What many people don't know is that free cell phones with voice and text are available in over 35 states through the federal Lifeline program to low-income households.
These free cell phones can be used for finding work and keeping in touch with loved ones and family. Unlike landline service there are no startup fees. There are also no activation fees.
There are three programs that offer this service Assurance Wireless, Life Wireless and Safelink Wireless. Low-income families of military personnel may also quality for free cell phones. Most people who are on public assistance qualify for the programs. Assurance Wireless offers the most free text messages and minutes while Safelink and Life Wireless are about the same allotment. Virgin Mobile is part of the Sprint network which runs Assurance Wireless. Life Wireless uses a SIM card therefore it uses either the AT&T network or T-Mobile. While Safelink is part of Tracfone. If all three services are offered in your state check for coverage in your area to help you decide which plan to apply for.
Assurance Wireless includes:
- Free cell phone , 250 free text messages and 250 minutes of free monthly voice service to eligible residents
- The $5 Talk and Text Plan also offers a free cell phone plus 500 text messages and 500 voice minutes.
- 1,000 total voice minutes and 1,000 text messages for $20 per month.
Assurance Wireless customers will still have the option of obtaining 1,000 total voice minutes and 1,000 text messages for $20 per month.
To learn more about Assurance Wireless, including eligibility requirements, please call 1-800-395-2171 or visit ww.assurancewireless.com.
Assurance Wireless is currently available in 34 states including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Assurance Wireless is not the only provider of free cell phones for low-income households, to read our how-to article. Safelink Wireless from Tracfone offers the Safelink Wireless program offers three plans:
- 250 free monthly non-carryover minutes, one text per each minute and a free cell phone.
- 125 free monthly carryover minutes, one text per each minute and a free cell phone.
- 68 free monthly carryover minutes, 3 texts per each minute, International Long Distance to over 100 destinations and a free cell phone.
To learn more about SafeLink Wireless, including eligibility requirements, please call 1-800-977-3768 or visit safelinkwireless.com.
Life Wireless offers free and discounted mobile phone service to eligible low-income families and individuals in nine states – Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Rhode Island, and West Virginia, as well as Puerto Rico. Information at www.lifewireless.com. If you have aSIM phone such as the iPhone you can use it with their service. NO DATA included.
- 250 minutes free text charged at one minute
- 68 minutes free text charged at 1/3 a minute.
- 125 minutes free, text charged at 1/2 minute.
According to the FCC, the qualifying income in all federal default states, except Alaska and Hawaii, ranges from a maximum of $14,702 for a family of one to a maximum of $50,801 for a family of eight. You will have to re-qualify every 12 months.
Safelink Wireless is available in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
There is no free cell phone Lifeline service for low-income households in 15 non-participating states that include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.
Please Note:. Consumers who willfully make false statements in order to obtain the benefit can be punished by fine or imprisonment or can be barred from the program.