Reviewing cell phone plans for seniors cannot only be confusing but also overwhelming trying to understand the different types of plans. Deciding on the best phone plan for your needs is challenging without some understanding of the options presented by service providers.
This article provides a visual highlight of the initial guiding questions to ask and different cell phone plan types along with an infographic that makes the information easier to understand.
Ask Yourself These Guiding Questions
There are certain personal questions you need to ask yourself to guide your choice of plan based on your cell phone habits.
- frequently like to talk to your family and friends for long periods? If you only regularly call or text, a talk and text plan may better suit you to pay for the minutes and messages you use each month
- often travel across the country or abroad? Check on coverage and long-distance plans.
- have family living abroad that you frequently communicate with?
- like to play games on the phone, video chat or take lots of photos? To accommodate these activities requires that the cell phone plan includes data.
How much data you will need depends on the frequency in which you engage in these activities. Fortunately, most providers have plans that include unlimited data. This is the preferred option even if it costs a little more. It is much better than having to pay additional charges each month for overage.
- Will I need to sign a contract for the plan?
- Does the service provider have nationwide coverage? You do not want to have poor connectivity or worse still, lose connectivity in certain areas or parts of the country. Choosing a plan from one of the major providers is best, as smaller providers may have connectivity issues.
- What is my estimated budget for the cell phone and the plan? Keeping this in focus will ensure that you do not get carried away by “nice-to-have-features”.
Understand Available Plan Options
When deciding which cell phone plan is the right choice for seniors, it’s important to understand the types of cell phone plans available. Below are the most common types of plans.
Note that not all the plan options listed below are provided by all service providers.
There are no-contract plans and contract plans which include unlimited plans.
No-Contract Cell Phone Plans For Seniors
In the past, you were required to complete a credit check and agree to automatic payments and a contract with a service provider to start any new cell phone plan. Now, more providers offer flexible and affordable plans without long-term commitments. With a no-contract plan, you aren’t locked into your current plan or provider if you ever need to make a change.
Contract Cell Phone Plans For Seniors
With a contract phone plan, you are locked into a 2–3-year contract with the service provider. If you wish to opt out of the contract before term, you will need to pay a termination fee,
If you use a good amount of data each month an unlimited plan may be the preferred option.
Non-Data Cell Phone Plans for Seniors
Talk and Text Plans
Talk and text phone plans are for people who use their phones only for talking and texting and who do not use their phones to download apps, take and download photos, stream videos, or browse the internet. Many cell phone service providers offer customizable or unlimited talk and text plans. They are often less expensive than those that include “data” (or photo, video, and internet usage.)
Data Cell Phone Plans for Seniors
Pay as You Go Cell Phone Plans for Seniors
The is the most affordable data plan where you pay for a certain number of minutes and have between 3–6 months to use them. While this looks attractive, there are some drawbacks.
The assigned phone number is only for the term of the plan, and it rolls back into the service provider pool at term. This means that there is the possibility of being assigned a new phone number each time you purchase additional minutes if the number is no longer available.
It can be a be an inconvenience to frequently change phone numbers. In addition, you may accidentally run out of minutes, or the minutes expire before you remember to buy additional time.
Prepaid Cell Phone Plans for Seniors
This is also an affordable prepaid cell phone plan. It allows you to pay upfront for what you need each month and are ideal if you want to cut down on cost without sacrificing quality and coverage—as well as reduce the risk of overages on a bill at the end of the month.
Pre-paid plan options range from basic talk and text options to unlimited prepaid data plans.
By-the-Gig Cell Phone Plans for Seniors
This plan requires that you pay for a minimum amount of data each month whether you use it or not. With this type of plan, you can have confidence in knowing that when you need your cell phone, it’s ready to go.
You get a phone number of your own, and whether you leave the phone powered down in a drawer or have it always firing up your favorite apps, you’re connected to the rest of the world when you want, on your terms.
If you use a good amount of data each month, cell phone plans for seniors with unlimited data may be right for you.
There are many upsides to unlimited plans if you’re going to utilize them, including an assigned number and an all-you-can-consume data plan that lets you stream movies or TV, watch your grandson’s crazy YouTube videos, and upload your own content from anywhere.
This option is more expensive, especially if you’re going to be the only phone line on the account.
If a senior wants to use apps, watch videos or make lots of calls on their mobile device, an unlimited plan is a great option.
Unlimited plans often include unlimited talk, text and data, so there’s no worry of running out of data or paying overage charges.
Family Plan Option
This option is often overlooked during the search. Asking friends or family if you can join their own unlimited phone plan is a cost saving possibility. Usually, only very close family members are willing to do this for you.
You get all the advantages of your own assigned number, but you do not have to worry about the billing.
This also means that you also run the risk of being removed from the plan if a strain develops in the relationship!
Choosing cell phone plans for seniors requires that you understand the various options available. Whatever you choose, take the time to understand the different options and choose the one that’s best for you and your usage habits.
Your needs will be different if frequently surf the internet, take photos, and watch movies than a friend who hardly uses the phone at all.
The How to Start Guide infographic post is a helpful visual tool for seniors that do not like wading through articles for information. This post presents the Plan Types in a similar simple infographic format.
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Crail C (2022) Guide To The Best Senior Cell Phone Plans 2022 https://www.forbes.com/health/healthy-aging/best-cell-phone-plans-for-seniors/
Guide for selecting the cell phone plans for seniors https://www.lively.com/heallth-and-aging/guide-for-selecting-cell-phone-plans-for-seniors
Pew Research Center https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/
AARP. Consumer Cellular Discount, an AARP Member Benefit. – Technology & Wireless