These Government Programs Could Get You a Free Phone

Emily Jones / July 13, 2024

Having a cell phone is no longer a luxury — it’s something most people need. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean everyone has the money to pay for one. Basic plans that offer minutes, texting, and data cost an average of $114 per month.1 And that doesn’t even include the average cost of a smartphone, which is $317.2 So, what are the options for low-income individuals? There are government programs that can give you cell phones or plans completely for free. All you have to do is search online to sign up. Each incentive has its own set of criteria you need in order to qualify. To find out if you’re eligible for a free phone plan, start an online search. Here are some government programs that could get you a free phone.

TAG Mobile

TAG Mobile offers free cell phone service to residents living in 19 states across the U.S. It’s a Lifeline discount that caters to low income families and individuals. With the TAG Mobile program, you could get: 1,000 free voice minutes; Unlimited free text messages; 4.5GB LTE data every month, and; Free voicemail, caller ID, and call waiting. TAG Mobile offers another incentive for California residents. In addition to free data, texting, and phone calls, you could also get a free smartphone. Eligibility for this program differs from state to state, so make sure you search online to find out if you meet the criteria. Most applicants will qualify if they participate in government benefit programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You could also qualify if your income is at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty level.

Q Link Wireless

More than two million customers have taken advantage of the free wireless service from Q Link Wireless. This government program allows you to bring in your current cell phone and keep your current phone number. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy service on America’s largest 4G LTE/5G network. Customers can get the following service through the FREE Always On Plan with Q Link Wireless: Unlimited data; Unlimited talk and text; Unlimited picture messages; Voicemail; Three-way calling; Emergency service calls to 911; Access to 10 million free wi-fi locations; Free SIM card, and; Free activation. After you qualify, you will get a SIM card kit. You’ll get it shipped to your house and activated for free. Moreover, the phone plan will be automatically refilled every month. Better yet, Q Link Wireless is also giving customers a new tablet for a limited time.

SafeLink Wireless

SafeLink Wireless is another provider that offers free phone service and cellular devices to low income individuals. There is no contract, so you’re able to cancel any time. It gives you the freedom to enjoy phone service without being tied to contracts and pricey monthly bills. Those who have their own smartphone could receive the following plan: 350 minutes of talk; Unlimited texts; SIM card; Voicemail; Caller ID; 4.5GB of data, and; 411 directory assistance. Alternatively, customer can get that same plan and keep their existing cell phone. Eligibility is determined based on your household income or whether you participate in the following government assistance programs: Medicaid; SNAP; SSI (Section 8), and; Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit. It’s easy to apply for this service directly on the SafeLink Wireless website. Phone plans may differ depending on where you live, so enter your ZIP code to find out exactly what you can get from SafeLink Wireless.

EnTouch Wireless

Get a free smartphone from EnTouch Wireless. Eligible customers can receive a free 5.5 inch Android smartphone, along with an enviable monthly plan.⁶ That plan will include: Unlimited minutes; Unlimited texts; 6GB of data. If you already own a phone, you could also bring your own device to EnTouch Wireless. They can hook you up with a SIM card and provide unlimited talk and text, along with 6GB of data. Customers can qualify for an EnTouch Wireless plan either by program or their income. The following programs include: Medi-Cal; CalFresh; SSI; Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits, and; Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8. Learn more about how to qualify for this free phone on the EnTouch Wireless website. Some customers may even qualify for free unlimited data, so make sure to check out this limited time offer

StandUp Wireless

By working with the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) government benefits, StandUp Wireless is able to provide free phones to low-income households. The free phone comes with a plan that includes: Nationwide coverage; 10GB of 5G/4G LTE data, and; Unlimited talk, text, and additional data. Applying for a free phone is as simple as entering your email address and ZIP code into StandUp Wireless’ website. If you qualify, StandUp Wireless will send the free phone through the mail.7 Moreover, if you sign up for ACP through StandUp Wireless, you qualify for a one-time discount on certain eight-inch tablets. The discount is up for $100 off, meaning that you can get a high-quality tablet for as low as $10.01.


Through benefits provided by ACP, low-income households are able to receive free Android phones or Wi-Fi hotspot, along with:

  • 14GB of data;
  • Free international calling, and;
  • Unlimited talk and text.

Qualification for a free phone through TruConnect is based on a customer’s income or enrolment in certain government programs. The qualifying programs include:

  • Medicaid;
  • Medi-Cal
  • SNAP;
  • SSI;
  • National School Breakfast and Lunch Program;
  • Veteran and Survivors Pension Benefit, and;
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8.

All you need to enroll in TruConnect’s program is to enter your email and ZIP code on their website. Just be aware that the program is limited to one per household.9


Search Online to Learn More About These Services

Having excellent phone service does not have to be out of reach anymore. If you’re living along the poverty line or participating in government assistance programs — situations that many seniors and older adults may find themselves in — you could qualify for free phone service for as long as you need it. Your plan will include the essentials like talk, text, and data for as long as you need it.


Depending on where you live, programs may offer extra incentives such as a free phone or tablet. Just search online to find out what’s being offered. You can compare the various programs to see which plans give you the most of what you need.


If you rather go with a bigger phone provider, some provide discounts for low-income customers. For instance, T-Mobile offers up to $9.25 off most of their plans to low-income households and up to $25 per month discount for residents of Federally Recognized Tribal Lands.10


To get started, find out if you qualify as some providers only operate in certain states. You will need to enter your ZIP code online to see if providers offer service where you live. Then, simply fill out the online application and wait for your approval.