Is Consumer Cellular right for you?
Consumer Cellular Cell Phone Plans Review 2023
Let’s cut to the chase: Consumer Cellular only makes sense if you’re part of the AARP (The American Association of Retired Persons). Here’s why: Consumer Cellular offers an exclusive deal for AARP members that gets you two unlimited talk, text, and data plans for just $55 a month.
Are you and your partner AARP members? If so, you should take advantage of Consumer Cellular’s exclusive deal. If you’re not a member of the AARP, you can get a better unlimited plan deal elsewhere.
Consumer Cellular cell phone plans
Every Consumer Cellular cell phone plan comes with unlimited talk and unlimited data, so what you pay will depend on how much data you want.
We’ve got more good news for AARP members: You can get 5% off your monthly bill instead of opting for the $55-for-two discount. You get better value out of the two-for-$55 deal, but we still love to see a discount for those shopping for just themselves.
Disregard the 1GB data plan for $20 a month—that’s just throwing your money away. Other cell phone carriers will give you an unlimited plan for that price, so let’s focus on the other plans.
Even with the AARP monthly discount, each plan is a bit pricey, considering the low data limits. For example, the Unlimited Talk & Text + 5GB data plan can be a good fit if you’re the type of person who rarely uses phone apps outside of the house. But it might be tough to keep your monthly data usage under 5GB if you rely on your smartphone for GPS or to kill time at the DMV.
You’ll get the most value from your AARP 5% discount on the Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data plan. You’ll save about $5 every month with the discount, and you can use your maps app or scroll Facebook to your heart’s content off Wi-Fi.
We strongly recommend taking advantage of the AARP $55 for two unlimited plans deal
If both you and your partner are AARP members and need cell phone plans, then we highly recommend Consumer Cellular. Getting two unlimited talk, text, and data plans for $55 total is an outstanding deal.
Curious how Consumer Cellular’s two-for-$55 deal compares with other carriers? Me too. Let’s see just how good of a deal we’re getting:
The only comparable plan is the T-Mobile Essentials 55+ plan, which probably exists to match what Consumer Cellular offers. T-Mobile’s Essentials plan has some benefits over Consumer Cellular, including hotspot data and international coverage in Mexico and Canada, but you’ll need to sign a contract to get on T-Mobile’s network. With Consumer Cellular, you can cancel your plan whenever you want without incurring any annoying cancellation fees.
Consumer Cellular coverage
Consumer Cellular uses two networks to provide coverage: AT&T and T-Mobile. Between the two networks, you can count on coverage almost anywhere in the country. You can even get 5G speeds in some areas (though you’ll need a 5G-enabled phone.)
You can use our interactive coverage map to look at AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks.
The Verizon network has the best overall 4G coverage. 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. Besides those specific regions of the United States, you can count on getting a reliable signal with Consumer Cellular.
Your data speeds can occasionally get throttled with Consumer Cellular
Since Consumer Cellular doesn’t own its own cellular network, you might find that your data speeds occasionally slow down on T-Mobile and AT&T’s networks. This should only occur when the network gets overly congested, so you might encounter some slowdowns when in crowded areas like stadiums or theme parks. But it should be a rare occurrence overall.
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 can get a new device directly from Consumer Cellular. You won’t get any “free” phones like you can get from a major carrier, but you can get a brand new iPhone 14 with an affordable payment plan.
Here’s another look at the five most popular cell phones other Consumer Cellular subscribers have chosen.
Recap: Is Consumer Cellular a good deal?
If you take advantage of the AARP-exclusive deal that gets you two unlimited plans for $55 a month, then Consumer Cellular is an amazing price for a non-contract cell phone carrier. If you’re only looking for an individual cell phone plan, AARP members can get 5% off their monthly bill. But the individual plans from Consumer Cellular don’t offer great value, even with that discount.
- Cell phone plans: Consumer Cellular’s AARP two-line deal offers tremendous value, and you should definitely sign up for it if you want a cheap unlimited plan for you and your partner. If you’re looking for a plan just for you, then you can get a cheaper unlimited plan elsewhere
- Coverage: Consumer Cellular uses T-Mobile’s and AT&T’s networks to provide coverage for its customers. Between the two service networks, you should get a reliable signal in just about every corner of the country, except for some rural areas.
- Cell phones and devices: You can get the latest phones from Apple and Samsung with Consumer Cellular. Or, you can always just bring your old smartphone.
In case you’re curious, this is how we conduct our Consumer Cellular review:
Cell Phone Plan Value Review
- Data Collection: We researched Consumer Cellular's cell phone plans, pricing tiers, and included features from the official website and marketing materials.
- Comparative Analysis: We compared Consumer Cellular's plans to similar offerings from other carriers in terms of pricing, data allowances, coverage, text messages, and any additional benefits.
- User Feedback: We looked at user reviews and feedback from existing Consumer Cellular customers on social media platforms, like Reddit.
Wireless Coverage Evaluation
- Network Research: We researched the wireless networks used by Consumer Cellular, namely AT&T and T-Mobile. This research includes looking at coverage maps, third-party network performance reports, and overall network reliability.
- Testing Methodology: Whenever we can, we try to test out services for hands-on experience.
Smartphone Offerings Assessment
- Smartphone Offerings: We looked at smartphones and devices offered by Consumer Cellular and considered the variety of models available, factoring in availability for the latest smartphone releases and any exclusive or budget-friendly options.
- Compatibility and Flexibility: We factor in the compatibility of Consumer Cellular's plans with a wide range of smartphones to determine the level of flexibility and freedom given to customers in choosing their own devices.
Putting It All Together
- Data Integration: The data and insights obtained from all the previous steps are consolidated and organized to develop a holistic view of Consumer Cellular's cell phone plans.
- Strengths and Weaknesses: We review the strengths and weaknesses of Consumer Cellular's offerings, providing a balanced view of their services.
Consumer Cellular uses two networks: AT&T and T-Mobile.
You can get the latest devices, like the iPhone 14, or Samsung Galaxy S23, directly from Consumer Cellular, or you can buy them from a different retailer and port over your device.
Depending on which plan you choose, Consumer Cellular costs anywhere from $20 for a 1GB data plan to $50 a month for an unlimited data plan. AARP Members can either get a 5% monthly discount on their cell phone bill or take advantage of the exclusive deal for two unlimited plans for $55 a month.
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 plenty of 5G devices to choose from.
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.