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Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Best Phone Plan for Seniors

Phone companies are battling for your business. Take advantage with a low-cost plan that meets your needs. 

More than 90% of older adults in the US have a cell phone, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, and usually it’s a smartphone. Baby boomers aging into the senior space have been using the devices for years and are likely to want all the features their younger counterparts insist on. The older cohort may just need to talk and text in order to keep up with family and friends. There’s a plan for everyone to get a great deal on phone service these days.

One thing you don’t want to do is look for a cheaper plan with your current carrier online. If you’ve got an account with them, they probably know who you are and their software will only show you more expensive plans or bundles. You’ve got to call or head down to your local store to get the lowdown — or find a plan you like in this article and tell them what you want.

Features for Older Adults

There are several plan options you may want to look at before exploring a new carrier and/or service. Pick those that best suit your style of usage, whether that’s smartphone guru or weaning off your old landline. 

How Much Data Do You Use?  

Before you start looking around for a plan, you need to know how much data you use per month to see if the plan fits your needs. iPhone users can find that information by going to Settings>Cellular. Android users should follow Settings>Connections>Data Usage. If you need help, any carrier can walk you through the steps and tell you if you need unlimited data or a lesser amount.
  • Talk and Text. If you don’t have a smartphone, or all you want to use it for is making calls and texting, then talk and text is for you. These plans are super cheap and sometimes come with perks for us older folks.
  • Unlimited. At long last, phone companies have reasonably priced plans for people who use apps, check out YouTube or stream videos, and otherwise use their smartphone a whole lot. These include unlimited talk, text, and data so you will never get dreaded overcharge fees added to your bill ever again. 
  • Prepaid. You may already pay your phone bill automatically every month, but plans labeled “prepaid” are a different beast. Not much different — you will still pay automatically but they often involve a lower cost than you had originally, and you will have to call or show up at your carrier to find out about them. You can also surf the net to discover any deals, but don’t expect to find your carrier reaching out to you, offering a lower monthly bill.
  • No Contract. After the big carriers have been roping us in for years, tied to years-long contracts, they are now being challenged by smaller carriers who go month-by-month. Many of the big boys (we’re talking about you, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint) have seen the competition and decided to reform at long last. So go ahead and raise your eyebrows if a carrier says you need a long contract for your phone business and do plenty of checking around. 

Let’s get down to brass tacks and start talking about the type of coverage you need, who can give it to you cheapest, and how much it will cost. 

  1. You want great coverage combined with all the data you can get your fingers on? Verizon scores best of the major carriers for performance and reliability, so it’s a great pick if you travel around the country or just want to know you don’t have to go down to the telephone pole at County Road 62 to get service. (Probably — always check around to see which carrier works best in your home area). Better yet, Verizon’s Start Unlimited Plan costs just $30 per month and comes with unlimited talk, text, and data. Seniors 55+ who live in Florida should ask about Verizon’s 55+ Unlimited Plan that has extra discounts.
  2. If you gobble data like a turkey talks, check out T-Mobile’s three 55+ plans that range from $27 to $45 per month. 
  3. For those who are more comfortable sticking to calls and texts, and those who don’t want a newfangled smartphone, look into Republic Wireless’ Unlimited Talk & Text Plan for $15 monthly or less if you pay a year upfront.
  4. Don’t need unlimited but want to have the option of using some data? Consumer Cellular’s Unlimited Talk & Text + 3GB gives you all the chatting and texting you can handle, plus a little data to browse the news or check the weather. Get it for $25 a month, with an extra 5% discount for AARP members.
  5. Want a cheap plan that’s super easy and has no contract? Mint Mobile gives you unlimited talk and text plus 4GB of 5G data per month for $15.
  6. Want a senior-friendly phone and cheap monthly fee, plus an urgent aid button and hearing aid compatibility? You’ve got it with Lively, which offers plans starting at 250 minutes of talk for $14.99 per month.