It is hard to imagine a day without a smartphone. Despite being so important for daily activities, its price still remains out of reach for many families. And, the number has only increased after the pandemic. That’s why the FCC introduced a free government phone program. The goal is to bring everyone under a digital network.
That being said, finding the right provider can be a little confusing for many eligible individuals. That’s why we have listed all the providers that offer free government phones by state. So that, you can just take a look and know all the companies working currently in your local area.
Sounds interesting? Then, without further ado, let’s get into it. Shall we?
Which Government Program Offers Free Phones?
Currently, you can receive a free phone from the government through the Lifeline program or ACP. Lifeline has been a pretty well-known assistance program throughout the country since 1985.
Its main purpose is to support low-income households. The Affordable connectivity program is somewhat newer. It was introduced post-pandemic. It only focuses on making digital services more accessible to the citizens.
Both programs cover a portion of your monthly internet bills. The allowance ranges from $9 to $34 through Lifeline. Apart from that, you get a one-time 100% discount on a brand-new phone. Other benefits include monthly minutes, texts, data, etc depending on the provider you use.
Eligibility Criteria For Free Phone
Who doesn’t want a free phone? But, there’s a catch. Not every citizen is eligible to receive this phone. You have to pass a specific eligibility test for approval. So, let’s take a look at the eligibility criteria.
1. Below Poverty Line
The most important criterion is the low-income level. If your annual income is above the poverty line, you will be disqualified immediately. The guidelines say that your annual earnings should be at least 135% below the poverty limit.
For example, if you are a single person, your annual earnings have to be within $17,226. But what if you have a family? Well, here’s a small chart to help you figure it out.
|Number of persons||Income level (annually)|
|Single Family of 3 people||$29,322|
|Single Family of 4 people||$35,370|
|Single Family of 5 people||$41,418|
If your family is bigger than that, just keep adding $6000 per person. It should give you a close estimation.
2. Child Dependency
If you have to support children who are yet to become adults, you will be eligible. During the application process, the authority will ask you whether you become eligible through your low income or because of your children.
If your income doesn’t fall below 135% of the poverty limit, click on “through my children.” Moreover, if your kids participate in the free lunch or free breakfast program at school, you can use that card to be eligible.
Or, if you are divorced and entitled to pay child support regularly, your disposable income would be lower. That can also make you eligible for the program. For that, you have to show the court’s order.
3. Verified Identity
You have to be a citizen of the United States to be eligible. That means your identity proof is necessary. For example, your social security number, national ID card, driver’s license, TIN, etc. This is the very first step when you fill out the application.
If you reside in any of the federally recognized tribal states, you would be eligible. Both Lifeline and ACP offer special features to tribal areas. For example, Alaska has the majority percentage of tribes in the whole U.S.A. If you belong to any of those tribes, you can apply to this program based on that.
5. Other Government Programs
Apart from all of that, you will be asked whether you participate in any other government assistance program or not. Your chances of getting a free phone will increase if you take part in some of these programs. it is to ensure that you are indeed needy.
Here are some Government Programs that will help you get accepted into a Lifeline or ACP:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- WIC- for women and children who need additional nutrition support from the Government.
- SSI- for currently unemployed citizens who need government support for survival.
6. One Phone Per Household
Last but not the least, there is a condition that states “one house one phone.” That means, if any other person in your family already receives benefits through lifeline or ACP, you will be disqualified. Because the government aims to cover as many households as possible.
Free Government Phones By State
If you think you are eligible for the free phone program, what’s next? Well, the next step is to select a provider within your area. Because not all providers work to offer lifeline assistance.
To make your search easier, we have listed out the most common free phone providers along with their serving areas. Please, have a look.
1. Assurance Wireless
Assurance Wireless has an association with the T-mobiles telecommunication company. It is the most easily available local provider throughout the USA. The only states it excludes are North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota & Vermont.
|Assurance Wireless||T-Mobile||a) Unlimited data|
b) 250 texts & 250 minutes
c) Brand new phone
|Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Ohio, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin,|
2. Access Wireless
Access wireless comes second when it comes to nationwide coverage. It is operating in more than 30 states currently.
|Access Wireless||Sprint||a) Unlimited texts, calls|
b) Free phone
c) 5GB Data
|Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin|
3. SafeLink Wireless
SafeLink offers free services to eligible customers. It is a proud supporter of the Lifeline & ACP assistance program.
