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The Best Prepaid Cell Phones For Seniors in 2021

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Cell phones are one of the best ways for seniors to stay connected with their loved ones and the outside world at large. While landline phone services tend to be more affordable, these services are bound to use only inside the home, and they often interfere with your home Internet connection. Cell phones, however, can function just about anywhere, even in rural parts of the country.

According to the Pew Research Center, among those aged 65 and older, over 80 percent of them own a cell phone. However, many of these people are not aware of the high costs of traditional cell phone carriers. In addition to charging overage fees and hidden bills, these providers often require users to lock into contracts of one to two years.

Luckily, there’s a better option for those of us not looking for such costly commitments, and that is a prepaid cell phone.

Top Prepaid Cell Phones for Seniors

Prepaid Versus Postpaid Cell Phones

The main difference between prepaid and postpaid—that is, traditional—cell phones is in the contracts. Postpaid plans from carriers such as Verizon or T-Mobile require you to lock into contracts at a minimum of one year. Should you exceed the amount of call time or data usage within your monthly allowance, you’ll either be charged an overage fee or receive throttled data usage, meaning your service will be slower.

While varying depending on the carrier, prepaid cellular plans allow you to choose your monthly allowance of talk time, messages, and data. Essentially you only pay for what you need, making it an excellent option for seniors who don’t need all the features of unlimited plans that have become standard across the cellular industry.

Here are some other key differences.

Prepaid and Postpaid Cell Phone Comparison

Prepaid Cell Phone Plans Postpaid Cell Phone Plans
  • No long-term contracts required
  • Pay only for the services you plan to use
  • No overage charges
  • No credit check required
  • Best suited for casual phone users
  • Options including unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Most modern handsets available
  • Best suited for heavy phone users

What to Look For in a Prepaid Cell Phone

When it comes to prepaid cell phones, there are a lot of options available on the market. We had our work cut out for us to figure out which ones were best for seniors. Here’s what we looked for in our testing.

The Best Prepaid Cell Phones for Seniors

After weeks of testing devices and reading through the fine print of prepaid cellular plans, we’ve come up with a list of the five best prepaid options for seniors. Some of them provide a simple cellular experience while others have advanced features like touch screens and triple-camera arrangements. Regardless, there’s sure to be a device here to suit your needs, one that will come with no long-term contracts or commitments.

Without further ado, here are our picks for the best prepaid phones for seniors.

1. Jitterbug Flip2 - Best Overall Prepaid Phone

Lively
4.2 / 5
View Packages
Call for best price:
833-695-0501
What We Like Most:
  • Plans from $14.99/Month
  • Built-in magnifier and flashlight
  • Flexible talk and text packages
  • Medical alert features

Overview

From Lively, the manufacturer known for its popular phones, comes the Jitterbug Flip2, a modern flip phone that combines the functionality of a traditional phone with the features of a medical alert system.

With its large buttons, 3.2 inch screen, and voice command capabilities, the Jitterbug Flip2 is easy to use for those with manual dexterity issues. Due to its classical design, we also found it was a breeze to pick up this handset and use it. In terms of call quality, this device impressed us with its powerful speaker, and it even worked with hearing aids, causing no excess noise in the process.

This phone also features an 8MP camera, one of the highest resolutions we’ve seen on a flip phone. The photos we took, while not as crisp as those from a smartphone, were plenty good enough for sharing memories with loved ones via picture messaging.

We also appreciated the dedicated urgent response button located on the bottom of the phone. When we pressed this button, we were immediately connected with an IAED-certified response agent who assessed our situation and—in the event of an emergency—would have contacted proper help, be it a loved one or first responder.

Device Cost: The Jitterbug Flip2 can be purchased for a one-time cost of $49.99, plus a one-time activation fee.

Plans: Through Lively, you can build your own plan for your Jitterbug Flip2. These plans can include talk and text but no data. They start as low as $14.99 for 250 monthly minutes and go up to $39.99 per month for unlimited minutes and messages. Regardless of your plan, you won’t be required to lock into long-term contracts, and you cancel at any time without incurring extra fees.

