Guide To The Best Senior Cell Phone Plans 2022 – Forbes

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A whopping 92% of seniors in the U.S. own a cell phone, most often a smartphone, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey. Cell phone makers have tapped into this growing market by creating cell phones designed specifically with seniors in mind. But what’s a great device without an equally useful—and understandable—cell phone plan?
Although unlimited high-speed data, a mobile hotspot and video streaming are standard features in modern cell phone plans—and features younger generations want—these aren’t always features seniors need. Many older adults simply wish to stay connected to their family members and get help in case of an emergency.
Here’s what you need to know about the various types of cell phone plans and the best options for seniors when it comes to coverage, cost and senior-specific features.
Getting older can have its perks—like saving money on your cell phone plan. Recently, many of the larger service providers released plans specifically designed for seniors, aiming to keep things simple and affordable with discounts.
Sprint and T-Mobile offer discounts to anyone at least 55 years old. Both provide two phone lines with unlimited talk, text and data for around $80 a month—an average savings of $40 a month. Verizon also has a 55+ plan limited to seniors living in Florida, and AT&T has the Senior Nation Plan available for anyone over the age of 65.
If you expand your search beyond the big-name wireless carriers, you find additional providers and plans that are great choices for seniors.
Lively, for example, doesn’t have a specific age requirement, but offers a number of services and features seniors may find helpful, such as access to virtual urgent care, fall detection technologies and operators who can help call ride services, make phone calls or look up phone numbers.
Meanwhile, AARP’s membership benefits include discounts on cellular services. Anyone over age 50 can join AARP.
When deciding which cell phone plan is the right choice for seniors, it’s important to understand the types of cell phone plans available. Below are the most common types of plans.
Talk and text phone plans are for people who use their phones only for talking and texting. They’re good for seniors who don’t have smartphones or don’t use their phones to download apps, watch videos or browse the internet. Many cell phone service providers offer customizable or unlimited talk and text plans. They are often less expensive than those that include “data” (or photo, video and internet usage.)
If a senior wants to use apps, watch videos or make lots of calls on their mobile device, an unlimited plan is a great option. Unlimited plans often include unlimited talk, text and data, so there’s no worry of running out of data or paying overage charges.
A prepaid cell phone plan allows you to pay upfront for what you need each month, usually at an affordable price. These plans are ideal if you want to cut down on cost without sacrificing quality and coverage—as well as reduce the risk of having any surprises on a bill at the end of the month. The numerous prepaid plan options on the market range from basic talk and text options to unlimited prepaid data plans.
In the past, you needed to complete a credit check and agree to automatic payments and a contract with a wireless provider to start a new cell phone plan. Now, more providers offer flexible and affordable plans without long-term commitments. With a no-contract plan, you aren’t locked into your current plan or provider if you ever need to make a change. Also, you don’t have to worry about paying early termination fees if you cancel your service.
When it comes time to comparing and choosing the best cell phone plan, consider:
No one should ever have to worry about their cell phone working—especially seniors who need to be connected in case of an emergency. Choosing a plan from one of the major wireless carriers—Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile—can give you peace of mind knowing you have full, nationwide coverage.
Looking for the best coverage plan? Of the three major carriers, Verizon scored highest in overall network performance and reliability, according to a January 2021 report by network testing firm RootMetrics. Verizon offers many phone plans, including the Start Unlimited Plan for $30 a month, which provides unlimited talk, text and data. While it isn’t a senior-specific plan, it connects you to where and when you need to be. Meanwhile, Florida residents might be eligible for Verizon’s 55+ unlimited plan that offers more discounts for seniors.
If you use your phone to video chat with your family, play games or download apps, ensure your phone plan includes data. Most providers offer packages including “unlimited data” plans. These packages can be a good choice to minimize your risk of overage charges at the end of the month or running out of data when you need it.
If you’re unsure how much data you use each month, check out our guide to determining how much data is appropriate. With this amount, you can use your phone when you like at an affordable price.
Looking for an affordable unlimited data plan? T-Mobile offers three 55+ plans ranging from $27 to $45 a month, all of which include unlimited talk, text and data.
If you aren’t using a smartphone (or you’re using little to no data) but you regularly call and text, you need a plan that covers the minutes and messages you use each month. Most wireless service providers offer monthly plans with a set amount of minutes and messages included. If you’re looking to save on your bill, a talk and text only plan can be an affordable option.
Looking for a talk and text only plan? Republic Wireless offers an Unlimited Talk & Text Plan for $15 a month, with the option to pay monthly or annually for extra savings.
Many cell phone service providers have created inexpensive cell phone plans—some specifically designed for seniors. These plans can be limited to minutes for only talk and text. Many offer a basic package with the option to add additional features.
