Product Review: The 5 Star Urgent Response from GreatCall

5 Star Urgent ResponseProduct Review: The 5Star Urgent Response Medical Alert

The 5 Star Urgent Response from GreatCall is a great choice when it comes to mobile medical alert systems. These new MOBILE PERS (personal emergency response systems) are redefining the medical alert marketplace (something The Senior List has been advocating for the past few years). The 5 Star urgent response device operates on a cellular network (Verizon), and is very simple to use. As you can see, it has one (1) button! Push it once to connect to the emergency call center… Hold button down to connect directly to 911. This unit is priced right, and there are no contracts that keep you locked in.

Product Info: 5Star Medical Alert System5 Star Urgent Response

  • Name: 5 Star Urgent Response from GreatCall
  • Auto Fall Detection?: No
  • Equipment Cost: $49.99 (retail) plus a $35 (one time) activation fee
  • Monthly Cost: $14.99 per device
  • Features: Lanyard is available (but not posted on website), Belt Clip (available for a nominal charge), Easy to use (1 single) Panic Button, Untethered 24/7 Monitoring on a Cellular Network, GPS Tracking is Available (for family and/or caregiver monitoring), Unlimited Access to GreatCall's “LiveNurse” program, and an Online Portal to help manage contacts, device features, etc.

Review: 5Star Urgent Response Alert From GreatCall

5 Star Urgent Response

The 5 Star Urgent Response Alert System is a great little device, and 5Star definitely makes our “recommended” list. This is another “untethered” mobile alert device that uses Verizon's cellular network for coverage (you're not bound by a connection to your land-line connected device). You're able to walk around the yard, down the street, or down to the shopping mall (anywhere there's a cell signal). As you can see there is only one large emergency button… and that's it. Press once to be connected to the GreatCall call center, or hold it down (for 5 seconds) to be connected to 911. GreatCall's call center monitors 24/7, they're located in the USA, and GreatCall claims that their personnel is “trained in CPR and 5 Star Urgent Responseother emergency procedures“. There is no limit to the number of times your loved one can depress the emergency call button (says Bonnie- one of GreatCall's customer representatives). If the user is anxious and needs to be connected to their caregiver, loved one, or nurse… A GreatCall operator will patch them through.

5 Star Urgent ResponseThe 5Star can not be used as a mobile phone. After all, there are no numbers to dial out. You either connect to GreatCall's call center, OR you connect directly to 911. The pricing plan is also simple (which we like). At $14.99 per month, it's one of the least expensive options for your loved one. For a device with GPS tracking, and a US based (trained) call center The Senior List thinks there is good value here. We also like the fact that when you pay for this unit, it's yours. All you do is activate it (there is a $35 activation fee) and pay your monthly service plan. You can terminate when you want… and you don't have to worry about returning equipment, or cancellation fees.

When we pressed the alert button we were connected to a live operator within 6 rings.  The sound quality on the 5Star was as good any basic cell phone might be (while on speakerphone).  One thing to consider about this unit or others like it:  Aging adults that have hearing loss could have trouble hearing the device (although we had no issues with it at all).  The operator we spoke with was courteous and professional, and when the conversation ended she reminded us how to disconnect from the call center (by depressing the call button again).

On of the other considerations for the 5Star alert system is it's use for younger kids.  We could see this device being used in lieu of a cell phone for a younger (pre-teen) that doesn't need a phone quite yet.  The 5Star could be used as a back-up device if they get into trouble, lost, etc. AND you could pin-point where they are using the built-in GPS technology on board.  That piece of mind is easily worth the $14.99 per month to a lot of consumers out there.  Our only concern would be that kids could abuse the call button (showing off for their friends) or they could easily lose the device.  It might be worth it though, if you were looking for a safety-net for your child…

GreatCall 5Star Urgent ResponseThe Bottom Line:

We really like the 5Star medical alert system. This is a “must consider” device if you're looking for a mobile medical alert system. This is not a device that you'd bring into the shower or bath with you. IF you need a waterproof pendant option, this is not for you. In most cases however, this device would be a great solution both inside and outside the home. If you're looking for a mobile medical alert option with GPS location tracking (in case of emergencies) The Senior List thinks the 5Star is definitely worth a look, and we would recommend this device for someone that needs a mobile medical alert device.


