Who doesn’t need a cell phone? Some would say that not having a cell phone is worse than not having a roof over your head. This may sound like an overreaction. But surprisingly, a lot of people don’t see it that way. Such a level of dependency on cell phones has earned the government’s attention. Program after the program was introduced to help everyone, especially those in need, to get their hand on a free cell phone. This leads us to find out what companies offer free government cell phones. Before we dig into that, let’s take a closer look at the program itself.
Free Government Cell Phone Program
The program is called Lifeline Assistance. Through selections of requirements, selected individuals are deemed to be eligible for things, including a free cell phone. Not every citizen is eligible, of course. If this is new to you, you might want to read our article on how to get a free cell phone from the Government first.
Before we take a look at what companies offer free government cell phones, you need to get the basic ideas on what and how the program works. In a nutshell, you are eligible if your household income is less than or equal to 135% below the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You are also eligible for the Lifeline Assistance program if you or someone in your household is qualified for:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP);
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA);
- Veteran’s Pension and Survivors Benefit;
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI); and
Any Tribal Programs.
One thing to keep in mind is that only one person in your household is eligible for Lifeline. Besides, you can only get either phone or an internet Lifeline free or discount plan, not both. For more details, go to Lifeline Support.
To see if you’re eligible, you can apply online through Lifeline National Verifier. Or print the application form, complete it, and mail it along with required documents to:
- Lifeline Support Center
- P.O. Box 7081
- London, KY 40742
What Companies Offer Free Government Cell Phones
Since the US government is not necessarily a phone or network provider, they need to collaborate to deliver these free gadgets to US citizens. So, they work together with providers to bring you closer to the benefits. Among them are some of the biggest providers in the US, such as AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile, and Verizon. These providers cover most of the US areas. So, don’t you worry if you’re living in a remote area, chances are there is a provider for everyone?
Of course, we don’t really know what’s going on behind the curtains. Or what deals the government has to make with these providers in order to give us cheap and free phones. What we know for sure is that these cell phones are completely free. Worry not of hidden fees and extra charges. What’s better, these free phones usually come with free plans and services, too!
As one of the best providers in the US, AT&T offers steady and reliable connectivity. With AT&T Lifeline packages, you can get a 7.25-USD discount on monthly telephone bills and a 9.25-USD discount on internet bills. Native Americans living in reservations can get an additional discount of up to 25 USD.
Qualified customers are eligible to get a free cell phone with a contract at 17.74 USD per month. The phone is completely free, as you only have to pay for this monthly fee.
The package includes 1,000 of “Anytime” minutes or 1,000 “Night & Weekend” minutes. Besides, you’ll also get free nationwide long-distance calls. Keep in mind that some features may not be available, such as international calls and 5G data.
Please note that if you already have a cell phone and it works with the AT&T network, you may not get the free cell phone, but only the discounted programs.
Another big name in the US, T-Mobile has its own free cell phone program. You can sign up for T-Mobile’s Smartphone Equality program. Through this program, T-Mobile doesn’t literally give away phones for free. But it gives you a chance to buy a phone without any down payment. And you can pay through up to 12 months’ installments.
Through the T-Mobile Lifeline program, you can also get a discount of 9.25 USD per month. Even better for Native Americans, who only have to pay 1 USD per month. Note that this program is only limited to phone calls. But it’s available to use with no limits!
Besides the free government cell phones, Sprint has also introduced its “No Credit Check” program. Even if you’re not eligible for the government program, you still can get a phone for “free”. On top of that, now that Sprint has merged with T-Mobile, you get the best of both providers.
To get a free cell phone from Sprint, you only have to switch to their provider through the program. Sign a contract with Sprint and enjoy not having to pay the monthly installment! In a way, your phone is completely free. All you have to pay is the contract and price plans Sprint offers.
If you’ve read our article on Verizon Internet for Low-Income Families, you’d know by now that this company means business when it comes to helping people. Their special program helps those who qualify to enjoy the luxury of a cell phone. Initially, this service only provided home telephone lines. But since 2012, it has spread its wings to cellular telephone services.
For those with low incomes, Verizon offers monthly discounts of up to 9.25 USD. There are 2 packages offered by Verizon. First is the Lifeline Plan for 25 USD. With this package, you get 1000 minutes of phone calls, and an additional charge of 45 cents per minute will be charged if the package has run out. Second is the HomePhone Connect Plan for 19.99 USD, but you will get unlimited calls. When it comes to texting, both packages come with unlimited features. So, if you ask us what companies offer free government cell phones and best services, Verizon is high on the list.
