JIM MILLER For the press
Dear Wise Senior: Can you point me to some really cheap wireless smartphone plans for seniors who don’t use a lot of data? I use my smartphone mostly for texting and talking, but I need some data to check email and a few other things when I’m away from Wi-Fi. Right now I’m paying $30 a month , but I’m looking for a better deal. — Senior scrimmer
Dear Scrimper: There are several super cheap wireless service providers that I can recommend to older smartphone users looking to save money by cutting down on their cell phone plan. Here are three of the cheapest options available that you can switch to without sacrificing the quality of your service.
Cheapest wireless plans
For extremely light smartphone data users, the cheapest wireless plan available today is through Tello (Tello.com), which lets you create your own plan to suit your needs or budget. For as little as $6 a month, you can get unlimited texting, 100 minutes of talk time, and 500 megabytes (MB) of high-speed data. Talk time or data increases can be added in $1 increments.
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Tello uses the T-Mobile network and gives you the option to bring your existing phone or buy a new device, while keeping your same phone number if you wish. If you want to keep your phone, it must be unlocked. Just enter your phone’s ID (press *#06# on your keypad to get it) on Tello’s website to make sure it’s compatible with the network.
Another super cheap plan to consider is the annual prepaid plan offered by Boost Mobile (BoostMobile.com). For just $100 per year (or $8.33 per month), this plan offers unlimited calls, texts, and 1 gigabyte (GB) of 5G or 4G data each month. If you need more data, their $150 annual plan (or $12.50/month) gets you 5GB.
Boost Mobile uses the T-Mobile and AT&T networks and lets you use your existing phone (if compatible) or buy a new one.
And a third option to consider is Mint Mobile (MintMobile.com), which is recommended by Consumer Reports and has one of the best values for a cheap plan. Mint offers a $15 per month plan (plus taxes and fees) that offers unlimited calls and texts, as well as 4GB of 5G/4G data each month. They also use the T-Mobile network and will let you use your existing phone (if compatible) or buy a new one.
If your income is low enough, another option you should check out is the Lifeline Assistance Program. This is a federal program that provides a monthly subsidy of $9.25 that could be applied to your phone or Internet service.
To qualify, you will need to prove that you receive certain types of government benefits such as Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), SSI, public housing assistance, veterans pension, and survivors benefits, or that you live on federally recognized tribal lands. . Or, if your annual household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines — $17,388 for one person or $23,517 for two — you are also eligible.
To check your eligibility or apply, visit LifelineSupport.org. If you qualify, contact a wireless service provider in your area that participates in the Lifeline program and sign up for service with them. You can also ask your current company to apply your Lifeline benefit to a service you already have, if they offer this benefit.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is an NBC Today contributor and author of “The Savvy Senior.”