Consumer Cellular vs. Cricket Wireless

taylor shuman Taylor Shuman Senior Tech Expert & Editor

SeniorLiving.org is compensated when you click on the provider links listed on this page. This compensation does not impact our ratings or reviews. Read our Editorial Guidelines here to learn more about our review process and to learn more about how we are compensated.

With so many cell phone companies competing for your business, choosing the best phone plan for your needs can be overwhelming. If you’re hunting for a senior-friendly phone plan, Consumer Cellular and Cricket Wireless are two great options. Our tech experts spent over 50 hours researching and testing plans from both carriers.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of how Consumer Cellular plans stack up to plans offered by Cricket Wireless. We took into account pricing, ease of use, customer service, network coverage, data, speeds, and phones offered, so you can make an informed decision. Keep reading to find the best plan for you!

A Side-by-Side Look at Consumer Cellular vs. Cricket Wireless

Our favorite is Consumer Cellular
  Consumer Cellular Cricket Wireless Logo
Plan prices $20 to $50 per month (prices reflect $5 discount for autopay) $30 to $60 per month
Activation fees None None when purchased online, $25 if purchased in store
Data speeds 5G depending on area and device 5G depending on area and device
Long-term contracts No No
Bring your own phone Yes Yes
Discounts for multiple lines Yes Yes (not with 5G plan)
Website

Phone Plans and Prices

Consumer Cellular Plans

Plan Cost* Data Speed Talk and text International Multiline discount
Unlimited Talk and Text + 1 GB of data $20 per month 1 GB 5G depending on area and with compatible device Unlimited Canada and Mexico included Yes
Unlimited Talk and Text + 5 GB of data $25 per month 5 GB 5G depending on area and with compatible device Unlimited Canada and Mexico included Yes
Unlimited Talk and Text + 10 GB of data $35 per month 10 GB 5G depending on area and with compatible device Unlimited Canada and Mexico included Yes
Unlimited Talk and Text + Unlimited data $50 per month Unlimited** 5G depending on area and with compatible device Unlimited Canada and Mexico included Yes

*Prices include a $5 autopay discount

**If usage exceeds 50 GB, you will experience slower data speeds for the remainder of that billing cycle.

Consumer Cellular offers simple, affordable phone plans designed just for older adults. The carrier doesn’t require you to sign a contract, and you can customize your plan to pay only for the data and services you want.

We appreciate how straightforward the online shopping experience is with Consumer Cellular. What you get with each plan is clearly explained on the company’s website. We found customer-service representatives to be friendly and helpful when answering questions.

>> Further Reading: Technology for Seniors

One of the things we like most about Consumer Cellular is that there are no overage fees if you use up your plan’s monthly data. Consumer Cellular automatically upgrades you to the next data plan if you go over, so there’s no stress about running out of data and racking up huge fees. Remember that even with the unlimited data plan, your speeds will be slower if you use over 50 GB of data. (Cell phone companies call that “throttling.”)

Another plus: Unlike many other companies, Consumer Cellular doesn’t charge an activation fee when you sign up. Cricket doesn’t charge activation fees when you sign up for service online, but you will pay a $25 activation fee if you purchase or upgrade a phone plan in a Cricket store.

We also appreciate that Consumer Cellular offers multiline discounts with all plans. Each line you add costs an extra $15. If you don’t use your cell phone a ton, the unlimited talk, text, and 10 GB of data is a particularly good deal when you sign up for multiple lines. With three phone lines, for example, each line costs less than $22 per month (with autopay). You’ll also get a good amount of data and 5G coverage.

Hand holding a Consumer Cellular Verve Snap

Consumer Cellular Verve Snap

>> Dive Deeper: 2024 Consumer Cellular Review

Consumer Cellular offers a money-back guarantee for 30 days — or 45 days for AARP members — if you’re not happy with your plan. We found several discounts, such as 5 percent off your monthly bill if you’re an AARP member and a $20 credit for referrals. Cricket offers referral bonuses as well: $25 for each friend you refer.

>> Related Reading: A Guide to AARP Membership

Our research and personal experience with Consumer Cellular suggests the company is a great choice for older adults due to its flexible, straightforward, and affordable phone plans. We also give the carrier high marks for its 5G coverage and customer service.

Consumer Cellular is a top choice if you’re looking for a phone designed with older adults in mind. The carrier charges 5 cents per international text sent and 10 cents a minute for roaming, though, so it’s not the best choice for older adults who like to travel outside the US.

