Consumer Cellular Review 2021

Cellular aimed for seniors, but honestly, it can work for anybody.

Consumer Cellular
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • Check
    Affordable limited-data plans
  • Check
    Full LTE speeds
  • X
    Pricey unlimited data plan
  • Check
    No prepaid options
Tyler Abbott
Staff Writer, Mobile & Wireless
Read More
Published on December 14, 2020
5 min read

Consumer Cellular is not your grandma’s cell phone provider—but it probably should be. Assuming grandma doesn’t use heaps of data to stream YouTube while training for her next marathon, of course. (You have a very impressive grandma.)

Consumer Cellular specializes in offering low-cost, low-data cell phone plans—perfect for those of you who don’t find yourself using much data.

If low data limits sound scary to you, you’d be better off spending your time checking out alternative providers who offer a little more firepower.

But for those of you looking for one of the best senior-focused plans, you should stick around.

Senior discount
Money

If you have the honor of being a senior citizen with 50 years of experience (and good for you, frankly), you can enjoy an extra 5% off your cell phone bill.

Consumer Cellular plans

Expect straight-up pricing that covers the essentials.

Consumer Cellular plans

Pros
  • Affordable data plans
  • Mix and match options
Cons
  • Pricey unlimited data plan

What we like

If you choose the right data plan, you can get a really nice deal with Consumer Cellular. In this case, you'll get the most value by opting for plans with lower data amounts.

Affordable plans

Here’s the dirty secret about Consumer Cellular you ought to know before you jump into anything—you’re getting the best deal if you opt for a plan with lower data.

Consumer Cellular’s low-data options are what make it unique. You’ll be hard-pressed to find better deals than the 250 Mins + Unlimited Text + 2 GB Data Plan, for example.

But Consumer Cellular plans lose their value the more expensive you go. Aim to stay below the $40 mark, or else you’re paying nearly as much as you would for a truly unlimited plan on T-Mobile or Visible Wireless.

Data caps and speed throttling
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Your data cap depends on which plan you choose. If you go all-out with the 20 GB data plan (which we don’t recommend doing), you’ll probably experience slower, throttled speeds if you pass 20 GB of data in a month.

All right, let’s put Consumer Cellular prices in context. How does Consumer Cellular stack up against plans for older adults from other providers?

Consumer Cellular comparison

We weren’t kidding when we said Consumer Cellular ends up being much cheaper than other providers. As it stands now, Consumer Cellular's plan is half of what you'd pay for Verizon's senior plan. Sure,  you don’t have as much data every month, but you can always text and call your family whenever you want. We could all use a little less Facebook anyways, right?

Looking for international coverage?
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Consumer Cellular does have a per-minute international charge. Check out our best international plans if you plan on making lots of international calls.

Consumer Cellular family plans

Consumer Cellular family plans are pretty straightforward. You’ll save an average of $5 per line that you add to your family plan.

Hey, $5 less a month can certainly add up over the course of a year.

Consumer Cellular family plans

Every Consumer Cellular plan can work as a family plan. Just pick the one you want, add extra lines, save bucks every month, and you’ve got a (hopefully) happy family.

So what do other comparable family plans looks like? Well, there’s only one, currently. Take a look at what it would cost you at T-Mobile to get a similar plan.

Consumer Cellular family plan comparison

The above table is sorted according to price, and look at who’s confidently at the top of the list. That’s right, it’s Consumer Cellular. Notice that the data is considerably lower with Consumer Cellular compared to the other providers, but the price is lower to match.

It’s the same story with family plans. If “low data, cheap prices” is your mantra, Consumer Cellular was made for you.

What if I want a prepaid cell phone plan?
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Consumer Cellular doesn’t offer any prepaid cell phone plans at the moment. But if prepaid is your jam, check out these wireless alternatives.

