Consumer Cellular gears its prepaid wireless service toward seniors, with very inexpensive plans and mostly basic phones. It's also suitable for anyone who wants the security and accessibility a cell phone provides, but doesn't necessarily plan to make many calls.
Some plans have high rates. Alex Colon at PCMag.com likes Consumer Cellular's simple monthly plans with reasonable rates. Editors at PrepaidReviews.com also like the low rates, but warn that rates might not be quite so low on some plans.
Consumer Cellular's cheapest monthly plan -- $10 plus 25 cents per minute -- would work for someone who wants a cell phone only for emergencies, but you can find cheaper plans for this purpose, such as the T-Mobile Prepaid Annual Plan (*Est. $100 for 1,000 min.). Experts prefer Consumer Cellular's plans with minutes included, starting at $15 per month for 150 minutes up to $60 per month for 4,000 minutes. Experts warn that some of Consumer Cellular's rates, which range from 1.5 cents to 10 cents per minute, are not reasonable. Users at Viewpoints.com, however, give the rates positive reviews.
Uses AT&T network. Consumer Cellular offers national GSM coverage through the AT&T network, whose service and performance is not very highly rated.
Low-rated customer service. Users at PrepaidReviews.com rate Consumer Cellular's customer service as 2.5 stars out of 5, and several contributors to Viewpoints.com also report problems with customer service.
Phones for technophobes. PCMag.com reports that Consumer Cellular sells simple phones "for technophobes." However, a QWERTY phone and a touch-screen phone are also offered.
Review Credibility: Excellent ConsumerReports.org ranks Consumer Cellular and five other prepaid wireless providers from best to worst, based on feedback from more than 66,000 cell phone users. Editors rate each service for voice call problems, value and overall.
Review: Prepaid Cell Phone Service Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, January 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good Consumer Cellular sells simple phones "geared toward technophobes" and simple monthly plans, Alex Colon says. Most of the plans offer "reasonable rates."
Review: The 10 Best Cheap Prepaid Phone Plans You've Never Heard Of, Alex Colon, July 24, 2012
Review Credibility: Fair Consumer Cellular gets 3.5 stars out of 5 from editors, who say it offers low rates on some plans but not others. Users rate it an average of 2 stars, with customer service being the main complaint.
Review: Consumer Cellular, Editors of and Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Fair With over 60 user reviews posted, Consumer Cellular averages 66 out of a possible 100 points. Users like the low prices, but several report problems with customer service.
Review: Consumer Cellular Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of December 2012