Consumer Cellular: 5 Things to Know Before You Switch

Watch enough TV and you’re bound to see an ad for Consumer Cellular. This is a cell phone company that targets retirees and seniors who want an affordable smartphone or cell phone plan and the company works directly with AARP.

We’ll walk through what you need to know before you sign up, or what you need to know before you help your parents sign up for Consumer Cellular.

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With plans that start at $10 a month for a shared line, Consumer Cellular is an attractive option.

From Consumer Cellular reviews and Consumer Cellular coverage to the phones and features that the company offers, this overview will help you decide if this is the right cell phone service for you.

What you need to know before you sign up for Consumer Cellular.

What you need to know before you sign up for Consumer Cellular.

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The Consumer Cellular ads mention the cheap prices and feature users who cannot stop proclaiming how much they love the service.

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You can buy Consumer Cellular online, on the phone or at Target, Sears and some AAA stores. There are a variety of phones and plans to choose from.

There is a AARP discount that offers 5% off your monthly bill and 30% off select accessories. It also extends the satisfaction guarantee to 45 days.

There is a 30 day guarantee when you sign up and there is no contract to sign, so you aren’t locked in, but like all services there are some catches to keep in mind.

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One thing that many users will appreciate is that the company offers U.S. based customer support if you do have issues that need resolved or you need help with the service.

Consumer Cellular Coverage

One of the great parts of Consumer Cellular coverage is that it is nationwide and it uses the same towers as the big names you already know in wireless service. The company basically leases tower use for Consumer Cellular customers from companies that already have coverage.

Research the Consumer Cellular Coverage maps before you sign up.

Research the Consumer Cellular Coverage maps before you sign up.

The Consumer Cellular coverage map shows coverage for most of the U.S., which is on par with what you see on many competing services. When you are out west there are some blank spots, but this is something that you will find on many services due to the areas being sparsely populated.

You will need to enter your zip code to see which carrier your phone will use. There are multiple coverage maps on their website. You can also check specific places to see if you will have coverage where you travel often.

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Consumer Cellular Plans

The Consumer Cellular plans start at $10 a month and adding on texting and date only costs an additional $2.50 for the base plan. That means you could get a smartphone with mobile web and texting for as little as $12.50 a month.

Consumer Cellular PlansCost
Billed Per Use$10 a Month
250 Minutes$15 a Month
750 Minutes$20 a Month
1,500 Minutes$30 a Month
3,500 Minutes$40 a Month
Unlimited Minutes$50 a Month

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Before you sign up you should keep in mind that most users will need more data than that. Even if you only look up a few things and use a phone for directions while traveling you will need more than 30MB of Data. You can share the data with another phone on your plan.

We recommend looking at the $10 per month 500MB data plan if you are going to use Consumer Cellular while traveling or outside of your home. At home, if you connect to WiFi, you don’t use the data on your plan.

Consumer Cellular Data PlansTextsCost
30MB300 Texts$2.50 a Month
150MB1,500 Texts$5 a Month
500MB3,000 Texts$10 a Month
1.5GBUnlimited Texts$20 a Month
3GBUnlimited Texts$30 a Month
4GBUnlimited Texts$40 a Month

If you go over the data on the plan you choose, the company charges 25 cents per MB, which can add up quickly. Using 100 MB more than your plan will cost you $25 in overage fees. The company will send alerts when you get close to your limit.

The most data you can buy is 4GB, which is a lot lower than the maximum at traditional carriers, but it is going to be enough for many users.

Consumer Cellular Reviews

Read Consumer Cellular reviews before you sign up.

Read Consumer Cellular reviews before you sign up.

The Consumer Cellular Reviews are quite varied with some users singing praises of the service while others share cautionary tales.

We recommend asking friends and family who may already use the service if that is possible.

Read Consumer Affairs to learn what Consumer Cellular reviews have to say. Most of these are on the low-end of the spectrum.

You should also read the Consumer Cellular reviews on Cnet and on Consumer Cellular where you will get a range of various opinions.

Consumer Cellular Phones & iPhone

You can buy a Consumer Cellular iPhone as well as many other phone options. The base models include a normal flip phone, but you can buy the newest iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus as well as the iPhone SE and older iPhones. The selection of Consumer Cellular Android smartphones is OK, but you will not find the top-tier devices that you see at Verizon or AT&T.

What you need to know about the Consumer Cellular phones, including the iPhone and Android.

What you need to know about the Consumer Cellular phones, including the iPhone and Android.

You can bring your own phone to Consumer Cellular if it is for AT&T or T-Mobile, which opens up a lot of options. There is also a tablet and a mobile hotspot option. The mobile hotspot could deliver WiFi access to your laptop or a WiFi only tablet while you are traveling, even while you are driving down the road.

Some of the Consumer Cellular phones are a one-time purchase of $50 to $100 while others including the Consumer Cellular iPhones are $50 to $150 up front and then monthly payments on top of the service you pay for.

You can buy a phone protection plan from SquareTrade for $2 to $5 a month depending on the model and if you buy an iPhone you can buy AppleCare+ for protection.

Consumer Cellular Features

Consumer Cellular offers 4G LTE service, which means you also get same speeds as on the big brands, so you don’t have to wait longer to load a webpage just because you choose this service.

Based on our research you cannot use your iPhone or Android as a personal hotspot, although at least one user complained that his phone used too much data while it was a mobile hotspot.

Best Smartphones for Seniors and Elderly

iPhone 6 Plus

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iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone 6 Plus is the largest iPhone you can buy, with a 5.5-inch screen that delivers a lot of room to look at photos, watch a video and to read when you make the font size bigger.

Apple's iPhone software is one of the most intuitive and easy to learn. The phone options and controls offer fewer options and toggles than some Android phones, which can deliver a better experience for new users who don't want a lot of options to choose when setting up or using the phone.

Read: iPhone 6 Plus Tips

With the large screen, increasing the size of text on the iPhone 6 Plus still leaves room for a lot of text in a book or on a webpage. Apps are also easier to see and the large screen can make tapping on the button you want easier. The screen also looks great for browsing through photos and there is an excellent camera on the back.

Apple includes a fingerprint reader so you do not need to remember as many passwords and if you want you can even carry loyalty cards or a debit or credit card on your phone to use at a store, but you don't need to use that feature.

Holding the home button allows you to ask a personal assistant called Siri questions to search the Internet, send messages, make phone calls and open apps.

Read: iPhone 6 Plus Review

The iPhone 6 Plus is $199 on a contract or aroudn $27 a month on a payment play. It isn't cheap, but it is one of the best options for many users. 

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