For many older adults who only want a simple basic cell phone for emergency purposes and occasional calls, there are a few super cheap plans available from small wireless providers you may have never heard of. 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’s and T-Mobile’s networks and gives you the option to bring your existing phone (if compatible or unlocked) or purchase a new device, while keeping your same phone number if you wish.
If your flip phone is becoming obsolete, you’ll 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 retail stores like Walmart or Best Buy, or online. One of the best value flip phones right now is the (unlocked) “Alcatel GO FLIP 4044 4G LTE,” available on Amazon for $80.
Some other super cheap wireless plans worth a look are Ultra Mobile’s “PayGo” plan, which provides 100 talk minutes, 100 texts for only $3 per month. And 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 buy a new one.
Senior Targeted Providers
In addition to these super cheap 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 a 100 minutes and unlimited texting plan for $10. Consumer Cellular, which provides an unlimited talk plan or $15 per month. They also give 5 percent discounts 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.
You also need to know that if you’re on a government program such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, or food stamps/SNAP. Or, if your annual household income is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines – $18,347 for one person, or $24,719 for two – you might also qualify for free or subsidized wireless plans from various carriers via the federal Lifeline program. To find out if you’re eligibility or apply, visit LifelineSupport.org.
Jim Miller publishes the Savvy Senior, a nationally syndicated column that offers advice for Boomers and Seniors.