How to Get a Free Phone from the US Government
The US government offers a program called Lifeline Assistance that can give you a free cell phone and access to an inexpensive cell phone plan if you qualify. To qualify for Lifeline Assistance, you either have to have an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or be currently enrolled in any of the following government programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Tribal-specific programs: Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribally-Administered Temporary
- Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), Head Start
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit Programs
If any of the above relates to you, then you deserve a free cell phone and a cheap cell phone plan to go with it.
Free cell phone plans from the US government
These are the carriers that currently are eligible with the Lifeline Assistance program:
- Assurance Wireless
- Cintex Wireless
- Copper Valley Wireless
- Easy Wireless
- enTouch Wireless
- FeelSafe Wireless
- Infiniti Mobile
- Life Wireless
- NewPhone Wireless
- Q Link
- Safelink Wireless
- SafetyNet Wireless
- Sprocket Wireless
- StandUp Wireless
- Tag Mobile
- Tempo Communications
- Terracom Wireless
- True Wireless
You can find out what carriers specifically cater to your area by entering your zip code here.
What kind of phones can I get?
You usually won’t know what kind of phone you can get until you go through the approval process, though most of the Lifeline Assistance-eligible carriers do a decent job offering a variety of phones. Sadly, you likely won’t find the iPhone 11, iPhone SE, or a new Android phone with these carriers, but there are still plenty of smartphones out there that you can get for super cheap or even free.
To give you an idea of what to expect, Assurance Wireless has its cell phone lineup public. You can find phones like Coolpad Illumina and Coolpad Legacy.
You can also find other smartphones like the Alcatel Dawn, Kyocera Hydro Reach, and ZTE Prestige 2.
Tello Economy plan
The cheapest cell phone plan we’ve come across that includes unlimited data, unlimited text, and at least 1 GB of data is Tello’s Economy plan for $10 a month. The network coverage isn’t the best, but the price is dirt cheap.
US Mobile Unlimited Talk and Text plan
The only way to bring your bill lower than $10 a month is to throw out your data plan altogether. If you know you don’t want to pay for any wireless data, the US Mobile Unlimited Talk and Text plan at $7 a month is your best bet. Bonus, US Mobile operates on both T-Mobile and Verizon networks, which offer excellent coverage.