Home - , , , , - No-Contract Operator Profile: Consumer Cellular

No-Contract Operator Profile: Consumer Cellular

This one of a series of Prepaid Phone News' profiles covering the major US no-contract and prepaid mobile operators and MVNOs.

Overview:  Consumer Cellular (888-533-6942) is a no-contract postpaid Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) using the AT&T and T-Mobile networks. It was founded in 1995 and has 2.1 million customers as of August, 2016.

Consumer Cellular built its reputation as an AT&T MVNO and the majority of its customers are on the AT&T network. Recently, Consumer Cellular has reportedly been supplying  T-Mobile based SIMs to most new customers unless they explicitly request an AT&T SIM.

Technology: 
AT&T network with GSM, GPRS, Edge and UMTS  on the 850 and 1900 Mhz bands an LTE on bands 2 (1900), 4 (1700), 5 (850) and 17 (700).

T-Mobile network with GSM, GPRS, Edge and UMTS on the 1900 Mhz band, additional UMTS on the 1900 Mhz band and LTE on bands 2 (1900), 4 (1700) and 12 (700).

Consumer Cellular has monthly plans only. Plan prices do not include include taxes and fees which add between 15% and 35% to the monthly cost.

Voice Plans
 Monthly Fee 1 Included Minutes Price per Minute
$10 none 25¢
$15 250
$20 1000
$30 2000 1.5¢
$40 4000
$50 unlimited N/A
1 Plus taxes and fees

On all voice plans except the $10/per month plan, if you exceed the minutes included with you plan in any month, Consumer Cellular will automatically upgrade to whatever plan includes the minutes you have used. Unless you manually downgrade you plan you will stay on the higher plan in subsequent months.

The voice plans do not include any data or messaging. If you want to surf or text you need to add a Voice and Data plan. The following add-on plans are available.

Text and Data Add-On Plans
 Monthly Fee 1 Included Texts/MMS Included Data
$2.50 300 30 MB
$5 2000 200 MB
$10 5000 500 MB
$20 unlimited 1.5 GB
$30 unlimited 3 GB
$40 unlimited 4 GB
Plus taxes and fees

On all text and data plans, if you exceed the messages or megabytes included with you plan in any month, Consumer Cellular will automatically upgrade to whatever plan includes the messages and megabytes you have used. Unless you manually downgrade you plan you will stay on the higher plan in subsequent months. If you use more than 4 GB in a month, Consumer Cellular will charge $10 or each gigabyte over four, up to a maximum of 10 GB. In addition to charging $10/GB for data over 4 GB, Consumer also throttles the added data to 128 Kbps.

Consumer Cellular Plan Features: To help users control their costs, Consumer Cellular permits changing to a higher or lower priced plan at any time.. If the change affects the overage rate for voice, texts or data the change is retroactive to the beginning of the current plan period.

Users can set up Usage Alerts to be notified by email or texts when they are approaching a plan limit.

Family Plans: Additional lines can be added to any plan for $10/month per phone. All phones on the plan share its minutes, texts and data. Data and texting can be enabled or disabled on a phone without affecting data or messaging on other limes.

International Rates: Consumer Cellular offers pay per minute international calling with rates that are competitive with calling cards. Sample price per minutes for calls to cell phones include; Canada 4¢, China 4¢, Mexico 8¢, Philippines 19¢, UK 6¢

Consumer Cellular has international direct dialing ( +1 - country code - city code - phone number, no access code required)

International messaging: International texts are 20¢/each to send, no extra charge to receive. A Text and Data Plan is required to send international texts.

Coverage: Consumer Cellular's coverage (map) is the same as AT&T postpaid and includes off-network voice, text and 2G data roaming.

Devices: Consumer Cellular offers a small selection of Android smartphones and feature phones, including the "senior friendly" Doro PhoneEasy. SIMs are available for free and work with any AT&T phone, including iPhones.  Unlocked non-AT&T GSM phones will also work provided they support the 850/1900 Mhz bands

How to Activate: Activate Consumer Cellular phones and SIMs online at https://www.consumercellular.com/Cart/ActivateCode or by calling 1-888-533-6942 from another phone. You can port in a number from another carrier during activation on the Website or by calling in.