Mix and match your plan

Good news—you can mix and match Consumer Cellular phone plans to suit your needs. These are the two main components to consider in your plan:

  1. Talk plans: You can either have unlimited chatting time or limit yourself to 250 minutes a month.
  2. Connect plans: How much data do you need? It depends on how much you’ll use apps on the go. You can take your pick of the following data allotments:
    • 250 MB
    • 2 GB
    • 5 GB
    • 10 GB
    • 20 GB

So you can basically decide if you want unlimited talking minutes or max out at 250, and then you can choose how much data you want.

Oh, and if you bit off more than you can chew data-wise, Consumer Cellular lets you downgrade whenever you want. That way, you won’t pay for things you aren’t using.

What we don't like

If you want an unlimited data plan, you'll be better off spending your money elsewhere.

Pricey unlimited data plan

Consumer Cellular does indeed offer an unlimited data plan, but its price point is way too expensive for our taste. Here's what a Consumer Cellular unlimited plan costs:

At its current price point, you would be overpaying for an unlimited data plan with Consumer Cellular. Seriously, you can get an unlimited plan for about half the price with another MVNO carrier like Mint Mobile, for example. You should stick with one of Consumer Cellular's limited data plans to get the most bang for your buck.

Consumer Cellular cell phones and devices

Want the latest Apple or Samsung phone? You’ll likely find it here.

Consumer Cellular phones range from basic flip phones to the latest iPhone or Samsung device.

You can pay for the phone over time with an “easy pay” plan that adds to your monthly phone bill, or you can pay for a new phone outright. (Just be warned, the newest phones can cost well over $1,000.)

Here are the top five most popular devices on Consumer Cellular right now:

How good is Consumer Cellular coverage?

Better service than you’d expect for the price

Consumer Cellular piggybacks on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks to provide you with good service. Both AT&T and T-Mobile offer pretty strong coverage across the country—but expect your service to dip or altogether drop in more rural areas.1  Below you can check out both AT&T and T-Mobile's coverage maps. If your neck of the woods looks coverage with either map, you can depend on Consumer Cellular.

AT&T coverage map

T-Mobile coverage map

Keeping to the theme of “surprisingly good,” Consumer Cellular also has decent 4G data speeds. Whether you use T-Mobile or AT&T's networks, you can expect solid data speeds. Keep in mind your speeds won’t be quite as good as they would be on T-Mobile or AT&T, but it should be comparable.

Long story short, your service and coverage are better than you’d expect for such a cheap wireless provider.

Consumer Cellular customer service

Especially friendly to the non-tech-savvy person

Consumer Cellular has two options for customer service: you can chat online or call a representative over the phone.

In both cases, the reps should be patient and understanding. Consumer Cellular was intended for an older audience who may not have a ton of tech knowledge.

We’re happy to report our experiences with customer service were positive. We asked about using SIM cards with Google phones (you can), and the rep seemed genuinely interested in helping us.

Of course, we might have just caught someone on a good day. But you should expect a generally positive experience.

Recap: Is Consumer Cellular any good?

If you’re the type of person who needs just a little data and low prices, Consumer Cellular is a home run. You can still have the latest phones but pay minimal prices for your low-data plan.

Plans: Mix and match your minutes and data. You can choose between unlimited minutes or 250 minutes, and then choose a data option from there. The flexibility is great, and the prices are even better.

Performance: Consumer Cellular uses T-Mobile and AT&T networks, so you can expect decent coverage and speeds. Just watch out when you wander to more rural areas (like Nebraska).

Customer service: It feels like these customer service reps are trained to help folks who are less technologically savvy. Expect friendly and helpful support.

Overall: Consumer Cellular doesn’t compete with the big providers (like Verizon, AT&T, and Metro by T-Mobile) in terms of data, but it does offer affordable low-data plans with surprisingly good coverage and speeds.

Any lingering questions before you switch over to Consumer Cellular? Or maybe you want a place to vent your frustrations if your experience hasn’t been as good? Let us know in the comments below.

Tyler Abbott
Written by
Tyler Abbott
Tyler has been obsessed with watching sports as efficiently as possible since the creation of the DVR. He is always on the lookout for the best tech in TV and wireless so he can watch all the sports and still have enough time to hang out with his baby. He has written about streaming, wireless, and TV for over three years. He hopes the Lakers will eventually get better.

