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Get Free Phones (& Free Service) from these 12+ Providers!

Get Free Phones (& Free Service) from these 12+ Providers!

We’ve found several ways that you can get free phones and even free cell phone service! These deals are available from several different providers but don’t worry: we’ve addressed all of your options in this list!

Why do these providers offer free phones and free cell phone service?

The government has created a subsidy program to help low income customers get free phones and free cell phone service. After all, having a reliable phone and service is essential in today’s fast-paced world.

After all, phones are usually required to get jobs… contact emergency services… pay bills… arrange child care… contact doctor’s and other medical professionals… and so much more. Without a reliable phone, ordinary life gets very difficult very quickly.

Wait – are these Obamaphones?

Yes, they are often called that but this program didn’t start with Obama.

This program actually has its roots back in the 1930s, when the government established the need for universal phone service. It began providing free phone service under Reagan and was later expanded by Bush and Obama… but the free phones provided by this program is nevertheless referred to as “Obamaphone” program.

It is more properly referred to as the Lifeline program.

free obamaphone

Who qualifies for free phones and free cell phone service?

In order to qualify to participate in the Lifeline program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be located in the United States. The program is available in every state, commonwealth, territory and on Tribal lands.
  • You must have an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guideline OR participate in one of the following federal assistance programs”

You must only have ONE Lifeline subsidy per household but you can transfer your benefit between providers. You can either use the subsidy to receive help with your home phone, cell phone OR high-speed broadband internet service. This is verified by the National Verifier system to prevent fraud.

What if I don’t qualify for an Obamaphone?

Fortunately, there are other providers that offer cheap cell phones and services for all customers (regardless of income).

Mint Mobile offers wireless service starting at just $15/month! Mint has been highly recommended by many of my readers. Learn more about Mint here!

Do you know of another provider we haven’t written about yet? Let us know in the comments and we’ll check it out!

Are the free phones and free cell phone service plans any good?

This is a question that we are asked quite often but the answer really depends on your defnition of “good.” There are several different providers that offer different plans. Some are better than others.

All free cell phone service plans are held to a minimum standard.

Under the FCC’s Lifeline Program for Low Income Customers (that’s the formal name for the program often called ‘Obamaphone’), there are minimum standards that all providers must meet.

As of this writing, all free cell phone service plans under this program must provide at least 1,000 minutes and a minimum of 3 GB of data. The phones must have 3G data speeds.

Some providers load their free phones with malware.

In early 2020, it was revealed that many free phones that are provided from these government programs come preloaded with malware. The affected phones discussed in this article were provided by Assurance Wireless. The preinstalled malware “aggressively displays ads” and can’t be removed without uninstalling the Settings app which can basically destroy the phone.

Thus, it is very important to carefully evaluate which plan and phone you will use. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with a nearly unusable device.

woman tells her friend about free phones and free cell phone service through Obamaphone program

How can I get free phones and free cell phone service?

There are several providers that offer these plans. However, the plans are not the same from each provider. It’s important to carefully review the plan terms and figure out which one is best for you.

Some providers operate nationwide and some are state-specific. Be sure to check both of our lists!

13 Nationwide Providers

These companies offer free cell phone services nationwide, or at least in multiple states.

Safelink Wireless

Safelink Wireless also offers free phones and free cell phone service. It is part of TracFone Wireless, which uses the towers from four major cell phone companies: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. Their plans vary depending on which state you live in.

Access Wireless

Access Wireless uses the Sprint Network to bring free cell phone service to low income customers. All information about plans is hidden behind a screen that requests your zip code, so I am unable to provide additional information here.

American Assistance

American Assistance offers free phones and free cell phone service with free minutes, data and unlimited free text messages. Their service uses the T-Mobile network.

Assurance Wireless

Assurance Wireless offers free phones and free cell phone service to low income households through the Lifeline program. Their plans include unlimited texting, as well as a free data and minute allotment. They use the Sprint network. However, it’s important to remember that this is the same company that was proven to distribute phones with malware… so be careful.