Read More:

New Mobile Medical Alert Choices Are Great For Consumers

Product Review: The SureResponse Medical Alert from Verizon

Product Review: The LifeTrac Mobile Protector from SecuraTrac


  1. On Friday, April 27, 2018, I called Great Call as my Lively device was not charging and was extremely hot to touch. I was told the software was outdated and needed to be updated. A regular agent tried to update it and could not so I was transferred to a tech agent (Kenneth) who said he had corrected the problem and it would take 2-4 hours to finish updating. This was late in the day so I went to bed and left it charging. The next morning, April 28, it was still flashing red and still very hot. I called again and spoke with Gerald who checked and saw it was not working and would send a replacement. I asked if he could send it overnight and was told no, he could not. On April 30, I woke feeling ill and dizzy. I live alone and have no family members closer than 2 states away. I purchased a Great Call device to give me a way to call for help in an emergency since I do not have anyone to check on me on a regular basis. I called again to customer service to tell them that they should send a new device to someone when through no fault of their own has a non working device. I was told they do not have the option for overnight mail. So I am left for a week or more with no protection because Great Call is to cheap and insensitive to offer overnight mail.

    1. Thank you for alerting us to this issue Joan. We will reach out to GreatCall and inquire about this experience. A paying customer should ALWAYS have the medical alert coverage they’re entitled to.

  2. USED TO LOVE IT – NOW HATE IT …. The old 5 Star Urgent response device worked very well for 2 years, but got to where it wouldn’t hold a charge. Got new 5 Star device in March 2017. It worked almost identical to old one for about 3 months.

    In the past few weeks something has changed with the tracking feature. Previously we could track my mother nearly everywhere she went! (except VERY poor signal areas). Now we are getting sporadic tracking, discrepant info – text saying she’s at home, map saying she is in a town 40 miles away, info saying she was away from home last night at midnight when she was actually home, and now the signal does not pick up if she is in virtually any kind of building, restaurant, or store. And this occurs whether she is in a fringe area or when she is downtown which has as good of coverage as is practical in life without living beneath a cell tower.

    I have been on phone with tech support for hours; eventually they saw the discrepant info. We confirmed with a test call that if this test call had been an emergency the ambulance would have been sent TO THE WRONG PLACE – over 2 miles away!!! Finally sent us a new device. It’s doing the same thing!! 🙁 We have 4 of her children with the iPhone app to communicate with the 5 star device and we are ALL seeing the problem. It used to be worth the money. Now it is not. We’re going to be looking for a different solution. They have “upgraded” to useless. If the ambulance can’t find her – it’s no good.

  3. Have had 5-star for years. Used it a few times for husband (who has since passed). I carry it with me everywhere…home and out. Very small and fits in a pocket…everything I own has a pocket! Customer service AMAZING. Response time AMAZING. Would not feel secure or safe without it. Just checked out Life Alert and to get the same protection I have now would take multiple units and triple the cost.

  4. The GreatCall Link app only delivers battery status and # of times Great call was contacted. Has not yet (after 3 days active) delivered any GPS location. The information is not current to the moment. The app has failed to show mom’s movements away from her home. The user instructions are not complete and do not define all the terms and concepts used by the app. Calling for help leads to 10 -20+ minutes on hold.

