Consumer Cellular Review: A Dual-Network MVNO

Kyle Reyes
January 30, 2023

Consumer Cellular is an MVNO that operates on either AT&T or T-Mobile’s nationwide network. You get to choose which one you use, which is nice, but it is a hassle to switch from one to the other. Consumer Cellular has some nice deals and pretty great multi-line savings, but from the public opinion, their customer service is pretty seriously lacking. 

Consumer Cellular At a Glance

What Sets Consumer Cellular Apart? 

Consumer Cellular’s amazing multi-line savings set them apart. Up to three lines, adding an extra line to your plan only costs an extra $15 dollars a month no matter what plan you are adding it to. That creates amazing savings across the board, but none of them as much as Consumer Cellular’s unlimited plan. In their unlimited plan, the first line costs $50 a month, and the second only costs $15, which is amazing! On their own, Consumer Cellular’s single-line plans are not that cheap, but once you add on your second and third line the savings become increasingly apparent. 

Price of Consumer Cellular Plans

Consumer Cellular has a handful of plans that start at $20 a month and end at $50 a month. Their unlimited plan, which is $50 a month, comes with 50 GB of high-speed data before your plan gets throttled. That is a ton of data for a one-line plan but be warned that their multi-line plans share data. If you have three lines you will have to share the 50 GB between them all. If you go over your data, you can still use data but it will be at very slow speeds. That is the one downside to their multi-line savings. 

If you are considering Consumer Cellular, keep in mind that your whole unit should be using less than 50 GB per month. Even with three or four lines, 50 GB is a lot to share! 

What Kinds of Plans does Consumer Cellular offer?

Consumer Cellular offers two kinds of plans: limited and unlimited data plans. Their Unlimited plan, as mentioned above, gives users 50 GB of high speed data before throttling the speeds down to 2G speeds. This plan has the most value, but the single-line plan priced at $50 is a bit higher than we would like. As with all MVNOs, Consumer Cellular’s customers run the risk of getting deprioritized data at any time if they are in a high-volume area of service. 

Their other kind of plan is the limited data plan, but those are nothing to write home about. They are a little pricier than other MVNOs' plans by the gig and they don’t have too many bells and whistles to justify those extra costs. 

What Network does Consumer Cellular Use?

Consumer Cellular allows customers to choose between T-Mobile and AT&T, giving them fantastic coverage all over the country. 

Can You Bring Your Own Cell Phone?

Yes! Consumer Cellular allows customers to bring their own phones as long as they are unlocked. Make sure to check your device’s compatibility before you switch, as there are some cases where your phone will not function on its network. 

Consumer Cellular: Pros & Cons

It is crucial to understand the pros and cons of a carrier before starting the switching process. No carrier is perfect, but understanding Consumer Cellular’s pros and cons help figure out if it's the one for you or not. Without further ado, here’s what we like and what we don’t like about Consumer Cellular! 

👍 What We Liked

  • Intense multi-line savings. Consumer Cellular’s multi-line savings is our favorite thing about the company. Adding extra lines for $15 a pop on all plans creates huge value on their mid and high-tier plans. If you are looking at Consumer Cellular we highly recommend finding one or two friends or family to join the plan.
  • Choice of networks. We really like that users have the option to choose between AT&T and T-Mobile when they create their plans. That added flexibility ensures that you can secure high-speed data no matter where you are.  
  • Lots of physical locations. It is easy to find Consumer Cellular stores in shopping centers, which makes it convenient when you need to get in quickly to chat. 

👎 What We Didn’t Like

  • High single-line pricing. Compared to other MVNOs, Consumer Cellular’s single-line plans are fairly pricey. 
  • Poor customer service. There are an abundance of horror stories regarding Consumer Cellular’s customer service. Things happen with phone carriers that are out of their control, but when they make users go through an extended process to come to the conclusion it is a bad look for their company. 
  • Overage fees. If you are on a limited data plan and go over your allocated data, Consumer Cellular automatically bumps you up to the next tier plan with its data and its additional cost. It is nice that you won’t be out of data, but we don’t like the fact that it happens automatically. 
  • Mediocre AARP benefits. It is nice that they market themselves as a company for seniors, but they only offer 5% savings to AARP members. On their website, they say it averages out to $24 a year, which is nothing to write home about. 
  • Website design. Consumer Cellular’s website is very full and difficult to navigate. This is, of course, a small thing, but their website does not hold up compared to other MVNO websites out there. 

