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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 cellphone 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.

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.

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

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 an 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.

One thing that many users will appreciate is that the company offers U.S. based customer support if you do have issues that need to be 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.

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
1,500 Minutes$20 a Month
Unlimited Minutes$30 a Month

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
200MB2,000 Texts$5 a Month
500MBUnlimited Texts$10 a Month
1.5GBUnlimited Texts$20 a Month
3GBUnlimited Texts$30 a Month
5GBUnlimited Texts$40 a Month

If you go over the data on the plan you choose, the company charges $10 per GB of overages and limits total use to 12GB. Once you go over 5GB they may slow your speeds.

 

The most data you can buy is 5GB, 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 7 or iPhone 7 Plus as well as the iPhone SE and older iPhones. The selection of Consumer Cellular Android smartphones is on par with what you will find 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 upfront and then monthly payments on top of the service you pay for.

You can buy a phone protection plan from SquareTrade for $2 to $6 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 in 2017

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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31 Comments

  1. Carol Monzon

    04/23/2016 at 10:48 pm

    I am a Consumer Cellular customer and I am interested in buying or getting a simple phone from you. What are my choices. I am a senior citizen and have been with you for over 5 years, I believe.

    Reply

  2. Jenniferdpearman

    04/24/2016 at 6:36 am

    very wonderful new jobs..!Super and Easiest 0nl!nee Home opportunity for all. make 87 Dollars per hour and Make 52512 Dollars per month.All you just Need an Internet Connection and aComputer To Make Some Extra cash.
    Visit this link…… See More

    Reply

  3. alaskadale

    04/25/2016 at 10:45 pm

    Your link to consumeraffairs.com for legitimate reviews is not appropriate. This website rewards businesses that pay them fees with better reviews and emphasizes the worst with those companies that do not “belong” to the Consumer Affairs group.

    Reply

  4. Thomas Houlahan

    05/12/2016 at 6:11 am

    You forgot to mention that Consumer Cellular is the runaway leader in dropped calls. Consumer Cellular stinks.

    Reply

  5. Judi Jackson

    05/19/2016 at 11:39 am

    What age do I need to be to qualify

    Reply

  6. clarence l. schuler

    06/06/2016 at 10:05 am

    can I exchange my 6s iPhone for a 6 plus?

    Reply

  7. Dawn Eiler

    06/13/2016 at 1:28 pm

    How old do you need to be?

    Reply

  8. Patsy Stoller

    06/20/2016 at 9:52 am

    How many MB is 1 GB

    Reply

    • Dennis Fregger

      07/15/2016 at 9:09 pm

      Just enter that question in Google search and your answer will magically appear.

      Reply

  9. Rock

    07/25/2016 at 11:39 am

    So it boils down to if you have consumer Cellular just to have a phone and not use it,its 10 dollars a month when you could go to another carrierand pay 30 dollars and get all this and a bag of chips.and not worry about all these additional fees that consumer Cellular will be blind siding you with. OFFER A SENIOR A REAL DEAL WITH A REAL DEAL THANKS

    Reply

  10. Fletch

    08/13/2016 at 10:32 pm

    Last month I changed to a lower plan that with taxes it costs a little over $27.00 a month. Since the change my text messages are sent two and as of yesterday three times which still counts as data usage. True they will notify you as you reach the 50% limit but you have no control over the data being sent to you. It leads me to wonder if this is a ploy for them to automatically upgrade your plan

    Reply

  11. camille

    08/30/2016 at 7:51 am

    hi I’ve had consumer cellular for over a year now. I had at&t which charged me $47.00 a month without texting. They wanted another 20 for that. I have to work and I was not going to give them my hard earned money just to text since I have never texted before. I changed the plan twice and when the cover cracked they sent me a new phone since I had the warranty that charges $2 a month. I love texting now and I am 69 yrs old. I pay 24.99 a month. I do belong to aarp which gives a small discount which helps. I have the doro flip phone which I call the granny phone which is not fancy but for me it’s fine. Hope this review helps

    Reply

  12. Richard Horne

    09/01/2016 at 8:07 am

    Quit your bitching about Consumer Cellular. Been a great inexpensive plan with great service for several years.

    Reply

  13. Phyllis Frith

    10/12/2016 at 8:13 pm

    we have been using consumer celleular for at least 8 years and we are well satisfied, we wil get an email when we are close to reaching the limit on our plan, we are also allowed to go to the next plan rather than pay the charge per minute. When the new month starts we can go back down to the lower plan. Even our home phone is consumer cellular which works well and we pay $10.00 per month for the small unit that the home phone is attached to and the minutes we use are shared with our cell phones;

    Reply

  14. john chambers

    10/20/2016 at 8:21 am

    can I use my existing cell phone. I have an unlocked Samsung from Canada

    Reply

  15. Darcy Rainbow

    12/26/2016 at 1:13 pm

    Jenniferdpearman is a liar and a thief!!!

    At $87 an hour, you’ll have to work 603.59 hours a month to make $52,512.

    A 31 day month has 744 hours. That only leaves you 140 hour for yourself.

    If you sleep 8 hours a day, you’re screwed and won’t make what this liar is claiming
    because 31 X 8 = 248 hours.That leaves you on the short end to say the least You have to give up 108 hours a month of sleep to have the 604 needed on this plan. And that leaves no time for shopping, eating, using the bathroom, etc. Like I said, you’re screwed.

    Please know that ads like these are total scams. Never reply to them or even click on them for more info because it will be false.

    Reply

  16. C Justice

    01/02/2017 at 9:16 pm

    Does Consumer Cellular ever “buy-out” a contract so the customer can move to them?

    Reply

  17. Pa jones

    02/14/2017 at 11:19 am

    I have consumers cell phone got a consumer land line, I have no sims card in my phone if I start with your company will you send me sims card an what do I have to pay to start . My cell phone was used for 2 mons.

