In addition to SafeLink Wireless and ReachOut wireless, Illinois residents that meet the income qualifications can receive free government cell phone along with free airtime from Care Wireless. Care Wireless is powered by Ptel (formerly Platinum Tel).
What Care Wireless Offers
As mentioned above, Care Wireless provides a free cell phone but they also provide 300 minutes of talk time or the equivalent is 750 text messages. This is a no-contract, no monthly bill service.
In addition to free airtime their free wireless phones offer services such as Caller ID, Voice Mail, Three-Way Calling and free nationwide long distance.
Qualifying for Care Wireless Free Service
To qualify you must be a resident of Illinois. Care Wireless is available in Illinois. In addition to the residency requirements you must participate in at least one of the following government assistance programs:
- Food Stamps
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- National School Free Lunch Program
- Bureau of Indian Affairs Programs
- Supplemental Social Security (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Please be advised that if someone else in your economic unit is already participating in a Lifeline government phone program, you are not eligible for Care Wireless. Only one government program is allowable per economic unit.
Applying for a Care Wireless Cell Phone
Care makes it very easy to apply. You have the option of enrolling online by visiting their website or you can call them using their toll-free number of 1-855-711-2222. If those options don’t suit your fancy you can download the Illinois enrollment Application and fax it or mail it back to them.
If you are accepted into the program and they ship a free cell phone to you, you are subject to an annual verification. This means that once a year you must provide the necessary documentation to prove you continue to meet the qualifying criteria for free government phones.
Purchasing Additional Airtime
The monthly value of the free 300-minute/725-text plan is $15. Care Wireless deducts five cents for every minute of talk time and two cents for every text sent or received. Additionally, There’s a fifty-cent charge for every 411 call plus an additional five cents for each minute you’re on the 411 calls.
If you find that 300 airtime minutes is not enough to meet your monthly cell phone needs, you can purchase additional airtime ranging from $10 to $100 which gives you anywhere from 90 days to 365 days of phone service.
Please note, in order to receive your free airtime, you must have your phone on for the first three days of the month. That is when the airtime is credited to your account.
Buying additional airtime is a simple as dialing 611 from your phone, or you can visit the Care Wireless website, log into your account and purchase the denomination of time you need. If you prefer to handle business in person, find a Ptel store in your area.