  5. I got behind in my payments for a couple of months and when I went to catch up I got an email that was titled survey. It wasn’t a survey. It was very rude and asked me in various ways if I was aware that I was responsible for the bill. It was like a deposition.
    I called to make a payment and the person I talked to was very rude and condescending. I also stated the the reception in my apartment as very bad to nonexistence. This was ignored. I also stated that I thought the microphone was going bad because know one could hear me with out me screaming. He said there were no repairs and that I would just have to buy another one. There must be some financial incentive for this company to fail because they are trying diligently to put themselves out of business. It is a shame because it could have been a good company if the goal of the company were to actually provide service with a good experience.

  6. I bought the 5 Star Urgent Response and less than a year it stopped taking a charge. CS told me you can’t take the unit apart to put a rechargeable battery in it. I would have to buy a whole new Unit again, so I bought again. After I had it activated, 6 mos later it is starting to do the same thing. I am beginning to think this is a big rip off. Why can’t they make the units so we can replace the rechargeable batteries when they need it. This way we have to pay for the Unit and another activation fee? I need to get more than just 6- 12 mos. use out of this Product. Very frustrating. I like the Unit when it is working but it needs a longer life span on its rechargeable batteries.or make them so buyers can replace them.

  7. We have had Great Call for several years and, in general, have been very pleased.
    As for coverage, when visiting family in rural NH, I showed off and pushed the button,. My call was answered immediately. My relatives were quite impressed when the gentleman –to whom my first words were “Just testing”–on the other end of the line called me by name, and knew my location, even though I was several hundred miles from home.
    Two warnings however. First, one cannot replace the battery but must buy a new unit. We used the opportunity to upgrade to the Splash, so it really wasn’t a true loss: the Splash recharges more quickly, in addition to being somewhat water proof, and there is no activation or transfer fee.. Second, my Splash came with a belt clip, which, after about a year of use, broke off. I’m not sure how I will carry my unit now as there is no place for a lanyard. My husband’s unit, which is a few months newer than mine, has no belt clip but an eyelet through which one could string a lanyard or use with the included keychain attachment. The second is far preferable, so check before you buy.
    And finally there is, or at least was, a discount for a 2nd unit charged to the same account. Even though I registered ours through the web site –discount on the activation fee– and at different times, after activating the 2nd, I called customer service and was given the lower fee.

  8. Thank you for the info; i agree with every word said in this article. Nowadays with GPS, wireless, smartphone…everything can be solved fast.

  9. It is more dangerous to have this “service” than to have nothing at all. Since September, we have tried 2 of their smart phones, and then finally this week went back to the basic flip phone all in an effort to have a service that, if it worked, would be a beautiful solution to our families effort to preserve the independence of a loved one in a safe way. Instead we have been repeatedly panicked and traumatized by the incorrect GPS readings and have spent hours an hours on the phone with Customer Service and Tech who have a different solutions and contradictory information every time. The bottom line is don’t leave your family member with a phone that will only work off and on, a GBS and Great Call Link that will sometimes tell you in the middle of the night that your family member is “out and about” at a location that will alarm you when they are in bed, and a big red button that is going to help you find them when they can’t.

    1. I feel your pain. Similar situation here. Have only had the current phone for 2 months and it has not worked right for one single 24 hour period. I have probably in total spent 10 hours on the phone (on hold, or speaking to a tech) trying to get this ironed out. And a few more hours loading, deleting and reloading the app. Today they failed to call me at the appointed time (they set the time) and I will likely be bailing out of this. The techs have been unfailingly polite- but, we keep trying the same things over and over. It is impossible to escalate within this company apparently. The worst response of all was the one I got today- “well, it just updated and looks correct now so I can’t do anything about it.” Well, guess what? If it only works once in a blue moon and is incorrect when it does work, how good of a product is that?

  10. From another reader- “I used GreatCall for about 3 years.I must have misread the instructions, as I only charged it overnight at the beginning. The red light would come on for a recharge whenever it needed it. However, I still replaced it for one that holds a charge for 6-8 weeks. and the company contacts you about it is necessary. It weighs much less so is more comfortable to wear on a lanyard. The one big drawback is that you have to hold down the call button for about 5 full seconds and then wait for an agent. (It does have fall protection.)”

