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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.

13 Responses

  1. Nicky F Says

    While I realize you mentioned that you weren’t only mentioning phones with big buttons, designed for seniors, you did go on to mention some of these senior phones/carriers. And yet no mention of the cheapest option out there for seniors, who would surely be interested in the cheapest deals. Tracfone’s SVC phone costs $15. Consumer cellular’s Motorola may be free, but needs a $35 activation fee, making the SVC’s Samsung $20 cheaper. As for the plans, SVC gives you 40 minutes for just under $7/month, whereas Consumer Cellular’s $10 plans don’t include any minutes and T-Mobile’s $10 is for 30 minutes.
    Yes, not every senior is looking for a senior phone(my mom didn’t want the SVC when I suggested it, as she uses her phone extensively, so needed a more inclusive plan), but it’s at least good for them, who are often on a tight budget, to know which is the most affordable deal.


    Posted on September 25th, 2011 at 10:39 pm
  2. Pete Says

    Nicky is right. You should have mentioned SVC which is the best deal for seniors. Not only is it the cheapest but there is no commitment, so you have nothing to loose by trying SVC. The phone costs just $15 and if you no longer need it, you just stop paying.


    Posted on September 30th, 2011 at 1:55 pm
  3. Johnny Says

    SVC saved my grandparents big time and I don’t even pay $15 a month for them…I pay under $7 a month and it’s plenty for them to get in touch with me in an emergency. Last week their car broke down and i dont know what they would have done without it.


    Posted on October 2nd, 2011 at 2:38 pm
  4. Kate Says

    TracPhone may offer the cheapest service, but dealing with their personnel is a real hassle, and trying to get them to add the minutes always involves doing it on their website instead of them automatically showing up within 24 hrs of purchase. And when they dont add-on thru the computer process one gets to spend 30-40 minutes with people who barely speak English. I am currently looking for a replacement product.


    Posted on March 7th, 2012 at 11:27 am
  5. Dale Key Says

    Who offers the best service for area code 97739?

    Most say that we have very scetchy service in our area.

    Thank you,


    Posted on April 9th, 2012 at 2:03 pm
  6. Rachelle Says

    I am extremely surprised you didnt put the svc by tracfone ( even though you had the net10). Its a samsungt115 and a fantastic simple phone that is within anyones budget. Great screen, buttons, speaker phone, 911 assist, and hearing aid compatible. Thats exactly what a senior should want and need.


    Posted on April 18th, 2012 at 7:46 pm
  7. fred wimberly Says

    The absolute cheapest and with the very best service is by far Consumer Cellular. True it costs $35 to activate, it is only .04 cents per inute. Tracfone is the most expensive with others following. I have driven from Florida to Maine and into Canada with perfect service. CC uses Verizon.


    Posted on June 13th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
  8. phonerevs Says

    Sorry, but there is no way the t401 can be considered senior friendly by a long shot. Did the author actually see these phones?


    Posted on August 12th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
  9. June Says

    To Fred Wimberly: I have CC and the coverage is crap. They use A T & T towers and apparently I live in a nearly “dead” zone. Thought my area would be WELL covered as I’m 2 blocks from the fire station in town of about 55k, but I usually have to go outside to get decent reception. Not the most convenient. TracFon is pretty much the same. ALL I want is a “basic” phone & connection when I make a call. Landlines these days are a JOKE. Any suggestions from anyone? Thanx.


    Posted on September 27th, 2012 at 11:07 pm
  10. Louis Barnhouse Says

    I like the Consumer Cellular that uses Verizon.


    Posted on November 20th, 2012 at 6:37 pm
  11. fred w. Says

    UPDATE I believe AT&T is the carrier for Consumer Cellular…I livein a VERY remote area at the Fla. Ala state line andhave excellent service. I havenever been an area where I had NO service. NOW….. No activation fee and I get 1500 mins for $45.00 tax incl. Three cents a min. with excellent service.


    Posted on January 10th, 2013 at 2:48 pm
  12. Dana Says

    I am 69 and use AT&T Pay As You Go Plan, $10-30 Days $25-90 Days $100-yr – I bought a $10 Nokia flip phone. This phone even went thru the wash and still works. No contract, plus free calls to any person on AT&T. My $1 per Day plan is no longer offered it is now $2 per each day of use.


    Posted on April 17th, 2013 at 9:45 am
  13. David M Says

    I have studied the various plans and have concluded that no one plan is the cheapest or best for everybody. It seems that Tracfone is the best for someone that uses their phone very little. The per minute cost is higher than Consumer cellular, but if you don’t use your phone much, it is a lower per month cost. If you do use your phone a lot, then the lower cost per minute is much more important.


    Posted on July 5th, 2013 at 2:56 pm

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