American Assistance is supported by the Universal Service Fund. It offers both landline and wireless service. Currently operates in 21 states, it’s all about high-quality service. Through the Lifeline program, they offer free phones with the free basic plan. This includes 1GB data, 100 minutes domestic call, and unlimited text.
You can buy add-on packages for additional data, text, and call. For 5 GB data, you will need to pay 44.99 USD and 17.49 USD for 1000 minutes of call or 1000 text. For more add-on options, visit the American Assistance website.
StandUp Wireless always lives up to its name also when it comes to helping the less fortunate. The company offers free service to stay in touch with those around you. Through their special program, you can get a free cell phone and phone service. The service includes unlimited monthly calls and texts, plus 3GB data.
With an extra 10 USD, you can have unlimited text and call plus 1GB data. Add another 20
USD and you’ll have 8GB data. If you don’t feel like getting a new phone, you can just bring your phone and benefit from the free service. First, you need to check if you qualify for this program.
QLink Wireless is a high-ranked lifeline provider, mainly for its coverage. 97% of the United States is covered and the service is reliable. QLink Wireless offers free cell phones, along with the “Always On Plan”. This plan includes 3GB of data, 1000 minutes of calls, and unlimited text. Worry not of surcharges and complicated contracts. This plan is completely free!
Let say your finance gets a little better in the future and you wish to upgrade your plan. Get 5GB of extra data and unlimited calls and text for just 5 USD per month. Or you can choose unlimited high-speed data, call, and text for just 30 USD per month. Both plans also include free international calling.
In general, you can save up to 420 USD per year by using the free cell phone program from QLink Wireless. To find out which phone you may get from this program, see What Kind of Phones Does QLink Wireless Have in 2020.
Assurance Wireless is one of the most popular government phone providers, offering the latest android smartphone and free plan. It’s backed by a reputable company, Virgin, so rest assured that it offers nothing but outstanding service. The best thing about this provider is its network coverage, which is backed by Sprint. What’s better, it has no annual contract.
The basic plan offered, which comes with a free cell phone, includes 250 minutes of calls and unlimited text. With 5 USD extra per month, you can get an additional 250 minutes of calls. Not to mention the extra unlimited minutes and 500MB data for residents of California. If these are not enough, you can purchase their special add-on packages. For 40 USD more, you can get 30 days of 4GB data. Sometimes, this add-on also comes free with other promotions.
If you ask us what companies offer free government cell phones for decades, the answer would be Safelink Wireless. It is the largest and one of the first companies known for its free phone program. Together with the government, they provide some of the best touch screen phones in 40 states.
Those who are eligible for the Lifeline program are entitled to get a free smartphone from Safelink. The phone comes with unlimited text, 350 minutes of calls, and 500 MB data. Again, residents of California get more than that. Instead of 350 minutes of calls, they can get unlimited talk time!
GCI (General Communications) Inc.
The company was formerly known as Alaska DigiTel. Now, GCI Inc provides free cell phones for Alaska. You can get a free cell phone with GCI’s free services. These include unlimited nationwide text, 500 minutes of call across the US, and 1GB data. All of these are available at just 1 USD every month.
TruConnect has a mission to make communication more affordable and flexible. Their service currently covers 25 states and planning to add more. They offer a lifeline plan and also Pay-As-You-Go as an extra feature.
Get a free 5-inch smartphone exclusive from TruConnect along with 1000 minutes of calls, unlimited text, and 2GB data. Residents of California get extra unlimited voice calls and text, plus 2GB data.
Add-on packages are available as well. 10 USD for 100 minutes of calls and another 10 USD for 1GB extra data. Besides, with just 5 USD per month, you can get unlimited calls to more than 50 countries.
Besides this Lifeline program, TruConnect offers BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) packages for low-income families. The prices are super affordable. With just 5 USD per month, you get unlimited texts. And with 15 USD per month, you get unlimited phone calls, texts, plus 250 MB data.
What companies offer free government cell phones and a wide range of coverage? Feelsafe Wireless has invested so much in their network coverage. Today, it covers 48 states and even some parts of remote areas in Alaska. Through the Lifeline program, Feelsafe offers a free cellphone with its free plan. It includes 1000 minutes of calls, 500 texts, and 3GB data. Residents of California can get even more: unlimited text and call plus 5GB data.
