The Lifeline program provides free cell phones and service to low-income individuals and families. This program is paid for by the Universal Service Fund which is funded by the major telecom companies. Qualifications for the program vary by state, but the general qualifications are:
- If you qualify for government assistance like food stamps, welfare, section 8 housing, or many other government programs, you automatically qualify for Lifeline.
- If your yearly income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, you will qualify for a free cell phone.
Applying for a free cell phone is easy. Fill out the email form on the right for more information.
Our government strongly believes that phone service is a necessity in this day and age and so they went about creating this program so that even low income Americans can stay connected with their families, employers, medical care providers, etc. The program actually began in 1980s and offered landlines. However, in the 2000s it was updated to include cell phone service.
Lifeline free cell phone service is provided through private wireless carriers at no cost to the individual. Many of the largest wireless carriers offer some variation of lifeline service but most people choose to go with a wireless provider that only provides Lifeline service. The three largest providers are Q Link Wireless, Safelink and Assurance.
The most common plan includes 250 free minutes which renew every month, however with certain providers you can adjust your plan to include more text messages and less minutes or vice versa. All providers also include cheap prepaid minutes which can be purchased if your 250 free minutes run out.
Signing up for the service is very straight forward and you can get started here. You’ll have to put in your zip code and email address which will verify that you live in an area where Lifeline service is offered. After availability is confirmed, you put in your address where you would like to ship the phone and then you choose which plan you would like, as we mentioned above. Finally, you will have to confirm that you qualify based on low income or participation in a government assistance program.
Once you’ve gone through this quick application process, your new cell phone will be shipped to the address you provided as soon as 7-10 days!
It’s important to note you can only have ONE lifeline phone in each household.