Wednesday February 1, 2023

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Affordable Smartphone Plans

Can you direct me to affordable wireless smartphone plans for those of us who do not use much data? I use my smartphone primarily for texting and talking but need some data for checking my email and a few other things when I am away from Wi-Fi. Currently, I pay $30 per month but I am looking for a better deal.

There are several budget-friendly wirelesses providers for older smartphone users who are looking to save money by paring down their cell phone plan. Here are three low-priced options available that you can switch to without sacrificing the quality of your service.

Cheapest Wireless Plans

For extremely light smartphone data users, the lowest-cost wireless plan available today is through Tello which allows you to build your own plan based on your needs or budget. For as little as $6 per month you can get unlimited texting, 100 minutes of talk time and 500 megabytes of high-speed data. Increases in talk time or data may be added in $1 increments.

Tello uses T-Mobile's network and gives you the option to bring your existing phone or purchase a new device, while keeping your same phone number if you wish. If you would like to keep your current phone, make sure that it is unlocked. You can enter your phone's ID (dial *#06# to retrieve it) on Tello's website to confirm it is compatible with the network.

Another inexpensive plan to consider is the annual prepaid plan offered through Boost Mobile. For only $100 per year (or $8.33 per month), this plan provides unlimited talk, text and 1 gigabyte (GB) of 5G or 4G data each month. If you require more data, their $150 annual plan (or $12.50/month) gets you 5 GB.

Boost Mobile uses the T-Mobile and AT&T networks and allows you to use your existing phone (if compatible) or buy a new one.

A third option is Mint Mobile, 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 & fees) that provides unlimited talk and text, and 4 GB of 5G/4G data each month. Mint also uses the T-Mobile network and will let you use your existing phone (if compatible), or you can buy a new one.

Lifeline Program

If your income is low enough, another option is the Lifeline Assistance Program. This is a federal program that provides a $9.25 monthly subsidy that could go towards your phone or internet service.

To qualify, you will need to show that you are receiving certain types of government benefits such as Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), SSI, public housing assistance, veterans' pension and survivors' benefit, or live on federally recognized tribal lands. Additionally, 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 will be eligible.

If you do qualify, contact a wireless provider in your area that participates in the Lifeline Assistance program and sign up for service with them. You can also ask your current company to apply your Lifeline Assistance benefit to a service you are already receiving if it offers the benefit.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published March 18, 2022

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