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  • Tina Caugherty

    Overall happy with the price of service and coverage is great however, the lowest price phone is horrible. I have had nothing but problems with it. It doesn’t offer an indicator light on the face of the phone like all others. The monitor indicator is on the phone by it gives you no option to use. A very stupid make of phone. I’m so unsatisfied with the phone that I’m going back to Verizon.

  • Monica Graff

    I was sent an email for a past due payment and possible service interruption a few days ago. I called and explained about the Covid-19 situation not being able to work and asked if they can not shut my service off. They could only offer me to pay part of the overdue payment within 2 weeks and then I would have to check back to see what else can be offered. Mind you they insisted I had to pay 17 dollars to keep my service on. All companies are waiving cancellations until at least April 30th as of now, but this company is demanding payments. I personally do not recommend this company. The calls are very bad and almost everyone cannot hear me when I call them. After this situation settles and hopefully, we all overcome the pandemic I plan to switch companies. Very disappointed as they do not show concern for the economic situation we are all facing.

  • cMcCool

    might want to update your review because Consumer Cellular DOES offer unlimited plans.

  • Carol Franks

    Consumer Cellular started me with their plan at $30 a month, shortly after they bumped my rate to $48 a month. Their service was awful. I couldn’t sent a long message, it wouldn’t go through and when I tried to send a picture to someone it also wouldn’t go through. Only small messages would send. I quit their service before the end of a month, which I paid for at the beginning of the month. I switched to Straight Talk which is much better. Consumer Cellular has been trying to get me to pay for 1 1/2 months of service. The first month is all I owe for and I recently paid it, I refuse to pay the 1/2 month of service as I don’t owe it. This company lies and cheats. I would not recommend it to anyone especially a Senior citizen.

  • Mary A Noriega

    After several years I disconnected my service. Dropped calls, voice messaging not working most of the time, poor customer service long wait times. Called two weeks before payment date to disconnect. They waited to disconnect.. Then I am sent a pro rated bill with a full month added on. sent to collection will CC placing additional nearly 12.00. which was a 25.00 per month plan $ 59.07..I am a senior 73.This company has no regard for seniors. I will not pay one dime to this less than honest business.

  • Don Batts

    I purchased a new unused AT&T service Samsung cell phone and activated with Consumer Cell. It had an update pushed and things stopped working, One of the bigger problems was the hotspot stopped working. CC said they would not address it blaming it on ATT. I purchased another phone from ATT and they felt the CC had let me down. Don’t expect much from CC. You cannot email them. You need to call and be on hold for extended time to address any issues.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/1270587872951504/ Debbie Matusewski

    Consumer cellular has the worst customer service, and very low coverage. they lied to us.

  • Michael McGonigle

    Just cancelled my account Aug. 6. 2020, waiting on line for over an hour to speak with some one about my account. Good luck if you use your phone as a hotspot, my bill is now almost $70.00. I called up about my bill and the person turned off my phone and went I got back on line the person suggested I go to Target and deal with the phone there, good luck.

  • http://allcarpetservices.webs.com Christopher Morris

    I bought their flip phone two month’s ago.
    Very Very poor reception, and don’t try to text, it doesn’t go through.
    What is it? “Consumer is in their name”.
    It should say Thieves of the Consumer.
    Never Again!

  • Christie Banks

    Crappy phone and terrible customer service. ). Goes out without warning and nothing useful in the online manual, no after hours support so if it goes out at night, you are screwed and damn near impossible to get through even during business hours. Then if you do get through, they give you useless suggestions (Did you try rebooting? Did you you take out the battery? You just have spotty WiFi, wait a bit and try again.) Thanks for nothing. So why is it rated so high here? Kickbacks?

  • Sowhat?

    Just found out that group texts are limited to 10 participants. They should make this known when signing up new customers.