    Reply

  18. Gary Frey

    03/05/2017 at 5:38 pm

    I pay $140 / month for 2 phones and a tablet from a top name company and get lousy reception. I happened to have my 80 year old mothers Consumer Cellular flip phone while she was in hospital and I turned it on and much to my surprise it has full reception everywhere I go and no dropped calls. Can’t wait till my contract is up so I can switch.

    Reply

  19. sherrie moore

    03/10/2017 at 5:58 pm

    does consumer cell have in
    ternet service?

    Reply

  20. James Rice

    03/10/2017 at 7:32 pm

    Well after reading some very negative comments I was a little worried about the service. Well I’m so happy with this service I could just scream ” Its way better than At&T”. I get better signals and more bars than before on the same highway with AT&T. And when I called I talked to a nice lady and she spoke better English than me.
    I’ll take Consumer Cellular service anytime. Thanks to those guys that started this a long time ago. Thank You and Thank You.

    Reply

  21. Jim RC

    03/20/2017 at 8:03 pm

    I have had no problem using the wifi feature on my android phone with my consumer Cellular service.

    Reply

  22. Vlar

    04/08/2017 at 4:47 pm

    Generally speaking I like Consumer Cellular and have been with them for years. But what bothers me the most is how their talk plans work: minutes jump from 250 (not enough) to 1500 (way too much – for me). It seems reasonable – to me at least – that if they are truly interested in pricing their plans to suit boomers, etc., they would offer an in between range of 500 – 700 minutes and price it accordingly.
    Also, there are tons of fees and taxes (which may be beyond their control) that increases the total bill considerably. So if one adjusts their plan to say, $50 – it’ll be $57 when the bill arrives.

    Reply

  23. R. Jansen

    04/17/2017 at 1:55 pm

    I can’t even get onto their web sight. That means I would have to buy a phone
    sight-unseen. When I called them to see if they could help me get to their sight where they have pictures of their phones an automated robo-agent said they would call me back in thirty minutes. KEEP IN MIND ONE OF THE BIG PLUSES WAS THAT THEY ADVERTISE TOTALLY USA-BASED SUPPORT PERSONNEL. A customer rep did call back in an hour. His ability to speak English was among the worst Hindi versions of English I’ve ever heard.

    Reply

  24. Jackie

    04/24/2017 at 9:51 pm

    We had some problems with setting up the Wireless home phone, but when we got it solved, we hope it will stay. I like the cell phones we got, they are Doro PhoneEasy 626, because we are older and do not travel, so it is just for our use around where we live.

    Reply

  25. M. Francis Abramson

    04/25/2017 at 8:43 am

    Is there a store near me to get more information about a plan from a consumer cellular agent?

    Reply

  26. Kiley Miller

    05/01/2017 at 4:54 pm

    This company is one of the most fake and fraudulent companies ever. I have not ever heard anyone talk to customer the way they do and they only want a sale. All they care about is money and reaching goals. I speak from experience.

    Reply

  27. Kona Rose

    05/02/2017 at 2:37 pm

    We used to like Consumer Cellular until 2 yrs ago when we could no longer reach customer service by phone. They are so short staffed that you end up having to go to Facebook, then their page, and private message them. Then wait for the response which will be a generalized, unhelpful quick response. Yesterday my brother died. Consumer Cellular and their web page do not provide an exit code so that we can call out of the USA. This is a separate add on pkg which we found out today. But the kicker? I was told literally to do a browser search for how to make international calls on a cell phone by Consumer Cellular’s customer service (facebook message response). Really? I did that yesterday for 4 hours straight finally realizing I need the exit code from them. They did not give me that. After I told them I spent 4 hours searching how to use a CC phone to call int’l, they provided a generic CC link to a page that talks about int’l calling. I had already read that yesterday after they closed their offices which you cannot reach anyway during office hours. If you want to save a few dollars, get ready for some major headaches with Consumer Cellular. It used to be GREAT when you could reach a human being. Now it sucks big time swamp water and we are switching, but we have not chosen another carrier yet. Somehow we feel like a giant screwdriver will be shoved through us no matter which company we go to.

    Reply

  28. Dorinda Hempel

    05/23/2017 at 7:12 am

    Just a very condensed “Buyer Beware” . AARP is associated with a cellular company called Consumer Cellular. I read the reviews and they were very mixed and a lot of negative customer service comments. My parents decided to give them a try anyway. And after numerous hours talking with them and attempting to hook up to the service, my parents are using Tracfone. I have ate a portion of the cost of the consumer cellular phones. And even though they never actually managed to get the service hooked up for my parents, my parents received a bill for $35 in taxes and fees even though the promotion said first month free. Plus this is more than the proclaimed monthly fee for NO SERVICE. Now my father has had it and calls them, explains all the problems they had and never actually had service. The person argues with him and THREATENS TO TAKE HIS NUMBER HE IS CURRENTLY USING THROUGH TRACFONE away even though they claimed to be unable to use the number when they failed to hook up the service. These people are bullys and are taking advantage of senior citizens as if they don’t have enough issues. Please stay away from them.

    Reply

  29. Dave

    06/20/2017 at 7:12 am

    According to the above listed prices what I get from AT&T for $40 would cost me $70 on Consumer Cellular. The cost for gf’s fliphone is the same.

    Reply

  30. Sheila

    08/22/2017 at 4:42 pm

    We currently have our cell phones thru AT&T and we don’t have unlimited talk and text and no data and our 2 cell phones cost over $79 each month. I husband has retired and I will next year and we are trying to cut cost. We thought the plan looked good, but we have not switched yet. Has anyone ever used Xfinity cell phone service?

    Reply

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