Tello vs. Consumer Cellular: Which Has the Better Deal?

Tello has cheaper plans, but Consumer Cellular offers unique discounts.

Best value for most
  • Icon Blank
    Price: $8.00–$25.00/mo.
  • pro
    Great deal on a 5GB data plan
  • pro
    Automatic T-Mobile coverage
  • con
    Unreliable coverage in rural areas
Best for AARP members
  • Icon Blank
    Price: $25.00–$50.00/mo.
  • pro
    Discounts for AARP members
  • pro
    Automatic AT&T coverage
  • con
    Pricier unlimited plan compared to Tello
Tyler Abbott
Apr 08, 2024
Icon Time To Read3 min read

Tello offers an incredibly cheap unlimited plan for only $25 per month, but it comes with a relatively low data cap of 35GB. Consumer Cellular’s unlimited plan is literally double the price at $50 per month, but you get a more generous 50GB data cap. If you happen to be an AARP member, you qualify for discounts that make Consumer Cellular more affordable.

Long story short, Tello offers more value than Consumer Cellular for most. But the discounted rates for AARP members can make Consumer Cellular a better deal for older adults.

How we picked between Tello and Consumer Cellular

Both Tello and Consumer Cellular offer more affordable pricing for unlimited plans than the major carriers, but Tello’s $25 per month unlimited plan costs half of what Consumer Cellular’s unlimited plan costs.

The downside of Tello, however, is the relatively low 35GB data cap. Also, Tello operates over T-Mobile’s network, which has spotty rural coverage. Consumer Cellular’s unlimited plan gives customers a generous 50GB data cap, which means you can use more wireless data every month. The discounts for AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) members for Consumer Cellular really set the provider apart from other carriers.

Neither Consumer Cellular nor Tello own a wireless network—instead they rent space from two major carriers. Consumer Cellular uses AT&T’s network for coverage, and Tello uses T-Mobile’s network. As it stands in 2024, Verizon offers the most reliable coverage in the country, but T-Mobile measures the fastest data speeds on average.

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Consumer Cellular vs. Tello: Price and data caps

Do you want cheaper prices or more data?

Tello easily beats out Consumer Cellular when it comes to price. The fact that Tello’s unlimited plan costs the same as Consumer Cellular’s base 5GB plan tells you everything you need to know about the price difference between the two carriers.

Tello’s unlimited talk, text, and data plan comes with 35GB of high-speed data, which is actually pretty generous for a plan that only costs $25 a month. You also get 5GB of mobile hotspot data every month with Tello’s unlimited plan. Consumer Cellular’s unlimited plan gives you 50GB of high-speed data (just 15GB more), but costs twice as much.

The case for Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular clearly isn’t trying to compete with Tello from a price standpoint. Instead, Consumer Cellular positions itself as a provider geared toward older adults. If you’re an AARP member, you get a 5% monthly discount on your cell service, which adds up to about $24 a year in savings for most customers. Along with the discount, AARP members get a 45-day risk-free trial period to try out Consumer Cellular.

Even with the discounts, though, Consumer Cellular can’t quite compete with Tello’s prices. Consumer Cellular also works over AT&T’s network, while Tello uses T-Mobile. So you may find that its coverage works better for you if you’re in an AT&T-rich area.

Consumer Cellular vs. Tello: Coverage

Consumer Cellular offers a slightly better network

Consumer Cellular uses AT&T’s network for coverage, and Tello uses T-Mobile. AT&T’s network barely edges out T-Mobile in overall coverage, but that difference mostly affects rural areas of the country. T-Mobile’s network shines when it comes to data speeds in bigger cities, but it lacks coverage in more rural areas of states like Nebraska, Idaho, Utah, and Oregon.

AT&T, on the other hand, fills in a lot of those coverage gaps. Overall, Consumer Cellular customers can expect better coverage than Tello customers in rural areas of the country, but the experience will still feel pretty much the same in more populated areas.

Before you decide on Tello or Consumer Cellular, make sure to check out the interactive coverage map below to look at the different coverage networks.

Consumer Cellular vs. Tello: Cell phone deals

No new phone deals here

One of the trade offs of going with an MVNO carrier like Tello or Consumer Cellular is you don’t get sweet discounts on new iPhones or Androids. Major cell phone carriers can give you “free” phones if you lock yourself into a two-year contract, but since MVNOs don’t generally operate with contracts, you won’t see the same kind of deals.

You can either transfer your current phone to a Consumer Cellular or Tello phone plan by inserting a new SIM chip, or you can buy a phone directly from either provider. To give you an idea of what people are buying, these are the five most popular devices on Consumer Cellular and Tello.

Consumer Cellular vs. Tello: Recap

Both Consumer Cellular and Tello offer cheaper cell phone plans than you’d normally find from major carriers, but Tello goes above and beyond when it comes to price.

Prices and plans: Tello’s $25 unlimited plan costs half of Consumer Cellular’s unlimited plan, but comes with a 35GB data cap. Consumer Cellular gives users a 50GB data cap and a 5% discount to AARP members.

Coverage: Tello uses T-Mobile’s network, and Consumer Cellular uses AT&T’s network. Consumer Cellular technically has more coverage overall than Tello, but it’ll likely be a similar coverage experience in more populated areas.

Cell phone deals: Neither carrier will hook you up with a free new phone, but you can easily transfer your current phone to Consumer Cellular or Tello.

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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