Consumer Cellular vs. Verizon

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Consumer Cellular and Verizon in 2024

taylor shuman Taylor Shuman Senior Tech Expert & Editor
Jeff Hoyt Jeff Hoyt Editor in Chief

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Cell phone usage is booming across age groups, but particularly among adults over age 65. Using a cell phone can be a great way for older adults to feel more connected to others and to the world around them, and rapidly advancing technology makes it easier than ever. With a growing number of cell phone companies eager to tap into the senior market, deciding which cell phone plan might be best for you can be daunting. But we’re here to help!

We spent hours researching the phones and phone plans Consumer Cellular and Verizon offer. Our tech experts tested them to see which ones might particularly appeal to older adults. We compared both carriers in terms of price, technology, ease of use, and customer service to help you determine which carrier might be best for you. Keep reading to learn more about Consumer Cellular and Verizon phone plans for older adults.

Taking photos on Consumer Cellular IRIS Flip

Taking photos on Consumer Cellular IRIS Flip

A Side-by-Side Look at Consumer Cellular vs. Verizon

Our favorite is Consumer Cellular
  Consumer Cellular Verizon
Availability Nationwide Florida residents only
Plan prices $20-$50 per month if enrolled in autopay $62 per month for one line or $84 per month for two lines if enrolled in autopa
Activation fees None $35
Data speeds 4G or 5G (depending on phone and area) 4G or 5G (depending on phone and area)
Long-term contracts No Not exactly, but you’re responsible for fees if you cancel before two-year period ends
Bring your own phone Yes Yes
Discounts for multiple lines Yes Yes
Finance option for certain devices Yes Yes
Website

Phone Plans and Prices

Consumer Cellular Plans

Plan Monthly cost* per line Minutes Text
Unlimited Talk and Text + 1 GB of data $20 Unlimited Unlimited
Unlimited Talk and Text + 5 GB of data $25 Unlimited Unlimited
Unlimited Talk and Text + 10 GB of data $35 Unlimited Unlimited
Unlimited Talk and Text + Unlimited** of data $50 Unlimited Unlimited

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

Here are some things we appreciate about Consumer Cellular.

Flexibility

A great thing about Consumer Cellular is that there is no contract to sign, and you can customize your plan so you pay only for the data and services you need. We love that you can make changes to your plan anytime if, for example, you find you need more data. If you do go over your data or minutes, Consumer Cellular automatically upgrades your plan to the next-higher one that covers the data and minutes you’ve used, rather than charging you overage fees.

If you’re interested in only one phone line, 1 GB or 5 GB might be enough for you, meaning your monthly costs for cell phone service will be one of the most affordable on the market. If you find you need more data, or you want to add additional lines, you can upgrade to the 10 GB or unlimited data plan later. Also remember that if you use over 50 GB of data on the unlimited plan, your phone will be a little slower. If this happens and you find the slowdown (which companies call “throttling”) annoying, you may want to consider a different carrier.

» Learn More: Consumer Cellular Senior Phone Plan Review 2024

Affordability

Consumer Cellular’s plan prices are quite affordable, starting at $20 per month. You can purchase up to three additional phone lines online, but you’ll need to call Consumer Cellular if you want four or more. Each additional phone line adds an extra $15 per month to your bill.

We like that the Consumer Cellular website (on its “Choose a plan” page) makes figuring out monthly costs easy with a sliding scale that shows you how adding each additional phone line to your plan affects costs. Keep in mind that each phone line shares the plan’s data, which can add up quickly with multiple lines. With no overage fees, this isn’t such a big deal; if you go over your limit, Consumer Cellular will automatically bump you up to the next plan. You’ll just need to keep this in mind when budgeting.

Another important thing to note for budgeting: The monthly costs you see on Consumer Cellular’s website reflect a $5 discount for signing up for autopay. If you’d rather not have monthly payments for your bill automatically deducted every month, your fees will be $5 more each month. Consumer Cellular offers AARP members a 5 percent discount on their monthly bill as well.

Did You Know?

Did You Know? The percentage of adults age 65 and older who use a cell phone has doubled since 2015.1

Perks

Be sure to ask about any special deals when purchasing a phone plan with Consumer Cellular. We found several discounts to keep in mind, such as a $20 credit for referrals and a 30-day money-back guarantee (45 days for AARP members!) if you’re not happy with your plan.

