GreatCall isn’t your average medical alert brand. It’s both a cell phone provider and a medical alert company and offers unique solutions for reaching emergency responders. The company also provides exclusive concierge services like on-demand phone consultations with doctors.
The most popular GreatCall products are their mobile phones. The phones have big buttons and other senior-friendly features, and I like that they’re powered by Verizon, America’s fastest cellular network.1 The wearable help buttons also have much to offer, as I pointed out in my recent review of GreatCall Lively Wearable2. And like another top contender, Bay Alarm Medical, all four of GreatCall’s products have access to a monitoring center with an impressively fast response time.
Did You Know: GreatCall cell phones can call for help from across the house when synced to a GreatCall pendant.
Sure, GreatCall is a leader in mobile phones and alert systems for seniors. But you’re probably wondering about costs and fees and whether GreatCall has a plan that will work for your budget and lifestyle. I’m going to take an in-depth look at their products, pricing, and services so that you can see how this brand compares to other popular options like the Medical Guardian medical alert system. Read below for a closer look.
The best features of GreatCall include:
GreatCall is a brand with four distinct products along with lots of extra services and accessories that can be used to customize each one. I will start by pointing out that GreatCall charges separately for equipment and service (some companies only charge for service). Take a look below at the equipment and monthly fees for their phones and Lively wearables.
|Jitterbug Smart2||Lively Flip||Lively Mobile Plus||Lively Wearable2|
|Type of Device||Smartphone||Flip Phone||All-in-One||Watch|
|Monthly Fees (Basic Package)||$24.99||$24.99||$24.99||$24.99|
I was disappointed to learn that both the Jitterbug Smart2 and Lively Flip require a $35 activation fee. It’s probably not a deal breaker but just something to keep in mind as you do your own evaluation.
As you can see above, GreatCall currently sells four medical alert devices. Two of these are phones: the Lively Flip and the Jitterbug Smart2. The others, the Lively Wearable2 and Lively Mobile Plus, are wearable devices. I think it’s a decent product lineup, as many brands only offer two or three options. Let’s dig into the details of GreatCall’s offerings to find out if the service makes sense for you or your loved one.
The Lively Flip is a folding mobile phone made by Samsung. It’s easy to use and has a simple large-print menu and big keypad buttons, leaving room for a red emergency help button at the bottom of the number pad. Added perks, designed especially for older adults, include dialing and texting by voice, an 8MP camera, Brain Games for mental sharpness, and a reading light with a magnifier. The phone has 16 GB of storage, is available in red or gray, and costs $99.99.
Note that the Basic Health and Safety package includes an additional monthly charge for minutes and texts. Unlimited texts and minutes cost $20 per month. If you choose the Preferred or Ultimate package, this fee will be waived.
There’s also an option to pay only for talk and text (and avoid monthly payments for a health and safety package) with the option to upgrade at a later date. Unlimited talk and text costs $39.99 per month.
Best for: The Lively Flip is best for seniors who prefer a simple mobile phone with around-the-clock protection.
Pro Tip: Want to learn about the best features of the latest alert systems? If so, check out our medical alert system buyer’s guide to get the scoop.
As the bigger brother to the Lively Flip, the Jitterbug Smart2 is a Samsung Android phone with 16 GB of storage, a 5 ½-inch screen, and a choice of two setups. With the simple layout, apps appear in a list. With the advanced layout, apps show in the traditional way, with icons. (I like this one!) With either layout, a digital 5Star button shows at the bottom of the screen. Note that this button acts as your emergency helpline. Special features include voice dialing/texting, a 13 MP camera, Brain Games, video chat, and mobile internet access. The full price is $149.99, and service starts at $24.99 per month.
Unlike the Lively Flip, the Jitterbug Smart2 requires an additional charge for talk, text, and data regardless of the health and safety plan you choose. Unlimited talk and text is $20 per month, while unlimited talk, text, and data costs $40 per month.
An option to pay only for talk, text, and data is also available with the Jitterbug.
Best For: The Jitterbug Smart2 is best for seniors who want a more advanced mobile phone experience with 24/7 emergency coverage.
FYI: In most cases, you can transfer your current mobile number to a GreatCall phone. We always recommend doing so to keep things simple.
This innovative button can upgrade your current smartphone with fall detection, 5Star emergency service, Urgent Care medical calls, and other GreatCall benefits. You can wear it around your wrist or neck, and it works within Bluetooth range. Pressing the button will connect you with the response center through your smart phone. Unlike some of the other best medical alert watches, all other functions (including two-way talk) are conducted through the phone, which will be paired to the GreatCall watch during setup.
