GreatCall may be the only wireless carrier that’s known more for its phones than its service. The Jitterbug — an easy-to-use cell phone with big buttons and a bright screen — was designed with seniors in mind.

Jitterbug phones now come in two versions: a smartphone and a flip phone. Both give users access to a network of health and safety services, including 5Star Urgent Response, which connects callers to a 911 operator with the push of a button. Those services, combined with the Jitterbug’s user-friendly design and GreatCall’s affordable prepaid plans, make it one of the best cell phone plans for senior citizens.

It isn’t the best cell phone plan for younger users, though, or those simply looking to save money: T-Mobile and AT&T offer less expensive bare bones plans. And if you’re looking for data options or phone choices, another company might be a better fit.


GreatCall cell phone plans

GreatCall’s prepaid service lets you customize your plan. You can choose a talk, text and data plan or a health and safety service plan — more on that below.

When you pick a talk, text and data plan, you can select the number of minutes you want, and add optional messages or megabytes if you opt for the Jitterbug Smart phone. The base plan costs $14.99 for 200 minutes. This is different from other prepaid cell phone plans, which typically bundle a data package with unlimited minutes and texts. GreatCall does offer one plan that fits that bill: unlimited talk and text, plus 100MB of data for $49.99.

GreatCall Health and Safety services

You can also build your GreatCall plan around a Health and Safety package. There are three options — Basic, Preferred and Ultimate — to which you can add minutes, texts and data. Here’s what those packages include:

Basic ($19.99)

  • 5Star Urgent Response: One-touch emergency response service.
  • MedCoach: Medication reminders and refill assistance.
  • The Wellness Call: A weekly call from a wellness expert.
  • Daily Health Tips: Text message tips on exercising and healthy living.
  • Check-in Call: A daily automated check-in call, personalized to ask about pain, appetite, etc.
  • Brain Games: A suite of games to exercise memory and improve focus. (Only on Jitterbug Smart.)

GreatCall Med Coach main page

GreatCall Med Coach main pageGreatCall Med Coach reminder screenGreatCall Med Coach reminder screen

Preferred ($24.99)

  • All services included in the Basic package.
  • Urgent Care: 24/7 phone access to a registered nurse or board-certified doctor.
  • GreatCall Link: An app that gives family members and caregivers updates and emergency alerts.

Ultimate ($34.99)

  • All services included in the Basic and Preferred packages.
  • Personal Operator: A live operator, available 24/7, to help with tasks like placing calls and looking up phone numbers.
  • Handset Replacement: A maximum of one replacement per year for lost, stolen or damaged phones. An additional replacement fee does apply.

Health and safety services can be also purchased a la carte with a talk, text and data plan. If you do opt for a Health and Safety package, though, you have different minute packages to choose from than if you have a talk and text plan.

  • 50 minutes for $5.
  • 600 minutes for $10.
  • 1,000 minutes for $15.
  • 2,000 minutes for $20.

Building a GreatCall plan

With all the mixing and matching available, GreatCall can be a little confusing. Here are a few examples of possible GreatCall plans:

  • 600 minutes ($19.99) and 300 texts ($3) for $22.99 per month.
  • Basic Health and Safety package ($19.99), plus 50 minutes ($5) and 700 texts ($6) for $30.99 per month.
  • 200 minutes ($14.99), 300 texts ($3) and 100MB ($5), plus the Wellness Call ($4) for $26.99 per month.

All of GreatCall’s plans are billed monthly, which is typical of prepaid services. The carrier does not offer any pay-as-you-go plans.

» MORE: 3 steps to finding a cheap cell phone plan

Where to buy GreatCall

You can order a Jitterbug phone and a GreatCall prepaid plan on the company’s website or by phone. You can also buy both at select Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Rite Aid and Sears stores.

GreatCall’s network

GreatCall is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, which is a fancy way of saying the company doesn’t own its own network. Instead, GreatCall contracts with Verizon Wireless, so GreatCall customers use Verizon’s top-rated nationwide network.

The Jitterbug

GreatCall’s signature phone is the Jitterbug, a user-friendly device designed for seniors. Think big buttons, a loud speaker and large text on the display screen. There are currently two Jitterbug models available — the Jitterbug Flip and the Jitterbug Smart — and you can get 10% off any GreatCall device by using code GCJB016.

Jitterbug Flip

Jitterbug Flip

  • Regular price: $99.99.
  • Dimensions (closed): 2.2 inches x 4.3 inches x 0.7 inches and 4.7 ounces.
  • Memory: 1GB built-in storage.
  • Features: GPS, Bluetooth, speakerphone, camera with flash.

Jitterbug Smart

  • Regular price: $149.99.

    jitterbug-smart-front (1)

    jitterbug-smart-front (1) Jitterbug Smart

  • Dimensions: 3.1 inches x 6 inches x 0.4 inches and 6.1 ounces.
  • Memory: 8GB built-in storage and up to 32GB expandable storage.
  • Features: GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, speakerphone, touch screen, main camera (with flash) and front-facing camera.

Current GreatCall deals

Great Call deals as of May 16, 2016, include:

  • Save 25% on the Jitterbug Smart or Jitterbug Flip.
  • Get 10% off any device with code GCJB016.

Is GreatCall right for you?

GreatCall’s plans and phones are designed for senior citizens — specifically those who live on their own and would use the carrier’s health and safety services. If you simply want a cheap plan with a few minutes and texts, you can find one that costs less with another carrier. And tech-savvy seniors will find cheaper data packages and more smartphone options with prepaid carriers like Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless.

Kelsey Sheehy is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ksheehy@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @KelseyLSheehy.