Payment Options: Consumer Cellular will email you a bill each month at no charge or send a paper bill for $2/month. Payment can be made by online or by calling 1-888-533-6942 or mailing a check. Auto-pay using a credit or debit card is available.

Account Management: Consumer Cellular has a full-featured online accont management port at https://www.consumercellular.com/Account/Login. It lets you view current usage, make a payment, view current and past bills, change you plan and set up usage alerts

Call Forwarding, Call Waiting and 3-Way Calling

Call forwarding: To forward all calls to another number: Press *21*, followed by the 10-digit number to which you wish to forward your calls, # and SEND. For example: *21*1234567890# SEND, forwards your calls to the phone number 123-456-7890.  You will receive a confirmation message.You will be charged for forwarded calls.
To cancel call forwarding: Press #21# SEND. You will receive a confirmation message.

To forward unanswered calls only (conditional call forwarding): Press *004* followed by the number you want calls forwarded to and # and SEND (*004*-123-456-7890# SEND) and wait for a confirmation tone or message. You will be charged for forwarded calls.
To cancel conditional call forwarding: Press #004# SEND and wait for a confirmation tone or message.

Call waiting:  Call waiting is enabled by default. It lets you place one call on hold while you take another call. When you are on a call and have another incoming call, you will hear a short tone. You'll have approximately 30 seconds to answer before the second caller hears a standard message or is forwarded to voicemail.

To answer Call Waiting: To put the first call on hold, press "SEND." You'll automatically be connected with the second call. To return to the first call, press "SEND" again. To switch between the two calls, press "SEND." You will be charged for both calls including the time that a call is on hold..

3-Way Calling: Lets you create a conference call between yourself and two other people. You will be charged for both calls.
  • While on the first call, dial the 10-digit number of the second person and press "SEND." The first person is automatically put on hold while the call is made.
  • When the 2nd person answers, press "SEND" to create the conference call.
Consumer Cellular "Secret" Codes:
*#62# - to display your alternate voice mail access number

Free information services calls
611 - Consumer Cellular customer care
711 - Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) for the hearing and speech impaired
911 - Emergency services

Consumer Cellular data settings (non LTE):
Name - Consumer Cellular
APN - att.mvno (no user id or password)
Proxy IP Address: (leave blank)
Proxy Port: (leave blank)
MMSC URL - http://mmsc.cingular.com
MMS Proxy Address: proxy.mvno.ccmobileweb.com
MMS Proxy Port: 80

Consumer Cellular data settings (LTE capable devices):
Name - Consumer Cellular
APN - ccdata (no user id or password)
Proxy IP Address: (leave blank)
Proxy Port: (leave blank)
MMSC URL - http://mmsc.mobile.att.net
MMS Proxy Address: proxy.mobile.att.net
MMS Proxy Port: 80

Customer Service:
Phone support: 1-888-345-5509,  US based, 24/7. Consumer Cellular has a reputation for superior customer service

Sales and General Information Web Sitehttps://www.consumercellular.com

Consumer Cellular Pros: customer service, family plans, usage alerts, coverage, BYOD, inexpensive international voice rates, international direct dialing. Support for call waiting and 3-way calling.

Consumer Cellular Cons: High overage rates, high taxes and fees, $10/GB add-on data is throttled, expensive international text rates.

Updated June-1-2016: More minutes, messages and MBs of data on higher priced plans. Instead of overage charges, customers who exceed plan limits will be automatically upgraded to a plan that covers their usage.

60 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. Friendly suggestion: add this one to the "News By Carrier" list on the sidebar in the front page.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Consumer Cellular offers a 5% AARP member discount, and you can sign up via a link on their website.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I believe Consumer Cellular has scored very well on consumer satisfaction ratings by a leading consumer magazine, but their prices are higher than other AT&T MVNOs. It might be a good service for someone who can use the AARP discount and needs/wants a higher level of assistance, or for someone who doesn't need anything but reliable voice and a limited number of minutes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If consumer cellular coverage is the same as AT&T post paid plans including the partner areas then it may be worth the extra cost. From what I can tell most or all of the other AT&T MVNOs don't.

