Cell Phones and Plans for Seniors
Cell Phones and Cell Phone Plans for Seniors
Why would cell phones for seniors need to be any different than typical phones? For many seniors, the typical phone is just fine but for others, as they age, their needs change. In some instances, a senior may find they need a cell phone that is easier to handle, something that is easier to see, or easier to hear.
For others, the phone is simple enough to handle and the typical smartphone presents no problem at all, but the average cell phone plan no longer suits their needs. With kids out of the house, full-time employment perhaps behind them, the cell phone plans with huge pools of minutes are far more than is needed and an unnecessary expense. Or perhaps, they just want to see the economic reward of not carrying 4 or 5 lines on their plan any longer.
The options are somewhat limited. However, there are a number of cell phones for seniors and cell phone plans that may better meet your needs.
A Phone and Plan Designed Especially for Seniors with Some Special Needs
When it comes to a cell phone for seniors who want a bit more simplicity, the first option is a phone and plan from Great Call, maker of the Jitterbug phones which are considered to be the original simple cell phone. They offer a basic flip phone for the ultimate ease and a smartphone for more savvy users.
- It can be ideal for those who are not at all tech savvy or have a mild motor, auditory, or visual impairment.
- These phones are well suited to anyone who is seeking a cell phone with:
-- simple functions and menus
-- larger buttons
-- larger font (print)
-- a brighter screen
-- good volume
-- hearing aid compatibility
- It's a great phone for anyone who may need occasional assistance from an operator as it provides such support. Operators can even help users put numbers into their contact list.
- The cell phone plans offer simple options that provide calling without long distance or roaming charges and no time of day restrictions. Plans start as low as $14.99 per month and no long-term contract is required. The per minute charge is a bit higher than many packages that offer the large bundles of time, but for those with limited calling needs, it can still be a cost saver. (However, unlimited plans are also available if desired)
Jitterbug now offers the Jitterbug Flip (a basic flip phone) and the Jitterbug Smart (a 5.5" smartphone).
- Both can provide health and safety features.
- They provide the 5Star App which can connect you to a live assistant to get emergency help quickly.
- It can also provide access to services such as:
-- fall detection
-- a fitness tracker
-- immediate access to nurses and doctors
-- a Med Coach for medicine and refill reminders
-- contact with a wellness expert
-- check-in calls
-- health tips
-- brain games
See the Jitterbug
Prepaid Phones for Seniors Who Use Their Phone Less
For some, the perfect phone is prepaid. This means that they can purchase only as many minutes as they will use. This makes it an affordable option for those who call less or who prefer an easy to understand phone plan.
- Tracfone, for example, offers plans for as little as $9.99/month (30 minutes) up to $199.99/month (1,500 minutes). International long distance can be added for an additional $10.
They have the Alcatel A383G for those who want a very simple and easy to read screen and keyboard. It features a large keypad, with an enlarged font, a simple camera, and MP3 player.
- Straight Talk offers unlimited talk, text,& data (2G after 2GB) for $35/month.
- Cricket offers plans as low as $35 with unlimited talk & text with 5GB of data.
- MetroPCS has a similar plan at $40/month.
- If you don't need data, there are also services like Ting. They have a plan that is only $12/month for 100 voice minutes and 100 texts.
- TPO Mobile is another option. Their plans are generally quite affordable, starting out at $10/month. Their People's Plan provides unlimited talk and text, plus 1GB of data for $21/month. You can save more by going the AutoPay route and part of your monthly bill goes to charity. They use the T-Mobile and Sprint networks.
- Many of the larger cellular providers like T-Mobile also offer pay-as-you-go plans which you can learn more about below.
AT&T's Cell Phone Plan Designed for Seniors
AT&T offers no cell phone designed especially for seniors, but for millions of older individuals, this isn't the need as they are accustomed to using traditional cell phones and are quite comfortable with them. However, if a more simple phone is needed and you want to go with AT&T there are phones that might suit the need. I will talk about those below.
What AT&T does offer is a cell phone plan that is designed for the typical needs of those aging customers who simply don't use their phone as much. Those who may be retired, whose children are grown, and who require smaller bundles of minutes and hope to realize the cost savings associated with the lower usage.
- The Senior Nation plan offers users age 65 and older, 200 anytime minutes, 500 night and weekend minutes, and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling for $29.99 per month. With this plan, the caller never pays roaming or long distance charges. Calls beyond the plan limit cost 45 cents per minute and a 2-year contract is required.
- Of course, if you don't want to commit to a plan, AT&T offers prepaid plans with unlimited Talk & Text and 1GB of data for as low as $30/month.
- In addition, if you are truly a commitment-phobe they have a pay-as-you-go plan that offers talk and text for $2/day, on days you use it. This would be perfect if you have very limited usage.
