AT&T's new Senior Nation 200 wireless phone plan is designed for today's active senior who wants to stay connected, but whose lifestyle no longer requires a large number of minutes. At $29 per month, the Senior Nation 200 Plan includes 200 anytime minutes, 500 night and weekend minutes and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling, exclusively for persons 65 years of age and older. A wide variety of handsets are available, and proof of age is required at the time of sale.
Geared toward seniors who do not use a cell phone regularly, but would like one for unexpected emergencies and occasionally staying in touch with friends and family, the Senior Nation 200 Plan is structured like most other AT&T plans, with no roaming or long distance charges. However, it does not have as many of the extra features, such as rollover minutes. There is a $36 one-time activation fee, 45 cents per minute for additional minutes over the 200 monthly minutes allotted and the plan requires a two-year contract. Standard plan features include three-way calling, call forwarding, caller ID, call waiting, basic voice mail and long distance calling.
As with most wireless plans, there is an early termination fee ($175). AT&T does offer a generous 30-day trial period to review the plan, and the termination fee will not apply if the plan is canceled during that time frame. This is a good thing, because although consumer may think 200 minutes per month is sufficient, they may find that they are using their wireless phone more than they initially anticipated. In that the case, seniors may want to consider another plan with more monthly minutes.
AT&T is not the only wireless provider to offer a convenient calling plan for seniors. Verizon Wireless, with over 61 million subscribers, has two plans specifically created for the 65-and-older crowd. The Verizon Wireless Nationwide 65 Plus Calling Plans both offer 200 anytime minutes, 500 night and weekend minutes, unlimited national mobile-to-mobile minutes, no domestic roaming or long distance charges and allowance for night and weekend minutes. The Single Line Calling Plan is $29.99 per month with a two-year activation requirement. The Verizon Wireless Coupe has all of the features of the Single Line Calling Plan, but includes a phone with a large font menu, dedicated 911 keys and dedicated emergency keys. The cost of this plan is $39.99 per month and also has a two-year activation period.
Plans that emphasize the term "senior" or "over 65" in their names may not necessarily be the optimal choice. Most wireless companies offer inexpensive, no-commitment, pay-as-you-go plans that might be a better fit, depending on how the cell phone is going to be used.
When considering a wireless plan, it is always important to shop around to find the best deal. This is especially true for seniors on a fixed income. In some cases, it may be beneficial to have a family member assist the senior citizen with researching the different wireless plans available to determine which one best fits their situation.