Do you live in the state of Illinois? Are you a low- or no-income person who struggles to make ends meet? If so, there is a good chance you may qualify for a free government cell phone through Care Wireless. Care Wireless is a small Lifeline Assistance free cell phone provider that currently only serves customers in Illinois. They are not the only free government cell phone provider that services Illinois, so you may want to shop around before you commit. They do however offer more free minutes than many other companies, and are well worth a look.
Care Wireless Plan Features
When you sign up for Care Wireless, you receive free service through the Care Wireless Plan. This plan comes with 300 voice minutes for free or up to 750 text messages. You can use your minutes to call anyone in the country long distance. The plan also includes free voicemail, free caller ID and free 3-way calling.
If you need more minutes, there are paid top-up plans available. You can purchase more time in increments of $10, $20, $30, $50, or $100. The $10 to $20 top-ups extend for 90 days. The $30 and $50 top-ups are good for 180 days. If you add $100 to your plan, those minutes last for an entire year. If you are able to take a guess at your monthly use that far in advance, this can be a great cost-saving option.
Do I Qualify?
Care Wireless offers service in conjunction with Lifeline Assistance, the free government cell phone program. In order to qualify for Lifeline, you must either be living at or below 135% of the federal poverty level or receiving assistance through a qualifying state or federal aid program. Below you can find 135% of the federal poverty guidelines:
Persons in family | household Poverty guideline
1 | $14,580
2 | 19,660
3 | 24,740
4 | 29,820
5 | 34,900
6 | 39,980
7 | 45,060
8 | 50,140
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,080 for each additional person.
The other way to qualify for assistance from Care Wireless is to meet the qualifying program test. Even if you do not meet the income test, you can still qualify if you are receiving assistance currently through an approved program in the state of Illinois. These programs include the following:
- 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
If you are on assistance through a program that is not listed here, you may want to give Care Wireless a call to see if you still might qualify for a free government cell phone. There are two other requirements you need to meet as well. You must live at a valid U.S. street address, and no other member of your household can currently be a Lifeline subscriber via Care Wireless or any other company. If you are homeless, please contact Care Wireless directly to discuss whether there is a way you can qualify for a free government cell phone. Do not try to use a P.O. Box to get your free government cell phone; your application will be declined. Only one free phone line is available per household.
Care Wireless only serves residents in the state of Illinois, but as a smaller company, they may have more to offer you in terms of customer service. Their plan for 300 voice minutes or up to 750 text messages is better than a lot of other free government cell phone plans offered by competing companies (most of which provide only 250 voice minutes and up to 250 texts). The top-up plans provide some additional flexibility should you need the extra minutes and have the money to pay for them.
To apply for service through Care Wireless, you can email, fax, or mail your application and your verification paperwork (to prove your eligibility) to the company. In the near future, Care Wireless plans to include an electronic upload feature on their website to make it even easier to apply for a free government cell phone in Illinois.