Consumer Cellular vs. T-Mobile

A Side-by-Side Look at Consumer Cellular and T-Mobile Phone Plans in 2024

Ana Durrani Ana Durrani Journalist and Contributor
taylor shuman Taylor Shuman Senior Tech Expert & Editor

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With so many options on the market, choosing a cell phone plan can feel overwhelming. You’ve probably browsed different carrier websites, tried to decipher various phone plans, and maybe even chatted with a few customer service agents. Comparison shopping is good. Now let’s take it a step further.

When researching plans, start by zeroing in on data allowances, network speeds, and the cost of single or multiple lines. Unlimited talk and text are typically included, but you will want to find a plan with the extra features that matter to you most. And of course, getting all that without being stuck in a contract — and at the right price — is the goal.

Consumer Cellular and T-Mobile are two brands that older adults may want to consider for their cell phone plan needs. Both offer some of the best phone plans for seniors that can give you the coverage and services you need and offer a lot of features, discounts, and extras. We’ve researched and tested both companies to highlight the best each brand has to offer.

Taking photos on Consumer Cellular IRIS Flip

Taking photos on Consumer Cellular IRIS Flip

A Side-by-Side Look at Consumer Cellular vs. T-Mobile

Our favorite is Consumer Cellular
  Consumer Cellular T-Mobile Logo
Features Consumer Cellular Mint Mobile
Plan prices $20 to $50 per month $45 to $80 per month
Activation fees Free Free
Data speeds 4G LTE in most of the U.S. and 5G and 5G+ in dozens of states and many densely populated cities 5G nationwide coverage, 4G LTE in much of the U.S.
Long-term contracts No No
Bring your own phone Yes, if unlocked and compatible. Call carrier to sign up. Yes
Discounts for multiple lines Can add up to three lines when ordering online (each extra line is $15 per month) Yes
Website

Phone Plans and Prices

Consumer Cellular Plans

Consumer Cellular runs on AT&T’s network (previously T-Mobile too) and plan prices range between $20 and $50 per month. Customers have a selection of four mobile phone plans that range in data from 1 GB to unlimited. Plans have no contracts, no hidden fees, and free activation. Here’s a look at Consumer Cellular’s plans:

Plan Data *Cost for a Single Line Minutes Text
Unlimited Talk and Text 1 GB $20 per month Unlimited Unlimited
Unlimited Talk and Text 5 GB $25 per month Unlimited Unlimited
Unlimited Talk and Text 10 GB $35 per month Unlimited Unlimited
Unlimited Talk and Text Unlimited data $50 per month Unlimited Unlimited

*Taxes and fees are not reflected in costs. Using AutoPay and paperless billing gets customers a $5 monthly credit.

All four plans include the following features:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 5G access at no added cost
  • Cellular data
  • Mobile hot spot
  • Premium nationwide coverage
  • Automatic bill payment
  • Paperless billing
  • Customer service by phone and live chat (6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT)

With Consumer Cellular, there are no overage fees. Subscribers that surpass their monthly usage will be automatically upgraded to the next plan level. Speeds will decrease once you reach 50 GB for those on the unlimited data plan. 50 GB is more than enough data for the average user, so you likely won’t hit this point.

Looking for a family plan? Consumer Cellular lets you add up to seven lines, and each line costs $15 extra a month. Consumer Cellular’s plans share data, texts, and minutes, and you can change plans at any time without incurring a fee. The more lines you get, the more the cost per line will drop.

Love your current phone? That’s not a problem with Consumer Cellular. The carrier has a bring your own phone policy. When we tested out Consumer Cellular, we tried to add a plan without purchasing a new phone, but that wasn’t an option online. To bring our own phone, we had to call the customer service team. Luckily, everyone we spoke with was friendly and helpful!

Consumer Cellular doesn’t have a devoted “senior” plan, since the carrier is already geared toward the needs of older adults. You get bonus points if you are one of the proud 38 million1  AARP members. AARP members can score two lines of unlimited talk, text, and data for $55 per month. But the savings don’t end there. AARP members also get a 5 percent discount on their monthly service. And, if they’re not happy with Consumer Cellular, they have 45 days to change their mind. Just keep in mind: While AARP members have some great benefits through Consumer Cellular, the carrier doesn’t offer free giveaways and perks via an app like T-Mobile.

