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20+ ways to get free smartphones and discounts for low-income families in 2024

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If you can’t afford a cell phone or wireless service, there are programs that can help you get a free smartphone or cellphone. Here’s the best way to get a free phone or a discounted one:

Best way to get a free phone: Lifeline Assistance Program

The Lifeline Assistance Program is the main program that provides free smart phones and free or reduced-price wireless cell phone plans and landline service to low-income people. Lifeline is a federal program available in every state, territory, and on Tribal lands. 

When you sign up for Lifeline, you can choose a free smartphone from many of the participating providers in this post. But Lifeline also helps you pay for your cell phone bill.

Lifeline gives you up to $9.25 per month to pay your cell phone bill. If you live on Tribal land, you can get up to $34.25 per month. This benefit applies to already discounted, low-income plans. In some cases, there is zero cost to Lifeline subscribers, as outlined through the different programs listed below.

You are eligible for the Lifeline Assistance Program if:

How to get free phone service from Lifeline:

Apply online through a Lifeline administrator (full list is below). If you already have service, ask your current provider to apply your new Lifeline benefit to your bill. 

Once you are approved for Lifeline, you are good to go for one year. Just use it at least once a month to keep it active. After a year, you must reapply to keep the service.

You can use your Lifeline benefit for one service per address and you can’t transfer your benefit to someone else.

Get help from the Affordable Connectivity Program

If you qualify for Lifeline, you might also be eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a Federal Communications Commission program that replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), a federal temporary assistance program providing free or discounted internet service to qualified applicants.

If your household income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, you qualify for ACP. The ACP offers a monthly discount of up to $30 for eligible subscribers (up to $75 for households on Tribal lands) and a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop. You can also use ACP to pay for cell phone bills. 

If you qualify for Lifeline and ACP, you can apply both benefits to one service or use them separately. So, you could use one benefit on wireless service and one on your home internet bill.

Apply for the ACP online or call the ACP Support Center at 833-511-0311.

There is one ACP per household. There is also one Lifeline benefit per household.

Wireless providers with free or discounted phones

Here are some of the wireless providers that work with the federal Lifeline Assistance Program to provide free or discounted government smartphones and free or affordable wireless service:

1. Access Wireless

Lifeline's Access Wireless is a legit service that offers free nationwide cell phone service for qualified Lifeline recipients. Buy a discounted iOS smartphone for as low as $149 or an Android cell phone for as low as $39. Bring your own compatible device and pay just $9.99 for a SIM card.

Access Wireless has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Apply to Access Wireless to get free service.

2. AirTalk Wireless

AirTalk Wireless makes it possible for qualified Lifeline/ACP recipients to get a free touchscreen iOS or Android smartphone or wireless phone. AirTalk offers service and plans in 37 states and Puerto Rico.

AirTalk offers three plans:

  • Lifeline: 4.5GB of data, 1,000 talk minutes and unlimited texting, and free SIM that you can put in an existing smartphone (no free phone)
  • Lifeline/ACP: 15GB of data, unlimited talk and text, and free upgraded smartphone
  • ACP: 8GB of data, unlimited talk and text, and a free basic smartphone

AirTalk requires no deposit or activation fee.

AirTalk does not have a BBB profile.

To get started, apply at AirTalk Wireless.

3. American Assistance

American Assistance provides qualified applicants with a free government touch-screen smartphone with a new monthly plan. The Lifeline/ACP program covers subscribers in 20 states and Puerto Rico. The ACP-only program covers seven states and Puerto Rico. 

American Assistance also works with California Premium Lifeline, a state-based cell phone assistance program that offers free unlimited voice, text and 6GB of data monthly.  There are no activation fees, contracts, or device deposits.

American Assistance does not have a BBB profile.

Apply to American Assistance to check availability and benefits.

4. Assurance Wireless 

Assurance Wireless (now part of T-Mobile) offers new Lifeline and/or ACP Assurance Wireless customers a free Android smartphone. 

The Assurance Wireless Lifeline/ACP plan gives you free data, and unlimited text messages and minutes. The Lifeline-only plan hooks you up with unlimited data, texts, 1,000 minutes, and 4.5GB of data  with no activation fee or device deposit.

Assurance Wireless serves low-income residents in 42 states and has an A+ rating with the BBB.

Apply to Assurance Wireless by entering your zip code.

