Consumer Cellular and AT&T are linked in that Consumer Cellular uses AT&T's network to service its customers. While AT&T is an actual carrier, Consumer Cellular is an independent provider that creates its own plans and packages. Both share the same network and many of the same features, but each targets a different audience each with distinct needs and requirements.
Consumer Cellular vs AT&T Differences
Consumer Cellular is not considered a cell phone carrier. Instead, its phones run off of the AT&T/T-Mobile network. Even though Consumer Cellular offers unlimited talk/text/data plans, their primary audience is older adults who may not require all of the bells and whistles associated with technologically advanced plans. AARP is an active partner with Consumer Cellular. AARP members who choose to purchase one of Consumer Cellular's plans receive a discount.
AT&T is one of the most expensive cell phone carriers in the industry. Unlike Consumer Cellular who targets individuals who may be on a fixed income, many of AT&T's plans are designed to offer the latest in technological advancements in terms of 4G data speeds and the most efficient network in terms of reliability and connectivity. Another huge difference is that AT&T's customer service is rated as very poor compared to that of Consumer Cellular.
AT&T vs Consumer Cellular Similarities
Consumer Cellular offers many of the same cell phones as AT&T. They both offer a selection of basic voice/text phones in addition to their data-driven smartphones. Both offer unlimited talk/text/data plans to their customers. AT&T's plans are more expensive, but they also provide higher data usage options. Consumer Cellular offers talk/text/data plans but their data speed slows considerably once a specific amount of usage has been met.
AT&T's network is one of the fastest in the industry. Because Consumer Cellular piggybacks onto that network, it also reaps the benefits of the network's speed and reliability. AT&T's network also offers streaming video and connectivity with many cable providers which are also shared with Consumer Cellular users.
The service area shared by Consumer Cellular and AT&T is nationwide. There are small patches throughout the United States were service may be spotty, but they are few and far between. Voice communication is available in both Canada and Mexico.
Consumer Cellular's offering in terms of phones is varied. Although they do not have as many offerings as AT&T, they offer the top of the line in iPhones, including the X, Xr, and iPhone 8 S. They also offer the Note 9 by Samsung for Android users.
AT&T offers an extensive selection of smartphones as well as more basic phones for users who aren't interested in a data-driven phone. AT&T offers the top of the line options for each brand in the industry including iPhone, Samsung, and Motorola.
Costs & Contracts
Consumer Cellular makes it easy to choose the phone you want. You can pay for the device upfront or pay a portion of the price and sign up for their EasyPay program that allows you to lease the device until it is paid off. The iPhone 8S can be purchased upfront for $700 or you can pay $100 and choose to pay the remainder of the balance in installments. The prices for their plans start at $10 for the most basic option and rise to $40 a month for unlimited talk/text/data.
AT&T offers lease agreements that allow customers to pay for their phones over a certain period of time, normally 12- or 24-month options. Their plans vary in price with one line costing between $70 and $80 per month. The cost of four lines can be as high as $160 to $190 per month.
Consumer Cellular has plans that are designed for customers who want a more basic plan with an option to add additional perks if desired. It is cost-effective and an ideal choice for seniors.
AT&T offers plans for individuals who require a feature-laden data plan that allows them to connect with a variety of services on a reliable network. Their offerings are much more expensive but are worth the cost if additional data connectivity is needed.