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Cell​phone plans becoming more user-friendly

December 6, 2013

Cellphones are a staple of everyday life for people of all ages. In fact, as of May 2013, approximately 91 percent of Americans owned a cellphone, according to recent findings from the Pew Research Center. Despite their convenience, mobile plans can be something of a hassle and add to the retirement cost of living, especially when long contracts tie older adults' hands, regardless of their satisfaction with service. However, that may soon be changing, as a number of carriers are offering no-contract deals, AARP recently reported.

T-Mobile is among the carriers eschewing the two-year contract for a more convenient option. This shift allows consumers to buy phones at their retail prices without being bogged down by a lengthy contract - they can cancel at any time without the fear of exorbitant fees. There are also a growing number of prepaid or pay-as-you go options that allow seniors to stay in touch with friends and family without any of the complications offered by a long contract.

Of course, contracts are only one aspect to consider when shopping around for a mobile phone. There are a number of issues to think about. AARP recommends that prospective buyers look at coverage maps — typically on the carriers' websites — which can tell them how strong the signal is around their retirement communities. It's important to investigate whether there are any hidden fees such as activation or upgrade costs, as well.

It's also crucial for seniors to find specific devices that are best for them. There are some options that are especially well-suited for older adults. Most notably, Samsung's Jitterbug is easy to use, as it features large, readable numbers, and is among the most affordable options on the market.