We also found a deal to add Signature Motor Club by Allstate Roadside Services to your plan for $3 per month or $36 per year, which is cheaper than AAA (which currently costs $65 or more per year). Signature Motor Club offers flat-tire changes, tows up to 10 miles, lockout service, jump-starts, and more. That’s a unique offering from a phone carrier. Contact Consumer Cellular for more information.

Consumer Cellular also offers an emergency response system with GPS location tracking and fall detection called Ally for $119 upfront and $25 per month. If you’re in the market for a medical alert system, you could get your phone and system from the same provider!

» Related Reading: Best Medical Alert Systems

In our experience, Consumer Cellular offers affordable plans for older adults who just want a simple mobile phone with unlimited talk and text and a decent amount of data. It’s also a great option for AARP members, who have access to additional discounts.

Seniors who tend to be on their phone constantly and upload a lot of photos or videos might be better suited for a Verizon plan. Seniors on a budget, however, can find great options with Consumer Cellular to stay connected without breaking the bank.

Testing out Consumer Cellular's Verve Snap

Testing out Consumer Cellular’s Verve Snap

Verizon Plans

Here are just a few of Verizon’s cell phone plans. We think the following plans might be a good fit for older adults’ needs.

Phone Plan Price Features
55 Plus $62 per month for one line or $84 per month for two if enrolled in autopay
  • Available to Florida residents only and must be a new Verizon customer
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Unlimited 4G LTE data
  • DVD-quality streaming
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot usage
  • Talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada included
  • Can have a maximum of two phones on plan but up to 10 tablets and 25 devices, such as watches
Unlimited Welcome $65 per month for one line with autopay
  • Available nationwide
  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 5G (or 4G LTE depending on device and area)
  • Streaming quality up to 480p
  • Talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada included
Prepaid Plan with 15 GB $45 per month (autopay discount available after first month)
  • Available nationwide
  • 15 GB of data
  • Unlimited talk and text, including international texting
  • Unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada
  • 5G or 4G depending on device and area (Speed will slow to 2G when data is used up)
  • DVD-quality streaming (up to 480 p HD)
  • Mobile hotspot
  • Loyalty discounts over time
Prepaid Plan with Unlimited Data $60 per month ($50 with autopay after first month)
  • Available nationwide
  • Unlimited talk and text and unlimited international texting
  • Mexico and Canada talk, text, and data
  • 5G or 4G depending on device and area
  • DVD-quality streaming (up to 480p)
  • Mobile hotspot
  • Loyalty discounts over time

Any Verizon cell phone plan you choose will come with the company’s reliable 5G and 4G service. The carrier is also good for people who want to stay in touch with loved ones in Mexico or Canada. (Verizon notes that if more than 50 percent of your talk, text, or data usage in a 60-day period is in Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, your service in those areas might be stopped or limited.)

Unlike Consumer Cellular, Verizon does charge an activation fee (currently $35) as well as an overage fee with certain plans if you use too much data. By comparison, Consumer Cellular automatically upgrades you to a plan with more data if you exceed your limit.

Although other cell phone companies are catching up, Verizon is still a leader in 5G coverage. Below is more information about these Verizon plans, which we think could be good choices for older adults.

Testing out an iPhone with my grandma.

Testing out an iPhone from Verizon with my grandma.

Affordability

Verizon plans are more expensive than Consumer Cellular’s for both monthly rates and added fees, such as overage fees. Unlimited Welcome is a good plan to consider if you want to add multiple lines to your plan, as that significantly lowers cost per line. Here’s how it breaks down with each additional line:

  • 2 lines: $55 per line
  • 3 lines: $40 per line
  • 4 lines: $30 per line

Prepaid plans are another good way to get reliable speed while not paying for data you won’t use. As we suggested for Consumer Cellular plans, you might want to see how lower-data plans work for you and upgrade if needed. Verizon recommends plans with 5 GB or 10 GB of data for people who stream music, upload photos on social media, and browse the internet on their phone. People who stream videos and are always online might need more data than that.2

Perks

Verizon offers discounts to certain groups, including first responders, members of the military, nurses, and teachers, who have two to three phone lines on 5G unlimited plans. Verizon also offers partner deals for additional monthly costs, such as the Disney bundle, Netflix, Max, Apple One, and a Walmart + membership. These are subject to change, so make sure to check with Verizon about availability and costs when you sign up. We found that Verizon perks generally seem more entertainment-focused, while Consumer Cellular’s perks seem more tailored to seniors.