The 10 GB plan for $35 per month is one of our favorite options for older adults. It offers a solid amount of data at a reasonable price. If you’re not happy within a month of activation, you can cancel and get your money back.

FYI:

FYI: Consumer Cellular is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), which means it uses another carrier’s network to provide coverage.

One more thing to mention about Consumer Cellular is that it has a referral program. Who doesn’t like free money? So, if you have your cousin, neighbor, or friend sign up, you’ll both instantly get a $20 credit (or if you masterfully get all three to sign up, you get $60!).

All things considered, Consumer Cellular has great month-to-month plans for budget-conscious subscribers and those who want to add multiple lines. Plus, you can’t beat their money-back guarantee policy and discounts for AARP members.

For comparison, T-Mobile has three 55+ plans that don’t require contracts. All three plans come with unlimited talk, text, and data. The more lines you add, the more you save. Plus, you get a ton of perks and giveaways.

Visit our 2024 Consumer Cellular review to learn more about this carrier.

T-Mobile Plans

In this year’s T-Mobile review, we found that the carrier has affordable unlimited plans for seniors. They have no contracts, no overage fees, discounts for multiple lines, 5G speeds, and solid customer support. The plans also include extra perks like in-flight Wi-Fi and service abroad.

The Unlimited 55+ plans come with a price lock guarantee, so you won’t ever get that dreaded surprise bill. Here’s a breakdown of T-Mobile prices and plans:

Plan Data Cost for a single line Minutes Text Other features Extras
*Essentials Choice 55 50 GB $45 per month

Two lines: $60 per month

Unlimited Unlimited talk, text, and data SD streaming, 3G mobile hot spot, texting while abroad, 2G data in Mexico and Canada
Go5G Plus 55 50 GB $70 per month

Two lines: $100 per month

Unlimited Unlimited talk, text, and data Up to 4K UHD streaming, 50 GB of 4G LTE mobile hot- spot data, and texting while abroad, 15 GB of data in Mexico and Canada, one-year AAA membership included Taxes and fees included, Apple TV+, unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi, Netflix with ads, upgrade your phone as early as every two years, unlimited text and up to 5 GB of data in 215+ countries
Go5G Next 55 50 GB $80 per month

Two lines: $120 per month

Unlimited Unlimited talk, text, and data Up to 4K UHD streaming, 50 GB of 4G LTE mobile hot- spot data, and texting while abroad, 15 GB of data in Mexico and Canada, one-year AAA membership included Taxes and fees included, Apple TV+, unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi, Netflix with ads, upgrade your phone as early as every year, unlimited text and up to 5 GB of high-speed data in 215+ countries

*Only new subscribers on the first three-month plan. They require a minimum upfront payment of $45 for a three-month plan. Taxes and fees are not calculated in the above costs.

All three plan prices require AutoPay billing. The plans all come with:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Premium scam shield, which gives customers control over calls and voicemails
  • No annual service contracts
  • Dedicated customer care team
  • Free stuff every week through T-Mobile Tuesdays

T-Mobile only requires the primary subscriber to be aged 55 or older to qualify for the plans. That’s great news for big families! To get a T-Mobile’s 55+ plan, you have to contact a customer service representative since you will need to verify your age. This can be done in person with a driver’s license or passport or via chat using a Social Security number or banking information.

T-Mobile’s Essentials 55 plan is $45 per month for one line, so you’re better off getting two lines for $55 per month to save more. The Essentials plan is an affordable choice for older adults who want to stay in touch with family or for emergencies. It’s worth noting that the Essentials plan may reduce speeds if you use over 50 GB of data in a month.

FYI:

FYI: In 2023, T-Mobile’s Scam Shield identified or blocked 628 spam calls per second for its subscribers.2

While the Essentials Choice 55 plan can only be used with one or two lines, both the Go5G Plus and Go5G Next can accomodate up to four lines. We think the Go5G Plus is the best value, starting at $70 per month for one line or $100 for two lines, especially for its flexibility and perks. It even has a two-year renewal offer not found at most companies. Regardless of the plan you choose, you’ll qualify for free stuff, special offers, and prices with T-Mobile Tuesdays. T-Mobile, however, does not offer discounts to AARP members as Consumer Cellular does.