Pros
  • Built-in SOS button
  • Keep your existing number
  • U.S.-based customer service
  • Built-in magnifier and flashlight
  • No contracts, no cancellation fees
  • Simple, easy-to-use cell phone designed for seniors
Cons
  • Low MP camera
  • No data, text and call only
  • Must use Lively text and talk plans

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a reliable, affordable cell phone, one with no commitments and medical alert features, then the Jitterbug Flip2 will likely be your best option.

2. Snapfon ezTWO3G - Most Affordable Prepaid Phone

Snapfon provides senior-friendly cell phones.
4.2 / 5
View on Amazon
What We Like Most:
  • Large, Tactile Buttons
  • SOS button
  • Hearing Aid Compatible
  • Affordable Service Plans

Overview

The Snapfon ezTWO boasts a simple design with large buttons, a powerful speaker, and a straightforward design, all of which make it simple to operate. It’s also rated M3/T3 in terms of hearing aid compatibility. Starting at $29.99, it’s also highly affordable.

While its brick-like design is not likely to win any beauty contests, what it provides is unparalleled ease of use. Dialing numbers on the ezTWO’s oversized keypad was easy, and navigating its bright screen went off without a hitch.

This phone also offers an emergency SOS button that will sound a 120 dB alarm and send text messages to preset contacts. You can also add on sosPlus Mobile Monitoring (starting at $9.95 per month) for access to first responders who are familiar with your medications, health needs, allergies, physician, and emergency contact information.

Device Cost: Starting at $29.99, this phone can be purchased from Amazon and a number of brick and mortar retailers.

Plan: Since the ezTWO is an unlocked phone, you can use it with just about any wireless carrier. We’d recommend using Snapfon’s service options, which allow you to build your own plan of talk, text, and data. These plans start at just $10 per month for 100 minutes, making this phone ideal for the person who uses their phone infrequently. Unlimited talk and text plans start at only $30 per month, making these plans a budget-friendly option.

Pros
  • Affordable Plans
  • Carrier Flexibility
  • SOS Button
  • Mobile Monitoring
  • Powerful Speaker
  • Simple Design
Cons
  • Low-Quality Camera

Bottom Line

For the person who only needs their phone in emergencies, the Snapfon ezTWO is a great option. Both durable and affordable, this phone will be there when you need it, both for calls and emergency signals.

3. Jitterbug Smart3 - Best Prepaid Smartphone

Lively
4.8 / 5
View Packages
Call for best price:
833-695-0501
What We Like Most:
  • No annual contracts
  • No cancellation fees
  • Keep your existing phone number
  • U.S.-based customer service

Overview

When we think of prepaid phones, it’s tempting to assume that they all have only the basic features. The Jitterbug Smart3, however, has an advanced feature set that rivals those of the most advanced smartphones on the market.

First, let’s get the basics out of the way. The Jitterbug Smart3’s 5.5 inch screen made it a breeze for us to navigate through its features. In terms of call quality, we were also pleased with the audio delivered, both on our end and that of the person we called. The speakerphone on this handset also delivered surprisingly loud audio without distortion.

In terms of smart features, we also made video calls with this phone. When connected to Wi-Fi, our calls came through with crisp video and audio quality. We were also impressed by this phone’s 13MP camera, which delivered photos that could rival a traditional digital camera.

Additionally, like the Jitterbug Flip2, the Jitterbug Smart3 can also be used as a medical alert device. On the bottom right-hand corner of its touch screen, there was a dedicated 5Star button. When pressed, we were immediately connected to an agent at one of Lively’s monitoring centers.

Device Cost: The Jitterbug Smart3 can be purchased from Lively for $74.99 plus the cost of activation.

Plan: With Lively, you can build your own plan for your Jitterbug Smart3 phone. Plans start as low as $17.48 per month for 250 minutes and 100MB of data. A plan with unlimited talk, text, and data will cost $59.99 per month.

