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Ask Sid

Find a Simple-to-Use Cellphone

Consider these models and pay-as-you-go plans

Q. I want a no-frills, senior-friendly cellphone for emergencies and occasional calls. What are some of my options?

A. All the major cellular carriers offer no-frills cellphones and pay-as-you-go calling plans that require no long-term contracts. So do big chain stores including Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Kmart. Handsets typically start at around $10 — models with a camera can cost under $20. Prepaid calling plans begin at around $10 for 30 minutes. You can also find cellphones specifically designed as senior-friendly, offered with no-contract calling plans for occasional users.

See also: 6 tips for picking the best cellphone plan.

Consider these carriers, listed alphabetically:

  1. Consumer Cellular (1-888-428-6421 toll-free): Its Doro handsets start at $25 and have large buttons, bright displays and clear sound. AARP members get various discounts, including a calling plan at $9.50 per month (to maintain service) with pay-as-you-go minutes at 24 cents each or a $19 monthly plan with 300 minutes. Expect a $35 activation fee.

  2. GreatCall (1-800-918-8543), formerly known as Jitterbug, sells handsets starting at $40. Calling plans start at $15 for 50 minutes, with a $35 activation fee.

  3. Just5 (1-800-709-0509) sells its big-button models for $90, with calling plans starting at $10 for 100 minutes of talk time and 50 text messages per month. There is no activation fee.

  4. TracFone (1-800-867-7183) offers the Samsung T155G, also with big buttons and other senior-friendly features, starting at $15. Its $20-a-month plan provides 125 minutes, with no activation fee and no cancellation fee.


Before selecting, call the companies or visit their websites to check on such things as coverage areas, hearing aid compatibility and trial periods.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about health and consumer issues. Have a question for Sid Kirchheimer about a new product, a new kind of bank account? Check out the Ask Sid archive. If you don’t find your answer there, send a query.

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