How To Qualify For a Free Cell Phone and Free Minutes


If you are on a limited income and could benefit from enrollment within a government supported prepaid wireless program that includes a free cell phone and free minutes, then check out LifeLine assistance for low-income consumers. Program guidelines are based on criteria including household income or enrollment within state sponsored government programs.

The Government Funded LifeLine Assistance Program

LifeLine is affiliated with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The history of this government assistance program dates back to its inception in 1985. The program was initially created to provide low-income consumers with access to discounted rates for traditional landline phone service, a necessary component of daily living to help people connect with others, find employment and for usage during times of emergency.

Opportunities to receive discounts through prepaid wireless phone plans were introduced to consumers in 2005. Eligible consumers have the choice of enrolling in a discounted landline service program or applying for a prepaid, wireless service plan that includes a free cell phone and free minutes. Acceptance into LifeLine programs requires that applicants meet specific eligibility requirements and criteria.

Consumers primarily interested in obtaining a discount on their monthly rates for their traditional landline phone service should contact their service provider for more information. The average subsidy for this type of service ranges in the area of about a $10 discount off your regular monthly phone bill. Additional information for this discount is available online at Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) as well as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website.

Eligibility Requirements for a Free Cell Phone and Free Minutes

For those consumers that are interested in getting more information on how to apply for a prepaid wireless plan that includes a free cell phone and free minutes, you’re in the right place. Applicants must meet the required criteria in order to enroll and be accepted into a plan. Participation within a prepaid wireless plan is based on several factors, as stated within the posted guidelines online at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website.

Eligibility is based on the total household income being at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines — or the applicant must be enrolled within one of the following government assisted programs as posted on FCC*:

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Federal Public House Assistance (Section 8)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
  • Head Start (based on meeting income requirements)
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Medicaid
  • National School Lunch Program’s (Free Lunch Program)
  • State Assistance Programs (If applicable)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
  • Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)

(*Reference: Federal Communications Commission FCC)

Check Out These Free Wireless Plans and Sign Up

Prepaid wireless plans that include a free cell phone and free minutes also offer other great features to eligible low-income consumers. Perks generally include free local and long distance coverage as well as free Caller ID, Call Waiting and free voicemail. The average amount of free minutes and free texts is in the range of about 250 per month, although some providers may provide more or less.

A prepaid wireless plan will usually come with a refurbished mobile phone. The mobile phones are thoroughly checked to make sure that they function properly. If a consumer has any problems with the cell phone issued to them, their service provider will make sure that they resolve any issues, which may include sending out a replacement. As a bonus, most prepaid plans do not require you to sign a contract or pay any activation fees or surcharges.

Here’s a handy list of some of the top providers of prepaid wireless plans that include a free cell phone and free minutes for eligible low-income consumers. Once you apply and get accepted into a program, you will usually need to re-qualify for extended service every 12 months. You can visit the websites directly for more information about service plans within your state by entering your zip code and checking for availability.

Access Wireless

Benefits offered by Access Wireless include service coverage provided on the nationwide Sprint network. Low-income consumers will also appreciate the Wireless Rewards Program.

Budget Mobile LifeLine

Service for prepaid wireless plans offered by Budget Mobile are currently available to low-income consumers within 33 states, as posted on their website at the time of this article. Sign up and get a free mobile phone with no monthly bills.

Nexus Communications ReachOut Wireless

Consumers that apply for the ReachOut Wireless prepaid plan will have access to great benefits that include a free mobile phone with free minutes and no upfront fees or contracts to sign. Online customer service and support is available for consumers 7 days per week.

TAG Mobile Wireless

Perks for enrolling in the TAG Mobile Wireless prepaid plan include 250 free minutes and 250 free texts each month. The service provider currently offers plans to low-income consumers within more than 20 states at the time of this article.

Terlite Corporation Life Wireless

Visit Life Wireless to check for availability of a prepaid plan in your state that includes a free cell phone and free minutes. The service provider can also provide hearing aid compatible phones.

TerraCom Wireless

TerraCom Wireless is another option to explore for the LifeLine phone service plan. Included is a free mobile phone and free minutes after completing their simple online application form.

TracFone Safelink Wireless

One of the top providers of prepaid plans for low-income consumers, Safelink Wireless includes free local and national long distance calling in addition to nationwide text messaging. There are no additional fees for roaming and you get a free mobile phone as well as free 411 directory assistance.

Virgin Mobile Assurance Wireless

Virgin Mobile provides Assurance Wireless customers with 500 free monthly minutes during the first 4 months and then 250 free minutes thereafter. As with other prepaid wireless plans, you get a free mobile phone and free text messaging included with your service.

Photo Credit: MTSOfan