5. AT&T

AT&T works with ACP to deliver free and affordable high-speed data and unlimited talk and text on prepaid phone plans, including:

  • Free 5GB of data and unlimited talk and text
  • $10 per month for 15Gb of data and unlimited talk and text
  • $20 for unlimited data, talk and text (when you sign up for autopay) 

AT&T doesn’t offer a free phone, but you can get a free SIM shipped at no charge when you bring your own compatible device. Or shop for a new prepaid phone through Walmart, AT&T’s mobile device partner. Activation fees vary by phone choice.

In addition, Access from AT&T is the carrier's low-cost internet service that costs $30 per month or less. Available in 21 states, AT&T's low-income program is available to those who meet ACP income requirements or who receive benefits from SNAP, SSI (only for California residents), or the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

No contract or deposit. Free installation.

AT&T has a B+ rating with the BBB.

Check availability and apply for Access from AT&T.

6. Cintex Wireless

Cintex Wireless will give you a free Android or Apple smartphone of your choice with a $0/month plan with 15GB of data and unlimited talk, text, and picture messaging if you qualify for Lifeline and ACP.

Cintex Wireless offers this plan nationwide. There are no deposit or activation fees.

Plus, Lifeline/ACP-eligible customers get unlimited calling to Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guadeloupe, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.

Separate Lifeline-only and ACP-only plans are still free, but have different features:

  • Lifeline customers can bring their own device and get a free SIM card. The free plan provides 4.5GB of data each month, plus 1,000 talk minutes and unlimited texting. 
  • If you are only eligible for ACP, you’ll get 8GB of data plus unlimited talk and text.  

Cintex Wireless has a profile but is not rated by the BBB.

Apply now at Cintex Wireless with your zip code to view plan options.

7. Easy Wireless

Easy Wireless provides eligible Lifeline and ACP customers free or discounted smartphones and free talk, text, and data. 

If you qualify for:

  • Lifeline and ACP, you can get the Unlimited Plan. It comes with a free smartphone and unlimited talk, text, and data.
  • Lifeline-only, the Base Plan includes $25 smartphones and free text, 1,000 talk minutes, and 25 MB of data.
  • ACP only, you can get the Plus Plan that features a free smartphone, unlimited text and talk and 5 GB of data.

All Tribal Lifeline and ACP plans offer a free smartphone. Most include unlimited talk, text, and data. 

Even if you don’t qualify for Lifeline or ACP, Easy Wireless has plans that start at $5.25 a month with 1,000 talk minutes, unlimited texting, and 25 MB of data.

If you already have a phone, you can bring it over to Easy Wireless. It only takes a few minutes to find out if your phone is compatible. There is no deposit or activation fee. 

Easy Wireless has an A+ rating with the BBB.

Apply at Easy Wireless with your email and zip code to see all plan options.

8. enTouch Wireless

If you qualify for Lifeline and/or ACP, enTouch Wireless offers a free Android smartphone with options for free unlimited data, talk, and text, or limited data plans with 5.6-11GB of data. There are no activation or device fees.

enTouch Wireless is available in 34 states and on Tribal lands. You can view eligibility requirements on the state list.

In some states, if you only qualify for Lifeline, enTouch offers a free SIM card for unlocked phones. The features of these $0/month plans and data limits vary by state.

This provider also offers free international calling from the United States to Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, India, China, Vietnam, and South Korea.

enTouch Wireless has an F rating with the BBB.

Visit enTouch Wireless and click enroll now to choose your state to see available plans.

9. Infiniti Mobile

Infiniti Mobile provides free, nationwide mobile and broadband internet service for customers eligible for Lifeline and ACP. If qualified, you can get unlimited talk, text, and data on your own device or get a free phone with service.

Infiniti Mobile pricing on phone plans varies by state. With Lifeline and ACP, plans are free or at a reduced cost after applying the benefits. There are no activation fees and you can bring your own compatible device and keep your number.

Infiniti Mobile has an A+ rating with the BBB.

Sign up with Infiniti Mobile to learn if you qualify for free service.

10. Life Wireless

If you qualify for Lifeline and ACP, you may be eligible for a free touchscreen government phone and a free or discounted monthly plan. Life Wireless’s Lifeline plans are offered in 36 states and Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. ACP plans are available in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

Lifeline/ACP plans offer a free smartphone, a hotspot and free unlimited data, talk and text. Lifeline-only plans vary, but most give you 500 minutes per month or unlimited talk and text. 

If you have ACP, you can get free unlimited talk, text, data, and up to 6GB of hotspot data use. No activation or device fees.

