Consumer Cellular vs. Visible

taylor shuman Taylor Shuman Senior Tech Expert & Editor

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Older adults are more comfortable using cell phones than ever before. In the past decade, usage has actually doubled among people 65 and older.1 But choosing the best cell phone plan with the value, data, and perks you’re looking for can be overwhelming. But we’re here to help!

Our team spent hours researching Consumer Cellular and Visible by Verizon phone plans. Our tech experts tested them to see which ones might particularly appeal to older adults, and we compared both carriers in terms of price, technology, ease of use, and customer service. To help you figure out whether Consumer Cellular or Visible might be best for you, keep reading!

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

Our favorite is Consumer Cellular
  Consumer Cellular Visible logo
Plan prices $20 to $50 per month if enrolled in autopay $25 or $45 per month
Activation fees None None
Data speeds 5G where available 5G Ultra Wideband, 5G where available
Long-term contracts No No
Bring your own phone Yes Yes
Discounts for multiple lines Yes No
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

**If usage exceeds 50 GB, you’ll experience slower data speeds through the remainder of the billing cycle.

Consumer Cellular’s phone plans are very affordable and start at $20 per month if you sign up for autopay. We like that the Consumer Cellular website makes figuring out monthly costs easy; it has a sliding scale that demonstrates how each additional phone line will impact your total cost.

We also appreciate that Consumer Cellular offers discounts on multiple phone lines. (Visible does not.) You can purchase up to three additional phone lines online. But if you want more than four lines, you’ll have to call Consumer Cellular customer service. Each additional line adds $15 per month to your bill, which is a solid deal in our book.

Taking photos on Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Flip during testing

If you think you only need 1 GB or 5 GB of data a month, you can try Consumer Cellular’s cheapest plans. If you go over your data limit, Consumer Cellular won’t charge you overage fees. They’ll just bump you up to the next-highest data plan. Some people might not like the automatic bump, however, and don’t want to be surprised with a bill that’s a little higher than expected. Still, it’s better than large overage fees. If you’re concerned about cost, make sure to monitor your data usage, which you can do by logging into your Consumer Cellular account online.

>> Learn More: Eight helpful tips for budgeting on a fixed income

If you need more data, we found that it’s easy to upgrade your plan. Consumer Cellular doesn’t make you sign a contract, and you can change your plan anytime. If you choose Consumer Cellular’s unlimited data plan, your phone will work a little slower if you use over 50 GB of data. That’s a lot of data, so it’s unlikely you’d reach that threshold unless you have several phone lines on your plan.

Based on our experience with Consumer Cellular, their service is a great deal if you use your phone for talking, texting, and light data usage but don’t need a lot of extra features. If you need a lot of data or want to use your phone for travel in Canada or Mexico, Visible might be the better carrier for you.

When we tested Consumer Cellular, we discovered several discounts, including a $20 credit for referrals and a 5 percent discount on plans for AARP members. Another perk we like is the company’s 30-day money-back guarantee (45 days for AARP members!) if you’re unhappy with your plan.

>> Related Reading: A guide to AARP membership

Visible Plans

Plan Cost* Data Speed Talk and text International Multiline discount
Visible $25 per month Unlimited data including hot spots 5G where available Unlimited Unlimited call and text to Canada and Mexico No
Visible+ $45 per month Unlimited data including hot spots 5G Ultra Wideband where available Unlimited plus 50 GB of premium data per month that won’t slow Unlimited call and text to Canada, Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Saipan No

We appreciate that Visible keeps things straightforward and simple by offering just two plans. You can also get $20 for every friend you bring to Visible, and the friends will get $20 off as well. It’s a win-win! Like Consumer Cellular, Visible cell phone plans don’t require contracts.

Visible’s plans both come with unlimited data, which makes choosing a plan simple. Instead of puzzling over how much data you need, you can get unlimited data with any Visible plan, and prices start at $25 per month. We also appreciate that tax and fees are included in the monthly service costs listed on Visible’s website. No hidden fees here! And, you can try out the service free for two weeks. Another perk? Visible+ currently offers a discount on home internet.

>> Related Reading: Best internet providers for older adults

Visible+ includes 50 GB of premium data per month with no slowdowns or throttling. With the premium data option, Visible won’t slow speeds even when the network is busy. Keep in mind that while mobile hot spots are unlimited, Visible limits them to one device and speeds are capped at 5 Mbps. But this isn’t likely to affect you unless you plan to use your hot spot heavily for work or internet use on the go.

A potential downside is that Visible plans don’t offer discounts for multiple lines. So if you want to add more people to your account, it might be cheaper to opt for Consumer Cellular or another carrier.

Visible+, however, might be a better option than Consumer Cellular for older adults who want to travel and keep in touch with loved ones around the world. The plan offers up to 500 minutes of international calling to 30 countries, including Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Australia, India, and the United Kingdom. You’ll also have talk, text, and unlimited data when traveling in Mexico and Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico (although data speeds are reduced to 2G after using 0.5 GB per day). Consumer Cellular, for comparison, lets you use its service while traveling internationally, but you’ll be responsible for international roaming fees, which can really add up.

>> You Might Also Like: Our guide to senior travel and vacations

Like many cell phone carriers, Visible has generated some negative online reviews. Some complain about poor coverage and slow data speeds. But many of the reviews express frustration with Visible’s customer service, namely that they can’t speak with a human being for assistance.