    1. My mothers (great call) is to heavy for her (she’s 89).

      What is the brand for the one with the smaller lighter version?

  11. I usually do my “homework” before buying, but apparently flubbed this one. I did not realize that this device had to be charged overnight. That is when I am most vulnerable. Even if I took 4 plus hours during the day, that would be that many hours It will not work for me. I’m staying with Connect America and will be covered 7/24. No charging.

    Be sure to read the 30 days guarantee. There are many conditions. I am returning the device in pristine condition (still in the plastic bags) and it is costing me $10 shipping, $10 restocking fee and then my cost to return it. There are even more charges if you have used it.

  12. After being promised by 2 different sales reps that GreatCall would work in my mother’s area we were highly disappointed that it would not work. After speaking to 3 different techs to solve the problem the 3rd tech said it was pretty obvious this would not work in my mother’s area and we would need to return it. I feel we were sold a bill of goods just so a salesperson could make a sale with no concern for my mother’s safety at all. I hope sales people will be trained better in the future so others do not have this dreadful experience.

  13. I cannot recommend the Great Call 5 star Splash. My mother has early stage Alzheimer’s disease. This product is a piece of garbage and is dangerously unreliable. The first one we got wouldn’t even charge up. The second one seemed to work pretty well for about 3 months and then it started sending messages that she was out of the house when she was not. Finally, it quit working all together. Technical support could not fix it and since we are outside the 30 day return window we would have to buy a 3rd one. During the period that this device was not working my mother went missing. Thankfully we found her safely on our own, but the non-functional device left my mother in a very dangerous situation. This device is far too unreliable. I am going to get her the amber alert GPS or Filip 2 from AT&T.

  14. Terrible customer service–free offers, and more free offers and other phone number with more free offers. My charges in January were 17.40 in January and up to $51.70 this month (I have paid regularly). I never got an answer from customer service

  15. I tried Great Call which was not so great. Ended up with huge additional fees. Went back to another carrier. Also you are on eternal hold if trying to reach customer service.

  16. I have given up on Great Call. I recently purchased a new phone for both of my parents. This phone is very easy to operate and it has a very large font screen. Both of my parents have vision problems and this phone is great. It is called Snapfon ezTWO 3G, and they both love it. The phone works off T-Mobile towers if you sign up with them as your carrier, but if T-Mobile is not in your area then you can buy an unlocked phone (for $79) and sign with a different carrier. We chose ATT for $30 a month for unlimited calls and texts. It is a much better deal than Great Call which charges a lot for their minutes. (.35 cents a min if you go over your mins) This Snapfon ezTWO 3G also has a panic button which can be pressed in case of emergency and an alarm sounds which will draw attention to the person. It then sends a call/text to up to 5 people that you need help. This feature is free with any plan and will work with any plan. It’s really a great phone. The guy at ATT even liked it. At $30 month for unlimited usage and the simplistic features – it’s a great deal.

  17. My mom ordered the service and the device on the 1st of February. It arrived on the 7th, however it could not be activated for some reason. Did I mention mom is 88yrs old? lives alone? is at risk, which is why she gave in and ordered it in the first place?
    Mom spent literally hours with customer service and tech support and it was finally decided they would send her another device. It is no Feb. 18th, I have spent literally hours on the phone on hold, speaking to rude and obnoxious customer service agents as well as lovely customer service agents who tried to be helpful but weren’t able to help. I have spoken to a supervisor who reassured me every day for the past week that the replacement would be here “today or tomorrow”. The supervisor will no longer come to the phone and I was informed yesterday that “a shipment label for priority mail” was “generated today”.

    I am checking into other available services, mom trusted this on because John Walsh advertises for it, I have no confidence in the device or the service at all. As I explained to the people at Great Call I am afraid to leave mom alone and have been mostly staying at her house until it is here and up and running. Now I will be afraid to leave her even then.

