Jitterbug vs. Cricket Wireless

Our Experts Compared Jitterbug by Lively and Cricket Wireless Phone Plans for Seniors in 2024

taylor shuman Taylor Shuman Senior Tech Expert & Editor

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If you’re in the market for a new phone plan or cell phone, Lively and Cricket Wireless are two affordable carriers you may have heard of. Lively offers senior-friendly Jitterbug phones and medical alert features, while Cricket Wireless has no-frills prepaid plans. Our tech experts have reviewed and tested both of these carriers to find out how they stack up for seniors.

In this guide, we’ll compare Lively and Cricket Wireless side by side. We’ll look at pricing, ease of use, customer service, network coverage, data, speeds, and phones offered, so you can make an informed decision. Keep reading to figure out which is the better carrier for you.

A Side-by-Side Look at Jitterbug vs. Cricket Wireless

Our favorite is Lively
  Lively by Best Buy Logo 2023 Cricket Wireless Logo
Plan prices $20 to $50 $30 to $60 per month
Activation fees $35 None when purchased online, $25 if purchased in store
Data speeds 4G LTE (for phones with internet capabilities) 5G depending on area and device
Long-term contracts No No
Bring your own phone No Yes
Discounts for multiple lines No Yes (not with 5G plan)

Phone Plans and Prices

Lively Phone Plans

Plan Cost* Data Speed Hot spot International service Multiline discount
Basic $19.99 per month Can add 1 GB for $5, 5 GB for $10, or Unlimited $30 4G None None, international calling rates apply No
Preferred $39.99 per month Can add 1 GB for $5, 5 GB for $10, or Unlimited for $30 4G None None, international calling rates apply No
Premium $49.99 per month Can add 1 GB for $5, 5 GB for $10, or Unlimited $30 4G None None, international calling rates apply No

*Prices include a $5 discount for paperless billing and don’t include taxes and fees.

Lively, the company that makes Jitterbug phones, is a phone carrier that launched in 2006 to offer cell phones and plans designed specifically for seniors. Lively has some of the best senior-friendly phones we’ve tested, and we love this carrier’s numerous health and safety features that customers can add to customize their plans.

Lively offers three postpaid plans, meaning you pay for the previous month’s service when you pay your bill. (By contrast, Cricket offers prepaid plans so you pay in advance for the month’s phone service.) You must choose either the Jitterbug Smart4, which has internet capabilities, or the Jitterbug Flip2 (which doesn’t) to purchase a phone plan from Lively. The plan pricing is the same no matter which phone you choose. While we like Lively’s senior-friendly phones, we do wish you could bring your own phone like you can with Cricket.

» Further Reading: Best cell phone plans for seniors in 2024

All plans offer unlimited talk and text with no contracts or cancellation fees. Every Lively plan also includes a friendly customer service team (Ask Lively and Lively Rides) you can call for help with your device, looking up a number, or requesting a ride from Lyft.

Pro Tip:

Pro Tip: For questions related to your Jitterbug Flip2 phone, you will need to say “Alexa, ask Lively” before your question.

Buying Experience

You can shop for the Jitterbug phone on the Lively website or on Amazon. Our tester had a smooth and fast experience purchasing a Jitterbug Flip2 online.

You can also purchase the phones in person at Best Buy, Rite Aid, or Walgreens. But be aware those retailers will not have Lively customer service representatives to help you, just store employees. For help with setting up your phone or troubleshooting, you’ll have to call Lively customer service. We found Lively’s agents to be friendly and knowledgeable when we called.

Data Overages

You can customize your Lively service by choosing the amount of data you want for your Jitterbug Smart4. You can choose 1 GB of data for $5, 5 GB for $10, or unlimited for $30 per month. Keep in mind that if you go over your data for the month, Lively will charge overage fees of 10 cents per megabyte.

» Learn More: Jitterbug phones and pricing

With the unlimited data plan, your phone’s speed will be reduced to 128 kpbs if you use over 20 GB in a billing cycle. Other cell phone carriers throttle speeds at higher data levels, sometimes at 30 or 50 GB, so throttling at 20 GB is lower than most. Still, 20 GB will be enough for many users.


Lively’s entry-level phone plan is pretty affordable. Older adults who just want a simple phone that’s easy to set up and use might love Lively’s Basic plan for $20 per month. Adding unlimited data raises the cost of each plan considerably, though. For example, adding unlimited data to a Basic plan would cost $50 per month, or $80 per month if added to the Premium plan, where you could take advantage of health and safety features like a care advocate and on-call nurses.

Health and Safety Features

Lively’s features that enhance the wellness and safety of older adults make this carrier stand out among the competition. Every Lively phone plan comes with the Ask Lively feature.

With the Lively Preferred Plan ($40 per month), you get all of the features mentioned above, along with:

  • Urgent Response: With this feature, you can hold the Urgent Response button down on your phone to connect to an Urgent Response agent 24/7. This agent can send whatever help you need after a fall or other emergency.
  • Lively Link: Lively Link is a mobile app that allows friends and family to track your device and get instant alerts in an emergency.