Need more data? Fret not! It only costs you 0.025 USD per MB data. The same affordable rate applies to calls and texts. It’s only 0.10 USD per minute and per text message. Top up your credit from as low as 5 USD!
US Cellular covers more than twenty states, but its Lifeline Services is available in just 15 states. With this program, you can get a discounted price for its service plans, at 9.25 USD.
Some other states that are not covered by the Lifeline Services, there are other discounts. In West Virginia, for instance, you can get an 11.25-USD discount. In Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon, the discount is 13.50 USD per month.
Infiniti Mobile is one of the fastest-growing providers that offer free cell phones with the government program. The company operates in 7 states. This may seem small but each state is pampered with excellent coverage.
Through Infiniti Mobile’s special program, you can get a free phone with a free monthly plan. The plan includes 1GB data, 1000 minutes of calls, and unlimited texts. For Native Americans, there’s even an exclusive plan, which includes 2GB data and some additional features. Among them are 3-way calling and picture messaging.
If the basic plan isn’t enough, you can spend a little extra money for more. With just 5 USD, you will get 100MB extra. You can also bring your own device to use their free service.
EnTouch Wireless has a mission to help people through digital citizenship. The company is committed to bringing broadband data to less unfortunate people. It’s currently providing services to more than 30 states.
EnTouch Wireless offers huge-discounted if not free phones. Both include free service with 500 minutes of calls and 100 texts, plus additional data, ranging from 500MB to 2GB, depending on which states you’re living in.
The service also offers a “Pay When You Can Pay What You Want” add-on package. With this, you can get a 10-USD discount on all add-ons. For instance, you can get a 20-USD package with unlimited phone calls and texts plus 500MB of data with just 10 USD per month. This, of course, comes handy if the basic plan is not enough.
Life Wireless has received plenty of recommendations from its users. It provides not just free government cell phones, but excellent services that come with it. These services include 1,000 free minutes of call monthly, unlimited texts, and 3GB data. Besides, you will get a handset with all the features needed, including caller ID, call forwarding, no roaming charge, and free domestic calls.
BlueJay Wireless has a mission to distribute technology and improve lives. They’re currently operating in just 18 states, but they keep expanding. BlueJay is all about connecting people with family and friends. BlueJay Wireless provides you free phones packed with some benefits. They include 1000 minutes of calls, unlimited text, and 1GB data.
If this free basic plan is not enough, just upgrade with add-on packages. With just 59 USD, you can get 2500 minutes of calls, unlimited text, and 5GB data. And for 99 USD, which is the standard plan, you get 5000 minutes of calls, unlimited text, and 15GB data. All plans include roaming service for you to make international calls.
The Pros and Cons of Getting Free Government Cell Phones
In the perfect scenario, you can get a free phone from these programs with no troubles. Unfortunately, life isn’t that perfect. Like how a saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility”, with such benefits, there’s always a catch. So, what’s the catch for these free cell phones?
Before we deliver you the “bad” news, let’s dig more into the good ones.
Pros of using free government cell phones
The device is completely free
While most advertisements usually have hidden fees and charges, these free phones from the government are completely free. After all, this program is meant to help those in need, while those ads are designed to attract customers.
You get to benefit from free or discounted services
Let’s face the fact, sometimes buying a phone is not the main problem, but paying the phone bills is. With this in mind, these providers also offer free services or discounted plans. This way, you will be able to use the phones accordingly.
Coverage and quality will not be an issue
We understand your concern about quality when it comes to using free stuff. As a matter of fact, in some cases, you use not just one free thing, but two: the phone itself and the service. But as you can see, most of the companies we mention on this list are some of the best. Most of them covered the big cities and all of the big states. Some even cover remote areas, including those in Alaska. So, it’s safe to say that quality is the last thing you should worry about.
Cons of using free government cell phones
You cannot pick the phone you want
Getting a free government phone is nothing like shopping for a new one at Walmart. You will be given a phone, instead of choosing the one you want. So, you have to make do with whatever gadget is assigned to you. You may like it, you may not. But you have to accept it. There’s no way for you to ask for another if you’re unhappy with the one you have.
The free service is limited
As you can read from each company’s detail above, the free services they offer are somewhat limited. With those, you can only use your phone for minimum activities. In a way, you can only use them for an emergency. The minutes are only enough to talk to for a few hours a month. The texts will not last a week for avid texters. And the data is merely for checking emails. Forget about uploading Instagram feed.
You have to pay for extra services and they’re not cheap
Yes, these providers offer huge discounts on their add-on services. But keep in mind that you cannot afford these in the first place. Instead of saving money on free things, you might end up paying more and more phone bills than you can afford.