» Dive Deeper: Verizon Plan Review

Verizon’s 55+ plan is available to Florida residents only, and you must be a new Verizon customer to get on the plan. Those who qualify get unlimited talk and text, unlimited 4G LTE data, and DVD-quality streaming. It’s a good plan for older adults who use cell phones frequently or who have loved ones in Mexico or Canada. People who don’t want to use a cell phone as frequently and won’t need a lot of data might be better off with a prepaid plan.

The bottom line? We found that you get better speeds with postpaid plans, but Verizon’s prepaid plans are the way to go if you want to pay only for what you’re using. Florida residents who use a lot of data will also want to consider Verizon’s 55+ plan. Need help making a decision? We found that Verizon’s customer service representatives were pleasant and helpful when we asked questions about choosing a plan. But people who really want a simple, pared-down phone plan might prefer Consumer Cellular.

Nationwide Coverage

Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular operates on AT&T and T-Mobile networks and partners with international carriers. RootMetrics, a mobile analytics firm, rated T-Mobile the best in terms of 5G availability and speed in its 2023 analysis. Verizon took the prize for 5G reliability, however.3

Remember that although Consumer Cellular offers 5G ultra wideband coverage, your phone might not be compatible with 5G coverage. We realized when we tested Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Flip that the phone could get only 4G coverage. Connectivity didn’t seem to be affected at all, however. We had no problem talking on the phone and texting with the IRIS Flip’s 4G coverage.

Pro Tip:

Pro Tip: Not sure what the difference is between 4G and 5G? In short, 4G network speeds allow cell phone users to download a video without much trouble. Phones with 5G service can download them faster, possibly even in seconds.

Also keep in mind that rural cell phone users might not have coverage as reliable as in more populated areas. Weather and terrain can affect your cell phone service as well.

Verizon

Verizon has been the cell phone carrier to beat in terms of coverage and has led the way in adoption of 5G. The company currently offers 5G and 5G ultra wideband (ultra wideband is a little bit faster than 5G) and nationwide coverage, and has received the highest number of awards for network quality 32 times in a row from J.D. Power.4

Did You Know?

Did You Know? 5G refers to the fifth generation of wireless technology.5

In general, 5G service is 10 times faster than 4G. But if you don’t do a lot of traveling to areas where cell phone service might be limited, it might not be worth the extra cost if you don’t really need top-of-the-line data speeds and network service.

When testing out Verizon, we noticed that the carrier often has service in some less-populated areas where other carriers don’t. If you enjoy camping, live in a rural area, or travel to more remote locations, Verizon is an excellent choice.

Consumer Cellular vs. Verizon Phones

Consumer Cellular

With more than 30 phones, including the latest smartphones, flip phones, and certified preowned devices, Consumer Cellular likely has a phone to fit any taste and budget. Customers can choose a device ranging from the iPhone 15 to the IRIS Connect, the company’s own simplified smartphone.

FYI:

FYI: Want to compare cell phone options? Check out our guide to the best cell phones for seniors.

You can buy a phone outright or pay in monthly installments added to your bill. Consumer Cellular also offers specials on prices for popular devices, such as iPhones, Apple Watches, and the Samsung Galaxy line of products. You can save even more cash by bringing your own phone, which enables you to keep your old phone number if you prefer. Some Consumer Cellular devices are available at Target, so you can check them out in person before ordering online or via phone.

In our experience, the simple IRIS Flip, Consumer Cellular’s own flip phone, is a great affordable and reliable option. We love its easy-to-read screen, voice assistant, simple design, and textured, rubberized keys that help prevent your fingers from slipping. This phone also has a simple, list-based menu so you can immediately access calls, texts, contacts, camera, calendar, and settings.

