There's no one perfect cell phone service option that fits everybody, and senior cell phone plans are no different.
Whether you're in your golden years or have a loved one who is, no doubt you've found your way here because you're trying to figure out exactly which device and plan will work best for the mature person's specific needs.
Don't worry - there are plenty of senior mobile options ranging from ultra-basic to the most advanced. Maybe you want the latest smartphone, or just a pay-as-you-go phone with a simple call plan so you can get help quickly in emergencies.
The bottom line is that the best cell phone plans for seniors come in all shapes, sizes, and budgets. In the following guide, I'll outline the range of available options and where to get them.
Plans for the Tech Savvy Senior
Consider this: 78% of adults ages 65 and over are cell phone owners, so it's a decision we're all bound to face!
Not all senior citizens are interested in just a basic phone. According to the Pew Research Center, 30% of adults age 65 and over, use a smartphone. A higher tech option gives seniors access to emergency help as well as a way to keep up with news and more without the expense of cable TV.
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If you or your elderly relative are more about technology than the average senior, there are some affordable options for you as well.
For the senior on-the-move who wants a little bit of everything, then US Mobile's $12 plan is a great choice. Just like Tello, you can build any sort of plan you want, and their intuitive account dashboard allows you to seamlessly adjust how many minutes, texts, and data you have each month.
As always, US Mobile only offers prepaid, no contract plans with no hidden fees, overage charges, or early termination fees. They also have a 24/7 dedicated customer service team you can reach via phone, online chat, or email. They also have a small shop of cheap cell phones suitable for seniors you can peruse.
Related: To learn more about how US Mobile can help you build customized plans, go here.
The People's Operator
Otherwise known as TPO, this low-cost carrier offers prepaid, pay-as-you-go plans. The plans they offer are compatible with all carriers of the Big Four, making switching a snap and ensuring solid network coverage no matter where you are. A portion of your bill is donated to charity as well, making TPO a great way to support causes you love.
All of their plans are also no contract (you may be noticing a pattern here) and without any early termination fees, it's easy to give TPO a trial run and leave in case you aren't happy with them. Speaking of happiness, however, TPO has made it their goal to ensure you are cared for, offering customer service every day of the week.
For the tech-savvy senior who uses a cell phone for surfing the web and staying in touch with friends and family, we recommend the People's Plan, which you can see below.
Tello, similar to US Mobile, allows you to truly customize your plan to meet your needs. Being able to choose how many minutes, texts, and data you need are sure to please your lifestyle and your wallet.
All of their plans are no contract and prepaid, so there's no commitment to Tello if you're unsatisfied with their service. As a low-cost MVNO carrier, you can expect no hidden fees, no activation fees, and no early termination fees, which is a breath of fresh air compared to the Big Four.
For the senior who doesn't use a cell phone often, we recommend Tello's $20 plan, which you can see below. It's perfect for those who talk and text sparingly and comes with enough data for light Internet usage.
For a budget-friendly plan perfect for seniors who only need minutes and texts, look no further than Republic Wireless' Clear Choice plan. Similar to the other carriers, you can expect a prepaid, no contract plan with no hidden fees or overage charges.
What makes Republic Wireless unique is its Adaptive Coverage technology, which blends minutes and texts with WiFi, when available. Of course, this requires a 4G enabled smartphone, which may be unnecessary for a senior depending on his or her usage, but offers unparalleled service.
For $15 each month, you'll have unlimited talk and text. The plan comes with no data, but you'll still be able to surf the web, watch videos, and more as long as you have a WiFi connection.
H2O Wireless is an AT&T only MVNO that is a little more expensive than the other carriers on this list but offers great cell phone plans that strike a balance between the low-cost, budget-oriented plans like Virgin Mobile or Tello, and the Big Four. Their Economy Plus Plan is excellent for seniors still in the working world or who like to travel often.
When you sign up for Auto Pay, it's only $27 a month for unlimited talk and text with 3GB of data. You'll also receive unlimited international texts and a $10 credit for calling outside of America. The only downside is their uninteresting selection of cell phones. However, this may be right up your alley if you need a simple cell phone without the bells and whistles.
Cricket Wireless offers an affordable prepaid plan at $30 for unlimited talk, text, and data, including 1 GB of high-speed access. You can bring your own device, or buy one starting at $30 for a basic flip phone.
Boost Mobile also has a great deal on its prepaid services. For $35 a month Boost Mobile gives you unlimited everything, including 2 GB of high-speed data. This service provider also carries a flip phone, with device prices starting at $20 (or bring your own).
Consumer Cellular offers no-contract plans with monthly fees ranging between $10 (pay-as-you-go phone plan) and $30 (unlimited call plan). It gets even better: not only does Consumer Cellular have great rates, this wireless service provider also has the Doro PhoneEasy 626. This senior-friendly flip phone features large buttons, including an emergency call button. The Doro PhoneEasy is easy on your budget too, at just $50.
Read More: Take a look at the buyer's guide to cheap smartphones for seniors for low-cost mobile phones suited for seniors.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Senior Phone Plan
Now: let's get down to the basics - what factors are most important when choosing a mobile phone plan for an older individual?
