Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer senior discounts on their cell phone plans. Other smaller carriers like Consumer Cellular and GreatCall offer specifically senior-friendly plans; GreatCall’s plans, for example, include helpful features like medical apps, and an integrated Lyft service. But are plans like these truly the best options for seniors, or are there better ones out there?
In this article:
- Compare Senior Phone Plans
- Senior Phone Trends
- Which Carriers Offer Senior Plans?
- Cheaper Alternatives to Senior Plans
- Let’s Talk Take
Compare Senior Phone Plans
How Many Seniors Own Cell Phones?
About 80% of seniors own a cell phone and 42% of seniors report owning a smartphone, a figure which has more than doubled since 2013. Moreover, about 34% of Americans ages 65 and over use social media. Below you’ll find a breakdown of smartphone ownership between senior subgroups:
- 59% of 65-to-69-year-olds own smartphones
- 49% of 70-to-74-year-olds own smartphones
- 41% of 75-to-79-year-olds own smartphones
- 17% of people ages 80 and older own smartphones
Considering this upward trend in senior cell phone ownership, it’s important that seniors know what their phone plan options are so they can make an informed decision—whether they want limited talk and text to keep their spending down or unlimited data with senior-specific features.
About 80% of seniors own a cell phone and 42% of seniors report owning a smartphone.
Which Carriers Offer Senior Plans?
The only two carriers that cater to the needs of senior citizens are Consumer Cellular, which partners with AARP, and GreatCall, which provides several different safety and health services for its aging customers. Senior plans offered by Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint simply include a discount.
Consumer Cellular, an MVNO that runs on T-Mobile and AT&T’s networks, offers low-cost, flexible plan options in which you can customize your talk, text, and data. Plus, you can change your plan as often as you want without any extra fees. As with many small carriers, Consumer Cellular is a no-contract carrier, so you don’t have to worry about being locked into a plan you wind up not needing. Check out the benefits below:
- Affordable phone plans (the average customer pays under $25/month for their plan)
- No contracts
- No activation fees
- Design your own plan
- Make adjustments to your plan, as needed
- AARP members save extra
- Talk, text, data usage alerts
- Add additional lines on a plan for $15/month
Let’s Talk Editor’s Pick: Consumer Cellular Unlimited Talk and Text + 3GB of Data
GreatCall, an MVNO that operates on Verizon’s powerful network, centers its phone plans around senior citizens and aging phone consumers. Not only are GreatCall plans affordable and customizable, but the carrier also offers benefits such as:
- Easy-to-use phones (choose between the Jitterbug Flip or Jitterbug Smart).
- Medical alert devices.
- 5Star Urgent Response (access to AED-certified agents with the click of a button).
- GreatCall Link (an app that keeps loved ones updated on your health and safety status).
- GreatCall Rides (dial 0 to get an affordable ride).
- Brain Games (fun and challenging games to improve memory and attention).
Not every package includes all of these perks, though—you must choose between Basic, Preferred, and Ultimate health and safety packages. For the $35/month Ultimate package, you get 5Star, Urgent Care, GreatCall Link, handset replacement (they’ll replace your phone if anything happens to it), and personal operator.
Let’s Talk Editor’s Pick: GreatCall Unlimited Talk and Text
T-Mobile 55+ Years Only Plans
T-Mobile offers special discounts on its unlimited plans for customers who are aged 55 and older. T-Mobile offers senior discounts on its Essentials, Magenta, and Magenta Plus plans—costing $40/month, $50/month, and $65/month, respectively. No matter which plan you choose, you save $20/month. All three of these plans include unlimited talk, text, and data, plus international perks like international texting and roaming. Not to mention, all taxes and fees are included in the plan prices.
Let’s Talk Editor’s Pick: T-Mobile Essentials 55+
Verizon 55+ Years Only Plans
Verizon is the biggest cell phone carrier in the country and offers by far the best nationwide coverage. Verizon plans can be a tad expensive, but the carrier’s 55+ discounts make them a bit cheaper. If you live in the following areas, you are eligible for the Verizon Unlimited 55+ Only plan:
- West Palm Beach
The Verizon 55+ Years Only plan saves you $15/month, includes unlimited talk, text, data, and hotspot, and Mexico and Canada privileges. It’s a great option for a qualifying resident who has their heart set on getting wireless service through Verizon.
Sprint 55+ Years Only Plans
Like Verizon, Sprint only offers one senior discount plan (in-store only) for customers aged 55 and older. However, unlike Verizon, you can live anywhere in the U.S. and take advantage of this plan. The only catch is that you must be a new customer on Sprint, so current customers are out of luck. The Sprint 55+ Years Only plan, which costs $50/month for one line, includes:
- Unlimited talk, text, and data
- Unlimited hotspot
- Mexico and Canada roaming
- Global roaming and texting in over 200 countries
This plan is a good option for those who want two lines, since a two-line plan costs only $70/month, making that a cool $35/month per line.
Cheaper Alternatives to Senior Plans
Most seniors simply want a convenient way to call and message family and friends without breaking the bank. That’s where MVNO phone plans come in. MVNOs are small carriers that operate on one or more of the major networks—Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. They offer affordable alternatives to major carrier plans, and often, they include more flexibility with customizing talk, text, and data.
Some small carriers worth looking into include Republic Wireless, Mint Mobile, Tello, Gen Mobile, Twigby, Red Pocket, Ultra Mobile, Visible, and more.
Let’s Talk Take
GreatCall offers the best senior-friendly features on its phone plans. Plus, GreatCall phones are easy-to-use with large buttons, big screens, powerful speakers, and emergency buttons built right in. For these reasons, we think that GreatCall is an excellent option for older cell phone customers who may have some health concerns and whose families want an easy way to keep track of their safety.
If you’re a younger “senior” and simply want a cheaper way to stay connected to loved ones, it may be best to compare some of the affordable prepaid plans offered by small carriers instead of automatically going with something just because it’s marketed toward seniors. For those who want it all—unlimited talk, text, and data on the top network—we recommend checking out Visible’s Unlimited plan for just $40/month.