The Best Cell Phone Plans & Phones for Seniors
Cell phone coverage has become something of a basic right these days. We are all expected to be mobile with our communications. Many people prefer to use a mobile device for all of their communication needs – calls, messaging and email – rather than have a separate cell phone and landline. That means we are all entitled to an affordable cell phone plan that meets our needs as a consumer.
Many companies will target customers with family plans, affordable pay-as-you-go options for those on lower incomes or high-tech plans for the business-conscious. But, what about seniors? What specific plans are available once we turn 65?
The Market for Cell Phone Plans for Seniors is Growing
The good news is that more and more companies are becoming aware of a growing market of senior customers. The boomers that worked through the cell phone revolution of the 80s and 90s are now reaching retirement. They want to retain access to the ideal cell phone with a plan that reflects their needs.
Also, service providers are starting to realize that we can’t pigeon-hole all seniors together in one plan. Some seniors will be older, frailer and in need of the most basic, understandable package possible. Others will be keen to stick with their smartphone and simply take advantage of a better price plan.
Below we will look at some of the different plans that are available from a range of service providers. This list only really scratches the surface, but it does offer insight into different categories and companies. We will look at some of the more standard flexible and pay-as-you-go options, as well as those for the technologically-minded senior.
Beyond that, we also want to look at some of the cell phones that seniors can get to complement this new over-65 cell phone plan. Before all that, let’s look at the competition between three of the nations top providers: Spring, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
A Rise in Senior Cell Phone Users Means New Competition Between Top Carriers
Not too long ago, there wouldn’t have been that many seniors using a cell phone. The devices were for young professionals and seniors could stick with a good-old landline provider. However, many seniors today are used to using a mobile device. They find that they are helpful ways to communicate away from home. Others use them for mobile internet and love playing with the apps.
A 2017 study from Pew Research shows that 42% of citizens that are 65 or over now own a smartphone. This is an 18% rise from 2013. It is pretty safe to say that we should be able to expect another substantial increase by the end of the decade.
Therefore, it is understandable that the leading cell phone plan providers will be out to get as big a slice of that pie as possible. That’s a lot of eligible consumers after a plan that suits their needs. Some will want to lower their costs now that they are retired. Others will be keen to take advantage of a more convenient option. Sprint and T-Mobile have seized upon this opportunity. Both have understandable, affordable plans that are fairly similar – until you get to the fine print. Verizon has been a little slower out of the gate and has more restrictions. But, they are sure to catch up soon.
Let’s start with T-Mobile – one of the leading, senior-friendly brands around. To begin with, this senior plan starts a little younger than those of other companies. Customers that are 55 or older can get a T-Mobile that includes two different lines with access to unlimited minutes, texts and data.
At the time of writing, this was available for $80 per month and all taxes and fees were included. This is quite a saving because the same plan costs $130 if you are below the age of 55. This is a pretty simple option with few strings attached. Seniors can enjoy a solid discount and good coverage where available.
Sprint follows a similar pattern with their cell phone plan where eligible customers can pay $80 per month for two lines of unlimited minutes, text, and data. There is also an option where those that sign up for autopay can knock this price down further to $70 per month.
The first downside here is that all the taxes and fees are not included in this starting price. This means that there isn’t that big a discount from the $110 per month of the regular service. There is also the fact that this discount for seniors is only available to new customers. Therefore, there are some loyal Sprint customers that are very disappointed not to be rewarded for their loyalty.
Then there is Verizon. As we mentioned above, Verizon hasn’t quite got the same memo about costs and coverage as its competitors. The best deal for those over 55 here is to pay $75 per month for one line or $90 for two. This is slightly more than the plans offered by Sprint or T-Mobile.
However, there is a nice discount from the $140 plan for those under 55. Like Sprint, Verizon doesn’t include the taxes and fees in this base price. There is also a major issue with availability. At one point, this plan was only on offer for those that lived in Florida – perhaps playing on the idea that Florida is still the playground of the retired community. They have since increased coverage to include Illinois and Missouri. There are hopes that this will continue to roll-out across other states.
There are pros and cons to these different providers. Some will be appealing because the come from familiar names. They also get to stick with the phone and service they know, just at a reduced cost.
However, there are those possible issues with fees and coverage. The prices are sure to vary, and may indeed be different as you read this. However, this gives a basic idea of what companies aim to provide as a basic discount for seniors.
This is just the starting point for seniors that want to improve their plan and get a better deal. It is possible to shop around and find plans from companies that offer something a little different. This includes plans that are:
- made for those 50 and over with AARP cards
- simple pay-as-you-go models
- flexible plans on a tiered structure
- smartphone friendly plans with more options
- plans that include a senior-friendly phone.
Companies That Cater to Over-55s Rather Than Over 65s
Age brackets can vary depending on the plan and the carrier. Many guides to cell phone plans for seniors will focus on the needs of those that are over the age of 65. This is the general cut-off age for retirement and benefits. It is also when most service providers offer users access to their plans.
However, the American Association of Retired Persons opens its membership up to anyone that is 50 or over. Therefore, plans that expect AARP card members are applicable to this younger age bracket. We saw above that three of the major players have a basic discount at this age. They are not alone.
Cricket Wireless is one such company. This carrier offers a service for AARP members so that customers aged 50 and over can receive a little help with their cell phone plans. The company offers an online rebate in the form of a $20 discount. Users can present this at the online checkout to get a new phone from Cricket. That phone must be on a Cricket Wireless plan of at least $30 per month.
Customers are also limited to just the one discount coupon per phone or phone number. After 2 years, the offer becomes available again so you can upgrade your phone after a reasonable amount of time. Another great thing about this plan is that it is available to both new and existing customers.
Finding a Good Pay-As-You-Go Cell Phone Plan for Seniors
Pay-as-you-go services are a popular option with seniors that want a little more control over their spending. Some people don’t have quite as much to spend in their retirement as they did while they were at work. Their old, traditional phones plans may now seem a little too pricey.
Also, many standard cell phone plans will have services and features that aren’t all that necessary. This is where it can help customers to switch to a more basic plan. There are a number of companies that offer simple Pay-as-you-go services that may be preferable.
We may have already spoken about a great T-Mobile plan for seniors, but we wanted to draw your attention to this alternative. The T-Mobile Pay As You Go service offers a $3 a month plan. This super-cheap option allows users a combination of 30 minutes or texts to start with, and then every additional minute or message costs just 10 cents. It is a great, affordable way for seniors to literally only pay for what they use. It is ideal for those that know they need a phone but don’t expect to use it that often.
An alternative for pay-as-you-go is the GoPhone Daily plan from AT&T. This is a $2 per day plan that includes unlimited minutes and text messages. But, you only have to pay on the days that you actually use the phone. This means there is no worry about paying for nothing if you stay with family for a week.
Finding the Best Flexible Cell Phone Plans for Seniors
Flexible plans are the next step up from a basic service. There will be some people that hit retirement and feel that the simple pay-as-you-go option isn’t quite enough. At the same time, they may find that a standard price has excessive limits that are a bit wasteful. These flexible plans have set monthly service fee, but the usages – minutes, texts and data – comes on a tiered system. There could be one month where you use your phone a lot. Perhaps you go away and use the data or texts more readily. Other months could be quieter. Your bill will reflect the usage and offer a more realistic figure.
Ting and US Mobile:
Rather than talk about these two providers separately, it makes more sense to talk about them together. That is because the flexible option for seniors really is very similar across the board. Each provider has a tiered system where you start off on a base price and this changes based on your tier of usage.
Therefore, some providers will pay this base price for their basic level of use, while others will pay more for increased use. The downside here is that all the minutes, texts and data are billed separately. This could be difficult to keep track of for some seniors.
At the time of writing, the base price for Ting was $6 per month, while US Mobile users paid $4 per month. It may pay to shop around and look at flexible options from other providers.
What About All Those That Want As Many Features As Possible?
There is an assumption that the average over-65 cell phone user wants to simplify things in old age. This isn’t true for everyone. There will be plenty of seniors that enjoy having a smartphone and have no intention of reducing the amount they use it. If anything, some will enjoy roaming on the right plan and using all kinds of apps to aid in their increased leisure time.
Boost Mobile Unlimited is a price plan that doesn’t really have all that much that is tailored to a senior market. It doesn’t streamline the features, provide interesting apps or offer major incentives. Instead, this is an affordable plan that will help tech-savvy seniors stay connected to their favorite devices.
The service offered is hard to beat with the unlimited minutes, unlimited text and high-speed data for those using mobile internet. It gives users the chance to continue with their smartphone at a low price of $50. This is a great deal where seniors can get a familiar package at a better rate. There is also a simplified contract with fewer commitments and fees.
Cell Phone Plans That Come With a Phone
There are some great phones for seniors that can help over-65s stay in touch with their family. We have four great examples below. However, it could be more convenient, and perhaps a little more affordable, to find a cell phone plan with a phone included. There is a tendency here for companies to focus on the less-able, elderly users that need greater help with communication. These plans won’t suit everyone. Yet, they can offer a lifeline for the right user.
Great Call is a service provider that invests a lot of time and effort into services and features for senior users. Many top senior-friendly phones are compatible with this provider. As you will see below, there are some clever Jitterbug phones that only work with this provider.
The company has a direct plan where seniors can receive a great package and their own Jitterbug phone. The service includes a series of health and safety provisions designed to enhance the experience of the use. This includes a series of medical apps to help and the Lyft service. The idea here is that more vulnerable seniors will have the chance to stay in control of their movements and appointments.
FreedomPop is another alternative service provider that has a plan with a free cellphone. There are many seniors that will appreciate the convenience of this 100% free service plan, especially as this is set for those 55 and over.
In addition to the free phone, seniors can receive 500MB of data, unlimited calls anywhere within the US and unlimited text messages. The downside is that this option is far more simplistic compared to that of GreatCall. It doesn’t have the same medical assistance option and apps.
The phone plans above all have their pros and cons for any seniors in need of a better deal. However, only the Great Call plan comes with a free phone. There will be many seniors that won’t mind this. It is quick and easy to change a cell phone service on an existing phone once they reach the required age.
Best Cell Phones for Seniors
There is no need to give up a perfectly good smartphone if they are still comfortable using it. However, there are situations where family members and carers will set up these services for their loved ones in their old age. There is that desire to ensure that senior relatives have a reliable, accessible means of communication in an emergency. In this situation, it helps if there is an affordable, compatible phone that families can purchase in addition to this new price plan.
The following four products are just that. These phones are senior-friendly to provide a better experience. They can be used for emergency calls and texting as needed – for example when they want a relative to come over or if they need a ride somewhere. There is little else in the way of onboard features. The devices are designed to be streamlined, user-focused products with simple controls.
1. The Jitterbug Flip Easy-to-Use Cell Phone for Seniors
The plan above is a cell phone plan for the Jitterbug phone. There are actually a few different models of Jitterbug phone out there that you can use to connect to the GreatCall network. You don’t have to buy them together in one plan if you prefer the look of a different model. The first to consider is this flip phone.
The pros and cons of this cell phone for seniors.
- The large buttons for ease of use
- The great flip phone design
- The additional flashlight
- Service issues with GreatCall
- Extra activation fees
There is a really nice design here that is reminiscent of some of the old-fashioned flip phones of the 00s. This retro look may appeal to seniors because this is a nice blend between a slim, up-to-date phone and something they may have used before.
The design is senior-friendly, with the large buttons and large text on the screen. There is also a nice addition of the “yes” and “no” buttons to improve navigation between features. The phone also has a powerful speaker to amplify calls for the hard of hearing. Additional features include the LED flashlight, emergency calling and charging dock.
The negative reviews for this product mostly relate to the fees and service, rather than the phone itself. Some had trouble getting service in their area. Others were disappointed by the fact that they couldn’t get their charger for the phone until they paid the $30 activation fee. Those that have a more hassle-free experience with GreatCall have few issues with the device.
2. The Jitterbug Smart Smartphone for Seniors
This option is something a little bit different from the same brand. Here the product is designed to look more like a smartphone. This means that those giving up their iOS or Android system shouldn’t experience quite so many withdrawal symptoms. It is a step back, but not quite as far back as a flip phone.
The pros and cons of this cell phone for seniors.
- The senior-friendly smartphone design
- The size of the touchscreen
- Hearing-aid compatibility
- Confusion overbilling for data usage
- Other service issues with GreatCall
The main benefit here is the way that the brand has adapted the feel of a smartphone into something more senior-friendly. There is a 5.5’’ touchscreen that takes up a large amount of the front display. This shows messages and menu in a large font and simple configuration.
Additional bonuses to this system are the inclusion of the 5.0mp camera – which is better than some basic smartphones – as well as the 5Star emergency calling app and hearing aid compatibility.
Again, the negative comments mostly relate to the service and charges from GreatCall. One of the risks with this service is that users can activate apps and use data without realizing. This results in some unexpected bills that are far beyond what seniors had budgeted for. There is a warning that these plans are flexible, but it seems that some people weren’t aware of what this really meant.
Otherwise, there is a lot of potential in the device. Those that are careful with their billing, and understand the plan, have a lot of positive comments about this product.
3. The Snapfon exTwo Senior Phone
If the Jitterbug flip phone had the look of an old Motorola for seniors, this one is the old Nokia for seniors. There are the same pushbutton keypad and a small display. This display carries information on the coverage, battery life, date and time.
The pros and cons of this cell phone for seniors.
- The lock on the old-fashioned push-button keypad
- The number of notifications on the display
- The range of potential carriers.
- The cheap build
- Some odd software quirks to get used to
One immediate benefit with this product is that it is compatible with a range of carriers if you have the correct SIM. Sprint and Verizon are currently not on the list, but there are many other choices. The plans can also be quite affordable as they start at $9.95 a month. The display may be smaller than the smartphone, but there is still a 28-point font for reading messages.
Other benefits include the SOS emergency button, the keypad lock to avoid accidental dialing and the enhanced sound. There is both an amplifier and hearing aid compatibility.
One of the biggest drawbacks here is that the affordable price tag means some cheaper features. There are some that worry about the durability of the phone and have since bought a protective case. Others note that the battery life could be a lot better.
There is also a weird quirk where the phone assumes that seniors want to text in capital letters. Those that can look past these issues are happy with the phone while it last and appreciate that these models can only do so much.
4. The Easyfone Prime A3 Phone for Seniors
The last model that we want to look at here is from EasyPhone. This one immediately stands out because it looks like a more expensive model in terms of its design, but is actually one of the more affordable devices.
The pros and cons of this cell phone for seniors.
- The deceptive design that mimics standard cell phones
- The oversized features
- The range of potential service providers
- The convoluted processes
- The lock system
One of the nice things about this phone is that it doesn’t look like a special phone for seniors. It looks like a basic cell phone that just happens to have some nice extra features. The buttons are a little larger, as is the “oversized” cradle for charging. This is all designed to help users handle the phone more easily. There is also a speed dial feature, an SOS button and the chance to use a range of carriers with a prepaid SIM card.
There are some users that say that this phone is too complicated. It doesn’t simplify the menus and text functions enough for their needs. They feel that there are too many steps between wanting to send a message and actually sending it.
There is also an auto-lock function that has frustrated a few users. There is a sense that while this phone tries to find a middle ground between “conventional” and “senior-friendly”, it actually misses the mark a couple of times. Still, those that understand the functions find that it meets their needs.
Always Check the Fine Print Before You Commit
It is important to note that this information is all correct at the time of writing. It is crucial to stress this because companies can make adjustments and offer new plans at any time. Some may choose to increase the starting price because it was a short-term deal, while others may reduce it to bring in new customers. They can also make amendments to the fees and details of the plans.
Also remember that different users can have different experiences depending on their age, previous experience with a company and location. The information here provides a general view of the industry. The Verizon plan keeps expanding into different states bit by bit. Some existing customers may find they are ineligible for certain deals.
This is why it is vital that you contact companies directly for information on eligibility and access. If you are an existing customer, ask a rep about the service and upgrades that they can provide once you reach 65. If you are a new customer, let them know that you are shopping around for a new plan and see what they will offer.
There are More Choices Out There Than You Might Think…
As you can see, there are lots of choices out there when trying to find the best cell phones and cell phone plans for seniors. There are some great deals on simple, user-friendly phones that seniors can use for emergency communication. The addition of one of these price plans means that you can be sure that they are always able to call and text as needed. Where necessary, these plans can include data and extra features.
It is important that you shop around to find the very best deals when it comes to the best cell phone plans and phones for seniors. It can be tempting to stick with a company that you know well. They may have a good rate and reliable coverage.
However, you don’t want to miss out on a potential bargain that is better suited to a senior’s needs. You may be surprised at the range and the amount of healthy competition between the companies. The leading service providers understand that there is a growing market for senior-focused plans. Take advantage of this to find the ideal plan for you.