If you’ll agree with me, the federal lifeline program is one of the most successful government-provided services. Of course, the program is primarily for low-income households but it’s not surprising to find the salaried people scrambling for it as well. This comes as the majority of free government cell phone companies don’t just provide you with only the handsets. They also have some lovely cellphone plans that include unlimited texting, talk minutes, and up to 6GB browsing data.
In this post, I want us to briefly look at some of the best providers of these free government cellphones. Before we come to that, however, let me share with you some important details on how to get a free phone successfully.
How to Get Free Government Cellphone and Services
To begin with, the free government cellphone service is not a program new to the society. It has been there since 1985 but due to “poor” means of communications back then, only very few people knew about it. The high rise of the internet and online services is what has helped spread the news on these free government phone services (formerly Lifeline Assistance Program).
While they’re called “free” government cellphone services, nonetheless, not everyone is eligible for it. There are certain guidelines that you have to fall within and if not you’re probably disqualified. The guidelines and the offered services vary from state to state. So, your friend might get unlimited calling and texting from her state but from your end, you get lesser.
When it comes to signing up for a free government cell phone, there are two options that Qualify you. One is by the Total Household Income and the other is by Participation In Federal/ State Assistance Programs.
Participation in Assistance Programs
Participation in any of the assistance programs from federal/ state is the easiest way for one to qualify for the free government phone service. In fact, it’s the means used by most users of the lifeline program as it asserts that you’re truly in financial need.
Though the assistance programs might vary from state to state, there are several that are common in all the states. They include:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (BIA)
- Tribal Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard)
- Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Veterans Pension and Survivor’s Benefit.
With Total Household Income
In case you’re not under any of the government-provided assistance programs, your income is the other guarantee for a free government phone. To get the free cellphone, though, the providing companies don’t just go for every salary figure. No. The total income of your household has to be at or less than 135% of federal poverty guidelines.
The poverty thresholds are often overlooked by the Census Bureau who updates them each year. As for the 2019 poverty guidelines in most of the states, a 2-member household was stated at $16, 910. So, for your request to get approved by any of the free government cell phone companies 2020, the income has to be at or below $22,829. If you love the game of numbers, $22,829 comes from multiplying $16,910 by 135%.
As you go with the total household income to apply for the lifeline program, it’s worth to note the threshold levels vary by state. Of course, the majority of states use 135% of federal poverty guidelines but a state like California goes with 218% while Texas uses 150%.
Therefore, you truly need to do thorough research on the Lifeline carriers in your state before you make the final move. The research helps a lot since the carriers usually operate in certain states but not all.
Some of the best and most recommended carriers of the free government cellphones include:
Top-Leading Free Government Cell Phone Companies 2020
1. Safelink Free Phone
If we were to categorize it, Safelink Wireless is amongst the largest telecommunication carriers in the U.S., serving over 20 million subscribers. Amongst these millions of subscribers are even those who have found it challenging to sustain their phone billings due to financial problems.
Safelink Wireless program is facilitated by TracFone Wireess, Inc. who are wholly dedicated to serving every eligible household. The eligibility requirements are those we’ve just highlighted based on the income poverty guidelines or a person’s participation in state/ federal support programs.
Safelink free phone services are available in over 32 states, including Puerto Rico, Nevada, Kentucky, and even Washington. Once you learn the Lifeline carrier is available in your state and that you’re eligible, you can apply through the Safelink Web page in seconds. Some time back, the company allowed applications through mail and fax but we can’t assure for now if they still allow.
Once your application is verified and approved, Safelink allows you to enjoy up to 1000 minutes Talktime and unlimited texting. This airtime comes loaded in a SIMcard, which you either choose with an “old-school version” cell phone or a smartphone. The latter is more convenient since the company offers its candidates with browsing data.
Since they know you would cherish a distinguished outlook, Safelink Wireless provides even some of the industry-leading flagship handsets. The prestigious company does have a special keep Your Own Smartphone plan which gives you the advantage of using your current mobile device.
With the brand, you can even move your previous services and phone number to their network when subscribing to them. Hence, allowing you to remain connected with your old friends easily. Safelink wireless one of the best out of ten best free Government cell phone companies.
2. Verizon Free Phone
Verizon Wireless is another remarkable telecommunication company that’s largely dedicated to delivering groundbreaking communications and technology solutions. The company debuted in 2000, where it has proven as not just the most reliable wireless network in America but to the entire world as well. Literally, the company operates in over 150 locations, including North America, Latin America, Europe, and even Asia-pacific.
Considering its renowned reputation as one of the best, Verizon Wireless has managed to serve all classes of people. This includes the low-income customers and those on Tribal Lands, who get to enjoy discounted wireless phone service. The initiative is offered through a lifeline program, which allows one to save at least $9.25 per month. If you’re amongst those in the Tribal Land, you have the advantage to enjoy up to 100% discount.
