Consumer Cellular Review 2022

Cell phone service geared toward older adults, but honestly, it can work for anybody hoping to save a little on their phone bill.

Consumer Cellular
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
  • Price: $15–$55/mo. for 1 line
  • pro
    Uses AT&T and T-Mobile networks
  • pro
    No contracts
  • con
    Middle-of-the-road prices
Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
Read More
June 09, 2022
8 min read

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Consumer Cellular specializes in flexible, low-data cell phone plans. Its site features happy, older adult couples, but honestly, Consumer Cellular could be a deal for anyone who doesn’t use a lot of data to stream YouTube or play AFK Arena.

But its prices aren’t the cheapest around (nor are they the most expensive), and if you’re after an unlimited data plan, we recommend looking elsewhere

So are Consumer Cellular’s low data limits worth its middle-of-the-road price? Let’s dig into the details and find out if it’s right for you.

Consumer Cellular plans

Is Consumer Cellular right for you?

Consumer Cellular may be aimed at older people, but it’s really meant for anyone who needs 10 GB or less data each month. And if you ever need more data (or less), you can change your plan at a moment’s notice since Consumer Cellular doesn’t make you sign a contract.

pro
Pros
pro Uses AT&T and T-Mobile networks
pro AARP discount
pro No contracts required
con
Cons
con Prices aren’t the cheapest
con No prepaid options

Worried about losing your signal while traveling across the country? Consumer Cellular connects you to the strongest network available in the area—whether that’s AT&T or T-Mobile. So no need to worry about dropped calls or a lost GPS signal on Google Maps.

While it’s prices aren’t the lowest, Consumer Cellular does offer a 5% discount to AARP members (hey, it’s not just for people over 65) and a $10 bill credit if you refer a friend. That could bring your already moderate bill down to match even the cheapest option.

Consumer Cellular offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
Price Tag

Not sure you’ll like Consumer Cellular? It offers a 30-day guarantee that says you’ll get your money back if you’re not satisfied. And if you’re an AARP member, that guarantee extends to 45 days.

One of our biggest issues with Consumer Cellular is its unlimited data plan. The price is higher than what you’d pay other cell phone providers for unlimited data. For example, Visible Wireless offers a $40-a-month unlimited plan.

And your unlimited data is technically only 35 GB of high-speed unlimited data. So if you use more than 35 GB in a month, your cell phone’s browser, app, and streaming speeds will slow down.

Aside from that complaint, we do wish Consumer Cellular offered prepaid plan options. Otherwise, if you’re after a small data plan, Consumer Cellular is worth a look.

We recommend the Unlimited Talk & Text + 3 GB Data Plan plan

If you use a lot less than the typical 11 GB of data in a month, Consumer Cellular’s Unlimited Talk & Text + 3 GB Data Plan is a great choice and one of the best cell phone plans on the market. Its 3 GB data limit is plenty, even when you want to watch that TikTok video your sister sent you.

Again, you can find a cheaper phone plan with similar amounts of data from providers like US Mobile, Mint Mobile, and Twigby. But if you’re sold on Consumer Cellular, the $25 monthly price isn’t a huge bite out of your budget.

Consumer Cellular Unlimited Talk & Text + 3 GB Data Plan

Consumer Cellular phone plans

It seems like most other cell phone providers have passed Consumer Cellular by when it comes to low pricing. It was originally one of the cheapest options out there, but now all of its phone plans sport so-so prices.

We’re not saying it’ll break the bank, but it's also not the best cell phone plan out there. You can definitely find cheaper phone plans compared to Consumer Cellular.

That said, you can bring your cost down with a 5% AARP discount or a $10 refer-a-friend credit. Yup, Consumer Cellular is one of only two cell phone providers that offers an AARP discount. (The other one is AT&T.)

Consumer Cellular phone plans

How does Consumer Cellular compare to other cell phone providers?

Like we mentioned before, Consumer Cellular’s prices for the small amounts of data you get aren’t the most affordable. However, they aren’t the most expensive either.