This is something to keep in mind if you try Visible’s phone plans. Unlike Consumer Cellular, it’s not possible to call and speak with a customer service representative if you need help. Visible only offers customer service via online chat. If an AI chatbot is unable to help, you’ll be put in a queue for a human to chat with. Communication with customer service exclusively via chat might not be ideal for less tech-savvy older adults.

Many other online reviewers have positive things to say about the service, so it might be worth a try for those who want a budget-friendly unlimited plan.

Nationwide Coverage

Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular operates on AT&T and T-Mobile networks and partners with international carriers to provide 5G coverage where available. You’ll likely have solid coverage throughout the U.S., as T-Mobile was rated the best carrier in terms of 5G availability and speed in a 2023 analysis by RootMetrics, a mobile analytics firm.2

Some areas of the U.S. might only have 4 LTE coverage, which is a little slower, but is still plenty of speed for the average user. Your phone might work more slowly at times if the network is very busy, which is the case with many cell phone carriers. We didn’t notice any issues with reduced speed when we tested Consumer Cellular’s service.

Keep in mind that some phones might not be compatible with 5G service, such as the Consumer Cellular IRIS Flip phone we tested. Although we only had 4G coverage with the IRIS Flip, we had no problem talking on the phone and texting. Overall, we found the service to be reliable.

Visible

Visible uses Verizon’s award-winning nationwide coverage, so you’re in good hands. Verizon led the way in the adoption of 5G and has received the highest number of awards for network quality 32 times in a row from J.D. Power.3

The Visible+ plan offers 5G Ultra Wideband coverage if you have a compatible device and are inside the 5G Ultra Wideband service area. You can check Visible’s coverage map to figure out if you have 5G or 4G service in your area.

FYI:

FYI: 5G refers to the fifth generation of wireless technology.4

We appreciate that the Visible network blocks high-risk spam and robocalls. Online reviewers have also said they don’t experience any connectivity issues while traveling using Visible’s international cell service.

Consumer Cellular vs. Visible Phones

Consumer Cellular

Looking for a new phone? Consumer Cellular offers more than 30 devices, including everything from simple flip phones to the latest iPhones. You’ll find new and refurbished phones from Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, and Consumer Cellular’s own phones.

Older adults who want a durable, easy-to-use phone without many bells and whistles might like Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Flip. We like that this phone is lightweight and hearing-aid compatible, and that it has large, textured, clearly labeled buttons. Designed with senior users in mind, it’s a nice option for people with vision loss or arthritis.

Testing out Consumer Cellular's IRIS Flip

Testing out Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Flip

During testing, we found that the IRIS Flip’s photo quality is a little lacking, as it only has a 5 megapixel camera. The quality is comparable to other flip phones, though, and it’s handy for capturing moments you want to remember.

>> Related Reading: Smartphone apps for seniors

We also like Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Connect, which has a little more horsepower in terms of storage (32 GB of storage compared with the IRIS Flip’s 8 GB) and Google Assistant for voice navigation, which we found helpful. IRIS Connect might be a better option if you want to use apps, watch videos, store photos, and listen to music on your phone.

Testing out Consumer Cellular's IRIS Connect

Testing out Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Connect

You can bring your own phone when you sign up for Consumer Cellular, but you’ll have to call customer service to set up your plan — you can’t bring your own phone when you purchase service online. While this might feel like a hassle for some, it’s worth it to keep a phone that you love! Or, if you want a new device, Consumer Cellular consistently offers great sales on cell phones and affordable payment plans, so those on a tight budget still have options.

>> Learn More: Best cell phones for seniors in 2024

Visible

Like Consumer Cellular, Visible gives you the option to bring your own phone, as long as it’s compatible. Visible offers some discounts on new phones if you buy them outright. There are also options for setting up a monthly payment plan or trading in your current phone for a new one. If you trade in your phone, Visible gives you a trade-in credit to put toward a new one. You can choose phones from Motorola, Apple, Google, and other manufacturers.

Visible might not appeal to older adults who prefer an inexpensive, old-school flip phone; the carrier only sells one modern-style flip phone, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5, which costs $999. Compare that to Consumer Cellular’s IRIS Flip phone, which goes for $69. Still, Visible is a great option if you’re looking for a smartphone.

Visible offers more phone choices than Consumer Cellular does, with around 40 devices currently available. We appreciate that Visible provides a list of phones that are hearing-aid compatible. You can also add an Apple Watch to your plan for $5 per month.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5

>> Further Reading: Hearing aid buyers guide for 2024

To get started with Visible, the company will provide an eSIM card you can use to activate service. Or, if your phone isn’t compatible with an eSIM, Visible will overnight you a physical SIM card to install in your phone.

Our Final Thoughts on Consumer Cellular vs. Visible

Visible offers solid nationwide coverage, 5G speeds, and unlimited data for low monthly fees. This carrier might be a better choice over Consumer Cellular if you enjoy traveling or want to stay in touch with loved ones in other countries, thanks to their international service.

A potential drawback to keep in mind with Visible is their online-only customer service. Some older adults might be frustrated dealing with online chat and being unable to call a human for help if something goes wrong. On the other hand, Consumer Cellular offers customer service over the phone, and we’ve always had a pleasant experience with representatives.

Consumer Cellular offers monthly discounts for AARP members and simple plans without frills. Similar to Visible, the carrier has widespread 5G coverage. We’ve found that Consumer Cellular is a great option for larger families or those who only need a little bit of data.

You really can’t go wrong with either of these carriers. Ultimately, the choice will come down to your budget and preferences.

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