There are a lot of folks out there that can’t afford the latest and greatest smartphones, let alone the data plan. Many folks can’t even afford what we would consider to be cheaper smartphones, such as a Galaxy A. Luckily, there are programs through telecom services that will give folks free phones with free minutes. There are some eligibility requirements that aren’t too hard to meet — if you’re on some form of government assistance, you’re likely eligible for a free phone and minutes. You’ll even qualify without government assistance — you just have to earn less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines specific for your state.
Where can you get one of these free phones alongside free minutes? If you follow along below, we’ll show you the programs and services that can get you hooked up to the world in no time.
Assurance Wireless is probably the best option for low income families looking for free phones and service. The program is through Virgin Mobile, which has better service than most “free” options out there. You get a free phone and up to 500 minutes of air time per month. You have unlimited texting available, too.
When Assurance Wireless first started out, it was available in a limited number of states, such as Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Now, the service is much more widely available.
Getting signed up for Assurance Wireless is going to be your easiest bet. If you’re on a program like Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you can be automatically approved rather quickly — however, you’ll need to offer proof. If you’re not on those programs, you’ll need to provide proof that your income is low enough, according to your state’s poverty level guidelines.
You can get started with Assurance Wireless here.
Safelink Wireless is another program that will get you hooked up with a free phone and free wireless service for your phone. Qualifying participants will get a free Safelink phone with up to 68 minutes of free air time. It’s not clear whether Safelink gives you a dumb phone (although it used to be this way) or a super low-end smartphone. Still, Safelink Wireless will give you the option to upgrade to a smartphone rather cheaply (you can get one for as low as $50). Safelink will even give you data plans super cheaply as well (1GB of data will cost you as much as $15 with talk and text).
Still, Safelink Wireless will give you a free phone and service for participants that can prove income and/or proof of participation in a government program like Medicaid, SNAP, or others.
Safelink is super easy to sign up with and get approved as well. It’s as simple as heading over to the Safelink website, punching in your zip code, and then it’ll take you step-by-step through the application and approval process.
Want to get started with Safelink Wireless? Click here to head to the home page and start the approval process.
Last up on our list is Lifeline, the program that has been around since 1985 as part of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). This program is administered through multiple telecommunication companies in the United States, and will save you money on your phone and phone service. Lifeline won’t give you a free phone or service, but they will give you discounts on some of it. Lifeline will save qualifying participants in the program up to $10 per month on services.
Link Up is similar to Lifeline — it won’t provide you with a free phone or service, but it will help you with means to get one. Link Up will pay up to $30 of start-up fees for your home phone, and they’ll lend you up to $200 towards set-up fees. It’s an interest-free loan, but still something that you’ll have to pay back over a year.
You can check out more about the Lifeline and Link Up programs here.
So, which program is best for low income families looking for a free phone and service? First, we recommend looking at what Assurance Wireless has to offer — it runs through Virgin Mobile, which is a subsidiary of AT&T. And so, it operates off of the AT&T network, which means you’re going to get good service almost anywhere you go. If Assurance Wireless is available in your area, it’s definitely the route to go. Next, we’d look at Safelink Wireless if Assurance isn’t available. It’s a lesser service in comparison, but will still get you hooked up to the world.