Seniors can get cell phone savings
Dear Savvy Senior: A few months ago you wrote a column on simple cell phones for seniors. Can you now write one on cheaper cell phones for seniors on a budget? — Fixed Incomers
Dear Fixed: Your cheapest option is probably a prepaid plan. Here’s what you should know.
Prepaid cell phones are a smart, cost-cutting option for infrequent cell phone users — those who talk 200 minutes or less a month. With a prepaid phone there’s no contract and no fixed monthly bills. Many prepaid plans average less than $10 a month.
how they work
To get started, you have to buy a special prepaid phone (they cost anywhere from $10 to $200), and then pre-purchase a certain amount of minutes (for talk or text) that must be used within a specified period of time. (Note: If you already have a phone with one of the major wireless companies, you may be able to have it converted.)
The amount of minutes you purchase range from 30 up to a 1,000 and typically must be used within 30 to 90 days. The prices will vary ranging between 5 and 35 cents per minute — the more you buy the cheaper they are. Your phone will keep you updated on how many minutes you have left, and to add minutes, you can buy them on your prepaid phone, through your carrier’s Web site or store, or your local retailer.
Where to shop
All the major wireless carriers (T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T) offer prepaid plans today including a host of other companies like TracFone, Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, Cricket and many others.
To find and compare plans visit PrepaidReviews.com, an independent site that rates and compares all prepaid providers and provides links to their Web sites.
Senior discount plans
If you are using Verizon or AT&T and decide to stay with your contract plan, you can cut your monthly costs by switching to their special senior service plans.
These plans are available to customers age 65 and older providing 200 anytime minutes, 500 night and weekend minutes, and unlimited in-network calling for $30 a month.
Another option you should know about is 911 cell phones. These are free, emergency-only cell phones for seniors and victims of abuse. Contact your local law enforcement agency to see if there’s an emergency cell phone program near you, or see www.911cellphonebank.org/agencies.asp.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.