Cheap Cell Phone Service for Seniors, Dads, and Other Wise Individuals
The Problem with Cell Phone Service
Cell phones have replaced the landlines of yesteryear. Although there are still “Landlines” out there, they are often no longer the primary phone number for the majority of the population. I have a landline with a Voice Over the Internet Protocol or VOIP service that I keep at home as a back up. It is rarely used but very inexpensive so I keep it. This is a topic for another discussion, but the task at hand are cell phone services.
For years, I was paying the big cellphone companies hundreds of dollars a month for the service and a number of unexplained fees. In my experience, the worst offender has “the largest and most reliable network” but shall remain nameless, Can you hear me now?. Becoming increasingly tired of these fees, I searched for a better option. After jumping from carrier to carrier only to realize they all have additional fees, some more than others, I stumbled upon a mysterious and slightly uncomfortable option…prepaid.
Prepaid, It’s Not Just for Bad Guys Anymore
If you are like me you watch a lot of cop shows or action movies and the bad guys always have prepaid (burner) phones. Yes, Burner phones are of the prepaid persuasion, but I am not suggesting that you become a bad guy or throw away a perfectly good phone. I wouldn’t do it, nor should you. I either want to keep my existing phone or buy one at a reasonable price and add a service plan that makes sense to my needs. Right now some of you are saying to yourselves this guy is nuts, he’s living in a fantasy world, or this will never happen. The truth is it’s happening, this magical type of service really exists and has saved me thousands over the course of a decade. The problem is, it is not yet mainstream.
In Prepaid We Trust?
The problem with prepaid phone service is it is not trusted by the masses and therefore not mainstream, or the norm. I live for not being mainstream, because most mainstreamers are broke or struggling, living on credit, and hurting their families legacy. I don’t want this for my family or yours, which is why I try to find a better way to have the same conveniences of mainstream for a better price and perhaps better service.
Prepaid is trying to come mainstream by advertising on TV, and offering their product in large retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy, and Target in the US. But in my experience many people are afraid to change because they just don’t trust that their service will work the same or be as reliable as what they are used to. I tried to help, but cannot force anyone to save money or do anything else that they do not want to do. But if you are still reading soak up the savings and continue on.
In general, there are two types of companies offering prepaid 1) the first is the large widely known phone companies (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, etc), 2) the second are the lesser known prepaid companies (and there are many) that offer service on the same towers as the big guys. Let me reiterate my last point, the prepaid companies offer service on the same towers as the big guys. In essence, the same service as the major carriers. The proof is when I dial for assistance I get an operator from “one of the largest, most reliable networks in the US”. By the way, that is the same company that was charging me all those hidden fees, but now I know exactly what I am going to pay each month regardless of my usage. Long story short, my service is great and my bill is a fraction of what I used to pay.
The Fine Print
Some things you must know, not all services are equal. What is meant by that is know the coverage maps of the major carriers and find out which carriers towers your prepaid service is using. For example, In my area Sprint does not have the best coverage, so I would not use Boost Mobile or any other company that exclusively uses Sprints coverage for my service. You may have carriers in your area that do not cover well. Do your homework and find the best coverage for your area, and then find a prepaid company that uses those same towers. Some companies like StraightTalk use multiple carriers for their service, so if you have an AT&T phone you would use the AT&T SIM provided and drop that in your phone, if you had T-Mobile, or Verizon you do the same for those phones.
It is stated on most prepaid sites that the customers who are in contract directly with the phone service provider will take priority over the prepaid customer. I have read this on several sites but have never experienced a problem or a slow down of service for the decade I have been using prepaid. That being said, some prepaid companies offer 3G or 4G instead of 5G service, which is obviously slower but for most not noticeable. The example I am thinking of is SIMPLE Mobile, which was offering 4 lines of unlimited talk, text, and data for $100 a month. That is $25 a line for four people, which is a great deal that I did not partake in, but was tempted.
Last of the fine print, you have to buy your own phone. This can be accomplished by purchasing phones online, in retail stores, or using an old phone from a previous service. Please make sure the phone uses the same SIM type as the previous service. There are two different protocols for phones that I am aware of GSM or CDMA. I made the mistake of trying to put a GSM SIM in a CDMA phone, long story short it won’t work.
Get What You Need, Pay What You Want
Stop paying the hidden fees, and hoping you didn’t go over on your minutes, texts, or data. Find a prepaid plan with the coverage and service that you need at a fixed price that makes sense for you. Imagine getting what you need at a price you can afford. Having a fixed price month after month helps anyone to manage their money better, live on a budget, and reduces stress…not to mention save on therapy bills.
I think prepaid plans are the perfect cheap cell phone plans for seniors, so much so that I put each of my parents on one. Not only is it good for seniors but my wife and I both have our own prepaid plans that we have had for many years. I was an earlier adopter (since 2009) but my wife was resistant. She grew tired of overage fees, etc. and now loves her prepaid plan. Remember, you don’t have to be a bad guy to buy prepaid cell phone plan, but you can be a wise ass. Haha!
Update: I am still using prepaid but have changed carriers since writing this article. I went from StraighTalk on the Verizon network to now Mint Mobile paying $300 a year for unlimited talk, text, and 15GB of data as well as use of the data as a hotspot. If I want to upgrade to Unlimited everything that would add an additional $60, both of which include 5G on T-Mobile’s network. StraightTalk worked great for a long time but was costing almost twice as much without the hotspot option. For me it was a no brainer and I am thrilled with the service. If you would like to save some additional money and T-Mobile’s network works well in your area then give Mint Mobile a try.
If you are looking for a Bluetooth headset to go with your new prepaid service check out my article on Bone Conduction Headphones.
Full Disclosure: The Mint Mobile link above is my Refer-A-Friend link which will get you a $15 credit on your account and also give me a credit toward a future phone service. So if you use it. Thanks!
Thanks for reading. Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated. Be well.