Cell phones are an essential part of the modern world; most employers conduct their hiring process and scheduling online.
There’s an expectation in American culture of communicating quickly, which involves being able to respond to texts, calls, and emails via a smartphone. Inflation is up by 7.5%, which has made it difficult for many families to buy essential items…a smartphone may be a luxury item that is unaffordable. Luckily, there are programs in place that offer qualified individuals access to free smartphones and phone plans. If this is your first time hearing about this, check out our previous article on government cell phones. All you need to know is that there is a government program called Lifeline Assistance that ensures millions of Americans have access to the security of a cell phone.
If you’re ready to learn about how to take advantage of this offer and get started, we’ve got the complete guide.
Where to Apply
There are a variety of organizations that are funded by Lifeline Assistance to offer cellphones and data plans. Each program has its basic function in common but has particular accommodations that distinguish them.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular organizations, what they offer, and the qualifications to apply:
Assurance Wireless provides a free Android smartphone and data plan with an easy application process. To qualify for this program, you must provide proof of your income amount or that you are currently receiving help from a public assistance program. You’ll apply online with your zip code because qualifications may vary slightly by state. This is a great choice for someone looking for the complete package of a cellphone and data plan at a low/free cost.
Qlink Wireless is particularly known for its free unlimited data plan. Many individuals apply for this who already have a smartphone and phone number that they want to keep. Data plans can be extremely expensive, and if you already have a phone that works but need support paying a phone bill, this is a great option.
To qualify for this program, you’ll need to be a participant in at least one of the following:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefits
In some cases, you can also qualify based on your income.
Safelink Wireless is another great program for those seeking a cell phone and data plan. A benefit of this program is unlimited messaging and calls to Canada and Mexico. If you have family or friends living in one of these countries, this may be the best plan for you!
Qualifications vary based on which state you live in but are similar to the lists above.
Air Talk Wireless
Androids aren’t really your thing? Air Talk Wireless has a vast selection of smartphones, including an iPhone 7 and Galaxy Pixel. If you prefer a certain type of phone over another, this is a great company to browse through. They also have a Lifeline and ACP combo plan that combines the benefits from the two programs into one package! The plans they offer are quite luxurious and available in 40 states.
Lifeline Program Rules
If you’ve applied for your smartphone and data plan, there are some rules you’ll need to keep in mind for successful upkeep.
1. You will need to recertify every year. You will receive reminders to do so when the time comes, so that Lifeline can ensure that you still qualify for these benefits. Your plan will be terminated if you fail to do this, so make sure to mark the date on your calendar.
2. Only one member per household can use Lifeline benefits.
3. You must actively use your plan if you qualify for the free service. This means using the phone at least once every 30 days, or the account will be turned off (after a 15-day notice period).
4. Keep your info up to date! Many of these plans change depending on what state you live in, so if you change addresses, make sure to inform your company.
If you need further assistance, Lifeline offers video tutorials on how to apply online or in the mail. All of your questions about different ways to qualify depending on your state can be answered here. Cell phones offer safety, opportunities, and connection that everyone deserves. Millions of Americans participate in this program so that they don’t have to choose between cell phone expenses and other costs of living…you can be one of them too!