|SafeLink Wireless||TracFone Wireless||a) 350 minutes for calls|
b) Free Phone
c) Free SIM Card
|Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin|
4. Cintex Wireless
One thing you might have noticed is that Cintex wireless is not available in most states. Well, it’s actually available. It only offers free phones in the below-mentioned states. As you can see, the states are mostly tribal.
|Cintex Wireless||HTH Communication||a) 1000 minutes|
b) 1GB data monthly
c) New Smart phone
|Arkansas, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, West Virginia,|
5. EnTouch Wireless
EnTouch Wireless is the only lifeline provider available for people living in Wyoming and South Dakota. It also operates in most other states.
|EnTouch Wireless||Verizon||a) 1000 minutes|
b) 500+ texts
c) ACP+ Lifeline allowance if eligible
|Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, South Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia,|
6. Life Wireless
Life wireless operates on At & T’s nationwide fast network. California and Oklahoma residents are entitled to a premium lifeline assistance package.
|Life Wireless||AT & T Network||a) Free Smartphone|
b) 750 Monthly calls.
c) 1 GB data
|Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Texas, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia,|
7. Q-Link Wireless
The unique thing about Q-Link is that it operates in Vermont. Unfortunately, no other provider offers lifeline assistance in this area. So, if you live in Vermont, you have no other option but Q-Link wireless.
|Q-Link Wireless||T-Mobile||a) Free monthly data|
b) New Phone
c) Unlimited texts & calls
|Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia,|
8. American Assistance
American Assistance has premium lifeline assistance. But, that’s applicable if you live in California only. Otherwise, you have to accept the regular lifeline benefits.
|American Assistance||Verizon||a) 4.5 GB Of Internet|
b) 6 GB internet package (California only)
c) Unlimited talk time
|Alabama, Colorado, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Rhode Island, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin, West Virginia|
9. Stand Up Wireless
Stand UP Wireless offers a free phone along with a free SIM card in their lifeline assistance program. All you have to do is enroll and make sure you are eligible.
|Stand Up Wireless||T-Mobile||a) Free monthly texts, minutes|
b) 3GB of Data
c) New Phone
|Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia,|
10. Tag Mobile
As you can see, Tag mobile wireless is connected with T-Mobile, Verizon, and sprint. So, that you get the best coverage anywhere. The free phones will also come with a free monthly package for you.
|Tag Mobile||T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint||a) 1000 minutes|
b) 4.5 GB Data
c) No limit on texts
|Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin,|
What Is The Application Process For Getting A Free Phone From The Government?
Now, let’s take a quick scan of the whole application process. Remember that the steps might be a little different for each provider.
Step 1: Select Your Carrier
If you have multiple lifeline providers in your area, pick one. You can use our chart above to find the best deal. Once you have done that, go to their official website, for example, www.lifewireless.com. Here, you can find all the terms and conditions of that particular provider. If that suits you, then go ahead.
Step 2: Apply Online
Next, you have to find the “lifeline assistance” option on the official website of your provider. There should be a clear “apply here” button. If you find that, just click on it.
It will simply ask you for your zip code and email address at this stage.
It makes sure that you live in their operating zone. Once you pass this round, they will redirect you to another form.
Step 3: Fill In Your General Information
This is easy. The form will ask for your birth date, full name, and social security number. In the “contact number” box, you can either give your personal or a family member’s number.
Remember that, if you click “submit” it will authorize the provider to use this information during your background check.
Step 4: Proof Of Identity
In this step, you have to verify your identity. Your national ID card along with the eligibility proof is needed. By eligibility proof, we mean any cards that you use while receiving other government assistance like food stamps.
Just click a clear picture of these cards and save it on a phone. Then, simply attach those photos in the desired section by clicking on “upload” or the arrow button.
Make sure that the cards still have validity. Expired cards are not accepted by the FCC.
Step 5: Eligibility Verification
Next, you have to specify whether you have taken part in other government grants or not. Just put a tick beside the programs that you have participated in. Then, select “submit” and move on.
Step 6: Give Your Initials
The final step is to give your initial. You will come across some statements like “one of my house members already received a free phone.” All you have to do is put a tick beside it if you think it’s true or matches your condition. If not, then just leave it blank.
After you submit everything, the website will show you whether you have been approved or not. It can take a while. So, be patient.
Did you know that approximately 35 million households are reaping the benefits of the Lifeline assistance program? It is a great initiative to promote inclusivity in society. In this era, limited income should limit citizens to have access to digital platforms like everybody else.
In this article, we have listed every state where the top 10 wireless service providers operate. So that, you don’t have to waste more time finding your local lifeline providers.
Hopefully, you can now get yourself enrolled and enjoy a brand-new phone.