Consumer Cellular Services & Features

Consumer Cellular offers international calling to Mexico and Canada for free, and other select countries at a fixed rate. They have a lot of physical stores, making it easy to find a store when you run into problems with their service. Other than that, Consumer Cellular offers a slight discount to AARP members, but not too many services and features apart from those. 

Consumer Cellular Plans & Pricing

Consumer Cellular has six plans, five of which are limited data plans and the final one being their unlimited plan. Understanding each of Consumer Cellular’s phone plans is essential to making the decision whether or not this carrier is right for you. Their plans are as follows: 

  • 1 GB for $20 a month
  • 5 GB for $25 a month
  • 10 GB for $35 a month
  • 15 GB for $40 a month
  • 20 GB for $45 a month
  • Unlimited data (50 GB) for $50 a month

Consumer Cellular’s unlimited plan is a bit pricey for our liking, but getting 50 GB of high-speed data is some of the best numbers we’ve seen when comparing MVNOs. The plan is most valuable for those who use a ton of data each month, with their 5 and 10 GB plans priced at $25 and $35 affordable options for low-data-using people. The real value comes when you look  at their multi-line plans, as each additional line only costs another $15 a month no matter what plan you are on. That means the unlimited plan goes from $50 a line with one line to $32 a line for two lines, and then only $27 a line for three lines. Those are huge savings. The same goes for their other plans. We do not recommend going as low as the 1 GB plan. There are many other competitors that have a much better deal on a very low-data plan like that one. 

Consumer Cellular Phone Selection 

You can bring your own phone to Spectrum Mobile, but if you are looking to purchase one new, they have a huge selection of phones for upgrades. When you are switching to Spectrum Mobile, you can choose from one of these cell phone options from Apple, Samsung, Google, and more. You may choose from a list that includes: 

You can bring your own phone to Consumer Cellular, but if you are looking to purchase one new they have a great selection of phones for upgrades. When you switch to Consumer Cellular, you can choose from one of these cell phone options from all of the major brands. The list includes: 

  • iPhone 14, pro, pro max, plus
  • iPhone SE, 3rd gen
  • iPhone 13, mini
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 11
  • Verve Snap
  • Link II
  • ZMax 10, 5G
  • Avid 589
  • Pixel 6a
  • Moto G Stylus, Power, 5G, Pure
  • Nokia G400 5G
  • Nokia C100
  • Galaxy A13, A13 LTE, A03s, A53 5G
  • Galaxy S22 5G, S22+, Ultra 5G
  • Galaxy Z Flip4, Fold4

How Well Does Consumer Cellular Actually Work?

Call & Text Performance

Consumer Cellular’s call and text performance are excellent. We recommend looking at both AT&T’s coverage map as well as T-Mobile’s coverage map to see if one is better than the other in terms of providing you with fast and steady coverage on your Consumer Cellular plan. There are few instances of dropped calls or unsent texts across the board. 

Data Speeds

Consumer Cellular suffers from the fate of all MVNOs in that your data can be deprioritized if you are in a situation where the parent company’s network is under a lot of stress. There is no warning when that happens and there is also no telling how often it will occur for you. Other than that, Consumer Cellular’s data speed is great! 

Consumer Cellular vs. Competitors

Consumer Cellular vs. AT&T & T-Mobile

We want to include both of these companies in the discussion because you are using one of these two networks, but the Consumer Cellular review versus these two major wireless networks hits on the same points. Both of these major wireless companies provide faster data speeds, better customer service, and more add-ons to plans. There are entertainment perks and greater security that come with getting service from a major wireless network. 

That said, both of these companies are much more expensive than Consumer Cellular, making it a much more affordable option. The major downside to using an MVNO is that your data can get deprioritized if its parent network is ever overbooked, but if you are okay with that you can save some serious money on your cell phone bill when you use Consumer Cellular. 