I like how the watch is waterproof (approved for swimming) and works for about four months per battery. Also, it doubles as a pedometer with step counts displaying in the app. The full price for this handy device is $49.99. And the monitoring starts at $24.99 per month, contract-free.
Pro Tip: In order to use the Lively Wearable2, you will need to have either an Android 7.0 or iPhone iOS 11 or later. Not sure what you have? GreatCall’s customer service can help. Be sure to call them from the smartphone you will be using with the Lively Wearable2.
Best for: The Lively Wearable2 is best for folks who want advanced emergency alert coverage without investing in a new phone.
While I think other GreatCall products are more unique, Lively Mobile Plus is similar to all-in-one GPS buttons from other medical alert brands. However, a big advantage is GreatCall’s average response time of under 19 seconds. In my experience, this is lightning-fast. Also, it offers two-way voice and uses advanced GPS for more precise location.
This device is rain-safe and can clip to your waistband, pocket, or purse. It can also be worn with a lanyard. It holds a charge for up to 80 hours. The full equipment price is $49.99, and 24/7 monitoring starts at $24.99 per month.
Best for: The Lively Mobile Plus is best for seniors who are seeking a convenient alert system with GPS along with an ultra-fast response time.
Did You Know?: If you call 911 from a regular cell phone, accurate GPS information isn’t necessarily relayed to dispatchers!2 Services like GreatCall can help pinpoint your location.
Special services, like GreatCall Rides, for instance, help set this brand apart from other cell phone and medical alert providers we’ve tested. Each of GreatCall’s four products comes with three different health and safety packages — basic, preferred, and ultimate — which include different services and prices.
For example, the basic package for the Lively Wearable2 includes only one service but is offered at the low price of $24.99 per month. The preferred package includes three services and costs $29.99, while the ultimate includes four services and costs $39.99. The nice thing is that you can choose as much or as little as you or your loved one wants or needs. And you can manage everything right in the GreatCall app.
Here’s a roundup of the special services you can expect with GreatCall.
|GreatCall Service||Service Description|
|Fall Detection||A wearable add-on that sends an emergency signal if it detects a sudden fall|
|Urgent Care||On-demand phone consultations with doctors and RNs plus an audio library on common health problems|
|Personal Operator||Unlimited help with appointments, scheduling, and more|
|Great Call Link||A mobile app that allows caregivers to use location detection and receive alerts if the subscriber calls for help|
|GreatCall Rides||Concierge service for arranging Lyft rides with drivers trained to work with seniors|
|Urgent Response||Emergency response system that sends assistance when the help button is pressed|
|Brain Games||Pre-loaded games from a leading provider of brain fitness exercises|
|Alexa Integration||Technology that enables calling or texting by voice|
Not all of the services listed above are available across all devices, packages, or plans. As a guide, I created the table below to summarize the availability of services for each GreatCall device. This should help you narrow down your choices to find an option that works for you or your loved one.
|Jitterbug Smart2||Lively Flip||Lively Mobile Plus||Lively Wearable2|
If it’s an accessory that you are looking for, GreatCall has plenty of those — in fact, they offer more accessories, add-ons, and upgrades than any other brand. So accessorize away, but watch out for the price creep that comes with it!
Here’s a helpful pricing chart of GreatCall accessories available for each of Great Call’s products. As you will probably notice, GreatCall does not offer accessories with the Lively Wearable2.
|Product||Description||One-Time Cost||Product Description|
|Jitterbug Smart2||Gel Phone Case||$19.99||Protective wrap-around case/choice of red or blue|
|Jitterbug Smart2||Screen Protector||$9.99||Thin, tempered glass that guards screen against scratches|
|Jitterbug Smart2||Car Charger||$24.99||12V charger with 40″ coiled cable|
|Jitterbug Smart2||Extra Wall Charger||$19.99||Includes a micro-USB cable|
|Jitterbug Smart2||Bluetooth Headset||$29.99||Wireless headset for streaming music and answering calls|
|Jitterbug Smart2||Stereo Earphones||$24.99||Headset for streaming music and answering calls|
|Jitterbug Smart2||Wallet Folio Case||$24.99||Stylish protection for phone with functionality of wallet|
|Lively Flip||Extra Charging Dock||$24.99||Additional dock for convenience|
|Lively Flip||Travel Wall Charger||$19.99||Includes a 45″ cord and is compatible with 100-240 volt outlets|
|Lively Flip||Car Charger||$24.99||Includes a 40″ coiled cable|
|Lively Flip||Case With Lanyard||$19.99||Available in red or black|
|Lively Flip||Extra Battery||$19.99||Replacement battery|
|Lively Flip||Bluetooth Headset||$29.99||Wireless headset for streaming music and answering calls|
|Lively Flip||Stereo Earphones||$24.99||Headset for streaming music and answering calls|
|Lively Mobile Plus||Lanyard||$14.99||Available in black|
|Lively Mobile Plus||Belt Clip||$9.99||Attaches to pocket, purse or keychain|
|Lively Mobile Plus||Wristband||$19.99||Adjustable and available in black|
|Lively Mobile Plus||AC Charger||$19.99||Easy to use|
I know — it’s a lot to think about. Four cool products, different service plans, and loads of accessories. I recommend starting out by choosing the product that is the best fit for you. Follow that up by determining what services best fit your needs and choose a corresponding plan. A customer agent can help you with this. Finally, you should pick and choose accessories, balancing overall cost with need.