      Delete
  4. With Consumer, sharing the minutes, data and sms between phones can save some money.
    Plus the ability to adjust the plan at the end of the month to avoid overages.
    Ting and Zact copied Consumer with this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It looks lower than any other ATT MVNO I have seen yet

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've been using an Iphone 3GS on CC for just about a year...I'm a light user and my monthly bill has varies between $18 and $23...a big portion of that is taxes and fees. Some things to consider...only 3G at present/4G announced "soon". They don't currently supply nano-sims so any Iphone 5 or newer is problematic. Their target audience is senior citizens and customer service is extremely good...but you will still see angry confused 80-year olds ranting on their facebook page.... You can't send or receive pictureSMS without a pretty complicated work-around...Ting,the T-Mobile $30 plan and CC are the best deals for someone like me...and should certainly be looked at by anyone...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Could you please tell us the % of your bill that is taxes and fees? Are you paying $15-20/month?
      I think people who have light use, like the AT&T network and need good, well-trained customer service agents who can handle any problem would also be satisfied with the AirVoice $10/month plan. You can buy their sims cut to micro and nano size for 99c on eBay or Amazon.

      Delete
    2. ".but you will still see angry confused 80-year olds ranting on their facebook page"

      No doubt the cohort looking for the Samsung Rotega and LG Whirl smartphones with a hardware rotary-dial interface.

      Delete
    3. Are the complicated work-around due to your Iphone? I have read that similar problem on Airvoice and T-mobile with Iphones. I am looking at going with CC and porting my number to them, but will be using an unlocked Android phone with 4G capability. I should be able to get 4G speeds since they use AT&T towers. I might have to try it with their 30 day guaranty trail period. In reading I see that the sims are free.

      Delete
    4. It's straightforward to set up data and MMS on Android and Windows Phone 8. Apple locks and hides the settings on iPhones making workarounds necessary.

      Delete
    5. Using a locked AT&T iPhone on Consumer Cellular? If you are running iOS 7 they can send you a settings file to get MMS working now.

      Delete
  7. I just received notice that CC will start selling iPhones; you will be able to order either a iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 4s directly from Consumer Cellular effective December 13. Also an easy EasyPay financing program will be available where you’ll make a small down payment, followed by $25 monthly payments until the phone is paid in full with 0% financing and no extra fees.

    Notice shows the iPhone 5s will begin at $150 down, with iPhone 5c starting at $100 down and the. iPhone 4s will start at $50 down.

    ReplyDelete
  8. consumer cellular is very tempting to the gophone user who remembers the old days -- because with the add-on data, consumer cellular looks like what gophone should be opened up.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Update: Consumer Cellular now has the At&T 4G LTE in it's network coverage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do they? They announced last March that they were getting LTE "soon". However there hasn't been any announcement of LTE availability and it doesn't seem to be mentioned on their site.

      Delete
  10. Per CC: We do currently have 4G and LTE speeds as long as it is available in your area. I guess it is a matter of time before they put it on their web page. They are selling 4g LTE phones like the iPhone 5s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On 1/31/2014, I called CC and got the new APN for the LTE service. Now I have the LTE service with my Nexus 5.

      Delete
    2. Consumer Cellular looks like the lowest cost way for my wife and I to get LTE on AT&T for our light usage. $35-$45/month for two smartphones is excellent.

      Delete
    3. For my Nexus 5, the new APN for the LTE service is
      APN: ccdata
      Proxy: not set
      Port: not set
      Server: http://mmsc.mobile.att.net
      MMSC: proxy.mobile.att.net

      Delete
    4. Thanks, I've added the LTE APN to the post.

      Delete
  11. "Consumer Cellular Plan Features: To help users control their costs, Consumer Cellular permits changing to a higher or lower priced plan >>to the middle of a plan month.<<"

    Do you have to change by the middle of the month?

    From the FAQ "How do I use Usage Alerts to manage my usage?":
    ..."...The alerts are free — we won’t even charge you for the text messages. Not only that, unlike other cell phone companies, >>we let you change your plan retroactively to the start of your current bill period so you can get the best possible pricing.<<"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could change it any time, even on the last day of your current billing cycle.

      Delete
  12. The flexibility of controlling your rate plan within the monthly cycle, full post AT&T coverage, AARP discount, excellent customer service is why I use them. The taxes and fees are a bit much, but when reviewing the overall total package, it fits both my needs and the wife just fine until something better comes around.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Could you help me for Consumer Cellular APN setup for galaxy s4.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The APN settings are in the post.
      Go to Settings > Mobile Networks > Access Point Names
      Add a new APN, fill out fields with the LTE APN settings in the post. Leave any fields not mentioned in the post as is. Save the new APN and tap the dot next to it. in the list of APNs to make it the active one.