Verizon Wireless free cell phones service
Though their incentive is to facilitate communications globally, Verizon only offers lifeline-supported services in only certain areas, including North Dakota, New York, and Iowa. In these states, by the way, only eligible customers from select counties get to enjoy this discounted cell phone services.
In Iowa, for example, only 9 counties out of 99 are eligible while New York is just 8 out of 62. This comes as the Lifeline program isn’t from Verizon’s archives but the Universal Service Fund, which is controlled by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Once you’re asserted eligible for the Verizon Freephone service, you can either go with the $25 Lifeline Plan or the $19.99 Home Phone Connect Plan. The two plans, yes, are excellent to use but the $25 Lifeline Plan is much convenient since you’ll get to use a portable compatible wireless handset. The $19.99 Home Phone Connect package relies on an analog telephone adapter and that will limit your movements with the home telephone. Our 2nd best options out of the ten best free government cell phone companies.
3. Assurance Free Phone
In case the Verizon Lifeline program is not in your locale, you can submit your application to Assurance Wireless. It’s an outstanding company too and as long you have the necessary qualifications. You’ll get to enjoy the discounted phone services at ease. In fact, Assurance does provide its qualified candidates with free touch screen government phones from top brands like Samsung and LG.
Assurance Wireless is a subsidiary of the Virgin Mobile brand, whose headquarters are in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The company (Assurance) offers free government phone services in over 33 states, including Ohio, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and District of Columbia. It’s able to serve all these states through the support of the federal Universal Service Fund.
To prevent the abuse of these free government cell phone services, Assurance wireless only accepts qualified individuals. The requirements are the same ones involving participation in a federal assistance program or the total household income. In either of the eligibility options, by the way, you have to provide the necessary proof. If it’s program-based eligibility, for instance, you might need the photocopy of your Benefits ID card. And in case you want to apply with income threshold, an income statement from your job can help. Our ten best free government cell phone companies.
4. Life Wireless Free Phone
Lifeline Wireless is another superb provider that provides free government cell phone services to the needy and low-income Americans. The company operates in about 30 states, including Puerto Rico & West Virginia, and there are chances they might expand to other regions soon.
As for their Lifeline program, Life Wireless provides its eligible consumers with a free contemporary smartphone. To make the experience even more thrilling, the cellphone comes with some excellent features like three-way calling, voicemail, and call forwarding.
For the free monthly phone service, Life Wireless provides them at varying rates across the supported states.
The California and Oklahoma have two different each, with all featuring unlimited talk as shown below.
- California Plan #1: free monthly unlimited Talktime and texting, plus 2GB of browsing data
- California Plan #2: free monthly unlimited Talktime and texting, plus 500MB of browsing data
- Oklahoma Plan #1: free monthly unlimited Talktime and texting, plus 2GB of browsing data
- Oklahoma Plan #2: free monthly unlimited Talktime and texting, plus 5GB of browsing data
- Rest of the States: free monthly 1000 minutes Talktime and unlimited texting, plus 1GB of browsing data.
If your free monthly minutes or data gets depleted before that particular month has ended, you can purchase additional ones. To do this, you’ll need to visit www.lifewireless.com or else use the MyLifeWireless app from your smartphone.
Also, if your handset malfunctions or become defective, the company has a lovely phone replacement policy which provides you with another piece at a cost or not.
5. T-Mobile Free Phones
T-Mobile US Inc. is another well-known telecommunication giant, which is based in Bellevue, Washington. The company is the third on the list of the largest wireless carriers in the United States following its over 84 million subscribers.
Historically, T-Mobile debuted in 1994 under the name VoiceStream Wireless PCS, where it provided digital wireless personal communications services (PCS). Today, the wireless network operator is a true leader in innovation for the mobile web and the internet of things. These services are provided to each and everyone, both the rich and poor financially. As for the “poor financially”, the company has the Lifeline program which lets them enjoy discounted cell phone service every month. T-Mobile free cell phones with a data plan.
In spite of its massive coverage in the U.S., however, T-Mobile is only able to provide the Lifeline program in 9 states and Puerto Rico. These 9 states include Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Virginia. All the 10 locations, including Puerto Rico, are grouped into four, with each featuring its individual application process.
T-Mobile free phones service
For you in Florida, Minnesota, and Washington, for example, you’ll need to use the Lifeline National Verifier Application Form. Your friend in Kentucky, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Virginia, on the other hand, will have to apply directly through the National Verifier. Or else, forward the Lifeline National Verifier Application form to the Lifeline Support Center.
Click Here to check for the application process in Texas and Puerto Rico.
