Care Wireless was established in March of 2011 to provide free cell phones under the Lifeline Assistance Plan. At this time, they only offer phones in the state of Illinois, which is a shame, since they have a flexible plan package, a low-cost phone upgrade plan, a warranty and fast, helpful customer service. The company was set up by PlatinumTel, which is one of the largest prepaid cell phone companies in the nation. Therefore, even though the company is new, customers can have confidence that the company has the backing of a company that knows how to service customers well.
We look forward to seeing Care Wireless expand to other states. If and when they do, we’ll update this page.
Care Wireless Plans
Care Wireless offers one and only one plan. Every month, the company applies a $12.50 credit to a customer’s phone (this money cannot be withdrawn). Calls are priced at 5 cents a minute and each text is charged at 2 cents. Therefore, a customer can use 250 talk minutes, 625 text messages or a combination between them. This plan allows the customer to use the service exactly the way they’d like, without having to purchase separate pre-paid minute or text packages, which may go unused at the end of the month.
Free nationwide long-distance, Caller ID, Call Waiting and Voicemail are all included in the basic package. Directory Assistance phone calls are expensive at 99 cents each, so be mindful of their use.
Phone Upgrades and Return Policy
Care Wireless gives a free standard, functional phone. If you want a phone with a camera or other features, you may choose from one of the nine models that Care currently has on offer. The models that they have range from a Samsung M320 camera phone for $14.99 to an Android-equipped Samsung M910 Intercept for $49.99 (Android version 2.1). The one drawback is that all of these upgrade phones are subject to a $62 activation fee.
You may not use a pre-owned phone for Care Wireless service. They only phones that can be used are ones issued by the company itself. However, you may port your existing number to a Care Wireless phone.
Care Wireless also has a decent return policy. All phones purchased from Care Wireless’ website come with a 30-day warrantee against mechanical failure. If there is a failure in a phone purchased from their website within 30 days of activation, or before 200 plan minutes have been used (whichever comes first), the customer may send the phone back for a replacement. Care will also send the user the replacement before they receive the original, so the customer always has access to their phone (the original must be returned within 14 days or the customer will face stiff penalties, including cancellation of their Care Wireless account and referral of the value of the phones to a collections agency).
Damaged phones are not covered under the warranty, nor are phones that were broken by customer negligence. See their website for full details regarding their warranty.
Adding Money to your Care Wireless Phone
The company makes it easy to add money to your phone at anytime. Credit can be purchased online at the company’s website, or at one of many retail locations that sell PlatinumTel top-up cards, including Moneygram locations. A spot check of Olney, IL, a small town dear to my heart, came up with 2 locations, CVS and Walmart. Therefore, adding money to your phone is easy whether you prefer the online or the retail option.
Top ups of $10 and $20 come with 90 days validity; top ups of $30 and $50 dollars have 180 days validity and top ups of $100 or more have 365 days validity.
Qualifying for a Care Wireless Phone
The company gives 4 requirements for getting a free phone:
- The applicant must be the head of household
- No one else in your household must be receiving benefits under the Lifeline program. There is only one phone per household allowed throughout the Lifeline Plan.
- Another common requirement, the applicant must have and use valid address, where he or she can receive mail.
- The applicant must be receiving benefits from one of the following government assistance plans:
- Food Stamps
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8 )
- Supplemental Social Security (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- National School Free Lunch Program
- Bureau of Indian Affairs Programs
Care Wireless requires that the applicants send in documentation proving that they receive benefits under a government plan.
You may apply for a Care Wireless phone by either going to their website and applying directly on the website, by downloading an application from their website and faxing it or by phone with one of their customer service representatives. Their phone number is 855-711-2222.
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