FeelSafe Wireless

FeelSafe Wireless offers an Obamaphone plan in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Life Wireless

Life Wireless offers free phones. Their free cell phone service plans vary by state, but generally include unlimited text messaging (not including picture messaging), nationwide calling and other benefits.

SafetyNet Wireless

SafetyNet Wireless provides free phones and free cell phone service that includes free minutes, texting and data. In most states, the limit is 350 minutes and 3 GB data, with unlimited texting. They provide services in California, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

StandUp Wireless

StandUp Wireless does not provide free phones but they do provide free cell phone service on compatible devices. When you bring your own device to StandUp Wireless, you’ll get 3GB of data, unlimited texts and at least 1,000 minutes per month for free. Unlimited minutes and higher data caps are available for a price.

TAG Mobile

In most states, TAG Mobile provides free cell phone service with 1,000 free voice minutes and unlimited texting. California residents may also receive a free smartphone with unlimited talk and text messaging, as well as between 1/2 and 1 GB of data!

Tempo

Tempo offers free cell phone service with unlimited minutes, unlimited text messages and 3 GB of data. Some states may not qualify for this plan, so be sure to check what’s available in your state.

TerraCom Wireless

The Lifeline plans at Terracom Wireless vary depending on which state you live in. You can find the options here.

TruConnect

TruConnect offers free smartphones, as well as free cell phone service with minutes, texts and 3 GB of data. As of this writing, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, with more coming soon.

QLink

QLink provides free cell phone service with 3 GB data, 1,000 minutes and unlimited texting. Their texting includes unlimited picture messaging, which is not always available with other providers. You can earn extra minutes and data by referring friends to QLink as well.

free phones

30+ State Providers

You may be able to receive assistance from other companies, depending on what state you live in.

Alabama

CSpire offers a Lifeline program. However, they do not offer free phones or free cell phone service. They offer a $7.25 discount on their plan that is ordinarily $55 per month. That means you’ll pay $47.75 for the plan that includes 12 GB of high speed data.

Pine Belt Communications participates in the Lifeline Assistance Program, although they do not provide very good explanations of exactly what they offer.

Southern Linc provides a Lifeline Plan that includes 2000 monthly minutes and unlimited texting, However, they charge around $20 per month for this service.

TWire is a LIfeline assistance program that is exclusive to Alabama residents. They offer a free cell phone, as well as a certain amount of minute and text messages per month. If you want a smartphone, you will need to pay a one-time fee of $60 to upgrade from their free basic phone.

Alaska

Copper Valley Telecom has served the Vladez and Copper River Basin areas for more than 50 years. They are now Lifeline approved providers as well. For $1 per month, you can get a voice only landline or wireless connection. For voice and data, you can get a $34.25 credit towards their Ala Carte voice and data plan.

Cordova Telecom Cooperative provides a Lifeline cellular plan that costs just $1 per month. You have to apply in person at either their office on 2nd Street in Cordova or at Mallott’s General Store in Yukatat, although you can print the application from their website.

GCI offers a Lifeline Mobile Plan and a Lifeline Wireline plan. You have to choose just one, and you can only have one Lifeline line per household. The free Wireline program includes unlimited local calling but no long distance. However, for $1 per month, you can get the Lifeline Mobile plan which includes an unlimited Nationwide talk and text plan with 10 GB of data. There is no credit check required for this program.

TelAlaska offers a discount on their mobile telephone services and broadband internet services. Their basic cellular service is just $0 after the discount.

Arizona

CellularOne offers a free smartphone and a Lifeline cellular plan.

Choice Wireless offers standard and tribal Lifeline plans. The Standard plan includes unlimited calling and 3GB of full-speed data, as well as a credit toward a smartphone purchase. The Tribal plan includes unlimited data and free phones as well.

Arkansas

Easy Wireless offers free cell phone service to low income residents in Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma. Although the details vary by state, all of their plans include free phones and “inexpensive data options.”