Once you get your T-Mobile Free phone, you’ll immediately start enjoying unlimited data, talk, and text without any annual contract. This will, then, allow you to connect with your friends, and or stream vides as much as you want.
6. Q Link Wireless Free Phone
Even if not the best, Q Link Wireless is one of the leading providers of lifeline programs in the U.S. The company is wholly dedicated to connecting people to their world with affordable and versatile wireless solutions. It’s already serving tens of millions of low-income Americans, hence, we can’t say it hasn’t proven reliable.
Q Link Wireless provides its new customers with free touch screen government phones to use with their free monthly minutes. The phones are the modern models that you can use to browse the internet, check social media, complete homework assignments, and look for jobs. Q Link then tops additional free Lifeline features such as 3 Way Calling, text & Picture messaging, Free Domestic roaming, and Voicemail.
In case you’re wondering, 3-way calling is a feature that allows you to add another person/s to your current phone conversation. The feature can be very helpful when talking with your friends or business partners on an issue involving all.
Once you are connected to the Q Link Wireless, you’ll now be receiving the free monthly plan. This includes unlimited text, 1000 minutes talk, and 3GB data for browsing the internet or free calling apps like WhatsApp and Viber.
NB: If you have the latest smartphone which you can’t do away with, Q Link Wireless can give you the privilege to enjoy your lifeline plan with it. You’ll only need to visit Bring Your Own Phone page, then, fill up your device ID (either IMEI, ESN, or MEID) and you’re good to go.
Terracom is another remarkable alternative provider of affordable wireless service to low-income residents in the United States. It is amongst the first companies to help you save money through discounted cellphone handsets and services. They understand keeping up with your bills can be challenging and that’s why they’re here to ensure you receive the reliable service that you deserve.
For the Lifeline program, Terracom wireless features various plans that the eligible applicants get to choose respective to their state. Speaking of the locale, the company serves about 21 states as of now. They include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Kansas, Maryland, Maine, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
TerraCom free phones data plan
If you reside in Oklahoma or Washington, the company has four different lifeline plans to choose from. They include Tribal Broadband Base Plan 2000 MOU and 3GB, Tribal Voice Base Plan 2000 MOU, Non-Tribal Broadband Base Plan 500 MOU and 3GB, and Non-Tribal Voice Base Plan 1000 MOU. Each of these plans has individual rates with some featuring not just the voice minutes and text but also up to 3GB of data.
You can visit TerraCom Lifeline Plans page to view the plans available in Kansas, Nebraska, and the rest of the states.
Once you have chosen your favorable free government phone plan, no monthly fee is ever requested from you. Unless your data or voice airtime gets depleted early and you need to top up some more to take you through the remaining days.
While subscribing with them, by the way, Terracom Wireless never bothers with your credit score or past due balances. The company doesn’t even request any deposit to be made, so, you only pay for the activation fee or the bill for your (upgraded) phone.
In case you want to avoid the handset bill, though, Terracom allows you to bring your own Device. The cellphone, nonetheless, has to be compatible with their network and that’s why you’ll need to verify its serial number.
8. enTouch Wireless
Through their passion to serve all and the dedication to help every American stay connected, enTouch Wireless is expanding its operation day by day. The company has come to earn massive respect from its esteemed consumers following their stunning move in empowering people to adapt to digital technology.
In making sure they’re not just teaching about digital citizenship, enTouch Wireless makes sure all their cellphone plans have significant broadband data. The company has both free and paid lifeline plans.
For the free plan, you get to enjoy 500 talk minutes, unlimited texting, and 100MB of data each month. For the paid Lifeline on the other end, the plans are 3 in total and each of them comes with a $10 monthly Lifeline discount. If it’s the $20 Plan, for instance, the lifeline company lets you pay only $10 each month. Then, you get to enjoy unlimited Talktime and texting, plus 500MB of 4G Data.
enTouch Wireless phone data plan
The $30 plan (which costs $20/mo) lets you enjoy 1GB of 4G data, whereas the $50 plan (for 40/mo) offers 4GB of 4G data.
The Talktime and texting are unlimited in all enTouch’s phone plans, hence, you remain connected with your friends. And workmates throughout the entire month. The glorious company, actually, operates on the premier 4G LTE network, so, your browsing and video streaming will be fast and smooth.
As for the handsets, enTouch Wireless provides free touch screen government phones to eligible consumers in only California and federally recognized tribal lands. These cell phones are usually refurbished or overstock models, so, it’s best to buy or bring your own.
With the Bring Your Own Device option, though, you have to first verify if it’s compatible or not. If approved, the service provider will offer a free SIMcard, which you can now use with free local and national wireless communications.