    1. Linda- I am sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience with GreatCall. Thank you for sharing with our community and please let us know if you come to a resolution with them. Best- A.

      1. Thank you. Today, 19 days after we started this process we received the functional call button in the mail. It was fully activated and when I pushed the button to test the response was immediate and appropriate.
        I’m not sure why this whole ordeal was such a mess, but I do have more confidence in the system now that it is in the home and functioning!

  18. I just received my alert system in the mail. I am 91, the product is to heavy for my neck and to big for my wrist. The company will take back the product but only after charging a restocking fee. This was not disclosed at the time the item was purchased. The supervisor stated “oh we don’t give that information unless it is returned”. Needless to say customer service is everything. There are many competitors. Please ask questions as not everything works for everyone and to be dinged after the fact. The supervisor would not budge. Can’t recommend this company

  19. I just purchased this for my aunt. The greatcall link locator never shows any movement. It never shows activity and always shows charging even when it’s in a pocket or purse. I hope the 5 star help works- I’m a little worried after this letdown.

  20. Lousy customer service people, computers down 3 times while trying to set up personal profile. When got someone who was willing to help I told them what my computer said and they said they could enter the info for me guess what his computer is also down. How do you set up a personal profile if you they can’t do it either all they say is try again later its been 4 days and I spoke to csr and felt like they could care less imagine paying people to treat you like that

    1. Same thing happened to me. I have been with the company for 8 months and have had 5 problems with the account. First person that offered to enter the information, apparently did not save it. I ended up entering it myself. Next month no phone # appeared. Next month my “who to contact in an emergency” was gone. Now I get a notice that my auto pay is not set up. In June they took it out, but not since. Now they want me to pay $65 for “previous” service. What service??? I didn’t even know there was a problem until yesterday 9/3. Inept is the only word that comes to mind. I am very sorry that their office staff is not better equipped. Response seemed like it would work, but office was horrible.

  21. The 1, 2, and 3 star reviews on amazon are alarming, even considering malcontents. To me, sounds like other companies are waiting to get a lower failure rate.

    From one review (the same complaint about customer service was in other reviews, about you must have gotten it wet.):

    Today I called customer service and they confirmed that they will not honor the warranty because the symptoms shown by the device indicate to them (without any type of examination) that she got it wet.

    They admitted that just moist hands or a steamy bathroom would be enough to make the device not work, even if it is not taken directly into a shower or tub. According to them, this voids the warranty. IMAGINE IF SHE LIVED IN FLORIDA OR IF IT WAS THE SUMMER TIME WHEN HUMIDITY IS HIGH AND REAL PEOPLE PERSPIRE!

    PLEASE… DO NOT BUY THIS DEVICE!! Most senior accidents happen in the bathroom. Having a device that cannot be worn into the bathroom and hung on a hook outside the shower without breaking is NOT something you want for your elderly relative or friend!

  22. I looked into this product for my 84-year-old mother. We discussed some of the complaints as well as the portability feature, and the low price compared to similar emergency alert devices. When I asked her if she would be willing to carry the device on her person at all times, she said, “Well, I already do that with my cordless phone handset.” Light bulb moment! Invest in a cordless phone with an extra handset that can be carried in a pocket or clipped onto a belt clip. Now Mom or Dad has an emergency alert device that is completely FREE. As for the ability to use the device away from home, unless your loved one spends a lot of time outdoors and alone, chances are good she’ll be in a public place surrounded by others with cell phones who can help in an emergency. 🙂

    1. Hmm. Michele, you make good points about the water problem. But the problem that I see with the “cordless phone” types of systems is that they are all dependent on a base station (home electrical service) and the landline phone service. So, during a power outage, it’s very likely the device could be useless, and that is a time when seniors could very well experience a fall, due to the darkness.