True Wireless has a Lifeline program but, unfortunately, all the details are locked behind a zip code check. I don’t have the ability to check every zip code, so you’ll have to click here to figure out what plans are available to you.

Colorado

Choice Wireless offers standard and tribal Lifeline plans. The Standard plan includes unlimited calling and 3GB of full-speed data, as well as a credit toward a smartphone purchase. The Tribal plan includes unlimited data and free phones as well.

Viaero Wireless has a Lifeline program as well. Their plan includes 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 3 GB of high speed data. However, this service costs $10 per month.

Georgia

Southern Linc provides a Lifeline Plan that includes 2000 monthly minutes and unlimited texting, However, they charge around $20 per month for this service.

Hawaii

Sandwich Isles Communications Inc. also has a Lifeline program, although I was not able to find any details on their website.

Idaho

Inland Cellular offers $9.75 off their cellular plans for Idaho residents who qualify for Lifeline.

Illinois

IV Cellular has a Lifeline program for around $11 per month.

Kentucky

Bluegrass Wireless offers discounts of up to $12.75 per month on their monthly plans. They also offer devices starting as low as $20. However, they do not have a free Obamaphone program.

Louisiana

New Phone Wireless has a Lifeline program for Louisiana residents. Their free cell phone service plan includes 1,000 minutes, unlimited text messages and 3 GB of data. They also offer free phones!

Maryland

True Wireless has a Lifeline program but, unfortunately, all the details are locked behind a zip code check. I don’t have the ability to check every zip code, so you’ll have to click here to figure out what plans are available to you.

Michigan

ThumbCellular offers a Lifeline program for Michigan residents. It appears that their program only offers a discount on the line, and that they do not offer free service or Obamaphones.

Mississippi

CSpire offers a Lifeline program. However, they do not offer free phones or free cell phone service. They offer a $7.25 discount on their plan that is ordinarily $55 per month. That means you’ll pay $47.75 for the plan that includes 12 GB of high speed data.

Southern Linc provides a Lifeline Plan that includes 2000 monthly minutes and unlimited texting, However, they charge around $20 per month for this service.

Missouri

Northwest Missouri Cellular has a Lifeline plan, but it’s not like the free Obamaphone plans. It’s a low-cost plan that offers unlimited local minutes (and no data) for $8.70 per month. For $27.70/month, you can get 1,000 minutes and 9 GB of data on the Expanded Lcoal Plus plan.

Nebraska

Viaero Wireless has a Lifeline program as well. Their plan includes 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 3 GB of high speed data. However, this service costs $10 per month.

Nevada

Choice Wireless offers standard and tribal Lifeline plans. The Standard plan includes unlimited calling and 3GB of full-speed data, as well as a credit toward a smartphone purchase. The Tribal plan includes unlimited data and free phones as well.

New Mexico

Choice Wireless offers standard and tribal Lifeline plans. The Standard plan includes unlimited calling and 3GB of full-speed data, as well as a credit toward a smartphone purchase. The Tribal plan includes unlimited data and free phones as well.

North Dakota

Red Rock Telecom offers a $34.25 discount on their monthly bills to those who are eligible for the Lifeline Program.

Oklahoma

Panhandle Telecommunications Systems offers a Lifeline discount for Oklahoma residents, but I could not find details.

Pine Cellular offers a Lifeline discount to Oklahoma residents. However, it’s just a $9.25 discount for eligible subscribers, not the typical free Obamaphone plan.

South Dakota

Red Rock Telecom offers a $34.25 discount on their monthly bills to those who are eligible for the Lifeline Program.

Texas

Panhandle Telecommunications Systems offers a Lifeline discount for Texas residents, but I could not find details.

West Central Wireless offers a $7.25 discount to those who are eligible for the Lifeline program.

Utah

Choice Wireless offers standard and tribal Lifeline plans. The Standard plan includes unlimited calling and 3GB of full-speed data, as well as a credit toward a smartphone purchase. The Tribal plan includes unlimited data and free phones as well.

Washington

Inland Cellular offers $9.75 off their cellular plans for Idaho residents who qualify for Lifeline.