9. TAG Mobile
TAG Mobile is an American provider of wireless telecommunications which is based in Dallas, Texas. The company was founded in 2010 by Z. Ed Lateef to help facilitate digital communications to low-income individuals. As for their worthiness, the wireless service provider provides their esteemed consumers with reasonably priced cell phone service plans. Those eligible for the government assistance do enjoy extended Lifeline credit which includes unlimited free texts, 1000 free talk minutes along with 1GB data.
Currently, the free cell phone services are only eligible to customers across 19 states, including Maine, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Texas. For Californians, the renowned company provides its new subscribers with a free smartphone, plus the monthly unlimited talk and text airtime.
Since you’ll need to visit social media and stream YouTube videos, TAG Mobile adds the touchscreen cellphone with 500MB LTE data for the first 3 months. For the fourth month onwards, the company now start offering you 1GB data every month.
T-Mobile free phone data plan
In case you’re not Californian but the rest of the states, TAG Mobile does support the Bring Your own Device feature. Your phone, nonetheless, has to be compatible with the company’s carrier network. Fortunately, using your own phone makes the services cheaper as you get to receive 3GB LTE data if you reside in California. If you’re from the other states, you get free 1GB LTE data every month.
Apart from the voice minutes, texts, and data, the TAG Mobile lifeline service plan also includes free voicemail, call waiting, and caller ID. You can also use your phone to make local and long-distance calls. In case your free airtime gets depleted, you can always get additional minutes or data, although at a small fee of up even $10.
If you encounter any challenges when adding the additional “airtime” or any other Lifeline-related issue, you can always contact TAG customer service at 1 (866) 959-4918. You can also use the TAG Live Chat support team in case you require further assistance.
10. True Wireless
Founded in 2008, True Wireless is a leading provider of wireless service to those individuals who qualify for government assistance programs. The company is based in Oklahoma, where they plan and effectuate service to folks in the state’s urban and rural neighborhoods.
Though their headquarters are in Oklahoma, True Wireless does offer their free phone services in the states of Arkansas, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Texas. This initiative is facilitated by the Universal Service Administrative Company (usac.org), which aims at supporting service providers in making Lifeline service successful.
Once your application with True Wireless is approved, the company will provide you with a free smartphone with 1,000 voice time, 1,000 text, and 2GB data. This will guarantee you smooth communications with your friends or coworkers and extended internet browsing or video streaming.
With the True Wireless Lifeline program approved, you’ll also have to use it or else you lose it. By the way, you’ll also need to recertify your subscription every year. And if by any chance you forget, all your previous benefits will be suspended. This will, then, require you to go back to step one and start reapplying again, which of course, can be boring and time-consuming. It was number 10 best free Government cell phone companies in the list.
Are Free Government Cell Phones Really Free?
Absolutely! The program is funded through the federal Universal Service Fund, which pays carriers to give affordable telecommunication services to low-income individuals. Considering you’re qualified, you’ll never pay for your phone or any other related service. There are many more free Government cell phone companies in the world.
How Do I Know If I Qualify For The Free Government Cellphone Service?
That one is obvious as Lifeline is government-sponsored and the qualifications are universal in the majority of states. If you’re using any of the federal/ state assistance programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you automatically qualify for the service. If your total household income is at or less than 135% of federal poverty guidelines, you can also get the free government phone service.
Note: If any member of your household has already registered for the service, your application will definitely be declined. The federal lifeline service is only available once in every eligible household.
Can I Bring My Own Phone To Lifeline Program?
That depends on the service provider you want to use as not all support it. Most of the leading lifeline service companies like Terracom, TAG Mobile, and enTouch Wireless, however, support the Bring Your Own Device feature.
Am Bored By My Previous Lifeline Provider. How Do I Switch?
Lifeline service is predominantly controlled by the Universal Service Administrative Company since they offer the funding. For the case of switching your previous Lifeline provider, the company permits it only once every 60 days. The period, though, might be lesser if you relocate or if your provider stops offering lifeline programs.
When changing the carriers, though, you’ll need to contact the company you wish to move over to and present a written/ verbal consent for the switch.
How Can I Remain Eligible For Lifeline Service?
That’s simple. You’ll remain eligible for free government cellphone service as long you meet the eligibility requirements and keep your current benefits active. In keeping your benefits active, most providers of lifeline programs require you to make use of the free credit they’re giving you. You have to use your phone to make or receive a call at least one time every 30 days.
Telecommunication is a service that every individual ought to access regardless of health or social status. With the various free government cell phone companies that are now competing to stand as the best, you don’t need to sweat it out over phone bills. You need to take advantage of the free cell phone service. And perhaps those fees you would have spent there you divert to another project.
In case your application for the lifeline program gets declined for some reason. And some of the companies we’ve discussed do have cheap cell phone plans. A good example is Terracom Wireless Non-Lifeline Plans.