Whether you're obsessed with Candy Crush and can't go a day without checking Facebook for pics of your grandkids, or you only use your flip phone in case of emergencies, chances are a cell phone is part of your life. In fact, a recent Pew Research study found that 80% of people over the age of 65 now own a cell phone.
The problem is, many cellular carriers design their plans around younger folks, expecting you to spend hours each day on your device, posting content, sharing photos, reading the latest news and playing games. So, the less-frequent users may have a more difficult time finding a plan (or even a device) that is right for them. Meanwhile, the more-savvy cell phone users may not be getting the most for their money. Here's how to find the best cell phone plans for seniors.
Understand Your Usage Needs
Before you choose a plan, it's important to distinguish between cell usage and data usage.
Cell usage: Talking and texting is cell usage, and just about every option offers you unlimited access (except pay as you go).
Data usage: Once you start using Facebook, reading the latest headlines online, or listening to your favorite channel on Spotify or Pandora, you're using data, and that's where things can get expensive. It's also where you'll find that an inexpensive, old-fashioned cellular phone won't work, and you'll need to upgrade to a smartphone with apps.
As most cell usage is unlimited, you'll want to focus on the data usage when comparing cell phone plans. (For tips on figuring out how much data you need, click here.)
Understand the Plan Options
Pay as You Go Plans: The most affordable choice, this is a data plan where you pay for a certain number of minutes and have 3–6 months in which you can use them. Low cost undoubtedly sounds good, but this has some definite challenges, not the least of which is that you're often assigned a new phone number each time you purchase additional minutes. Further, with a plan like this, it's possible that you'll run out of minutes — or that they'll expire — without your realizing it. Now imagine you can't find your family at the train station and your phone's not working: not good.
By-the-Gig Plans: The next level up is a metered access plan, where you pay for a minimum amount of data each month. With this type of plan, you can have confidence in knowing that when you need your cell phone, it's ready to go. You get a phone number of your own, and whether you leave the phone powered down in a drawer or have it firing up your favorite apps at all times, you're connected to the rest of the world when you want, on your terms.
While this is a more expensive option, particularly if you're going to be the only phone line on the account, XFINITY Mobile offers an affordable plan, especially if you're already using Xfinity for Internet service. You can add up to five lines with no monthly fees at all. You'll even get unlimited talk and texting, along with 100MB of data each month.
Unlimited Plans: If you use a good amount of data each month, and you're finding that the new Samsung, LG or iPhone is quite compelling, an unlimited plan may be right for you. XFINITY Mobile offers an app that allows you to monitor your data usage. After a week or two of what you imagine is fairly typical use, check the app, project your monthly usage, and if an unlimited data plan is the most cost-effective choice, we can help you switch. The XFINITY Mobile unlimited plan introductory pricing starts as low as $45/month.
There are many upsides to unlimited plans if you're going to utilize them, including an assigned number and an all-you-can-consume data plan that lets you stream movies or TV, watch your grandson's crazy YouTube videos, and upload your own content from anywhere.
Family Plans: Finally, one more cost-saving possibility is to ask friends or family if you can join their cellular plan. XFINITY Mobile has a zero per-line fee, so a family member can add you with no hassle. You get all the advantages of your own assigned number, but you don't have to worry about the billing.
Whatever you choose, take the time to understand the different options and choose the one that's best for you and your usage patterns. If you're not a senior social media maven and don't use your cell phone much at all, your needs are going to be quite different from your friend who can't wait to get their hands on the latest gadget. Click here to find the XFINITY Mobile plan that's right for you.