Life Wireless has an F rating with the BBB.

Sign up for Life Wireless>>

Q Link offers Lifeline/ACP nationwide, unlimited, free monthly cell phone service including data, minutes and text and picture messaging. If you qualify for ACP you can also get a new tablet. There is a one-time device fee of $10.01 for the tablet.

Q Link does not provide cell phones or smartphones, so you’ll need to bring your own phone to the wireless provider and you can keep your existing number. There are no activation fees.

Q Link has a profile with the BBB but it is being updated as of January 2024.

Apply to Q Link now to see your offers. 

SafeLink Wireless works with Lifeline and ACP and is one of the largest low-income cell phone service providers in the nation, operating in most states and territories with no activation or device fees.

As a new eligible customer, you can get a Safelink free smartphone and unlimited phone calls, texting, high-speed data, and 10GB of hotspot data. If you already have a phone you like, you can transfer your number to SafeLink Wireless and still get free service.

SafeLink Wireless has been accredited with the BBB since 2014 and carries an A+ rating.

Plans differ depending on where you live, so apply for SafeLink Wireless with your zip code to see what’s available.

13. SafetyNet Wireless 

SafetyNet Wireless offers prepaid, free, and discounted smartphone plans. This company provides cell phones to low-income people through its participation with Lifeline, ACP, and California Lifeline. 

SafetyNet Wireless is available in California, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

California Lifeline plans costs range from $0 to $25 per month and offer unlimited talk and text and up to 12 GB of data. In other states, the monthly prices and data limits vary.

ACP plans offer free and discounted broadband internet service. This service also comes with a tablet that has a one-time device fee of between $10 and $50 depending on the device you choose.

SafetyNet Wireless has an A+ rating with the BBB.

Apply now at SafetyNet Wireless. 

14. StandUp Wireless 

StandUp Wireless works with Lifeline and ACP to offer a free or discounted government smartphone by mail you can self-activate with unlimited talk and text, unlimited extra data, and 10 GB of high-speed data each month.

Lifeline/ACP plans range from $30 to $110 per month (before your Lifeline/ACP discount) and offer unlimited talk, text, and data with up to 60GB of high-speed data.

If you are eligible for ACP, you can get a new tablet for as low as $10.01. StandUp Wireless does not offer phones for purchase, but you can bring your own compatible device and keep your number. StandUp Wireless offers 5G/4G LTE nationwide coverage. Use your zip code to see if it is available in your area.

StandUp Wireless was BBB-accredited in 2016 and has an A+ rating.

Apply now to get connected with StandUp Wireless.

15. TAG Mobile

TAG Mobile participates with Lifeline and ACP and leverages Verizon wireless and T-Mobile networks. It’s available in 19 states and 11 cities in California.

In California, you can get a free smartphone with unlimited talk and text and up to 8GB of data each month. In other states, TAG Mobile provides a free monthly plan with unlimited voice, text, and 8.5GB of data. If you qualify for ACP you can purchase a tablet for as little as $10. There are no activation fees.

The program allows you to bring your own compatible phone, transfer your number, choose prepaid or monthly plans, and shop for phones all online.

TAG Mobile has an F rating with the BBB.

Enroll with TAG Mobile and get your benefits.

16. Tempo Wireless

Low-income people who qualify for the Lifeline program can get a free or discounted cell phone, free minutes, texting, data, 4.5GB of data, and nationwide calling every month with Tempo Wireless.

Tempo Wireless covers 22 states. Prepaid plans are available and there are no activation or device fees.

Tempo Wireless has an A+ rating with the BBB.

Sign up with Tempo Wireless using your zip code.

17. TerraCom Wireless 

TerraCom Wireless offers a free smartphone and free monthly cell phone service to those who qualify for Lifeline in 21 states. Each state has different caps on monthly minutes, text messages, and data.

You can bring over your phone if you prefer to keep it. There is no activation or device fee. Broadband plans are also available.

TerraCom Wireless does not have a BBB profile.

Sign up with TerraCom Wireless.

18. T-Mobile

T-Mobile provides free and discounted cell phone options and participates in Lifeline and ACP. For Lifeline-eligible customers, T-Mobile offers cell phone plan discounts to subscribers in Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Puerto Rico. Fill out and submit the T-Mobile form for Lifeline discounts.