In our experience, we found that T-Mobile’s customer service is excellent. Representatives can be contacted via live chat or by phone. Getting in touch with customer service can at times take up to 20 minutes or so, but we always received friendly assistance.

All in all, T-Mobile lives up to its brand reputation. It offers 5G coverage and competitive plans for older adults that are hard to beat. Plus, the Go5G Next 55 plan has no data throttling. For comparison, Consumer Cellular throttles speeds on its unlimited plan after you use 50 GB, so T-Mobile might be a better fit for very heavy data users.

Nationwide Coverage

Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular offers 5G and 4G data speeds throughout most of the country. The company says customers get the exact coverage as the major carriers. As an MVNO it uses AT&T and T-Mobile networks to offer coverage. Being an MVNO means it can offer customers more cost-effective plans and flexibility.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile has the largest and fastest-growing 5G network in the U.S. The company states that 98 percent of Americans have T-Mobile’s 5G coverage, and its 4G LTE network covers 99 percent of Americans.3 T-Mobile has a coverage map on its website to check coverage in your area or anywhere you are traveling to. Unlike Consumer Cellular, T-Mobile uses its own cellular network, which means customers can get faster data speeds.

Did You Know?

Did You Know? T-Mobile has partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2018 to give free wireless service for the VA’s telehealth app. This brings more healthcare accessibility to millions of veterans.4

Consumer Cellular vs. T-Mobile Phones

Consumer Cellular

Whether you are in the market for flip phones or smartphones, Consumer Cellular has got you covered. There are plenty of options, ranging from Apple to Android to Samsung phones and more. Consumer Cellular also has a line of its own phones, including the IRIS Connect smartphone and a flip phone called the IRIS Flip.

Testing out Consumer Cellular's IRIS Connect

Testing out Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Connect

You can find discounts and promotions for various phones on Consumer Cellular’s website. These deals vary and may be offered for a limited time. Not interested in buying a new phone? You can bring your own phone to Consumer Cellular. You’ll just have to give the carrier a call to sign up.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile lets customers bring their own phone or buy a new one. You can use T-Mobile’s compatibility checker to see if your phone is compatible. T-Mobile sells a variety of smartphones from brands like Apple, Samsung, and Google. As a large and traditional carrier, T-Mobile can offer customers a bigger selection of plans and phones than MVNOs like Consumer Cellular.

Our editor's grandma testing out an iPhone

Our editor’s grandma testing out an iPhone

T-Mobile is the king of promotions and constantly has deals and perks for customers. The T-Mobile website even has a tab at the top just for deals. Under this tab, you’ll find deals on phones, plans, bundling, and more.

To compare all of your options, check out our guide to the best cell phones for seniors.

Our Final Thoughts on Consumer Cellular vs. T-Mobile

Both Consumer Cellular and T-Mobile have discounted plans for older adults that come with unlimited talk, text, and data. Consumer Cellular and T-Mobile both offer month-to-month plans, perfect for those who don’t want a long-term contract.

T-Mobile is a very recognizable name, has strong coverage, and offers three plans for older adults. Plus, they have a lot of nice extras like free Netflix, in-flight Wi-Fi, and T-Mobile Tuesdays. Consumer Cellular caters to the older adult crowd and values AARP members, who can score great discounts. Even if you’re not an AARP member, Consumer Cellular’s plans are still quite affordable.

Whether you choose Consumer Cellular or T-Mobile, your final decision should be based on your budget and coverage needs. Consider asking friends or family what their experience with their provider is like for comparison. It’s all part of the research process!

Written By:
Ana Durrani
Journalist and Contributor
Ana has covered a wide range of topics in her 20-plus-year career as a journalist, contributing to numerous international and domestic publications. For several years she served as a regular contributor to Realtor.com. Some of the publications she’s written for… Learn More About Ana Durrani
Reviewed By:
Taylor Shuman
Senior Tech Expert & Editor
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