Mobile carriers like US Mobile, Twigby, and Mint Mobile offer better deals on low-data plans, while Tracfone’s prices are very similar to what you’d pay for Consumer Cellular.

Cricket and Live!y, on the other hand, tend to be more expensive.

Consumer Cellular prices compared to US Mobile, Twigby, Mint Mobile, and more

If you’re considering a cell phone plan with AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon, Consumer Cellular’s unlimited data plan is one of the cheaper choices among the four.

Consumer Cellular unlimited plan compared to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless

Consumer Cellular family cell phone plans

If cell phone plan shopping is all about the family, it’s good to know that Consumer Cellular discounts its per line price when you add someone to your plan. This also applies to friends (who are like family anyway).

pro
Pros
pro Discounted 2nd and 3rd lines
pro Free calls to folks on the same account
con
Cons
con Only shareable with up to 2 more people
con Small data caps that aren’t ideal for sharing

When compared to your plan cost with one line, here’s how much you can save by adding one to two more people to your Consumer Cellular plan:

  • 2 lines saves: $5–$35/mo.
  • 3 lines saves: $5–$75/mo.

There are also two things to note if you plan on inviting a friend or family member to share your Consumer Cellular plan—you can have only three lines max, and you share data.

That means you’ll have to be choosy when it comes to sharing your plan. (More power to you if you have that many close friends and family members.) And make sure you don’t invite a data hog that will suck up your 3 GB of data in a week.

Here’s what the cost for our plan pick, the 3 GB Data Plan, looks like with one, two, or three lines to give you an idea of how the price changes.

Consumer Cellular Unlimited Talk & Text + 3 GB Data Plan prices

  • 1 line: $25/mo.
  • 2 lines: $45/mo.
  • 3 lines: $60/mo.
You share your Consumer Cellular data cap with anyone on your plan
Heads Up

If you share your Consumer Cellular plan with a couple of family members, remember that you all share the same bucket of data. It might be a good idea to remind them too, just in case they get the urge to stream YouTube videos all day, every day.

How does Consumer Cellular compare to other family plans?

Just like the rest of its plans, Consumer Cellular’s family plans land smack dab in the middle when it comes to price.

If your budget is your main concern, you might find better deals from Twigby, US Mobile, or T-Mobile.

Consumer Cellular 3 GB data plan with 3 lines compared to other family plans

Keep in mind that other cell phone providers may also allow you to add more than three lines. So if your family and friends network is large, that might work out better when it comes to keeping in touch.

Consumer Cellular coverage

Consumer Cellular uses two networks—AT&T and T-Mobile. That should give you adequate coverage across the US and possibly even zippy 4G LTE or 5G speeds. (Though you’ll need a 5G-enabled phone to go that fast.)

Here’s what coverage looks like on the AT&T network.

Consumer-Cellular-Review_ATT-Network-Coverage-Map

And here’s what the T-Mobile network looks like.

Consumer-Cellular-Review_T-Mobile-Network-Coverage-Map

When it comes to 4G coverage, the Verizon network is the best overall. But T-Mobile takes the lead in 5G coverage. With a mix of AT&T and T-Mobile, you’ll likely only see your cell signal drop if you’re out West, in the far Northeast, or in the mountainous areas of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Consumer Cellular cell phones and devices

Consumer Cellular lets you bring your old phone with you when you switch. But if you need a new phone, you’ll have your choice between 29 different cell phone models.

Consumer Cellular phones include the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and Motorola models. The most popular phones include the following:

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 mini
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G and Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 5G
  • Motorola One 5G Ace and Moto G Pure
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone SE (2020 model)

Here’s another look at the five most popular cell phones other Consumer Cellular subscribers have chosen.

Popular Consumer Cellular cell phones

Consumer Cellular GrandPad tablet

Consumer Cellular is targeted to older adults, and it also offers a tablet along with the devices above.

