Consumer Cellular is one of the few carriers with access to both AT&T and T-Mobile towers. So, you get to join with the network that works best in your area. But then, is the MVNO really worth it? Let’s compare Pure Talk vs Consumer Cellular and see about that.
As usual, we’re going to focus on only the crucial features. That includes coverage benefits, network roaming, pricing, deprioritization, and data throttling.
FYI: MVNO or mobile virtual network operator is a carrier that usually resells the network of a major network provider (or MNP in short).
Pure Talk vs Consumer Cellular: A Summary of the Wireless Phone Providers
|Feature||Pure Talk||Consumer Cellular|
|Carrier Network||AT&T||AT&T/ T-Mobile|
|LTE Download Speeds||70+Mbps||70+Mbps|
|Cheapest Phone Plan||$20/ month (before discount)||$20/ month (before discount)|
|Unlimited data||YES (with cap)||YES (with cap)|
|Free Mexico/ Canada Call||NO||NO|
|Video Streaming||YES [1080p HD]||YES [480p]|
|Phone Unlock Period||At Purchase||After 180 Days|
What’s Pure Talk?
In simple words, Pure Talk is one of the carriers you can consider if you’d want to cut down your monthly phone bill. It has up to seven rate plans to choose from, starting with the basic 2GB plan at $20 or $16/ month with 4+ lines.
In addition to that, Pure Talk has a retail section where they sell all unlocked cell phones and iPads. Then, you can also finance your desired luxury device from as low as $5/ month over two years.
What’s Consumer Cellular?
Consumer Cellular is another carrier you could consider when looking for a way to cut down your monthly phone bill. It’s mostly advertised towards the premium seniors, but any person looking for an affordable service can use it.
Consumer Cellular also tends to offer frequent offers on devices, including the latest releases. And if you can’t afford to pay upfront, they also have a super-low buy now pay later option over 24 months.
Pure Talk vs Consumer Cellular: The 7 Main Differences between the Cell Phone Providers
As most prepaid carriers, both Pure Talk and Consumer are available to everyone, even those with bad credit or no credit at all. They also require no contract to use, plus you can easily activate your line/s online for free.
Even so, Pure Talk does have digital eSIM support. So, you can activate the service instantly without necessarily waiting for the physical SIM card to arrive. The eSIM capability also allows you to activate multiple lines on your single-line iPhone and Android devices.
Winner: Pure Talk as it has eSIM support
All the two carriers have partnered with AT&T, which you should know has the largest GSM coverage across the country. That includes not only in the big cities but also in various remote areas, including in the Midwestern region.
Nonetheless, Consumer Cellular also uses the T-Mobile network. Of course, you can only use one service with your line, but there’s the option to choose the network that works best in your area.
Winner: Consumer Cellular as it has access to both AT&T and T-Mobile towers.
Free Phone Deals
Unfortunately, neither Pure Talk nor Consumer Cellular has free phone deals to consider. However, Pure Talk does offer a partial discount through the trade-in program. Then, you can also save up to $250 on the high-end Apple and Samsung devices.
Similarly, Consumer Cellular does offer partial discounts of up to $150. But unlike Pure Talk, the promo is only limited to a few devices and also it’s a limited-time thing.
Winner: Pure Talk as it has promo discounts all-year-round and on all devices
Do you travel a lot? If yes, Consumer Cellular has roaming agreements with various carriers across the country and overseas. Of course, the roaming coverage isn’t guaranteed everywhere, but like anything else, it’s better than none.
As for the cost, Consumer Cellular doesn’t charge for domestic roaming. However, the international roaming rates vary from one country to another. You can pay from $0.10-$0.40 per MB of data usage, $0.10-$0.50/ talk minute, and $0.10-$0.30/ text message sent or received.
On the other hand, Pure Talk does support domestic roaming while outside the AT&T coverage area. However, it doesn’t have an international roaming service, in which case you’ll have to rely on your WiFi to communicate back home.
Winner: Consumer Cellular as it has both domestic and international roaming features
Phone Plans & Pricing
When we now compare Consumer Cellular vs Pure Talk on the plan structure, the pricing is nearly the same. But as you can see in the charts below, Pure Talk does have better offerings for multi-line subscriptions and data allotments.