Cell Phones for Seniors to Consider From AT&T
If you want to use AT&T but want a simple phone there are some reasonable options available.
- AT&T, Tracfone, and others offer the Samsung J3. It offers an Easy Mode with large icons and a large, extra bright 5" display making it easier to read. It offers superb audio as well.
It is an affordable Android smartphone with a nice 5-megapixel camera/2 megapixel front-facing camera, MP3 player, and 16GB memory with an additional microSD memory card slot.
- Another recommendation for those who want a more basic phone is the Cingular Flip. For someone wanting a compact flip phone for calls and texting, this one also has a loudspeaker, large buttons, and easy to read display.
- Another affordable flip phone option is the LGB470 which features enhanced audio, quick access function buttons and a text to speech key allowing users to listen to text messages they compose or receive rather than having to view them on screen.
- One additional candidate suitable for those wanting ease of use is the Alcatel Big Easy Plus, which provides large lighted keys, a built-in flashlight, and hearing aid compatibility.
Verizon's Senior Cell Phone Plan
Verizon doesn't really have a cell phone designed specifically for seniors but they do recommend the Samsung Galaxy J3 Eclipse as a good choice for those wanting a smartphone with an easy mode as well as the LG Revere 3 which is a basic flip phone.
Verizon has a couple of options to get a plan that is economical.
- For individuals 65 and older, Verizon Wireless offers their Nationwide 65 Plus cell phone plan for seniors. If you are an existing Verizon customer, for $29.99/month users get 200 anytime voice minutes per month. Messaging can be 20 cents per message or $10 for 1000 messages or $20 for unlimited messaging per month. Likewise, data can be added for an additional fee.
- If you have family on the Verizon network, another option is to have them add a phone to their plan for an additional $20 rather than setting up a separate plan. If an individual wants to go the prepaid route, Verizon offers unlimited talk and text with a prepaid phone for as low as $40/month.
T-Mobile's Senior Plan
If you prefer service from T-Mobile the best bet may be one of the following:
- T-Mobile offers a plan that is great for seniors who use their phones extensively and are perfectly comfortable doing so. Their Unlimited 55+ plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data for $50/month. A second line can be added for an additional $10.
- The T-Mobile pay-as-you-go option gives users a combination of 30 voice or text messages for $3 month for those who have sparse use of their phone.
If a user needs a more simplified phone the Snapfon EZTwo can be used on the T-Mobile network. It offers:
- adjustable volume
- allows users to program up to 8 numbers for one-button dialing
- provides an emergency button that can be programmed to dial 4 numbers
- features a keyboard that can be set up to speak numbers as they are dialed
- possesses a keypad with large buttons and oversized, bright white lettering on a black background
A Senior Cell Phone Plan from Consumer Cellular and AARP
Consumer Cellular specializes in phone services for seniors.
- About the Phones
Consumer Cellular now offers several phones to AARP members; some at no cost and others as high as $100. Most of the phones they offer are typical rather than being designed specifically as cell phones for seniors.
The phones offered range from simple flip phones like the Doro Phone Easy (which offers large font, an emergency call button, excellent audio quality, and hearing aid compatibility) to higher-end smartphones like the iPhone 8 or iPhone X. No long-term contract or cancellation fees are required.
The Doro phone offered on the Consumer Cellular site is not the only version. Beyond the simple flip phone is a senior-oriented smartphone version. Offering large tiles, easy to navigate keyboard, the ability of loved ones to remotely enter the phone to assist with setting things up, emergency call buttons, and customizable volume settings.
- About the Plans
Members receive a 5% discount on monthly access and airtime rates, a 30% discount on some accessories, a 45 day trial period with money back guarantee, and plans starting as low as $15/month for talk and text.
Users don't have to worry about accidentally using up excess data, messaging, or voice resulting in an exorbitant bill. If they exceed their plan limit they are simply bumped up to the next level plan (a $5-$10 increase) rather than being charged per MB, text, or minute of overage. They can opt to go back down to the original plan level the next month if they choose.
If interested you can learn more by calling 1-800-686-4460 or visiting the Consumer Cellular website.
Doro SmartEasy as a Great First Smart Phone
Cell Phones for Seniors with No Budget to Spare
For seniors who don't really want a cell phone for calling purposes but want one on hand in case of an emergency, they can purchase a low-cost cell phone and skip the service. A refurbished phone will do. All cell phones should be able to connect for 911 calls even if the individual isn't paying for service at the time.
For those who receive financial aid from state or federal programs or have a household income below the poverty level, there is the possibility they will qualify for a free cell phone and service through a government supported program known as SafeLink
Questions & Answers
© 2008 Ruth Coffee