Save 50 percent: For a limited time Lively Mobile Plus is selling for $24.99 on the company’s website. Another thing to consider is a longstanding GreatCall deal offered through AARP. If you’re an AARP member, you can save $5 per month on monitoring or cell service. Not bad.
Note that shipping is always free, and other discounts might be active on a rolling basis. See GreatCall’s website for the latest special promotions, deals, discounts, and savings.
Choosing a GreatCall alert system can be smart if you’re on a budget. If you or your loved one needs cell phone service anyway, then a GreatCall phone wouldn’t cost you any extra per month. Mind you, GreatCall’s lowest advertised rate of $24.99 doesn’t cover everything I typically look for in a medical alert system. And don’t forget that both phones require a $35 activation fee.
Pro Tip: If you upgrade with texting and data plans and concierge services, it’s still much cheaper than your typical mobile phone plan – with the added value of emergency alert coverage, a personal operator, and other senior-friendly features.
As for the wearables, GreatCall offers competitive rates, starting at $24.99 per month. It’s a bit disappointing that the equipment isn’t free, unlike with Bay Alarm Medical and some of my other favorite medical alert systems. But I think GreatCall wearables are superior to other systems out there in terms of response time; plus they have enhanced GPS.
All in all, you could spend slightly less per month with a home-only alternative from Bay Alarm Medical or a similar provider. But for some of the best plans, packages, and pricing, I have to say that GreatCall is indeed a “great call.”
GreatCall began in 2005, founded by a southern California couple already known for revolutionizing mobile communications. Arlene Harris developed game-changing code for pagers, and Martin Cooper is considered the father of the cell phone.3
In founding GreatCall, the couple intended to showcase Harris’ new code, called SOS, for emergency communications. The first GreatCall phones with this technology hit the market in 2006. Welldesigned and built by Samsung, they were well received from the start.4 Within a few years, GreatCall added services such as Urgent Care for on-demand medical calls and MedCoach for text-based pill reminders.
Today, Best Buy owns the company and maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
You can find the CR2450 at most pharmacies and hardware stores. You can also purchase the battery online.
Urgent Care works in partnership with FoneMed, a private company that provides telehealth nursing services. Physicians are contracted through MDLive.
GreatCall Link can be downloaded, free of charge, from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
GreatCall reimburses purchases that are returned in “like new” condition, if returned within 30 days of the date of purchase. Refunds are provided on equipment fees, activation fees, and charges on the first month of service. Shipping fees are nonrefundable, and you will be charged a $10 restocking fee.
Yes, a one-year limited warranty comes with the purchase of your Lively Wearable2. Protection begins on the date of purchase.
Verizon Communications. (28 January, 2020.). Verizon Wins RootMetrics Overall Performance Award for Record 13th Consecutive Time.
Smink, Sam. (14 May, 2018). Why 911 Can’t Always Find You If You Call from a Call Phone. WPTV.com
Encyclopedia.com. (18 May, 2020). Martin Cooper.
Pogue, David. (28 December, 2006). Brilliant Ideas That Found a Welcome. The New York Times
As SafeHome.org’s medical alert system expert, Jenny Wisniewski researches, tests, and reviews the best solutions to help seniors age in place. Her experience includes providing caregiving for her own Mother and regularly writing in the elder care consulting space. Jenny pays attention to the nuances in each alert system she reviews so that seniors and family members can find the best fit for their needs. In addition to elder care, Jenny also enjoys writing about travel, education, and the environment. And in her free time, she loves spending time outdoors with her family and golden doodle. Learn more about Jenny here