For ACP recipients, you can get a free cell phone with a plan that ranges from $0-$30 per month (with ACP discount) through Metro by T-Mobile. All plans contain unlimited talk and text but data ranges between 5GB and unlimited depending on the plan you choose.

T-Mobile has an A rating with the BBB.

Check your eligibility or sign up with Metro.

19. TruConnect

TruConnect offers cell phone plans, prepaid plans, broadband service, and hotspots, as well a range of Android and Apple phones and tablets at steep discounts or for free, and administers Lifeline and ACP wireless and cell phone programs.

With TruConnect, those qualifying receive a free Android phone, unlimited talk, text, and data, and free international calling to Mexico, Canada, China, South Korea, and Vietnam if you are eligible for Lifeline and/or ACP. ACP recipients get access to up to 8GB of data.

TruConnect serves 37 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are no activation fees, but there is a minimum cost of $10.01 for a tablet from TruConnect.

All TruConnect plans come with two months of free Amazon Prime. Upgrade to a TC+ plan for just $1/month or purchase a tablet, and you'll get Amazon Prime free every month as long as you have an active TruConnect subscription.

Qualify for TruConnect if you are enrolled in:

  • Medicaid / Medi-Cal
  • SNAP / CalFresh
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Veteran and Survivors Pension Benefit
  • Multiple Tribal Assistance Programs
  • And more

TruConnect is BBB-accredited since 2021 and carries an A+ rating.

20. Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless offers Lifeline-discounted free government smartphone service in nine states and the District of Columbia. Plans range in price by state. You can bring your own compatible device or choose a free or discounted cell phone online (options vary but are from top brands like Apple, Samsung, and Motorola).

Verizon also offers Lifeline plans for home phone and Fios internet in 11 other states.

Verizon Wireless is not rated by the BBB. However, Verizon Communications has been accredited with the BBB since 1929 and carries an A+ rating.

Learn more about Verizon Lifeline discounts.

Don’t qualify for ACP? Where to find discounts for cell phones and low income cell phone plans

Here are additional programs and providers who offer discounted or free phones for low-income households, along with cell service:

Mint Mobile 

Mint Mobile offers an introductory 3-month phone plan for as low as $15/month on the T-Mobile 5G network. After the three-month period, customers can choose between 3-, 6-, and 12-month plans starting at $15/month. Plans include unlimited talk and text. Data ranges from 5GB to unlimited based on the plan you select. You’ll pay taxes, fees, and shipping to get set up.

Mint Mobile allows its customers to keep their current phone, phone number, and contacts as long as the device is unlocked and compatible with T-Mobile service. You can also buy a new iOS or Android phone starting at $99. 

You can upgrade your Mint Mobile plan at any time if you need more data, and you can switch to a smaller plan when it’s time to renew.

Mint Mobile is not rated by the BBB.

Red Pocket

You can buy a Red Pocket prepaid plan starting at $2.50 per month through eBay and keep your old phone, number, and contacts. These plans include a high-speed SIM card and activation code to connect with one of Red Pocket’s three networks, which include AT&T and Sprint coverage.

Red Pocket also offers monthly plans starting at $20/month for AT&T compatible and most unlocked phones. New phones through Red Pocket start at $349.

Red Pocket is BBB-accredited since 2013 and carries an A+ rating.

Get a 1GB plan with 1,000 minutes and unlimited texts per month with Red Pocket >>

FAQs about free smartphones and discount plans for low-income families

Can you get free phones online?

Yes, you can get free phones online. Providers mentioned in this post like AirTalk, StandUp Wireless, and Assurance Wireless allow you to sign up for service online and choose a free phone and free or discounted phone plan. Your phone will be mailed to your address along with instructions for activation.

How can I get a free government phone?

Apply with the Lifeline National Verifier. You will need to show proof of income and any government or Tribal assistance you receive.

Once accepted, you can apply directly with a participating wireless provider of your choice to receive a free phone or a discounted cell phone and/or service. 

Who has the best free government phones? 

Assurance Wireless has the best free government phones. It has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, is available in 49 states, and offers nationwide coverage through the T-Mobile 5G network. Assurance offers a free Android smartphone with free data and unlimited text and talk if you qualify for Lifeline and ACP. Plus, it’s easy to sign up online.

Can I get a free government iPhone?

While there are thousands of people each month who want to know if they can get a free government iPhone, the answer is likely no, unless your provider offers free iPhones as part of its Lifeline Assistance program, available in 36 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

AirTalk Wireless is one of those programs that offers a free government iPhone, but it is an older model. As of January 2024, the current offerings are:

  • iPhone SE
  • IPhone SE 2
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8

iPhone offerings are subject to change.