Consumer-Cellular-Review_GrandPad-Tablet

Called the GrandPad, this eight-inch tablet provides a user-friendly and easy-to-see interface designed for folks who have little to no experience using a smartphone or the internet. It uses 4G LTE cell service, so there’s no Wi-Fi needed.

The GrandPad costs $149 brand new, and you’ll also need to subscribe to a $40-a-month service plan.

Perhaps the best part is that you can preload the GrandPad with photos and contacts using the web portal or app. That means it’s pretty much ready to go once you take it out of the box and charge it up for the first time.

Consumer Cellular customer service

Need to get a hold of someone at Consumer Cellular? You can either chat with someone online or call them on the phone. Both options connect you to a live representative, so it’s really down to which one you prefer.

Our own experiences with Consumer Cellular’s customer service department were positive. At one point, we asked about using SIM cards with a Google phone (yes, you can), and our representative seemed genuinely interested in finding us the answer.

And in the latest J.D. Power study, Consumer Cellular was the highest-rated provider among Value Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).1

What’s an MVNO?
Light Bulb

A mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, is a cell phone provider that piggybacks off of a network owned by another company, usually one of the three major carriers. In Consumer Cellular’s case, it piggybacks off of the AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

Learn about the pros and cons to this setup in our MVNO video guide.

Recap: Is Consumer Cellular a good mobile provider?

Consumer Cellular is an all right choice if you don’t need a lot of data and don’t want to pay premium prices. And thanks to the GrandPad tablet and other friendly services, it might make an excellent pick for an older member of the family. But you’ll easily find cheaper low-data, family, and unlimited plans out there.

  • Cell phone plans: Consumer Cellular’s prices aren’t the most expensive or the cheapest, but if you don’t need a lot of data, it makes an affordable pick. It’s also one of only two providers that offer an AARP discount.
  • Family cell phone plans: Consumer Cellular’s family plans max out at three lines, so you’re limited in who you can add to your plan. Its family plan prices are also middle of the road, so don’t expect a ton of savings here.
  • Cell phones and devices: You’ve got a wide selection of modern cell phones to choose from with Consumer Cellular, or you can bring your own. There’s also the GrandPad, a tablet made just for keeping older adults connected.
  • Customer service: Our experience with Consumer Cellular reps was great, and the customer service consistently receives high marks when it comes to taking care of folks.
Recap: Consumer Cellular Unlimited Talk & Text + 3 GB Data Plan

Methodology

We looked at the following features when writing our Consumer Cellular review:

  • Prices and how they compare to other similar cell phone plans
  • Data options
  • Family plan and prepaid options
  • Available cell phones and devices

We also called Consumer Cellular’s customer service line to get a feel for how the provider treats its customers and how quickly you can get help with a problem. We also looked at network performance for AT&T and T-Mobile, since Consumer Cellular uses those two networks to deliver its service.

Consumer Cellular FAQ

Still curious about Consumer Cellular? We can help.

What network is Consumer Cellular on?

Consumer Cellular uses two networks: AT&T and T-Mobile.

What phone options are available with Consumer Cellular?

You’ll get a choice of over 20 different phones with Consumer Cellular, including various iPhone 13 models, the iPhone SE, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip or Fold, and Motorola Ace. You can also choose to bring your own device.

How much does Consumer Cellular cost?

Depending on which plan you choose, Consumer Cellular costs anywhere from $15 for a no-data plan to $55 a month for an unlimited-data plan.

Is Consumer Cellular going to offer 5G?

Consumer Cellular now offers 5G coverage to all customers nationwide, that is if you have a 5G compatible smartphone. 

If you don't already have a 5G compatible smartphone, Consumer Cellular offers 15 device options to choose from if you're looking to purchase one and get on the 5G network. 

Can you keep your existing cell phone number with Consumer Cellular?

Yes, you can keep your old cell phone number when you switch to Consumer Cellular. You’ll just need to give them a call and have your account info or billing statement for your old cell phone provider handy. Once you call and begin the process, it usually takes about a day for the transfer to complete.

Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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