      Delete
  14. CC Info:
    1. Their new app lets you check your balances and change plans quickly on the phone.
    2. They have 1.5M customers now.
    3. CC pushes a carrier settings file to iPhones that sets up LTE and MMS, even on locked AT&T iphones.
    4. $50 off iPhones now, and no-interest financing. Phone is billed monthly with your service.
    5. CC pays $10 to you and referral customers to try their service. 30-day money-back guarantee.
    6. Free alerts at 75%, 100%, 125% and 150% of your plan resources; you choose any levels you want. Alerts to to email or free sms to your phones.
    7. Customer service was fast and friendly for me. Mobile data was blocked to my iPhone because of a profile I had installed for another carrier. They figured that out right away.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Consumer Cellular reaches 1.5M customers, donates $450,000 to 3 good charities and gives every employee a bonus.
    https://www.consumercellular.com/Content/Newsletters/2014/08August/Default.htm#donation

    ReplyDelete
  16. CC phones are now available in Target stores. Anyone, can I buy a CC phone and use my gophone sim card?

    ReplyDelete
  17. AT&T may be giving Consumer Cellular higher priority on the HSPA+ network in my area. When I turn off LTE, I still get 6mbps with a strong signal of 4-5 bars. Using an identical phone with AirVoice, I average only .6-.7mbps. I also tried a HTC One M7, which got the same slow speeds. After resetting data on my AV account twice, and factory resetting the HTC phone, I had one test at 1mbps, but most are still in the .6-.7mbps range.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Which Airvoice plan are you on? The pay as you go and $10/mo plans are throttled to about 1 Mbps but the monthly plans are supposed to un-throttled or at least less throttled.

      Delete
    2. I have the AirVoice Pay-Go plan. Two CS reps insisted that my plan was not throttled. I can see the speed spike up to 3mpbs at the start of speed testing and then slow down below 1mbps. Maybe the reps were not informed.

      Delete
  18. New rate plans effective March 1, 2015. Saw the flyer at Target. Looks more competitive to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Much better rates now. On the CC website.

      Delete
  19. Consumer Cellular just gave us 25% more minutes and data for the same monthly price. Automatically applied to our account.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Consumer Cellular, Ting, Republic, GoSmart, FreedomPop and Freewheel were named 5 disruptive carriers that are changing the industry in a recent WSJ article here:
    http://blogs.wsj.com/personal-technology/2015/02/24/cheapest-wireless-plans-5-no-contract-carriers-with-unique-cellular-savings/ The article was written on Feb 24, before the CC plans were improved.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Is the coverage map on their website accurate? I was about to activate on Cricket, but I read here that Consumer Cellular has roaming agreements, while Cricket is AT&T-only. When I look at the map on the Consumer Cellular website, the voice looks identical to AT&T pre-paid, but the data shows roaming. This seems odd to me. If there is indeed voice roaming on Consumer, I may decide to use them instead. Also, I like that they don't charge for sim cards! I paid $20 for 2 sims on Cricket!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Consumer Cellular still offers voice, text and data roaming. The map on the site is wrong. See More Data, Minutes and Texts for All Consumer Cellular Customers for an official statement from Consumer Cellular regarding roaming and the coverage maps.

      Delete
    2. Ah, I read that article when you posted it. I must have glossed over the roaming part of it (I was more excited about their price changes). I think I'll give them a try. I'll just put my Cricket sims in a drawer in case I ever want to switch.

      Thanks Dennis, this site continues to be very useful.