Chart 2.1 Pure Talk Phone Plan Structure
|Features||2GB Plan||4GB Plan||10GB Plan||20GB Plan||Unlimited Plan (A)||Unlimited Plan (B)|
|Single-Line Price||$20/ mo.||$25/ mo.||$35/ mo.||$45/ mo.||$55/ mo.||$65/ mo.|
|Multi-Line Discounts||$4 – $16 (2+ lines)||$5 – $20 (2+ lines)||$7-$28 (2+ lines)||$9-$36 (2+ lines)||$11-$44 (2+ lines)||$13-$52 (2+ lines)|
|Free 5G Access||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Data Allotment||2GB (then 2G)||4GB (then 2G)||10GB (then 2G)||20GB (then 2G)||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Premium Data||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||60GB (then 3G)||60GB (then 3G)|
|Mobile Hotspot Data Cap||ALL||ALL||ALL||ALL||15GB||25GB|
|Video Stream Quality||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p|
Chart 2.2 Consumer Cellular Phone Plan Structure
|Features||1GB Plan||3GB Plan||7GB Plan||10GB Plan||15GB Plan||Unlimited Plan|
|Single-Line Price||$20/ mo.||$25/ mo.||$35/ mo.||$40/ mo.||$45/ mo.||$55/ mo.|
|Multi-Line Discounts||$5 (3+ lines)||$5 – $15 (2+ lines)||$15-$35 (2+ lines)||$20-$45 (2+ lines)||$25-$55 (2+ lines)||$35-$110 (2+ lines)|
|Free 5G Access||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Premium Data||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||50GB (then 2G)|
|Mobile Hotspot Data Cap||ALL||ALL||ALL||ALL||ALL||ALL|
|Video Stream Quality||SD Quality (480p)||SD Quality (480p)||SD Quality (480p)||SD Quality (480p)||SD Quality (480p)||SD Quality (480p)|
Typically, all the first four Pure Talk rate plans (i.e 2GB/ 4GB/ 6GB/ $10GB) are relatively cheaper than Consumer Cellular on multi-line subscriptions. On the two-line bundle, you’ll get to save 10%, 15% on three-line, and 20% savings on the four-line subscriptions.
Moreover, Pure Talk usually offers more monthly data allotment, ranging up to 60GB on the unlimited plan.
Of course, the Consumer Cellular rate plans also do have a decent allowance on the unlimited subscription- 50GB of data. But the allowance on all the plans is relatively less compared to Pure Talk.
In Chart 2.2 above, you’ll also notice that Consumer Cellular pricing is only better than Pure Talk in multi-line subscriptions of the last two plans.
Winner: Pure Talk as all the plans are cheaper than Consumer Cellular as per gigabyte
Deprioritization & Throttling
All the two carriers here have deprioritized data. In other words, you’ll notice a significant drop in the browsing speed when the host network is very busy in your area. And considering the LTE data speeds fall between 35 – 70Mbps, you might need a 5G phone to always have a usable service.
As for the throttling, Pure Talk and Consumer Cellular also have all the plans with capped high-speed data. However, Pure Talk does give you more high-speed data before throttling to the 3G or 2G speeds.
Meanwhile, Consumer Cellular only throttles data for the subscribers of the Unlimited plan. If on either of the other plans, the carrier neither throttles nor hard stops your data after reaching the allowance limit. Instead, you’ll be automatically upgraded to the next plan, though you can revert to your previous package in the next bill cycle.
Winner: Pure Talk as it has more high-speed data allowance and also unlimited 3G/ 2G data on all plans
Mobile Hotspot/ Tethering
Well, both Pure Talk and Consumer Cellular do offer mobile hotspots on all the plans. However, Pure Talk plans come with the feature automatically activated on most devices. And in case not active, you can contact customer support at 1-877-820-7873 or 611.
On the other hand, Consumer Cellular hardly has information regarding the mobile hotspot. On the blog page, though, they provide that you’ll need to “contact the customer support team at (888) 345-5509” to have them enable the feature for you.
Winner: Pure Talk as the plans come with a hotspot feature automatically enabled
Who is carrier for Pure Talk?
AT&T is the carrier for Pure Talk. You can also get domestic roaming in some regions, but the feature isn’t guaranteed.
Does Consumer Cellular Support Video streaming?
Yes, indeed Consumer Cellular supports video streaming in 480p quality. However, the carrier has all the plans with capped high-speed data. Thus, you could end up depleting your monthly allowance early.
What’s the data speed of Pure Talk?
Basically, the data speed of Pure Talk varies with the location and device you’re using. However, in a recent speed test using iPhone 11, the downloads peaked at 72Mbps, whereas the uploads recorded around 9Mbps.
At price point, both Pure Talk and Consumer Cellular are pretty much the same for single-line customers. They also have partnered with AT&T, which has good coverage even in some rural areas.
In my opinion, though, Pure Talk is a much better phone provider. It gives you more affordable multi-line pricing, higher data allowance, and better fully-unlocked phone deals. Oh, don’t forget about eSIM support, which can come in handy in several situations.