According to the NCOA (National Council on Aging), a third of senior households have no expendable income left at the end of the month or are even further in debt. For many senior citizens, finding the cheapest cell phone plan is crucial. Later in this guide, I will detail various low-cost cell phone plans for seniors, and even how you may be able to get a free phone.
One of the main concerns of many older Americans and their families is that they need access to help if something should happen, such as a fall. On the other hand, some seniors use their cell phones to keep up with news and email. The level of service you need will depend on the range of tasks you perform with your phone.
Even the best senior phone plans aren't helpful if you or your loved one doesn't have the right device. Features to look for include a bright, easy to read display, a voice command option, a senior-friendly keyboard, and emergency number presets. You may also want to consider a phone with a one-touch SOS button so that it's even easier and faster to call for assistance.
A mobile phone is a personalized choice at any age. Use these tips as a guideline to choose the right one for you or your family member.
Pro Tip: If you're an AARP member, Consumer Cellular has even more to offer you. AARP members get a five percent discount on their monthly wireless plan, plus other special offers.
If you (or your elderly relative) live alone and are concerned about having a quick and easy way to call for help in the event of an emergency, there are phone plans for seniors which have added safety nets for just this purpose.
As the creator of the Jitterbug phone for senior citizens, GreatCall offers not only affordable cell phone plans for seniors but also the added peace of mind of emergency services access.
As the creator of the Jitterbug cell phone for senior citizens, GreatCall offers not only affordable cell phone plans for seniors but also the added peace of mind of emergency services access. The way GreatCall works is simple. There are two phones available directly from GreatCall, both of which are available with a range of no-contract plan options to fit your needs and budget.
- Jitterbug Flip: This is the basic Jitterbug cell phone with a bright, easy to read display, flashlight and reading magnifier, camera, large buttons, and 5Star button for accessing help quickly. The phone retails for about $100 plus activation fee. Plans range from $15/month for 200 minutes to $50 for unlimited talk and text.
- Jitterbug Smart: The Jitterbug smartphone option comes with a bright 5.5" HD display, front and rear cameras, voice typing capability, and the 5Star emergency app. It retails for $150 plus activation fee. Monthly plans cost between $15 for 200 minutes and $50 for unlimited talk and text plus 100 MB data. You can also purchase additional data separately.
GreatCall offers optional health and safety packages for monthly fees between $20 and $35. Choose from features like 24/7 access to medical professionals, daily health tips, medication reminders, and even a personal operator for help with daily tasks. It gets better: if you choose a health and safety package you get a discount on your cellular service as well.
There are other devices available through retailers like Amazon, like the Jitterbug J cell phone. The Jitterbug J cell phone is another basic flip model ideal for the elderly person who just wants a basic device.
This company provides wireless plans encompassing choices from basic affordable phone service to a comprehensive health package. Prices start at just $5 per month for 50 minutes of any combo of talk, text, and data, up to $39 per month for unlimited everything.
The feature that makes this one of the best senior cell phone plans is the option to add a health package. The Seniors Wireless wellness plan includes virtual doctor visits with board-certified physicians who can assess, refer, and even prescribe medication in the event of a health problem. You'll pay $30/month for unlimited access for a single person, $40 per couple, or $48 for access plus unlimited follow-up.
The SpareOne phone is a truly standout product in terms of cell phone plans for senior citizens. It's an emergency phone that operates on standard AA batteries. This means that if the power goes out, you or your loved one still has access to emergency services, or the ability to simply call to let someone know you're okay.
The SpareOne has no display, and the phone features a button that will call 911. In addition, if you call someone for help, they can log onto the internet and get your exact location. The phone is available for purchase separately or from providers like AT&T which sells the SpareOne for just $9.99. In order to make calls other than 911, you'll need a plan hooked up to your phone.
Low-Income Phone Plans
The best cell phone plan for seniors who are living on a low income is the Lifeline Assistance program offered by the federal government. This program was started in the 1980s to provide landline service to more vulnerable citizens, and now it's been extended to include cell phone service as well.
Participation in the following programs automatically qualifies you for a free basic cell phone and 500 minutes of service through the Lifeline Assistance program:
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
- LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits Programs
The Lifeline program offers free phones through two companies, SafeLink Wireless, Assurance Wireless. The SafeLink program provides TracFone service, while Assurance runs on Virgin Mobile. To find out more, you can call SafeLink Wireless customer service at 1-800-SafeLink. The toll-free number for Assurance Wireless customer service is 1-888-321-5880.
There are other state criteria which may qualify you for the Lifeline program. Check with your local Department of Health and Human Services to find out if you're eligible.
Read More: We have a guide that shows you how you can obtain free cellular service.
There's no reason for older adults to be left behind as technology marches on. Whether you're looking for cheap cell phone plans with no frills or a full-service high-speed data package, there's plenty to choose from. Most importantly, there are useful features that allow you to call for help quickly, just in case.
If you prefer to keep costs down by putting everyone on the same account, don't forget to check out the best family cell phone plans as well. It's yet another great way to save money on senior cell phone plans. While the budget is an important aspect of finding the right plan, peace of mind is even more vital. All of the providers I've included in this guide operate on the four major carriers' reliable nationwide networks so that you can be sure you'll have service right when you need it.