However, qualifying individuals can get a free Android phone or a discounted iPhone through the FCC’s TruConnect program, which includes 14 GB of monthly data. Customers who qualify for Lifeline Assistance also receive unlimited talk, text, and free international calling to select countries.

What is a free food stamps phone?

A free food stamps phone is one you can get through Lifeline or ACP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was called the Food Stamps program at one time and people who receive SNAP benefits qualify for Lifeline/ACP.

Can you get a free phone with EBT?

While you can’t get a free phone with EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer), having an EBT card means you have SNAP benefits. People with SNAP benefits qualify for the Lifeline and ACP programs which offer free phones to eligible applicants.

Lifeline works with providers to offer free or discounted wireless and landline-based home phone service, but does not offer free landline phones. When using the Lifeline benefit, you can only use it for wireless or landline service, not both. The ACP does not offer free landline phones or service.

Can I get free phones for my kids?

Yes, you can get free phones for your kids. When they are at school, it’s especially helpful to have a free phone for students so that you can stay in touch and have peace of mind.

Multiple cell phone service providers like Assurance Wireless, T-Mobile, and SafeLink participate with Lifeline and ACP making it easy to get a free phone if you qualify based on income. However, you can only use one Lifeline/ACP benefit per household. If you are using that benefit for yourself, you still have options to get a free phone for your kids:

  • Contact your current cell phone provider and ask about free phones for your children
  • Consider a prepaid cell phone plan that offers a free device
  • If you receive government benefits, ask your case manager about free phones for kids 

What phone companies give you a free phone?

With so many providers competing for customers, you can expect free phone deals when you switch to a new wireless provider. However, these cell phone companies offer free phones year-round:

Who offers a free cell phone, no deposit, no activation fee?

The following carriers offer free cell phones that do not require an activation fee or device deposit:

  • AirTalk Wireless
  • American Assistance
  • Assurance Wireless
  • AT&T
  • Cintex Wireless
  • Easy Wireless
  • enTouch Wireless
  • Infiniti Mobile
  • Life Wireless
  • SafeLink Wireless
  • TAG Mobile
  • Tempo Wireless
  • TerraCom Wireless
  • TruConnect

Bottom line: How can I get a free phone without paying?

There are a few ways to get a new, free phone. If you meet income requirements for Lifeline or ACP, many of those plans come with a free smartphone.

If you don’t qualify, you still have options:

  • Sign up for a new cell phone plan with a different wireless provider and a new phone is often part of the deal, however it may  require a new phone number
  • Look for free Samsung Galaxy phones advertised on TV commercials and online
  • Use a service like Best Buy Trade-In or Amazon Trade-In to get cash for your old phone and then use that money to buy your new phone
  • Check with different wireless providers about phone exchange programs where you can turn yours in and get a new phone when you become a customer
  • Research special shopping events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and after Christmas sales for free phone deals

Need more resources? Check out these helpful articles:

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Can you get free phones online?

Many wireless carriers that provide free phones allow you to sign up for service online. Your phone will be mailed to your address along with instructions for activation.

How can I get a free government phone?

Apply with the Lifeline National Verifier. You will need to show proof of income and any government or Tribal assistance you receive. Once accepted, you can apply directly with a participating wireless provider of your choice to receive a free phone or a discounted cell phone and/or service.

Can I get a free government iPhone?

While there are thousands of people each month who want to know if they can get a free government iPhone, the answer is likely no, unless your provider offers free iPhones as part of its Lifeline Assistance program, available in 36 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

What is the best free government phone company?

The best free government phone company is the one that meets your specific needs for communication. That said, SafeLink Wireless is one of the best free wireless and smartphone providers. SafeLink has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, serves a wide coverage areas, and has a useful  an app to help manage your account.

What cell phone companies offer free phones?

These wireless providers, among others, offer free phones: American Assistance, Assurance Wireless, SafeLink, and more.

How can I get a new phone for free?

If you struggle to pay for a phone or phone plan, apply for the federal Lifeline Assistance Program using the Lifeline National Verifier.

One Comment

Such a great effort to gather all that information in one place, too bad that single moms outside the US are not eligible.
You guessed it, I found your article trying to find a way to a new free working phone, as there is no way to fix my old one or get a new one :)

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