      Delete
  22. Consumer Cellular family plan has a valuable benefit that is not mentioned in their Profile above: All family members can call each other free. This really helps keep the price down for families. CC just dropped the downpayment for iPhones to $50. It used to be $150. No interest is charged, as usual.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Want a new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, don't have $649-949 plus tax sitting around, and want to save some money by only paying for the cellular service you need? Soon you will be able to head to the nearest Target store, pay as little as $50 and walk out with your new iPhone 6 model working. Target will activate the iPhone for you on Consumer Cellular and set it up for you at no extra charge. You pay $25/month or so with your CC bill until the $649 or your phone price is paid off.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dennis, why would Consumer Cellular set up a postpaid operation? What could the benefits be for them, and more importantly to customers? Do customers get postpaid roaming benefits even though CC is an MVNO?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Consumer has always been postpaid. You pay for what you actually used, and postpaid saves them the trouble of billing your for extra or crediting for lower usage separately, and saves customers having to analyze two bills (or bill sections) when this happens.
      Ting tried a hybrid system and customers did not understand the + and - priced adjustments on the following month's bill, so they switched to postpaid too. It saves them many support calls for billing questions.
      I am a Consumer subscriber and we get full-speed LTE and no-cost, off-network roaming, same as AT&T postpaid.

      Delete
    2. I don't really know but it might be that Consumer's management might have felt that their target market of retires would like be coming from postpaid carriers and would feel more comfortable with postpaid. Postpaid also facilitates overage usage and makes it easier for the operator to add new taxes and fees.

      Consumer has no extra cost roaming but there's no direct connection between being postpaid and having roaming. Some prepaid operators offer free of paid roaming.

      Delete
  25. Does anyone know if visual voicemail works on iPhones on Consumer Cellular? It's listed as a supported carrier on the Apple website, but I've seen posts to the contrary on howardforums.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here is the reply from Consumer Cellular to my question. Dunno how helpful it is: If the phone in question utilizes a GSM SIM card and is an unlocked device, there is a strong likelihood it is compatible for voice and texting. Most unlocked GSM Android phones can be configured for data and MMS use with our network, and our customer care department will be able to assist with getting these features activated. We do support Visual Voicemail, however, on devices that are not from us, we cannot guarantee them. If you have further concerns, please feel free to call our customer care department at the number below or respond to this email.

      Delete
    2. It works on mine.

      Delete
  26. Consumer Cellular is approaching 2 Million subscribers. They will give $2M to the OHSU Knight Cancer Challenge. Consumer has a history of giving large amounts to charity when they meet important milestones.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Consumer Cellular has doubled its subscribers in the past couple of years. In their Sept newsletter, they announced:
    1. $20 referral credits this month, double the regular credit;
    2. They will be selling the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models as soon as they are released by Apple; and
    3. Consumer made the Inc 5000 list for the 7th year in a row, the fastest growing companies in America

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What they apparently didn't announce is that their 4GB data limit is the most they will give you. We went over 4GB this month, and even though I have always paid for overages in the past, they throttled me for the remainder of the month and told me that they have no way in their system to unthrottle me no matter how much I'm willing to pay, Needless to say, I am not a happy camper, and will be switching our service,

      Delete
  28. Consumer Cellular celebrated their 20th year in business and reaching 2M customers this year. The $20 bill credit through 12/31/15 can also be applied to their new ZTE LTE hotspot ($80) that shares data with your Connect data plan, or their new ZTE home phone system ($50). $20 credit can also be used with their new Ally personal safety system that has GPS, fall detection, and emergency response and rescue.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Dennis, is CC's coverage on the TMO network comparable to TMO postpaid or prepaid coverage?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Dennis, Is data speed on CC not throttled at all? What about latency?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CC does not throttle AT&T speeds, so they are the same as postpaid.

      Delete
  31. Consumer Cellular won the PC Magazine Readers' Choice Award for Best Carrier for the third year in a row, with even higher scores. This year, Project Fi tied for best carrier, bumping Republic Wireless to Honorable Mention. Read all about it here, including Best Smartphones and Operating System awards:
    http://www.pcmag.com/article/342878/readers-choice-awards-2016-smartphones-and-carriers

    ReplyDelete
  32. I received an email message from CC today. Starting June 1, some rates will improve. My data plan will increase from 3000 to 5000 text messages. Also, CC will automatically upgrade my plan when I go over a plan's limits. If I don't want that, I can change back to my prior plan.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hello, I'm a CC customer who recently changed phones to a (unlocked) Nokia 6700 Slider because 2G is being phased-out. However, it will not connect to the CC(ATT) 3G network. I spoke to CC support, and they are unable to resolve. I know I have ATT 3G in my area because another phone in my household uses it.

    Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
Comment Page :