What Is Sprint Unlimited 55+ and Is It Worth It?

Sprint has launched a new monthly cellphone plan called Unlimited 55+. Priced at an aggressive $70 for two lines of service, the offering is designed to attract older customers who want and need cell service to stay in touch with their family members and friends, but don’t necessarily want all of the bells and whistles they'd get from a standard plan.

Credit: Sprint

(Image credit: Sprint)

Sprint’s Unlimited 55+ plan isn't for everyone — you need to be 55 or older to qualify, anyway — but it has some compelling features for people entering a new phase in their lives. Perhaps most important to retirees or at least people with more time to travel, the Sprint plan makes it simple and relatively affordable to globetrot while keeping access to the internet.

Here's what you need to know about Sprint's offering.

What is Sprint Unlimited 55+?

Sprint Unlimited 55+ is a new plan designed specifically for new customers nearing retirement age. The program has a variety of perks, including unlimited talk, text and data, global roaming, and the ability to connect to devices with a mobile hotspot.

How old do I need to be to qualify?

No youngsters here, folks: you need to be 55 or older to qualify for the program.

Note that Sprint says that age verification will be required for anyone who wants to sign up for the program. And since you must  sign up for the service in one of Sprint's stores, this isn't something you'll be able to fudge.

Are there other requirements?

Not a bunch. Sprint said that you won't need to enroll in its AutoPay  to qualify for the program, but if you do, you'll qualify for a $5-per-line monthly credit. You will, however, need to enroll in eBill. That means you'll have your bill delivered electronically and you won't get a bill in the mail.

How much does the plan cost?

The Unlimited 55+ plan costs $70 a month for two lines of unlimited talk, text and data. (If you want to drill down into the nitty-gritty, the first line costs $50 a month, and the second costs $20, assuming you've enrolled in autopay.) Sprint suggests this pricing is for a limited time.

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To put that rate in context, Sprint's regular unlimited plan costs $60 for the first line and $40 for the second, or $100 a month. So customers 55 years and older can save $30 on their monthly bill.

Note that you'll need to get a credit approval from Sprint and pay up to $30 for a one-time activation fee. Taxes, surcharges and roaming are also not included in the price. And if you choose a handset on a lease or with monthly installments, you'll need to fork over additional cash for that device.

What does the plan include?

You actually get quite a bit for that $70-for-two-lines price.

Once you sign up, you'll immediately get unlimited talk, texting and data, so you won't need to worry about sending big files to family or spending hours on the phone talking to your kids. That said, Sprint limits your video-streaming quality to 480p, or the same resolution as a DVD, so if you want to view HD content over the company's network, you'll be out of luck. (The regular unlimited plan allows for 1080p streaming.)

Credit: Sprint

(Image credit: Sprint)

If you choose to stream music, your data-transfer speeds will hit a cap of 500 kbps, and on the gaming side, Sprint will throttle your speeds at up to 2 Mbps. Again, these restrictions are more severe than what Sprint puts on its standard unlimited plan (1.5 Mbps for music and 8 Mbps for gaming).

If you're fine with that, you'll also get Sprint's Global Roaming package, which will allow you to place calls and send messages in more than 185 countries and territories around the world. Before you go, though, you'll want to consult with Sprint to get a sense of how much the company will charge you for calling and data while you're away. Charges will vary by country.

Finally, Sprint's Unlimited 55+ includes an unlimited mobile hotspot, which means you can connect a bunch of devices to your smartphone and connect to the web with them. However, Sprint is limiting its mobile hotspot speeds to 3G, so don't get too excited. And the company said that it will de-prioritize its Unlimited 55+ traffic during congested periods.

How many lines can be on the plan?

Sprint is limiting each plan to two lines.

I'm already a Sprint customer. Can I apply?

Sorry, but no. Sprint has made clear that its Unlimited 55+ is available only to new customers. So if you're already a Sprint customer, over 55, and want to continue to use the service, this plan isn't available to you.

Are there limitations on phones?

Not really. But there are some caveats.

The only phones eligible for the program are those you lease from Sprint, ones you purchase and pay for in monthly installments, ones you already own and are compatible on Sprint's network, or were purchased at full price.

So, whether you want an iPhone X or a cheap Motorola handset, as long as the device fits into one of those four categories, you'll be all set.

How does this compare with T-Mobile's Unlimited 55+ Plan?

It's nearly identical.

Plan
First Line
Second Line
Cost for Two Lines
Age Requirements
Streaming Restrictions
International Benefits
Sprint Unlimited 55+
$50
$20
$70
55 or older on both lines
480p on video; 500 Kbps on music; 2 Mbps on gaming
Free texting and 2G data plus calls at $0.20 per minute in 185+ countries
T-Mobile Unlimited 55+
$50
$20
$70
55 or older for the primary account holder
480p on video
Talk, text in 140+ countries; 5GB of LTE data in Canada & Mexico; unlimited 2G data elsewhere

T-Mobile's Unlimited 55+ plan is also for people 55 and older and gives you two lines of data for the same $70 a month. The savings here are more substantial, as T-Mobile's regular unlimited plan costs $120 for two lines. Like Sprint's deal, you'll get unlimited talk, text and data.

T-Mobile's plan offers roaming in up to 140 countries and territories and includes free in-flight texting and data with Gogo wireless. T-Mobile's plan also turns your phone into a hotspot with unlimited connections (at 3G speed) and lets you stream all the music and videos you want — in DVD quality.

For a limited time, T-Mobile is also including taxes and fees in its price, which could technically make it a bit more affordable than Sprint's option during that period.