  • nwcic

    Nice service. Have had it for 1.5 years. Good tech support. Cons: There are no voicemail/dialer app in the app store compatable with their service. Tried them all and Consumer Cellular agrees. Case in point: Blocking a caller. The call can be blocked but voice mails can still be left. Eventually, we’ll leave them for a carrier that at least supports SOME sort of voicemail/dialer app that can block calls and voicemails.

  • noyb noyb

    Totally agree

  • http://webs.lanset.com/aeolusaero Kalikiano Kalei

    I have two APPLE iPhones that I’ve used for several years without complaint, however because my APPLE iPhones are too large to carry conveniently, I signed-on for a separate cellular account with Consumer Cellular and received a low-end DORO 7050 model that provides basic cellular service, but that easily fits into a shirt pocket (unlike my APPLEs). I never use this small phone (a DORO 7050 model), but just carry it w/me in the event I need it in an emergency.

    Today I cancelled my Consumer Cellular account after talking to one of their their customer service reps via my home land-line. I have had a major problem w/this phone since first receiving it. Namely, that when the phone is closed (folded over on itself) it automatically turns on (uncommanded). This is because the phone’s ‘ON/OFF’ switch actuates itself if the phone’s case has any pressure put on it while in the pocket. In my case, I carry my phone in a side pant-pocket and it is often subject to slight pressure when I am sitting, unbeknownst to me. Thus, the phone turns on without my knowledge and the battery eventually goes flat (again, without my knowledge). Clearly, a phone should NOT turn itself on unintentionally because of any pressure applied to the outside of the phone’s case. This problem is caused by what is known in the tech world as a MAJOR DESIGN FLAW. Consumer Cellular should not be selling this phone for use by customers with this kind of a serious fault engineered into the design. The DORO 7050 model is manufactured in China and it is a basic entry level cellular phone with minimal cellular functions, but on the basis of this experience I judge it to be completely useless.

    Today, after finding my phone ‘ON’ again, it was unresponsive to my efforts to turn it off, using the designated ‘OFF’ button. Furthermore, it would not respond to any of the buttons on the user keyboard/interface whatsoever to carry out that ‘OFF’ function. Since I do not use this phone with any regularity, this is obviously a major engineering oversight. Had I needed it in an emergency, I would have been, as we say delicately in the PC world, “SOL.”

    After I informed the service rep of my problem, I told her I need a replacement phone, since the phone is obviously defective (through no action on my part). I was then informed that since I did not have an optional consumer ‘Protection’ policy on the phone, I was indeed ‘SOL’! Therefore, “Did I wish to purchase another phone from Consumer Cellular to replace my defective DORO 7050?” My answer was a profound NO and I told the rep to cancel my Cellular One account immediately, which she did. That leaves me with a VERY reliable, but too large APPLE 8+ iPhone that I am now going to have to lug around with me, like it or not.

    Consumer Cellular makes a huge marketing effort to reassure its customers that it is ‘simple’, easy to use, ‘user friendly’ and reliable. This has definitely NOT been my experience (but solely due to faulty equipment) and I’ve been using cellular communication systems without a similar problem for years!

    If possible, I would leave a MINUS-1 STAR rating for Consumer Cellular, but it’s just sad to think that that company pays so little attention to problems like this that involve MAJOR DESIGN FLAWS in its consumer products. Give me a small pocket-sized MOTOROLA cellphone any day over this Chinese piece of (expletive deleted)!

    Please register me as extremely DISPLEASED with Consumer Cellular products!

  • Paul Wieland

    HELP Samsung Galaxy A20
    I’m a new to smartphones, 77 years old, used computers for 25 years and in need of advice. My provider is Consumer Cellular.
    I have, Samsung internet, Chrome which I use on my laptop, Microsoft windows 10, Office, AT&T wifi, and assorted other programs on my A20. Is this a conflict? Am I taking up space unnecessarily? Almost ALL of my internet activity is via my laptop but I would like to be able to access Office docs when I need them.
    Can I get advice from someone?
    Thanx!

  • dale

    trying to get in contact with anyone from the company this is the second time in 2 months they have cut my phone service without any notice , and as far as I know my bill was paid up in full , ???????????? plus how am I supposed to contact anyone I cant call them????