You are locked in a contract
What companies offer free government cell phones that are unlocked? None. All of them will only give you a free phone that is locked into their network services. And chances are, you have to use their service for a long period, as stated on the contract. If you stop using their service, you will be obligated to return the phone.
You cannot use the phone with other providers
Corresponding with the previous point, the free government cell phones are locked into one provider only. This means you cannot switch providers for some time. For some companies, this period is only less than a year. For some others, it’s two years. But there are cases where you cannot switch providers as long as you use the phone. In a way, you’ll have to throw that free phone away when you need to switch providers.
If you don’t think this is a big issue, let us paint you a picture. Let’s say you’re living in a state where Verizon has strong coverage. Then, for some reason, you have to move to another state. Unfortunately, Verizon service is not the best there and you need to switch provider. There’s a chance that Verizon will let you switch for a small amount or no penalty fee. But let’s not get your hopes too high.
You may lose your eligibility
These free government cell phones are aimed to help those in need. You are eligible to get one when you are in need. Once you’re no longer in need, you’re no longer eligible for the free phone and free services. In a year or two, each company will conduct a reevaluation of your eligibility. If your financial status improves or if you breach one of the rules, the company has the right to take the free phone away from you.
It seems like there are more cons than pros when it comes to using a free phone from the government. Technically, yes. However, it still can be your best option for owning a cell phone and using a free service if:
- You have no plan on moving to another state in the foreseeable future
- You are certain with the quality of the chosen provider
- Only need a free phone for emergency and important matters
- You have the budget to pay the extra services you need
Other Ways to Get a Free Cell Phone
Those are the top free phone providers. Before we dig into the pros and cons of choosing their services, let us introduce you to these three companies. Unlike the other companies we have mentioned before, the last three, including CellNuvo, are credit providers, not network companies. But as long as it answers your question of what companies offer free government cell phones, there’s no harm in mentioning them.
CellNuvo has only begun its services in 2015. Focused in the Midwest, the company’s services are now available to everyone in America. CellNuvo offers two fun games for you. By playing these two games, you can collect points to purchase mobile internet packages. Once you have enough points, you can redeem them for a free cell phone! Yep, as simple as that.
If gaming is not your cup of tea, you can get the basic credit plan from CellNuvo. This plan is completely free. With 0 USD, you get 2,500 credits. This amount can be used to purchase quotas, such as calls, texts, and data. One text message costs 1 credit. While 1 minute of call costs you 10. And for mobile data, 10 credits are what you need to use 1 MB.
Here’s another credit provider that has jumped into the free phone business. FreedomPop is based in the US but has expanded to three other countries: Britain, Spain, and Mexico. In the US, FreedomPop works together with Sprint and AT&T networks.
Through FreedomPop, you can get a phone you want plus a 3-month guarantee and money back within 2 weeks if you’re not satisfied with the product. You can surf the FreedomPop website for a variety of products offered.
When it comes to something “free”, FreedomPop offers not free phones, but free services. Literally, you only have to pay 0 USD to use their services. They are, of course, limited but enough for those in need of limited use. With 0 USD a month, you get 200 minutes of calls, 500 texts, and 500 MB of LTE connection data. Keep in mind that these aren’t usually enough for avid internet users.
Pick any device you want with SmartPay and benefit from instant approval. First, you need to apply through the SmartPay website and see if you’re eligible to take a smartphone home without any upfront payment. In worst cases, if you’re approved, you have to pay only a small amount of upfront payment. All you need is a few clicks!
To save you some trouble, make sure you are at least 18 years old with 1000 USD monthly income. Yes, this is nothing like the Lifeline Program. But the benefits and the quality of the phone you will get is more than what the government can offer.
Now that you now these other options, you may want to reconsider getting free government cell phones. Don’t get us wrong, we still recommend them if it’s your best solution. Keep in mind that these phones are limited in availability, as the government’s budget is also limited. So, if you still can afford cheap phones instead of free phones, do spend a little more to help those more in need than yourselves.
Regardless of all the things it requires of you, a free cell phone is always a good deal. You get to benefit from this modern technology without spending more than what you can afford. What companies offer free government cell phones you choose depends on your needs and preferences. Keep in mind that these free phones are usually locked.
This means you won’t be able to use it with other services. So, before you decide, make sure to ask around, do your own research to find out which one is your best option. Once it’s settled, enjoy a free gadget for as long as you’d like!