Looking for an inexpensive cell phone plan option? Consumer Cellular has affordable phone plans ideal for seniors looking for a low-cost and flexible phone plan. With no activation fees or long-term contracts, you can change your plan at any time without incurring additional costs.
Consumer Cellular’s Unlimited Talk & Text + 3GB plan for $25 a month is an exceptional value. The 3GB of data provides extra flexibility from a standard talk and text only plan and at an affordable price. The company also offers discounts to AARP members—normally a 5% savings each month.
Some wireless service providers have plans and features specifically designed for seniors to make the process of setting up and using a plan—as well as understanding the bill—easier.
Looking for an easy-to-use plan? Mint Mobile keeps things simple with an inexpensive prepaid cell phone plan. Although it includes no specific discounts for seniors, the carrier’s 4GB plan costs new customers just $15 a month, with the option to pay $45 for three months at a time. That way, you don’t have to worry about a complicated bill at the end of every month.
Lively is another wireless service provider made for seniors. With Lively, there are no long-term contracts, and they have a selection of senior-friendly phones available that include features like an urgent response button and hearing aid compatibility. Lively provides several phone plans, starting with 250 minutes of talk for $14.99 a month.
Price and reliable coverage may be more important than features, but some wireless providers offer additional perks specifically for seniors.
Looking for a phone plan with extra perks? Lively makes the list again with its advanced options for seniors, including Urgent Care, which allows you to speak to a registered nurse or doctor at the push of a button. LivelyLink also updates loved ones about your health and safety and offers “fall detection” technology, which automatically connects you to an operator if a fall is detected.
Meanwhile, Consumer Cellular has partnered with AARP to provide additional perks on all its plans, including a 5% discount on monthly cell phone bills and up to 30% off cell phone accessories.
As you consider the best plans, ask yourself:
Based on your answers, you can narrow down the type of cell phone plan that will best match what’s important to you. For example, if you have a smartphone and you video chat often with your family and play games on your mobile device, an unlimited data plan would likely be a good match.
AARP offers discounts for seniors to save money on cellular service. Anyone over the age of 50 can become an AARP member and enjoy AARP cell phone plan discounts or AARP cell phones for seniors. Below are two providers offering discounts through AARP:
Consumer Cellular
Consumer Cellular offers tailored cell phone plans for seniors that start as low as $15 a month. AARP members get:
AARP members who are AT&T Wireless customers can save up to 10% on their talk and data plan monthly charges, as well as save 15% on eligible phone accessories. AARP members get:
The ease of switching providers will depend on your current provider, your current plan’s details and whether your contract includes early termination fees.
Some decisions need to be worked out with your current provider and new carrier—mainly whether to keep your existing phone and phone number. It’s also important to find out if you’re locked into a plan.
Regardless, here are a few key steps to preparing to make the switch:
Do your research. Know which plan you’d like to switch to and contact your current provider to get the details of your current contract, particularly if you’re locked in.
If you do have a contract, check with your current provider to find out if there are early termination fees. If you’d like to keep your current phone, make sure your phone isn’t locked—which means you can only use the phone with your existing provider’s phone plans. Finally, ask your new provider whether you can use your existing phone.
Prepare your details for your new provider. Be ready to provide the following to your new wireless carrier:
To make the switch, contact your new cell phone carrier online, by phone or in person at a store. They’ll take your information and switch your service to your selected plan. Once you activate your new plan with your new carrier, your old service should automatically terminate. If you experience any issues, contact your old carrier.
A senior cell phone plan will give you extra discounts and savings from major wireless carriers if you’re over the age of 55. And with an AARP membership, you can also save on phone plans if you’re over 50 years old.
If you’re unsure whether a senior cell phone plan is right for you or are too young to qualify, there are plenty of other affordable cell phone plans that can still give you the features you need at the price you want—even if they aren’t designed specifically for seniors.
Understanding what’s important to you and how you use your cell phone will get you one step closer to choosing the best phone plan for you.
Mobile Fact Sheet. Pew Research Center. Accessed 6/30/21.
Mobile performance across the US. RootMetrics. Accessed 6/30/21.
Consumer Cellular Discount, an AARP Member Benefit. AARP. Accessed 6/24/2021.
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Chauncey grew up on a farm in rural northern California. At 18 he ran away and saw the world with a backpack and a credit card, discovering that the true value of any point or mile is the experience it facilitates. He remains most at home on a tractor, but has learned that opportunity is where he finds it and discomfort is more interesting than complacency.
Alena is a professional writer, editor and manager with a lifelong passion for helping others live well. She is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and a functional medicine certified health coach. She brings more than a decade of media experience to Forbes Health, with a keen focus on building content strategy, ensuring top content quality and empowering readers to make the best health and wellness decisions for themselves.