With Lively’s most expensive Premium Plan ($50 per month), you get all of the above features, plus:

  • Care Advocate: With this feature, you can work with a Care Advocate to keep your health goals on track.
  • Nurse On-Call: A great feature for older adults with health challenges, this feature lets you get medical advice from nurses and doctors 24/7.

The Premium plan can get pricey when you add data, but it can be an important lifeline for older adults, boosting their health and helping to ensure their independence and keep them safe.

» Learn About: Best medical alert systems in 2024

Customer Service

There’s no chat option to ask questions on the Lively website, but there is a phone number to call customer service. Lively says their agents are U.S.-based and have completed training programs to ensure they are patient and compassionate when helping with customers. We found customer service reps to be very friendly and helpful when we called, so you’ll likely be in good hands!

Older adults who want a simple flip phone for a good price are good candidates for a Lively plan and Jitterbug phone. Seniors experiencing health challenges who aren’t on a tight budget also might prefer the peace of mind of a phone plan with solid health and safety features. On the other hand, Lively isn’t the best choice for older adults who want to bring their own phones, as you’ll need to choose one of Lively’s Jitterbug phones to get service.

Cricket Wireless Plans

Plan Cost* Data Speed Hot spot International service Multiline discount
5 GB Plan $30 per month (no auto pay 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 hot spot 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 hot spot included Mexico and Canada included Yes

*Prices include a $5 auto pay discount

Cricket offers prepaid cell phone plans, which means you pay for service online or via the Cricket app at the beginning of each month. You can also set up auto pay with most plans, Unlike Lively, Cricket doesn’t charge data-overage fees, which is a plus!

Phone plans include unlimited talk, text, picture messages, HD Voice (which makes phone calls sound clearer), and Wi-Fi calling. You’ll need a compatible phone in order to use those features. You’ll also need a compatible phone to use Cricket Call Defense, a feature that alerts you to spam, nuisance, and fraud calls, if you’re in an HD Voice coverage area.

Buying Experience

Cricket operates more than 4,400 brick-and-mortar stores nationwide. Although in-store purchases include a $25 activation fee, we think it might be worth it to have a trained Cricket salesperson help you activate your phone. You won’t pay an activation fee if you purchase a Cricket plan online, however, if you can manage it on your own.

Shopping at a Cricket store is actually an award-winning experience! Cricket won the top award in customer satisfaction for its retail experience, according to J.D. Power.1 Customers seem to like trying devices and asking about their features in person.

But if you’re confident you won’t need help setting up your cell service with Cricket, buying via the website is also a smooth experience. We appreciate that the monthly costs for plans on the company’s website include all taxes and fees, which is unusual. Lively’s website prices, on the other hand, don’t include taxes and fees. Cricket also offers free next-day shipping when you buy a phone online, which is a nice plus.

Data Overages

On the Unlimited + 15 GB Mobile Hotspot plan, your speeds won’t slow based on your data usage. But if you use a lot of data, it might be worth upgrading from the basic Unlimited plan, since Cricket Wireless will slow, or throttle (to 128 kbps) speeds if the network is busy.

» You Might Like: Best unlimited phone plans for seniors

If you try Cricket’s 10 GB or 5 GB plan, you have the option to add more data for $10 per month if you find you need more data. You can also pay to add mobile hot spot data or international call and text to an individual country.


Cricket is a little more expensive than Lively if you want a simple phone and plan. But adding unlimited data to Lively’s most basic plan means it matches up in terms of data and price.

Cricket can also be a little confusing when it comes to figuring out whether you’ll be charged additional fees. Remember that if you upgrade an existing Cricket plan in a Cricket store, you will be charged a $25 fee. And whether you buy online or via a Cricket retail location, you’ll also be charged a $5 customer service fee. Cricket offers a $5 auto pay discount for some plans, but there are some restrictions. There are, for example, no auto pay discounts with multimonth plans or plans with a multiline discount.

But Cricket’s multimonth plans are a 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.

Perks and Extras

Cricket doesn’t offer the kind of senior-friendly extras that Lively does, like senior-friendly phones or medical alert features. But they do offer simplified prepaid plans without frills if that’s what you’re looking for.

Customer Service

We appreciated that we were able to get fast and helpful answers to some of our questions when we chatted with a customer-service representative on Cricket’s website. Sometimes chat saves a good amount of time over calling, so we liked having a chat option for quick questions.

Your individual situation and needs will help you figure out which carrier is better for you aside from price considerations. For example, although you can get unlimited data with Lively’s basic phone plan, you won’t be able to call Canada and Mexico for free with Lively. This is possible with Cricket. Cricket also offers discounts when you add more than one line to certain plans, while Lively does not. Cricket might be the more affordable option to get unlimited data. It also might be a better fit if older adults want to use their cell phone to keep in touch with friends and family in Canada or Mexico. It may also be better for older adults who aren’t interested in some of Lively’s health and safety features.

