Care Wireless Powered by PlatinumTel
PlatinumTel is an interesting prepaid wireless provider as they are not
only an MVNO of Sprint, but also participate in the Lifeline free cell
phone service program under the brand name Care Wireless.
PlatinumTel started service in 2001 and continues to provide
variety of no contract plans and phones, including Android smartphones.
They're still considered to be a very small player.
to call them a niche provider, as that usually implies a uniquely
positioned brand. However, to be honest, I don't understand
they're targeting, or their specific company value proposition.
Please don't get me wrong, that's not to say they aren't a
great provider; they just haven't built a strong brand identity from
what I can tell.
All that said, what's really somewhat puzzling is that they don't own
their own network, so they use the Sprint nationwide network.
That's not strange in and of itself though. What's
odd/interesting is that Sprint already has a Lifeline program run by
its Virgin Mobile brand called Assurance Wireless. These two
programs (Assurance & Care) are very similar. Why the
government would approve multiple very similar programs that even run
the same network is currently beyond my understanding.
Anyway, what this ultimately means is that prospective customers have
more options, which is a good thing! Now let's review the
of the Care Wireless powered by PlatinumTel program:
Who Is Eligible?
- No one in your household can currently be receiving
Lifeline wireless or landline free service.
- You must have a valid U.S. postal address; P.O. Boxes are
- You need to currently be receiving one of the following
government assistance programs:
- Food Stamps
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- National School Free Lunch Program
- Bureau of Indian Affairs Programs
- SSI, TAMF, or LIHEAP
- Household income is at or below 135% of the Federal
Poverty Guidelines (their website has a table showing what these
What Wireless Services Are Included?
- You must live in Illinois, which is the only state that
PlatinumTel offers the Care Wireless Lifeline program for the time
Where Can I Get It?
- Free phone
- 300 minutes per month (or 750 text messages); 1 minute =
$0.05, 1 text message = $0.02 (monthly account allowance = $15)
- Caller ID
- 3-Way Calling
- Nationwide Long Distance
One thing that's great about the way Platinum Tel is running
this program is that they have a number of different ways to enroll,
which has been lacking in other programs. You can enroll
online, by phone, by fax, or by snail mail. Visit the Care
page for all of the details.
What Else Should I Know About Care Wireless?
- If you need more minutes or texts, you can add money to
your account using any PlatinumTel topup cards that range from $10 -
$100 with varying expiration dates.
- Expect to re-qualify each year, so lookout for the required
paperwork to avoid being disqualified from the service! You
can also use their Annual Online Verification form.
If I were you, I wouldn't wait for them to reach out to me to
re-verify each year. Put your annual date on your calendar,
and use their online form well before the year is up to ensure that you
don't lose service.
- Only the designated Care phones will work, so don't waste
your time trying to get a better/different phone that is technically
compatible with the Sprint network.
Overall, although differentiating one Lifeline service from
another is getting increasingly more difficult, Care Wireless
Assistance is a good solid option if it's available where you live.
For information on other Lifeline programs that may be
available to you, head over to the Free
Cell Phone Service Introduction