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Monday July 22, 2024

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Basic Cell Phone Plans for Seniors

My old 3G flip phone is about to become obsolete so I am looking for the cheapest possible replacement. I only need a simple cell phone for emergency calls when I am away from home. What are my best options?

For many seniors who want a basic cell phone for emergency purposes and occasional calls, there are a number of inexpensive plans available from smaller wireless providers. Here are some of the best deals available right now.

Cheapest Basic Plans

For extremely light cell phone users, the cheapest wireless plan available is through US Mobile, which has a "build your own plan" that starts at only $2 per month for 75 minutes of talk time. If you want text messaging capabilities, an extra $1.50/month will buy you 50 texts per month.

US Mobile runs on Verizon and T-Mobile networks and gives you the option to bring your existing phone (if compatible or unlocked) or you can purchase a new device. You may keep your same phone number if you wish.

If your flip phone is becoming obsolete, you will need to buy a new device, which you can do through US Mobile if you choose their plan. They offer the "NUU F4L" flip phone for $39 for new customers or you can purchase an unlocked phone through several retail stores or online.

Some other inexpensive wireless plans are Ultra Mobile's "PayGo" plan, which provides 100 talk minutes and 100 texts for only $3 per month. There is also Tello's "build your own plan" that starts at $5 per month for 100 talk minutes and unlimited texting.

Both Ultra Mobile PayGo and Tello also run on T-Mobile's network and will let you use your existing phone (if compatible or unlocked) or you can buy a new one.

Senior Targeted Providers

In addition to these plans, there are several other wireless companies that cater to older customers and offer low-cost basic plans and simple flip phones. One of the least expensive is through TracFone, which offers a 60-minute talk, text and web plan for $20 that lasts for 90 days. That averages out to $6.66 per month.

Three other providers that are popular among seniors are Snapfon, which offers 100 minutes and unlimited texting plan for $10. Consumer Cellular, which provides an unlimited talk plan for $15 per month. They also give a 5% discount to AARP members. And Lively, maker of the popular Jitterbug Flip2 senior-friendly flip phone. Their cheapest monthly plan is 300 minutes of talk and text for $15.

Subsidized Plans

If you are on a government program such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, receive food stamps/SNAP, or your annual household income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines – $18,347 for one person, or $24,719 for two – you might qualify for free or subsidized wireless plans from various carriers via the federal Lifeline program. Go online and use your favorite search engine to find out if you are eligible for a subsidized plan.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published August 5, 2022
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