Pros
  • Simplified screen
  • Large, clear font
  • 30-day return policy
  • No long term contracts
  • 13MP camera with LED flash
  • Medical alert feature included in all plans
Cons
  • Needs to be charged nightly
  • Some complaints about initial set-up difficulty
  • Must use Lively phone, text and data plans

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a prepaid phone that provides all of the features of a high-tech smartphone, then look no further than the Jitterbug Smart3.

4. Consumer Cellular - ZMax 10 - Best Battery Life

Consumer Cellular Logo
2.8 / 5
What We Like Most:
  • Plans Start at $15/Month
  • Change Your Plan at Any Time
  • U.S.-Based Customer Service
  • Discounts for AARP Members

Overview

With its large 6.49 inch display and battery capable of lasting up to 40 hours on a single charge, Consumer Cellular’s ZMax 10 is a high-powered prepaid cell phone that packs in just about any feature you could imagine.

First thing’s first, the call quality on this handset did not disappoint. In each of our test calls, the audio was sent and received with unparalleled clarity. Additionally, with this phone’s M3/T3 hearing aid compatibility rating, we were able to make calls, even while using hearing aids.

Another big draw of this phone is its triple rear camera system. Using a 16MP, 2MP, and 8MP camera, this phone delivered photos of exceptional quality. This quality also was seen on this phone’s front-facing camera, which delivered a great picture in video calls. The ZMax10 operates on Android’s system, meaning we also had access to thousands of free apps in the android store.

Device Cost: When purchased from Consumer Cellular, the ZMax10 costs $120.

Plan: With Consumer Cellular, plans for the ZMax will start at $15 per month for 250 minutes of talk time. However, since the ZMax is a smartphone, you’ll likely want a plan with data. These will start at $25 per month and include 500MB of data, in addition to unlimited talk and text.

What we love most about Consumer Cellular is that their devices come with no overage charges. For example, if you sign up for a 250-minute talk plan, going over this allowance won’t incur extra fees. Instead, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the next tier of minutes.

Pros
  • Discounts for AARP Members
  • Apple, Samsung, and Motorola phones available
  • Plans from $15 per month
  • No overage charges
Cons
  • Unlimited data costs $60 per month
  • International call fees

Bottom Line

For the senior not averse to the ins-and-outs of a high-tech smartphone, the ZMax10 delivers solid performance without the need for long-term contracts.

5. Consumer Cellular - Doro 7050 - Best Prepaid Flip Phone

Consumer Cellular Logo
2.8 / 5
What We Like Most:
  • Plans Start at $15/Month
  • Change Your Plan at Any Time
  • U.S.-Based Customer Service
  • Discounts for AARP Members

Overview

The Doro 7050 offers a simple, no-frills flip phone that’s perfect for a person who simply wants to make calls and send the occasional message.

Its well-spaced, backlit keys provide an easy way to navigate this phone and type out messages. In our tests, our calls came out loud and clear on both ends, even when hearing aids were in use.

Additionally, this phone features Bluetooth technology, allowing you to make and receive calls hands-free. It can also be paired with compatible hearing aids for a fully integrated experience.

Device Cost: Through Consumer Cellular, the Doro 7050 will cost a one-time payment of $50.

Plan: With Consumer Cellular, plans for this phone start at $15 per month for 250 minutes of talk. You’ll also receive discounts per line when signing up for more than one line of service.

Pros
  • Discounts for AARP Members
  • Apple, Samsung, and Motorola phones available
  • Plans from $15 per month
  • No overage charges
Cons
  • Unlimited data costs $60 per month
  • International call fees

Bottom Line

While not the most sophisticated device on the market, the Doro 7050 is a solid phone sure to satisfy those looking for a simple way to keep in touch with friends and family.

Recap

When it comes to prepaid phones, there’s a whole world of options. When deciding on a device, be sure that it works with your provider of choice. In terms of no-contract providers, we recommend Lively and Consumer Cellular, as both of these companies are well-versed in the needs of older adults. Once you’ve decided on a provider, you can usually find a lengthy list of device options right on their web page.

Choosing a cell phone can be a complicated process, but if you go with a provider that doesn’t lock you into contracts, you’ll likely save yourself a lot of time and money.

Written By
Amie Clark

Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here

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