11 Ways To Get A Free Cell Phone And Plan

Want to learn how to get a free cell phone and even a free monthly phone plan? Cell phones can be expensive, so I get it. From buying the actual phone to paying for the monthly service plan, it can all add up so quickly. Learning how to get free stuff can really help you…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: November 3, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Want to learn how to get a free cell phone and even a free monthly phone plan?

Cell phones can be expensive, so I get it. From buying the actual phone to paying for the monthly service plan, it can all add up so quickly.

Learning how to get free stuff can really help you to save a lot of money.

Luckily, there are ways to get a free cell phone, and there are even affordable cell phone plans for those who need it.

Some of these programs are through the government, while others are given by wireless carriers competing for your business. Government-sponsored programs like the Lifeline program help low-income families stay connected by giving them free cell phones and discounted wireless plans. On the other hand, wireless carriers also give away free things occasionally to try and get new customers to switch to them.

Below, I will be talking about how to get a free cell phone from the government, how to sign up for free monthly cell phone plans, and how to get a phone and service if you don’t qualify for one from the government. Even if you don’t qualify, there are ways to get a cell phone or service for free.

Recommended reading:

Why Are There Free Cell Phones And Plans?

Free phones exist for a few different reasons. Below, I will be talking about free government cell phones specifically. In a further section, I will tell you how you can get a free cell phone if you don’t qualify for a free government cell phone.

Free government phone program

There are free cell phones offered by the U.S. government through two programs – Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

These programs help low-income individuals stay connected, as phone service is important for daily tasks such as finding a job, allowing U.S. residents to call emergency services, and staying in touch with friends and family.

Lifeline and ACP give subsidies to the phone companies, which, in turn, provide free phones and service to eligible customers.

Overall, free government cell phones support the goal of changing lives positively by making sure that even those who don’t have enough money can still have access to a phone.

How to qualify for a free government cell phone

To qualify for a free government cell phone, you need to meet specific eligibility requirements. You may be eligible if:

  • Your income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines for Lifeline and 200% for ACP.
  • You participate in a qualifying federal assistance program such as:
    • Medicaid
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
    • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • There are also tribal assistance programs. If you live on Tribal lands, you can get Lifeline if your household income is at or below 135% or if you participate in any of the programs listed above, as well as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start, Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations Assistance.

Only one ACP or Lifeline benefit is allowed per household (not per person).

Please visit the Lifeline Support website and ACP website to determine your eligibility and apply for the programs. You can also learn more about this on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) website.

What kind of free government cell phone do you get?

If you are eligible for the ACP benefit or the Lifeline program, you may receive a one-time free cell phone from one of the phone companies partnered with the government.

The specific models of phones that you can get may vary, but they are usually basic smartphones and you won’t know the specific device until it is shipped to you in the mail.

Please note that the government doesn’t offer free iPhones as part of either program (but you may be able to get a free iPhone from one of the carriers below for switching to them).

Free government cell phone plans

If you are looking for a free wireless plan or a monthly service discount, there are many options for you.

When looking for a free government cell phone plan, it’s important to consider the options that are available to you. Different providers have their services through government programs like Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program.

When comparing plans, think about factors such as:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Data allowances and the amount of high speed internet you get
  • 5G or 4G LTE coverage

The specific plans and devices will vary depending on the provider and your location.

Step-by-step to getting a free government cell phone and service

  1. Eligibility – First, you must figure out if your household is eligible for a free government cell phone plan. This usually depends on your household income, and the National Verifier uses data from different databases to determine if you are eligible or you may be required to show documents for proof.
  2. Application – If you qualify, the next step is to apply for a plan. You can usually do this through the phone provider’s website or in person at a local office or retail location, and you will want to make sure you have documentation proving your household income when you apply.
  3. Device selection – Based on availability, you’ll be able to choose your device, such as an Android smartphone or a Samsung Galaxy device. Some plans may offer iPhones or tablets as well, but it’s not as common.
  4. Activate and use your new phone – Once you receive your device, follow the instructions for activating your new phone, and enjoy your new free government cell phone plan and service.

As you can see, getting a free government cell phone plan is a pretty easy process that can save you money.

11 Ways To Get A Free Cell Phone And Plan. Cell phones are expensive. Here's how to get a free cell phone and a cell phone service plan through the free government cell phone benefit.

Best Places To Get A Free Cell Phone And Plan

In this guide, you will learn about the best places to find a free cell phone. Here are the best places that give free phones:

1. Life Wireless

Life Wireless, a participant in the federal Lifeline program, gives free mobile phones and monthly service plans to eligible low-income households.

You can get free unlimited data, talk, text, and even hotspot if you qualify.

To see if you qualify, visit their website and check their eligibility criteria. Once approved, Life Wireless will provide you with a free phone and service plan that suits your needs.

2. TruConnect

TruConnect is another provider that participates in the Lifeline program. They give free smartphones and monthly service plans to qualifying customers.

TruConnect specifically gives out new Android smartphones. Their wireless plans include unlimited talk and text, unlimited monthly data, and unlimited international calling.

To apply, visit the TruConnect website and check if you’re eligible for their services. After verifying your eligibility, you’ll receive a free cell phone along with a monthly plan.