Nationwide Coverage


Your Jitterbug phone will be powered by Verizon’s reliable 4G LTE network. Verizon offers solid coverage throughout the U.S., especially in rural areas. You can check Lively’s coverage map here. It’s important to note that Lively does not offer 5G service on either of its phones, so your connection may be a little slower than it is on Cricket’s 5G connection. However, we didn’t experience any issues when testing out Lively’s 4G service.

Cricket Wireless

Cricket’s parent company is AT&T, which 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 2023.2 We found Cricket’s coverage to be excellent, but the connection might not be as great in rural or remote areas.

Jitterbug vs. Cricket Wireless Phones


Jitterbug Flip2

The Jitterbug Flip2 is a simple phone for talking, texting, and taking photos, priced at $99.99. When we tested the Flip2, we found that it’s very easy to use, and its large buttons and loudspeaker are perfect for older ears and eyes. The phone also comes equipped with Amazon Alexa, so you can navigate the phone with just the sound of your voice. This is great for those with arthritis or mobility issues. We also appreciate that this phone has a M4/T4 hearing aid compatibility rating.

One of our writers testing out the Jitterbug Flip2

One of our writers testing out the Jitterbug Flip2

We liked this phone’s bright screen and large font that can be made even larger if needed. The backlit keypad with big buttons makes it easier to dial in low light. There’s also a magnifier and flashlight, which make the Jitterbug Flip2 particularly good for adults with vision loss. Another plus is the read-out feature, which allows the phone to read the screen menu or text messages out loud. Just remember that this phone doesn’t offer internet access.

Jitterbug Smart4

For older adults who want to connect to the internet on their phones but aren’t super tech savvy, Lively launched the Jitterbug Smart4. The Smart4 comes with some great and easy-to-use features, such as powerful speakers and a voice assistant. We love the phone’s simple list-style menu, which makes it incredibly easy to navigate. If you want to use the internet on your phone, go with the Jitterbug smartphone. You’ll have to also choose an amount of data to add to your monthly service, which will be an extra $5 to $30 a month, depending on how much data you’d like.

Jitterbug smartphone

Jitterbug Smart4 Home Screen

When we tested the Smart4, we were impressed with this phone’s large touch screen and voice typing. Plus, the Smart4 has an additional 15 hours of battery life (up to 37 hours of talk time) when compared with the Jitterbug Smart3. We found the phone can be kind of slow, and the camera doesn’t take pictures as sharp as other smartphones, such as the iPhone. But for only $149.99, it’s a great deal for a simple smartphone. Read our Jitterbug phone review to learn more.

You can keep your phone number when you switch to Lively, but you can’t bring your own phone. You have to buy a Lively phone to have Lively service, unlike Cricket, which lets you bring a phone if you choose. If you’re transferring your old phone number to your new phone, it’s a bit complicated, so you might want to call a customer service representative for help. (Of course, you’ll have to borrow a friend’s phone or use a landline for this.)

Cricket Wireless

Cricket is a great carrier for people looking for the latest smartphone or a simpler option, with around 30 different cell phones to choose from (but only one flip phone). The Cricket Wireless Debut Flex costs $50. This flip phone has a 2MP camera and internet access, unlike the Jitterbug Flip2, which costs $50 more. We like that although the Debut Flip is a small, older-style phone, you can still surf the web, view your calendar, check email, play games, and call and text with voice-activated Google Assistant. We also like this phone’s long-lasting battery and that it’s compatible with most hearing aids.

» Learn More: Cricket Wireless phone plans for seniors

Cricket offers the option to bring your own phone and keep your phone number. If you do, you’ll pay a $10 SIM card fee. The carrier offers many of its phones for free or at a hefty discount when you purchase one to three months of service. Keep in mind that your phone likely will be locked into Cricket’s service for at least six months.

Cricket usually offers some nice deals on phones. But they might be tied to a specific plan, so make sure to read all the details to ensure that the phone and plan best fit your needs.

Our Final Thoughts on Jitterbug vs. Cricket Wireless

We love that Cricket has a wide range of the latest phones and is transparent about its pricing. When you add data to a Lively plan with a Jitterbug phone, Cricket plans can be much cheaper. And if you want to add more than one phone line to your plan or are willing to pay for a few months of service at a time, going with Cricket will save you some cash.

We also think older adults who love to travel may prefer Cricket over Lively, since it has a more generous international call and text plan. Lively charges international calling rates for calls made to or from countries outside the U.S.

But older adults more interested in adding some health and safety features to their cell phone might prefer a Lively Jitterbug phone. Lively’s Premium plan offers health and safety features we haven’t seen from any other cell phone carrier, and the 24/7 Urgent Response button offers peace of mind. Lively also has excellent customer service representatives trained to help customers use their phones and features. Plus, Lively’s Jitterbug phones are both designed for seniors, so if you’re looking for something simple and easy to use, they’re our top picks.

All in all, Lively is best for those who want medical alert features or a senior-friendly phone, while Cricket Wireless is a great option for those who want an affordable prepaid plan without frills.

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