Wisconsin

Cellcom offers a Lifeline discount for Wisconsin residents, but the details vary by county. You’ll have to view this list for more information.

Wyoming

Union Wireless offers a $7.25 discount on their bills for Lifeline recipients.

Nationwide Providers (Discounts, Not Free)

Many mainstream providers only provide the basic Lifeline discount on your plan. However, we wanted to be thorough in our report, so we are including them here so that you can be aware of these programs as well.

AT&T

AT&T will reduce your bill by the amount of the federal subsidy (around $7.25 per month) if you live in certain states. If you live on federally recognized tribal lands, you can get an additional $25 per month off your bill. However, AT&T does offer internet for just $5 per month for low income customers.

enTouch Wireless

Plans start at $10 per month with enTouch Wireless. They offer a basic $10 discount to those who are eligible for Lifeline plans. Their cheapest plan costs $10 after the discount and provides unlimited minutes, unlimited texting, and only 1/2 GB of data.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile offers a Lifeline discount on their regularly-priced plans. However, people who are eligible for the tribal Lifeline program may pay as little as $1 per month through T-Mobile’s Lifeline program.

US Cellular

US Cellular has a discounted Lifeline plan for $34.25 per month. This plan includes unlimited minutes, unlimited text messages and 1 GB data.

Verizon

Verizon does not participate in the typical Obamaphone program. They participate in the Lifeline program, but they only offer a $9.25 discount on your usual Verizon bill.

Get $5/month Internet!

Nicole is the owner and lead researcher for Low Income Relief. She has over 20 years of professional research and writing experience, and she has been solely dedicated to investigating low income topics for the last 10 years. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more. Her work has also been featured by Google for Publishers and other leading industry publications.

mitch

Thursday 26th of January 2023

Good afternoon, First off... thanks for your dedication to this line of work, including the Research and responding to comments. Quick question, I have a handful of gov phones-do you know what is best concerning what I should do with them.? broken screens mostly but still user friendly with no data service but wifi accessible and 4g lte and some have a good amount of memory/storage ' :) they could be used for backup and emails. I dont' know. Maybe i should just call the programs and see if they want them back. Not sure if you can make any sense out of info relating to question but on another note.

Net10 is a network service provider that offers a somewhat budgetible $20.00 unlimited plan and have access to the t'mobile, verizon, at&t networks, which can be helpful-if you don't like contracts-. just simply refill service and for anyone that uses 2step verification= thats huge... " LaST THING as A side tip. easy transfer process for promotions that may offer a free Phone" to switch or add another line.

Divyansh

Saturday 21st of January 2023

I want phone because my mother live in Noida and I live in Greater Noida

Catherine Marucci

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

Hi. You can try contacting the companies on this list. Hopefully, one can help!

Lynn Tweedy

Saturday 24th of December 2022

Forgive me,Very scared on picking,was breached Aug2021,got all identity,I just got most straight.ACP w/ internet, anxiety goes crazy, looking.But I need to choose, been 2 months trying.no one using the TMOB. Or other ya said be cautious,qlink is same.My depression ,PTSD is bad.If you cud help me choose.So much appreciate.Sorry for being a problem.

Catherine Marucci

Monday 26th of December 2022

Hi Lynn. If you use the provider links in this article, they will bring you directly to the companies.

Carol

Friday 16th of December 2022

I'm trying to find a free phone with free unlimited talk, text, and web through the gov. assistance programs. Many providers claim to offer unlimited web but it's not until you are in the middle of applying that you'll find out that their plan only includes 8gb of data (some companies with more/some with less) Aside from assurance wireless are their any other providers offering actual unlimited web?

Catherine Marucci

Friday 16th of December 2022

Unfortunately, it really depends on the carrier and the area, so we don't have a definite answer to that.

alaina

Thursday 15th of December 2022

I need a iphone

Catherine Marucci

Thursday 15th of December 2022

Hi Alaina. You can ask the individual providers, but the phones with these programs are usually cheaper ones.