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The best prepaid cell phones for seniors

Everyone has different needs for a cell phone. A college student might want the benefits of an Android smartphone, a younger teenager might want a messaging-heavy device, and a parent might have need only for basic calling and texting. But cell phones aren’t just for the young. Seniors have their own needs for cell phones, too. There are a few carriers that cater to them — specifically Jitterbug and Consumer Cellular — but they needn’t be the be all, end all of senior cell phones. There options on many other carriers can can fit a senior well.
Before we dive in, though, a quick note on stereotypes. This list isn’t just going to be big-buttoned phones with huge displays. That would be pretty shallow of us. Instead, it will contain phones from carriers with straightforward plans. That’s the best solution for everyone, really, isn’t it?

Samsung T401G from Net10
Net10 is always a good bet when recommending a simple cell phone plan. You can buy a card of any denomination, but it really doesn’t matter. Minutes cost 10 cents, flat. Net10 now also offers monthly plans: $15 for 200 minutes, or $30 for 500 minutes. With both monthly and per-minute options available, there’s something for everyone with Net10. Best of all, there’s no confusion about what costs what.
The Samsung T401g might seem like something of a complicated phone, since it features a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, MP3 player, and other bells and whistles. But it works because of its versatility. There’s no requirement to use the full keyboard, so it could sit dormant. That is, unless there’s an urge or need to communicate via text message. Then it becomes a huge positive. The T401g also has a fairly large screen, which is a universal plus.
You can get the Samsung T401g ($79.99) and a service plan at Net10′s website.
Nokia 1616 from T-Mobile
Since the popularization of cell phones, Nokia has been known for simple, stripped down phones. They’ve made forays into the higher end market, but their bread and butter remains their simple, easy to manage handsets. The Nokia 1616 is no exception. It’s not the best phone for texting, since the screen isn’t overly large. But for simple calling there might not be a better phone in its price range.
T-Mobile also offers fairly simple minute plans. There are four different pay-as-you-go denominations, each of which can fit different calling needs. Fixed income seniors can grab the $10 card, which last for 90 days. The $30 card is also viable, as it provides 160 minutes and the same 90-day period. Those who can afford it, though should grab the $100 card, since it offers the lowest per-minute rate and lasts for a full year. That’s 1,000 minutes, which should last plenty.
You can get the Nokia 1616 ($19.99) and a plan at T-Mobile’s website.
Motorola WX345 from Consumer Cellular
Consumer Cellular is one of those carriers that targets the senior demographic, so it’s natural that we’d put one of their phones on the list. They have a number of plans, ranging from $10 to $60 per month, though the sweet spot is in the $20 to $30 range. But it’s really a personal thing. There’s a plan for any need with Consumer Cellular.
The WX345 is a basic flip phone with few frills. That’s what makes it attractive. We’ve recommended bar phones above, because they’re simpler, but a flip does have its advantages. For instance, it allows more room for the keys and the screen, which are the biggest considerations. Usually that also means a thicker phone, but the WX345 is remarkably thin for a flip phone. Best of all, it’s free. That’s about the best deal going.
You can get the Motorola WX345 and a service plan at Consumer Cellular’s website.
The Jitterbug J from Great Call
There was a time when both the phone and the service were called Jitterbug. Now it’s just the phone. It’s the same large-screen, large-keyed handset that put Jitterbug on the map. Now they’re called Great Call, but it’s all the same. Again, we didn’t want to fill up these spots with just phones like this. It would have been pointless. But the Jitterbug J is aimed at seniors, so it makes sense to add.
The only downside is the price. The phone costs $99, which is a deal more than the other handsets we’ve seen here. But for seniors who have needs that the Jitterbug J fills, it’s a worthy investment. The plans work out well, too. They start at $15 per month for 50 minutes, and go up to unlimited for $80. The sweet spot, as usual, is in the middle: they offer 100 minutes for $20 and 400 minutes for $40. There’s bound to be a plan for everyone in there somewhere.
You can get the Jitterbug J (for $99) and a service plan at Great Call’s website.