Best Cellphone Plans For Seniors
What are the absolute cheapest cellphone plans available to seniors today? I’ve had a cellphone for nearly four years that I rarely use, but I like having it for emergency purposes.
For seniors who don’t use their cellphone very often but still want one for emergencies or occasional calls, there are a number of low-cost plans available depending on your specific needs. Here’s where to find some of the least expensive deals.
The best way infrequent cellphone users can save money is with a prepaid cellphone, also known as pay-as-you-go phones. With a prepaid phone there’s no contract, no fixed monthly bills, no credit checks and no hidden costs that come with traditional cellphone plans. With this type of service you buy a special prepaid phone, they can cost between $10 and $100, then pre-purchase a certain amount of minutes for talk or text that must be used within a specified period of time.
While there are many prepaid phones on the market today, the cheapest deal for occasional users is with T-Mobile, tmobile. com, 1-800-866-2453, that has a 30-minute plan for $10, and their minutes don’t expire for 90 days. This averages out to $3.33 per month. If, however, you need more talk time, check out their “Gold Rewards” annual plan where $100 gets you 1,000 minutes that are good for a full year. With all T-Mobile pay-as-yougo plans, if you replenish your account before the minutes expire, the unused minutes will roll over. TracFone, tracfone. com, 1-800-867-7183, also offers some nice value plans that start at $10 for 50 minutes per month.
Senior Friendly Phones If you don’t mind spending a little more, Consumer Cellular and Jitterbug are two other popular options for seniors. They offer inexpensive low-use plans and senior-friendly phones.
Consumer Cellular, consumercellular. com, 1-888-345-5509, sells two “Doro” simplified cellphones that cost $25 or $30, and they offer a $10 per month casual calling plan, plus 25 cents per minute, and no long-term contract. They even give a five percent monthly service discount to AARP members.
Jitterbug, jitterbug.com, 1-800-918- 8543, makes the best senior-friendly cellphone on the market, sells their Jitterbug J phone for $99, with calling plans that start at $15 per month for 50 minutes, and no contract. Both services charge a onetime activation fee of $35.
If you’re living on a limited income, you may even be able to get a free cellphone and free airtime each month through the SafeLink Wireless program, which was created by TracFone, and is currently available in 29 states including the District of Columbia.
To qualify you need to show that you’re receiving government benefits, such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, or have a household income at or below 135 percent of the poverty line, that’s $14,621 for an individual and $19,670 for a family of two. For more information, or to apply, call 1-800-723-3546 or visit safelink. com.
If you don’t qualify or if your state doesn’t yet have a SafeLink program, another option to check is the 911 Cell Phone Bank. This is a program that provides free, emergency-only cellphones for seniors and victims of abuse. To find out if there’s an emergency cellphone program near you, contact your local law enforcement agency or go to www.911cellphonebank.org/agencies.asp
Savvy Tip: If you’re in a long-term cellular contract and don’t want to pay the early termination penalty go to cellswapper. com or celltradeusa.com. These companies match cellular customers who want to cancel their contracts with people who are willing to take them over.
The Gazette does not endorse the contents of The Savvy Senior. Check with professionals about the contents of this column.