Consumer Cellular vs. Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile has some spectacular prices and perks on T-Mobile’s network. Their unlimited plan (which comes with a ton of high-speed data and excellent service) is only $30 a month, which is a fantastic price. There is, however, one catch. To unlock that amazing monthly price you have to enter a yearlong contract. Their 3-month and 6-month options both cost a little extra while giving you a less serious contract. 

Consumer Cellular’s prices cannot compete with Mint Mobile’s even with their 3-month plans. Coupling that with the less-than-stellar customer support reported by a wide variety of users, we give Mint Mobile a significant upper hand in the comparison between these two companies. 

Consumer Cellular vs. Visible

Visible is an excellent MVNO that runs on Verizon’s network. They offer two unlimited plans, a basic plan and a premium plan priced at $30 and $45 a month, respectively. While Visible does not have a hyper-cheap option like some MVNOs, Consumer Cellular’s cheapest plan is still $20 a month and it is only 1 GB of data. Visible’s base unlimited plan, like Mint Mobile’s, is so much cheaper than Consumer Cellular’s plan that we give Visible the upper hand over Consumer Cellular as well. 

Consumer Cellular Customer Service

Many reviews regarding Consumer Cellular are negative specifically regarding their customer service. That being said, people are much more likely to write a review when they have a bad experience, so there is always a possibility that you will have a smooth customer service experience with Consumer Cellular when you have any issues. You can chat with an agent following this link and you can call one of their U.S.-based support specialists by dialing (888) 345-5509

What Customers Have to Say About Consumer Cellular

“Changing from Consumer to another company: l was on my brother's plan. I was happy with my service but I wanted to get on my daughter’s plan. I called Consumer to be sure I had all the info I needed to make a smooth transition. The new company could not get things to go through. They called Consumer. I had to call my brother. More info didn’t work. He called Consumer. Still didn’t work. After a conference call with Consumer Cellular and the new company, it was finally done after almost three hours. I am an older person and my daughter has back problems. Needless to say, we were not happy. I felt like I was trying to do something underhanded. I have changed to a different company before and never experienced anything like this. I am not one to complain but something about this is all wrong.” - Carolyn Miller. (via Trustpilot)

“Worst customer service I ever dealt with. After my Aunt passed away and we paid off the phone and closed the account they will not unlock the phone due to not having long enough and trying to get me to come back. The phone is paid off... The account is closed... What is the problem? Spent hours on phone trying to resolve everything and the phone is still locked. They don't care about you just want your money. Stay away from consumer cellular. Wow. I Can't believe this just happened.” - Mark Komperda. (via Trustpilot)

“The service is good, however, customer service is horrible. It took over 7 hrs of back and forth with CS to get phones activated. Our rep was unable to guide us efficiently toward the activation of our second phone, both of which were purchased from CC. Had to hire a professional who was successful after 2 hrs of talking to our 3rd CS rep. Only hope these phones last a very long time.” - Yuortye. (via Trustpilot)

Consumer Cellular FAQ

What network does Consumer Cellular use? 

Consumer Cellular offers its customers the choice between AT&T and T-Mobile’s network based on where they are located.

Does Consumer Cellular offer 5G?

Yes! Consumer Cellular offers 5G for its AT&T and T-Mobile customers as long as you have a phone that is compatible with the new network. 

Can you keep your existing cell number when switching to Consumer Cellular?

Yes, but you have to go through some extra steps. Important! Do not cancel your previous service before you start the switch. If you cancel your service they may deactivate your phone number, and if they do that it is very unlikely to make a successful switch. 

TLDR; Consumer Cellular is a Great Carrier for Multi-Line Plans

We like Consumer Cellular as a carrier for multi-line plans because their savings are huge. That being said, the abundance of negative reviews coupled with the fact that their single-line plans don’t hold up to the competition means that we do not recommend Consumer Cellular in our review. If you plan on switching to another MVNO, we think that something like Visible or Mint Mobile are your best bet.

Kyle Reyes
Kyles Reyes is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in the wireless industry, phone plan comparisons & advice.
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