When it comes to handling the cost of a cell phone, not everyone can do it. Cell phones can be costly, especially the service that comes along with them. However, there are actually opportunities out there that allow people in need to get phones for free. Yes, you read that right! Some carriers not only provide free phones to people, but also free services like unlimited talk and text, and even unlimited data (and more)! Not every carrier offers this opportunity. However, there are some that are worth mentioning.
How is it Possible to Get a Free Phone?
Most carriers only provide a free phone due to the Lifeline program. In addition, they also provide additional services due to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). These programs are both designed to help those in need handle the cost of their phone bill or internet services. Before learning about which carriers provide a free phone, you should have a clear understanding of what these programs are. However, if you don’t care, then you can just scroll to the bottom to see a list of some carriers that provide this free support!
Understanding the Lifeline Program
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers the Lifeline program. However, even though the program is offered by the FCC, it is managed by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Since the USAC manages the program they will help applicants and recipients with a variety of services including:
- Handling the application process
- Dealing with the recertification process
- Understanding information about the program
Lifeline aims to help qualifying individuals handle the cost of communication services more easily. The individuals that Lifeline focuses on helping are those who are low-income. Generally, the Lifeline program will be able to provide a monthly discount on one of the following eligible services:
- Telephone services
- Broadband internet services
- Bundled voice and broadband packages
The monthly discount that households will receive varies but is up to $9.25. However, that maximum increases for households that reside on tribal lands. Tribal land households have a maximum discount of $34.25.
The eligibility criteria for this program include being at or less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Besides this eligibility requirement, individuals may be eligible if they are recipients of at least one of these programs:
- Certain Tribal Programs
- Federal Public Housing
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
Understanding the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The FCC also offers the ACP. The ACP aims to help households specifically with the cost of broadband services. The maximum benefit for this support opportunity is $30 per month. Just like the Lifeline program, the benefits maximum increase for households that reside on tribal lands. For tribal land households, the maximum benefit is $75. Other than receiving a monthly discount on services, households can get a one-time discount. This discount is worth $100 and can be used towards buying an eligible electronic device like:
- Desktop computer
Those that want to be eligible for ACP will need to have a qualifying income. That means being at or less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Besides this eligibility requirement, households may be able to qualify if they meet at least one of the conditions below:
- Are Pell Grant recipients for the current award year
- Meet the eligibility criteria that a local provider sets for ACP
- Are recipients of a qualifying federal support program
Which Carriers Provide a Free Phone?
Not every carrier provides a free phone. It’s important to check with a carrier before choosing them to see if this is an available opportunity or not. However, some popular carriers that offer a free phone include:
- Safelink Wireless
- True Wireless
- Assurance Wireless
If you want to search for carriers in your area that could be beneficial, the USAC provides a tool. This tool allows consumers to see what support is available near them!
Safelink Wireless has a very generous offer! Through this carrier, individuals can get a free phone with:
- Unlimited talk and text
- International calls to countries like Mexico and Canada
- 25 GB of high-speed data
- 5 GB of hotspot data
Remember, these opportunities are not available to everyone. Instead, they are only available to those who are eligible!
This carrier has some beliefs when it comes to providing individuals with affordable communication. They feel that it’s a person’s right to have the following:
That is why it should come as no surprise that True Wireless partners with both ACP and the Lifeline program. Through this partnership, they can provide unlimited service and an LTE Android at no cost. However, that’s not all! They could provide an Android tablet for no cost, too.
Not only can this carrier provide a phone at no cost, but they also provide wireless internet at no cost. That’s because, through ACP, recipients can receive 14 GB of data every month. However, that’s not all. TruConnect can also provide an Android phone at no cost (or a hotspot for Wifi) for those that qualify. In addition to everything mentioned, this carrier can provide unlimited text and talk, as well as international calling for free. It’s worth noting that international calling is only available for select countries.
Last but certainly not least on this list of carriers is Assurance Wireless. This carrier provides a phone at no cost and a very supportive plan that comes along with it. It comes with free:
- Unlimited data
- Unlimited minutes
- 10 GB of mobile hotspot data
- Unlimited text messages
Having a phone can make a world of difference, especially in today’s age of technology. However, the cost of a phone and service can be a lot for people to handle. If you struggle with this expense, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are carriers that can provide a free phone as well as no-cost perks like unlimited talk/text, data, and more. This is made possible through the Lifeline program and ACP. These two programs are available thanks to the FCC. However, it is managed by the USAC. If you have any questions or want to search for available carriers you can look through a tool provided by the USAC to see what is available near you. There may be more hope than you realize!