Top Cell Phone Plans for the Elderly
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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:
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.
Why would you choose an MNO when you can use the same network for less by choosing an MVNO?
Besides being able to pay cheaper rates, MVNO customers have other benefits to consider as well:
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:
There are several categories of cell phone plans:
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:
Knowing how you intend to use your phone will help you select the best cell phone and cell phone plan for you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt