Senior Cell Phone Plans Guide

cell phone plans
Seniors have a lot of choices when it comes to finding a good cell phone plan. Regardless of the company and plan, it is vital that the mobile connection between a senior and his contacts are reliable. In this article, we go over this topic and various factors to consider when choosing a cell phone plan for the elderly user.

To ensure the best experience, it is a good idea to give yourself a little time to compare and then pick the best one. At the end of the guide, there are also specific cell phone companies (eg. Great Call) and plans listed.

Choosing a Cell Phone Plan for Seniors – What to Consider

Good Reception of Mobile Signal

Of all the different considerations in choosing a mobile plan, perhaps the most important is the quality of mobile signal provided by the company. Different companies have different mobile signal strengths in varying locations. You have to first find out if the service carrier has good reception in the area where the senior lives or goes around.

Service Reliability

Service reliability is of utmost importance in service plans, especially for seniors with medical conditions or those who are living alone. For ordinary individuals, having a bad signal and choppy calls can already be inconvenient. This problem is even more frustrating for seniors who could have hearing impairments.

What’s Included: Minutes, Text, Data

Another factor to consider is the list of service inclusions in the mobile plan. This list includes the number of text messages, minutes of voice calls, and mobile data that are can be ‘consumed’ per month. These entirely depend on the lifestyle of the senior.

Some seniors like to call and chat on their phone a lot, but many others hardly use their cell phone. If that describes you consider opting for a plan without too many frills to avoid paying for unused services. Some plan providers offer customizable cell phone plans based on their customer’s usage requirements. This usually makes it easier for the senior to save costs by lowering his or her desired text, call, and data limits.

Most plans these days have a fixed cost for unlimited talk and text, which means that you will be overpaying if your usage is very low. There many elderly customers who do not really need to have all the text and call minute allocations of even an average plan. Customizable plans from cell phone companies like Tracfone or Jitterbug make it possible for those who do not need unlimited type usage to pay less.

Some cellphone companies allow for family or friends to be added onto a plan with unlimited text and calling, and that shares a predetermined monthly high speed data allocation (Eg. 2 GB, 8 GB etc). For example, Verizon Wireless allows for new family members to be added onto a New Verizon plan (with limited data) for $20 for each new line of service. With Total Wireless, a $60/month plan can be split between 2 lines of service with unlimited talk, text and 15 GB total of high-speed data.

Cost

Cost is a mainstay in the list of considerations for choosing any plan. Note that the cheapest is not necessarily the best plan especially if the reason for the lower cost is the limited reach and scope of services. The plan cost should be reasonable given the services provided and the plan inclusions.

Also consider options for pre-paid or pay plans. They are usually cheaper than regular post-paid plans. They also present no surprises – you pay for service upfront and there are no overage charges. The cost of whatever service used is simply deducted from their pre-paid ‘load’ credits.

Take note, however, that top up cards should be bought and loaded in order for the senior to use cell phone services. If there’s an emergency and the cell phone is not loaded, the senior will not be able to contact his caregiver or loved ones immediately.

Take a close look at the plan contract. Be aware of lock-in provisions and other liabilities that the cell phone services company might pass on to you. Check the overage charges and fees as well so you know what you could be charged with.

If you want to search out the right cellphone before buying a plan, check out our Senior Cell Phones Guide here. Keep in mind that not all provider plans will work with cell phones that are not sold through them.

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The Best Cell Phone Plans for Seniors

Great Call

great call logo
GreatCall is the service provider for Jitterbug phones. The company provides cell phone plans and solutions targeted especially for the elderly. Recognizing that there are seniors who do not have the need for unlimited talk time, messages, and higher than average mobile data plans, GreatCall offers smaller plans priced less. Great Call plans will only work with their Jitterbug cell phones. These are phones specially designed for seniors.

Their basic plan provides a senior with 200 minutes of phone calls for $14.99 (before taxes and fees). For a higher price, additional mobile data and text messaging can also be included in the plan. For an extra cost, the plan provides customers with access to their 5Star Urgent Response service for 24/7 access to emergency assistance. Caregivers and loved ones can also make use of this service to receive updates regarding the health status of the senior listed in the plan.

Their plans are not the cheapest. However, their customizable usage plan offerings along with access to their 5Star emergencies monitoring and GPS location sharing makes it an attractive option. Click here for the full Great Call Jitterbug review >

Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular also provides plans that are especially geared towards helping seniors and their loved ones. Their basic senior plan provides unlimited texts, 250 minutes of call time, and 250MB of mobile data. Additionally, if the allocation is too much for the senior, the same data and minutes can be shared with a designated person.

In case of they find the need to change their plan, Consumer Cellular provides the option for seniors to do so every month. Moreover, this plan is also connected to the American Association of Retired Persons or AARP. Seniors that are also AARP members are entitled to a 5% discount on Consumer Cellular plans.

TracFone

Tracfone company logo

Tracfone offers great mobile phone service for seniors starting at $20 for 90 days of service. It has no contracts, bills, or overages. Texts, minutes, and mobile data are can be ‘loaded’ by buying cards. Different cards have different prices and inclusions so seniors can choose which service would fit them best.

Additionally, it also features unlimited carryover. This means that the unused texts, minutes of calls, and mobile data are carried over to the new top up. These unused data will not expire until they are used. Click here for the full TracFone review >

Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless Logo

Verizon Wireless is the largest mobile operator in the US. Their network is highly rated in numerous industry surveys. With Verizon, customers are assured that they will be accessing the most reliable cellular connections over a large coverage area. Though there are numerous mobile operators today that rent network bandwidth from Verizon to power their own plans, it’s not quite the same experience as becoming a direct Verizon customer. The catch is that Verizon Wireless plans will cost more than some of the low cost prepaid providers out there. However, in recent years, they have added new plans that are competitively priced.

If you just need a single line, Verizon’s prepaid plans offer the best value. For $40 a month, there’s unlimited talk and text, and 3G of high-speed data. Another good option is their regular post-paid plan that costs $35 a month for an allocation of unlimited talk and text, and 2G of high-speed data. There is a cost of $20 per line of service, and you can add multiple lines of service to the same plan. For two people (two lines), it works out to a total of $75 per month, or $37.50 for each line of service. To learn more, visit Verizon Wireless.

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Total Wireless

Total Wireless logo
Total Wireless also has plans that may be suitable for senior mobile users. Their plans work off the Verizon network. For $25 a month, the plan offers unlimited talk and text. You can subscribe to a higher level plan that includes data, or else purchase data cards for $10 (5 GB with carryover) each time. Although they do not offer smaller customizable plans, their costs are very reasonable starting at $25 per month. Their plan contracts are month-to-month so you can change your plan and even your service bundle as necessary.

There are flexible plans from reliable cell phone services companies that seniors can take advantage of. It would be good to go through all your options with your senior family member in order to get the most reasonably priced and value-packed plan. Click here for the full Total Wireless review >

Once you have decided on a cell phone plan that suits your needs, you can get a phone through the same company. Alternatively, you can purchase an unlocked phone if the service provider has a bring your own phone option. To learn more about shopping for senior cell phones, check out guide here.

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$49 Discount on a Tracfone Annual Smartphone Plan Card ($125 Reg)

Unfortunately, this deal may have ended. With the expiration of my Tracfone service coming up in two weeks, I needed to shop for a new smartphone-only annual plan that normally sells for $125. This card includes 1500 minutes/ 1500 texts / 1.5 GB data plus 1 year of service. I found a deal on eBay and ended up paying $75.99 (instead of $125) for the same, plus an extra 300 minutes/ 300 texts / 0.3 GB data bonus to boot. That’s a discount of $49 or 39% and I got additional bonus minutes/data/texts!


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What I Needed

I wanted to get a Tracfone annual plan because the service period lasted the longest – one full year. If, for that year, I still needed more minutes for calling, I would add on another pay as you go card with more minutes. However, by buying an annual plan card, it gave me peace of mind to know that my service and phone number will not expire for at least a year. It also saves me time in having to shop for cards a few times during the year and key in the long pin codes to activate them.

Why eBay

I proceeded to eBay to look. Why eBay? I’ve always found prices to be competitive (you can compare amongst sellers) and the process easy. There have also been times when the cost was a few dollars more than card’s face value, but for the convenience and sometimes lack of sales tax, I found it worthwhile.

A lot of eBay sellers do the part of adding on the minutes/text/data credits for you, which appealed to me. All I needed was to purchase and leave the eBay seller my phone number. And then presto, the minutes will be added to my phone. No need to scratch and activate a physical card.

There are numerous other options for purchasing Tracfone cards, such as going through their website or app or going to a grocery store. All roads lead to Rome. Choose what works best for you. Anyway, my story continues …

Found a Great Discount

This time round, I stumbled upon an awesome eBay deal for a Tracfone annual card. The seller was advertising a price of $75.99 for the $125 annual card.

They also had another listing for $71.99 for the $99 annual card. With this card, you get 1200 minutes/ 1200 texts / 1.2 GB data for that card if your phone has Triple Minutes for Life. The $75.99 price for a $125 annual plan made the most sense to me, as it offered more minutes/text/data that I forsee myself needing for the year ahead.

On a per minute/ per text or per MB basis, this is the lowest I’ve paid ever for my Tracfone minute. A total or 1800 minutes (after 300 minutes bonus) for $75.99 worked out to 4.2 cents per minute/ text/ MB. This is better than any smartphone-only plan or triple minutes for life deal.

Skepticism

However, I was skeptical. What if the seller is a scam? Then I looked at the feedback for their account. They have been an eBay seller for 4 years, and they have a 99.9% positive rating. I found tons of recent positive feedback on purchases of the same Tracfone annual card I was eyeing! I concluded that the risk was low. And if they somehow were not able to deliver, I felt that I will still be able to ask eBay for a refund.

So I proceeded to make a quick eBay purchase.

It Worked!

I purchased this on a late Saturday evening. It took 2 days before the order was fulfilled on Monday. On top of the 1500 minutes, there was an extra 300 minutes added. Total 1800 minutes/ 1800 text/ 1.8 GB data added. Bingo!

Based on this experience, I would buy from the seller again if I needed a refill. I would recommend this to my friends to help them save some money. The main downside is that the seller says it takes up to 3 days to fulfill an order. If you need your refill urgently, there are other sellers who will probably do this quicker. If I needed to get some quick minutes, I would just buy a cheaper card at the store as a stop-gap measure, but I would probably get this offer to buffer up my balance. I’m going to need those minutes sooner or later.

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I doubt this offer will stay open much longer. I don’t think they any seller is going to have an unlimited supply of cheap minutes. I’m just glad the seller delivered this round.

Purchase Tips

If you do purchase, make sure to add your phone number to your order so the seller can credit you the minutes, text and data. In my case, I had forgotten to add my phone number during the purchase. I then sent them a message with my Tracfone number right after.

Also, I did not receive any SMS when the minutes were added. I only found out later by messaging the seller and then checking my Tracfone smartphone app. So give it a day or two, and then check your balance through the Tracfone app or however you normally do it.

Hope this helps. If this also worked for you or if you have any comments, let us know below.

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