    2. WOW Really? Seriously??? What you said was actually very selfish. So if she has a heart attack or falls at home you really think she would be able to actually DIAL 911 or even try to focus and look for the Emergency Speed Dial on a Cordless Device? How Stupid can you really be? A Medical Alert Device is a very easy accessible device for them to press and speak with an Emergency Response Operator within Seconds that are Certified EMT’s to Comfort her while Emergency Crews Arrive at the Location. VERY SMART Michele VERY SMART THINKING!!!! (NOT).

  23. questions:
    1. does a family member need a special app to track my location?
    2. would the app work on both androids and blackberrys?
    3. I see references to phone apps, but can’t seem to find details, pricing, etc. on your site.
    4. I am 72, walk a lot all over the state, and have been wanting to find a device which could locate me!
    5. Please say it is available in a wrist strap design!

    1. Hi Jan: For your first 3 questions, we’d have to refer you to great call, however my understanding is that the GPS enabled location service is web based (accessed via a web page online) and not “app” driven on a mobile device. This service is included at no additional charge.

      From GreatCall “The Online Locator Service is an important safety feature that’s included at no additional charge. Authorized friends or family members can log on to this secure website to locate a 5Star subscriber or even a misplaced device. Using enhanced location tracking technology with GPS, you can view the subscriber’s location on a map 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

      As for the wrist strap idea; This device is too big to be warn on the wrist. You can wear it around your neck via a lanyard, on your hip via a belt-clip, or in your hand bag. Contact me through our website if you’d like to try this device out. Best, Amie

      1. I have the device now and it is definitely NOT too big to be worn on the wrist, so please consider that possibility. it’s annoying to have to pin it to my pocket every time I go for a walk in the woods.
        Other than that, I am pleased with it.

    2. MobileHelp uses GPS and does have a wristband device. It also has a lanyard and device for your belt. I have used their website to locate Dad…. but luckily it was just to see if it really worked. It does!

  24. Good review of this product but I am wondering how good it is for a senior with a true medical emergency? No fall protection is understandable, but pressing the button and waiting for their phone to ring and then what if the person is unable to speak (such as after a stroke)? Does 5Star automatically call 911 for you? It sounds like this might be a good general use tool but perhaps not for true medical emergencies, what do you think?

    1. You raise some good questions Jeff. Perhaps we’ll check-in with the manufacturer to see if they want to chime in… None of these devices are perfect for every situation. In the case of a severe stroke even a traditional medical alert pendant may not be depressed… but at least it’s readily available. For most medical emergencies this device would probably do the trick.

    2. Dad uses MobileHelp and if he does not respond to them calling his name after he has pressed the button, they immediately call the appropriate people and also call the contact person and send me a text. Wonderful!

  25. I am extremely interested in becoming a distributor of your product. Please contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss.

  26. Okay – Called customer service and they said their computers were down – to call back in an hour and they could recheck. He had no explanation why I got that message and this is the second time I’ve had it in a week. I inquired about buying the system and would there be any refund if it didn’t work out here – he said it would work irregardless of what the site told me. I question that. They will refund the price of the $49.95 unit within 30 days but you will be stuck with the $35 activation and shipping fee. So thinking best for me to hold on this for awhile. At the moment have the Freedom Alert but having something that would also work outside also is my goal.

  27. Loved the idea behind this product. However when I decided to purchase it they ask your zip code. I live 35 miles out of a large city and they said no service here. So not the best for a GPS tracker if you aren’t in the center of a city. All other products work out here including Verizon so wasn’t impressed with that aspect. Back to the drawing board – again. Thanks so much for your reviews on these products – it does help.

    1. Tiffyann – Our understanding is that the 5Star from GreatCall actually uses the Verizon Network so that is surprising. We recommend that you call their customer service number to discuss coverage in your area. Let us know what you find out! Best, Amie

    2. Tiffyann – we are also in Verizon territory. Our MobileHelp GPS for dad works like a champ! The system has lights on it that display whether there is a good signal. Some times during an electrical storm, the lights will indicate off/on signal issues, but I expect that. – Merlyn

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