Cricket Wireless Plans

Plan Cost Data Speed Talk and text International Multiline discount
5 GB Plan $30 per month (no autopay discount) 5 GB 5G with compatible device in certain areas None None No
10 GB Plan $35 per month* 10 GB 5G with compatible device in certain areas None Mexico and Canada included only on new accounts Yes
Unlimited Plan $50 per month* Unlimited 5G with compatible device in certain areas $10 for 10 GB hotspot Mexico and Canada included Yes
Unlimited + 15 GB Mobile Hotspot Plan $55 per month* Unlimited Premium 5G with compatible device in certain areas 15 GB mobile hotspot included Mexico and Canada included Yes

*Prices include a $5 autopay discount

Cricket offers prepaid phone plans with 5G speeds. Cricket is a prepaid carrier, which means you pay for service online or via the Cricket app at the beginning of each month. You can also set up autopay with most plans, just like you can with Consumer Cellular. We like that Cricket doesn’t charge data-overage fees, another similarity to Consumer Cellular.

Phone plans include unlimited talk, text, picture messages, HD Voice (which makes phone calls sound clearer), and Wi-Fi calling. You’ll need a phone that’s compatible with those features. Depending on your phone, you may need to turn on cellular data or confirm with your carrier that you’re able to use HD Voice. You’ll also need a compatible phone to use Cricket Call Defense, a helpful service that alerts you to spam, nuisance, and fraud calls, if you’re in an HD Voice coverage area.

FYI:

FYI: HD Voice means calls have clearer voice quality and reduced background noise compared to regular phone calls. Learn more in Cricket’s HD Voice FAQs.

Cricket offers a $5 autopay discount for some plans, similar to Consumer Cellular. Check out the website or call for more information, because there are some restrictions. There are, for example, no autopay discounts with multimonth plans or plans with a multiline discount.

With the Unlimited + 15 GB Mobile Hotspot plan, your speeds won’t slow based on your data usage. If you use a lot of data, it’s worth upgrading from the basic Unlimited plan, since Cricket Wireless will slow, or throttle, speeds if the network is busy. Cricket lets you customize the 10 GB and 5 GB plans. For $10 per month, you can add extra features to your plan, such as an extra GB of data, mobile hotspot data, or an individual country. The customization provides flexibility so you can build a plan that’s perfect for your needs.

>> You Might Like: Best Unlimited Phone Plans for Seniors

Not having to sign a contract is more common than it once was, since many cell phone companies are moving away from the long-term contract model. Cricket’s plans and phones aren’t specifically designed for seniors like Consumer Cellular’s plans are, but Cricket’s monthly costs are comparable.

A plan with 5 GB of data costs $25 per month with Consumer Cellular or $30 a month with Cricket. People with very low data needs may prefer Consumer Cellular’s plan with just 1 GB of data, since Cricket’s lowest-data plan is 5 GB. Another difference between the companies is that Cricket doesn’t offer discounts for AARP members like Consumer Cellular does.

Cricket’s multimonth plans are another great way to save money and simplify your cell phone service. New customers who sign up for a single line and bring their own phones can save by paying for three or more months in advance. Just keep in mind that there’s no additional autopay discount with multimonth plans.

Pro Tip:

Pro Tip: Want to avoid activation fees? You can also purchase Cricket Wireless phones and SIM cards from Walmart and Target without activation fees.

You can purchase Cricket plans directly from one of Cricket’s 4,400 stores nationwide. Just keep in mind that in-store purchases include a $25 activation fee. Upgrading an existing Cricket plan in-store will also incur a $25 fee. You won’t pay an activation fee if you purchase a Cricket plan online, however, just like with Consumer Cellular.

If you shop for a Cricket phone and plan in person, you’ll be in good hands. Cricket won the top award in customer satisfaction for its retail experience, according to J.D. Power.1 Many customers appreciate the option to try a device and learn about its features in person.

Cricket’s website also offers a pleasant experience. We appreciate that the monthly costs for plans on the company’s website include all taxes and fees, which is unusual. (Most cell phone companies list the base price and note that taxes and fees will be added when you get your bill.) We also like that Cricket offers free next-day shipping when you buy a phone online. When we chatted with a customer-service representative on Cricket’s website, we received prompt and helpful answers to our questions.

Cricket includes international texting to 37 countries, in addition to unlimited calling and texting to Canada and Mexico on select plans. You can also use your Cricket Unlimited phone plan if you travel to Canada and Mexico. Consumer Cellular, on the other hand, charges 5 cents per text message sent to international phone numbers and international roaming fees if you want to use your service when you travel.

Cricket plans cost a little more than Consumer Cellular’s, but the international coverage may tip the scale for older adults who enjoy traveling. Purchasing a multimonth plan from Cricket, however, lowers plan costs to make them more competitive with Consumer Cellular’s notably low rates.

