smartphone also differs between vendors and the phone’s operating system. Apple’s iPhone has the highest average selling price. Smartphones using an Android operating system pay substantially less, almost two-thirds less.

Although worldwide average cell phone prices continue to drop, the trend for higher priced cell phones in theU.S.is expected to continue to rise. As processing power, internet data speeds, camera technology and battery life continue to improve, the value people attach to their phone continues to increase as well. Consumers who consider a mobile phone to be the most important product in their lives are prepared to pay a premium; and, mobile phone suppliers are prepared to take advantage of this fact.

Basically, you can obtain a plan and pay less than $20 per month and pair that with a $60 flip phone. Or, you can get a $100+ per month plan to use with your $1000+ cell phone. There are many more options in between. As you shop for a cell phone, you need to determine how much you’re willing to pay and find the phone and plan that stays within your budget. Be sure to ask the salesperson to total up all the taxes and fees so you know exactly what to expect when you receive your bill each month.

Accessibility Apps for Seniors

If you have a phone that allows you to load additional apps onto it, you might find the following apps helpful if you have accessibility issues.

The app, Android Accessibility Suite, offers a collection of accessibility services that will enable you to use your Android device eyes-free or with a switch device. Android Accessibility Suite includes such features as Accessibility Menu, Select to Speak, Switch Access and a TalkBack screen reader. For more information about Android Accessibility Suite and other accessibility options, click here.

If you are interested in other third-party applications, there are a variety of options that can be used to make your phone even more accessible to meet your needs. These two links, Android third-party accessibility apps and iPhone third-party accessibility apps, will provide you with a great start in finding an app to fit your needs.

Free to Low-Cost Cell Phones and Phone Plans for Seniors

Many seniors on a fixed income sourced entirely from Social Security often find it difficult to make ends meet. Given their low income, cell phones often fall low on the list of things they can afford to purchase. Understanding that having a cell phone is important for seniors, especially when faced with an emergency, Lifeline, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program, was created to make free to low cost cell phones or home phone service available to anyone who qualifies.

Lifeline subscribers can purchase discounted monthly phone service and broadband services from participating providers. Subscribers have several options from which to choose – voice only, stand-alone broadband or a bundled voice-broadband package. Lifeline helps ensure that low-income seniors can afford 21st-century technology. FCC rules prohibit more than one Lifeline service per household.

Best Cell Phone for You

With so many options and choices, only you can determine which cell phone and cell phone service plans are right for you. Do you want a Smartphone, or will a flip phone serve your needs? Do you travel and need to have a plan that enables you to stay connected with family and friends even when you’re out of the country? Or perhaps, you have friends and family who live outside the country with whom you want to stay connected. Is having access to the internet important? What does your budget allow? Once you have answers to these questions and many others like them, you’re more prepared to choose the best cell phone to meet your needs.