Using the Kai Virtual Assistant on Consumer Cellular's IRIS Flip

Using the Kai Virtual Assistant on Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Flip

>> Related Reading: Easiest Cell Phones for Seniors to Use

The IRIS Flip is also hearing aid compatible, perfect for seniors with hearing loss. We especially like the red “favorite contacts” button that’s front and center on the bottom of the keyboard. This button makes finding important numbers quick and easy. At just over 5 ounces, it’s easy to fit and carry in a pocket or purse. We found the calendar feature really useful for remembering important appointments.

The external display on Consumer Cellular's IRIS Flip

The external display on Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Flip

This flip-style cell phone is best for adults who aren’t interested in watching videos or posting photos on social media on their phone. If you’re looking for a simple phone to call, text, and take some snapshots, the IRIS Flip is a decent option.

If you’re looking for an affordable phone with a little more fire power, the IRIS Connect might be a better option than the IRIS Flip. This smartphone’s 32 GB of storage is much more than the IRIS Flip’s 8 GB. This makes it a better option if you want to use apps, watch videos, store photos, and listen to music on your phone.

Using Google Assistant on the IRIS Connect

Using Google Assistant on the IRIS Connect

Verizon

Verizon offers more phone options than Consumer Cellular does. Customers can choose from the latest smartphones, flip phones, or certified refurbished phones to reduce the cost of buying a phone.

FYI:

FYI: Research suggests smartphone usage improves well-being and cognitive function in older adults!6

One of our favorite Verizon phone options for seniors is the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme+, a solid, modestly-priced flip phone. It’s durable and water-resistant with a senior-friendly design. We like its larger size and screen, which is easier to read than many other models, and programmable keys.

Kyocera DuraXV Extreme from Verizon

Kyocera DuraXV Extreme from Verizon

No matter what phone you’re interested in, Verizon has you covered. It currently offers 11 flip phones and an array of smartphones, including Apple iPhones, watches, and phones by Samsung, Google, Motorola, and Nokia, to name just a few. Verizon doesn’t appear to offer as many promotions for particular phones, which we saw with Consumer Cellular. You can buy your phone outright or set up a payment plan, which usually spreads the payments over two years. For some phone purchases, Verizon even waives the $35 activation fee, which is a nice perk.

We also appreciate that you can bring your phone when you sign up for a cell phone plan. You’ll also have the option to keep your phone number or get a new one, similar to Consumer Cellular.

Our Final Thoughts on Consumer Cellular vs. Verizon

From our experience, Consumer Cellular wins in the “overall” category, offering the best cell phone plan options for many seniors. Older adults who want the simplest, cheapest plans are sure to find one to fit their budget and needs from Consumer Cellular. The company offers simply designed, reliable phones and affordable plans with 5G network coverage that you can change anytime. We also appreciate that Consumer Cellular doesn’t charge an activation fee; other cell phone companies typically do.

Like Verizon, Consumer Cellular offers multi-line discounts, but it also offers a substantial monthly discount for AARP members. We also found that Consumer Cellular runs a lot of sales on phones, which we didn’t see from Verizon.

The only drawback we experienced when testing out Consumer Cellular was having to call to order a plan if you want to bring your own phone rather than buy one. But we did find its customer service to be friendly and helpful when we did so. If you do want to purchase a phone with your plan, it’s easily done online. Older adults who aren’t on their phone constantly watching videos and playing games are likely to be happy with a simple plan from Consumer Cellular.

Older adults with a little more wiggle room in their budget and who travel a lot might prefer Verizon. Verizon consistently wins awards for reliability and is an industry leader in terms of 5G network coverage. Verizon is a great choice for older adults who embrace technology and spend a lot of time on their phone. Someone who wants to purchase multiple phone lines for other family members can get a great deal from Verizon as well.

We do wish Verizon’s 55+ plan was available in states other than Florida. Still, it’s a great deal for Floridians who want unlimited talk, text, and data. Verizon offers plenty of other options if you don’t expect to use a lot of data. We think that in those cases, Verizon’s prepaid phone plans can be a great, reliable option.

Written 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
Reviewed By:
Jeff Hoyt
Editor in Chief
As Editor-in-Chief of the personal finance site MoneyTips.com, Jeff produced hundreds of articles on the subject of retirement, including preventing identity theft, minimizing taxes, investing successfully, preparing for retirement medical costs, protecting your credit score, and making your money last… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt