With eight-in-ten adults ages 65 and older owning a cell phone today1, seniors have jumped feet first into the world of technology. Just like the rest of us, older adults are looking for ways to stay connected with friends and family, and maybe even watch a funny cat video from time to time. According to Kaiser Health News2, consistent communication and companionship help prevent loneliness that many older Americans (between 33 and 43 percent) experience today. So, as you can imagine, the modern cell phone can do wonders for seniors who may live alone and not have any family close by.
Back in 1995, Consumer Cellular—once just a tiny Pacific Northwest startup—understood the need for seniors to stay connected to experience a better quality of life. And thus, a simple, economical cell phone service providing seniors with flexibility, technology, and customer service was born. Based on this mission and belief, the company blossomed and is still 100% U.S.-based and privately owned. Consumer Cellular was one of the first no-contract cell phone companies, which we’re a big fan of. However, something important to note is that they don’t offer an unlimited data plan option, which may be an issue for heavy data users. Read on to see what we have to say about Consumer Cellular’s most popular phones and plans, as well as a closer look at the GrandPad tablet.
All Plans Include:
Consumer Cellular makes it very easy to build the best plan for your needs. No hunting for information or wondering about hidden fees here! You simply go online, pick how many lines you want, whether you want 250 minutes or unlimited talk time, and the amount of text and data you think you’ll use. From there, you can sign up to receive a free SIM card if you already have your own unlocked/compatible cell phone, or you can purchase a new one. With about 20 choices of phones, ranging from flip phones to the latest smartphones, and low monthly fees in addition to one-time fees, it’s hard to go wrong product-wise, too. In addition to buying online, you can visit your local Target store to learn more and purchase.
The best part of it all: you can change your plan at any time without an extra charge. Let’s say you’re a senior who moves away from his or her family and friends and needs more talk time, then you can do it instantly without any penalties. And, if you accidentally go over the minutes or data on your plan, Consumer Cellular will automatically upgrade you to the next highest plan so you’re still getting the best deal without unexpected overage charges. Honestly, it’s easy to see that compared to other plans out there with long-term contracts, hidden fees, and overage charges, Consumer Cellular is all about creating useful options, not pressure.
FYI: None of the Consumer Cellular phones come with an extra activation fee unlike most of its competitors.
As you can see, there is no clear senior “plan” since every plan is designed to benefit older adults. After all, the most basic unlimited talk plan is $15 per month, which is about half the cost of AT&T’s comparable Senior Nation Plan option. Plus, AARP members qualify for a 5% discount3 on any Consumer Cellular plan, and they can also save 30% on select accessories. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a good discount.
|Phone Plan||Monthly Price|
|1 line / 250 Minutes||$15 per month|
|1 line / Unlimited Talk||$20 per month|
|1 line / 250MB Data||$5 per month|
|1 line / 2GB Data||$10 per month|
|1 Line / 5GB Data||$20 per month|
|1 Line / 10GB Data||$30 per month|
|1 line / 20GB Data||$40 per month|
|AARP Discount||Members save 5% on plans and 30% on select accessories.|
After finding out that Consumer Cellular was awarded ‘Outstanding Customer Service’ in the Non-Contract Wireless Providers category eight times in a row, I was excited to call in and witness the greatness for myself. Consumer Cellular employees go through an intense, month-long boot camp-style training course to really drill down the best ways to provide customer support to seniors who might be totally new to cell phones4. Whew, just reading about that training had me sweating. When I called, I waited for about two minutes, before Angel in Phoenix came on the line. She was very willing to answer all of my questions without probing me for any personal information. After providing me with important details, she did update me on some promotions but kept it short. All in all, I was pleased and didn’t feel like I was being pushed into anything, but instead given the right tools to make an informed decision.
As I mentioned before, Consumer Cellular ditches all contracts to offer customers the best in flexibility and reassurance. They also give users a 45-day, risk-free, money-back guarantee in case they want to return anything. Most of the big guns, like AT&T and Verizon impose contracts for up to two years in length.
Doro 7050 Flip Phone- $50 If you’ve researched GreatCall’s Lively Flip, you’ve probably come across the well-priced Doro 7050. Why? Because it’s one of the few basic phones that’s designed especially for seniors, including an actual Assistance button for emergencies. In addition to that vital feature, it boasts risen keys for easy texting and dialing, hearing-aid compatibility, a well-lit display, and more. Every feature is tailored to the needs of users in their golden years, so it’s a great option.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 – $750 ($50 per month) The Note offers versatility and quality for users more interested in a smartphone. With elevated camera quality, a super-bright screen, and an easy-to-operate S pen, the smartphone surpasses others with lots of memory and a longer battery life which means less charging and worry. It, too, is hearing-aid compatible and just the right size for older hands to grasp with ease.
GrandPad – $250 (or $10 per month) Notable publications and reviews often mention just how helpful the GrandPad can be for 5seniors[/citation ] who might struggle with sight and the hassle of social media platforms, but wish to stay in touch via technology. Thanks to a high-definition display and dual speakers, the intuitive 8” smart tablet can keep families connected with syncing and real-time updates. The 5MP camera-equipped device also does a great job with video calling and entertainment. Compared to an Apple iPad, which usually starts around $300, the price tag on the GrandPad makes it even more enticing.
While it’s great that Consumer Cellular offers so many different phones to choose from, you may be wondering how to pick the one that’s best for your needs. If the user hates all those newfangled features like mobile apps and touchscreens, a flip phone like the Doro 7050 is a solid option without any fuss. You can still make calls and texts, but it’s a lot more user-friendly for older adults. If you have arthritis and struggle with grip or pressing small buttons, or if you are hard of hearing, the Doro will make your life a lot easier.
As for aging adults who love to embrace every new form of technology that comes their way, a smartphone like an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy may be the better choice. The screens tend to be brighter and clearer, and, if your mom loves to take a million pictures of those precious grandbabies, the camera quality is typically better on a smartphone than a flip phone. Smartphones also give you access to extra features like video chatting and mobile apps, so the user can catch up with friends on Facebook, FaceTime the grandkids, or watch a movie straight from their phone. To compare Consumer Cellular to other carriers, check out our review of the best cell phones for seniors.
The maximum is 30. And if you do surpass it, Consumer Cellular will most likely suspend your plan until the next billing cycle.
The ZTE is a portable wireless home phone base that you can use to turn your landline into a cell phone. You can even take it with you on travels and plug it into a hotel phone to avoid costly long distance fees and more.
Based on your location, you’ll either get assigned to an AT&T or a T-Mobile tower. Then, you’ll get a free sim card mailed to you to activate your designated service.
If you do purchase a Consumer Cellular phone, you can buy a protection plan for incidents like these. It’s $2 per month for a basic flip model, and then goes up to $6.25 for a smartphone. A Verizon phone will likely cost you around $17 to protect, so this is a great add on.
For over five years, Taylor has been writing, editing, and researching products and services covering topics such as senior care and technology, Internet and the digital divide, TV, and entertainment, and education. Her research on media consumption and consumer behavior has been… Learn More About Taylor Shuman