Nationwide Coverage

Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular operates on AT&T and T-Mobile networks, and partners with international carriers. Mobile analytics firm RootMetrics rated T-Mobile the best in terms of 5G availability and speed in its 2023 analysis.2

Consumer Cellular offers 5G ultra-wideband coverage, but you won’t have 5G unless your phone is compatible. We realized when we tested Consumer Cellular’s Iris Flip that the phone offered only 4G coverage. We didn’t have any difficulty talking on the phone and texting with 4G coverage though. Overall, we were happy with our service.

Cricket Wireless

Cricket operates as its own company, but it’s owned by AT&T. That means Cricket runs on AT&T’s reliable, nationwide 5G network. AT&T won awards for call and text performance and reliability in RootMetrics’ annual analysis in 2023.3 We found Cricket’s coverage to be excellent, although the connection can be weaker in rural, remote areas.

Like Consumer Cellular, Cricket’s 5G service depends on your phone compatibility and the area where you’re using your phone. Terrain and buildings can interfere with your signal and affect your service. Another thing to note is that not all Cricket plans have service to Canada and Mexico. For comparison, Consumer Cellular offers talk and text to Canada and Mexico with cheaper plans.

Consumer Cellular vs. Cricket Wireless Phones

Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular offers more than 30 phones, including the latest smartphones, flip phones, and certified preowned devices. The carrier likely has a phone to fit your taste and budget. Many of Consumer Cellular’s phones are hearing-aid compatible (Cricket offers hearing-aid compatible phones as well). Customers can choose a device ranging from the iPhone 15 to the Iris Connect, a simplified smartphone.

You can bring your own phone, buy a phone outright, or pay in monthly installments. Consumer Cellular also offers specials on popular devices, such as iPhones, Apple Watches, and Samsung Galaxy products. Like Cricket, Consumer Cellular lets you keep your old phone number if you wish. Some Consumer Cellular devices are available at Target, so you can check them out in person before ordering online or via phone.

If you want to bring your own phone, you’ll need to call Consumer Cellular. It’s possible to purchase a plan online only if you’re also purchasing a phone.

>> Related Reading: Best Cell Phones for Seniors in 2024

Consumer Cellular’s Iris Flip phone is one of our favorite options for older adults who just want a simple phone for talking, texting, and snapping photos. We love its easy-to-read screen, voice assistant, simple design, and rubberized keys that help prevent your fingers from slipping. The phone also has a simple, list-based menu so you can immediately access your calls, texts, contacts, camera, calendar, and settings. The Iris Flip is a good option for older adults who don’t need internet access and just want to stay connected.

The external display on Consumer Cellular's IRIS Flip

The external display on Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Flip

Many Target stores sell Consumer Cellular products, but a store in your area may not have the exact device you’re looking for. The company suggests checking online first to see whether it has a particular item in stock.

Cricket Wireless

Like Consumer Cellular, Cricket offers the option to bring your own phone and keep your phone number. Cricket will charge a $10 SIM card fee when you bring your own phone. Consumer Cellular, on the other hand, will give you a free SIM card if you need one.

Alternatively, you can purchase a new phone from Cricket Wireless. Many phones are available for free or at heavy discounts when you purchase one to three months of service. Those phones, however, will be locked into Cricket’s service for at least six months.

Cricket Wireless offers a flip phone, the Debut Flex, for people who want a simple device. It costs $50, which is cheaper than Consumer Cellular’s Iris Flip. Like Consumer Cellular, Cricket offers some deals on phones. They’re usually tied to a specific plan, whereas Consumer Cellular offers discounts on phones with any plan you choose.

Cricket Wireless Debut Flex

Cricket Wireless Debut Flex

Our Final Thoughts on Consumer Cellular vs. Cricket Wireless

Both Consumer Cellular and Cricket use AT&T’s network, so coverage is pretty similar. Both companies also slow speeds when data usage reaches a certain point on certain plans.

In general, Consumer Cellular may be a better choice for older adults who are more concerned about price than data. The carrier has cheaper monthly plans than Cricket and frequently runs sales on phones. We also give Consumer Cellular high marks for its lack of activation and overage fees.

We love that Cricket is transparent about its pricing. Cricket’s monthly costs are more expensive than Consumer Cellular’s for single-line plans, but prices are more comparable when you purchase a multiline or multimonth option.

We think older adults who love to travel may prefer Cricket over Consumer Cellular, since it has a more generous international call and text plan. We also appreciate Cricket Call Defense, a nice perk that helps protect older adults from spam and nuisance calls. Seniors who don’t want to worry about running out of data and are willing to spend a little extra may want to choose Cricket over Consumer Cellular.

Written By:
Taylor Shuman
Senior Tech Expert & Editor
Read About Our Panel of Experts
As SeniorLiving.org’s tech expert and editor, Taylor has years of experience reviewing products and services for seniors. She is passionate about breaking down stigmas related to seniors and technology. She loves finding innovative ways to teach seniors about products and… Learn More About Taylor Shuman