3. Assurance Wireless

Assurance Wireless is an ACP program participant that gives free phones and monthly plans to qualified low-income customers.

You can get free unlimited talk/text as well as 25 GB of high speed data plus 2.5 GB of mobile hotspot data each month on the T-Mobile network.

You can visit the Assurance Wireless website and check if you meet their eligibility criteria. Once approved, they will provide you with a free Android smartphone and a monthly service plan.

4. SafeLink Wireless

SafeLink Wireless, another Lifeline and ACP provider, gives a free cell phone and monthly service to eligible customers.

Their monthly plans come with unlimited data, unlimited talk/text, and 10 GB of hotspot data.

Simply head to the SafeLink Wireless website to determine your eligibility for their services. If you qualify, you’ll receive a free cell phone and a plan.

5. Q Link Wireless

Q Link Wireless is a Lifeline program participant that gives free cell phones and monthly plans to eligible individuals.

Their monthly plans come with unlimited data, unlimited talk/text, and sometimes even a free tablet (ACP subscribers under their network must pay a one-time $10.01 co-pay).

Visit the Q Link website, verify your eligibility, and apply for their service. Once approved, you’ll receive a free smartphone and a monthly service plan.

6. Craigslist

Craigslist is a popular site for buying, selling, and trading items, including cell phones. You might find people giving away free phones or trading them for other items.

I recommend looking at your local Craigslist “Free Stuff” section to see if there are any free phones near you that you can get.

7. Buy Nothing groups

Buy Nothing groups are local groups that give free items and services to their members. People like you and me give away, lend, or share items in these groups all the time.

I have personally given away many items in Buy Nothing groups, and it is such a great resource.

You can look for a local Buy Nothing group on Facebook and ask to join – you can start by searching for “Your town name + Buy Nothing group” on Facebook. Then, look for posts in the group, or post a new thread asking to see if anyone has a free cell phone to give away.

Companies That Give A Free Phone When You Switch Providers

One of the most common ways to get free cell phones is directly from the phone companies themselves. These companies give free phones or device discounts as part of their service contracts.

The cost of the phone is usually built into the monthly payment for the contract many times (and makes the monthly cost much more expensive). Most companies have a wide range of phones, from the latest iPhone to the newest Android device. It’s important to know, however, that these are typically tied to long-term contracts, which could last for up to two years or more and also may have high monthly plan costs.

To get a free phone, some of the companies may require you to trade in your old phone, while others give the free phone to new customers as a way to get you to switch from your current company.

If you’re thinking about switching cell phone providers, it’s helpful to know which companies give free phones as a bonus. Below, we look at four major cell service companies and their free phone deals for customers who make the switch.

Note: You won’t get a free monthly plan with the below providers.

8. AT&T

AT&T usually has promotions for new customers that include free phones. The devices that they give away can vary, but it’s usually for the most popular phone choices, such as Apple, Samsung, and Google Pixel.

In the past, I have personally received a free cell phone for signing up for a new plan with AT&T, so I know it’s real!

9. Verizon

Verizon is another company known for giving free phones to customers who switch to them. They usually have deals on smartphones like the latest iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Pixel devices.

10. T-Mobile

T-Mobile also has free phone deals for customers who make the switch to them. These deals usually include cell phones like Apple and Android.

11. Cricket Wireless

Cricket Wireless gives free phone deals to customers who switch from another carrier. The devices available as part of these deals often include budget-friendly options from major phone companies.

Before making any decisions, it’s important to compare these free phone offers with your current mobile plan and provider. Think about factors like phone coverage (will the new service plan have coverage where you live?), the amount of data you get, and contract length when deciding which deal is right for you.

Places To Get Cheap Cell Phone Service

If you don’t qualify for free cell phone service, then you may be interested in learning how you can save money with your monthly cell phone bill. Below are the best places to get a cheap monthly cell phone service.

Google Fi Wireless

Google Fi has affordable wireless plans depending on your needs, and it is what I have used for several years.

Their Flexible plan starts at just $20 per month, per line. This is a great option if you are looking for a plan that doesn’t break the bank and still has reliable service.

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile is known for its very budget-friendly cell phone plans that start at just $15 a month for 5 GB. An unlimited plan is just $30 a month.

Mint Mobile runs on a reliable network, making it a great choice for someone who is trying to save money but still wants to be able to have service that they can count on.

Boost Infinite (formerly Republic Wireless)

Republic Wireless has affordable phone plans with a focus on simplicity and user flexibility. Their no-contract plans start at $15 per month for unlimited talk and text with the option to add data as needed.

I have several family members who were on Republic Wireless for years, and they liked how budget-friendly the service was.


Tello has plans that start at just $10 per month for 1 GB with unlimited minutes and free text messaging. Their Unlimited everything is only $29 per month.

They also provide a no-contract flexible option, allowing you to change your plan anytime to adjust to your needs.


FreedomPop is a company that has both free and very cheap cell phone plans. Through the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can get unlimited wireless service (10 GB at 5G speeds) for just $0 a month.

If you don’t qualify for the government cell phone assistance program, they also have a free plan which looks to be a really good deal. You pay a one-time fee of $10 for the SIM card kit and the free plan includes 10 minutes of voice calling, 10 text messages, and 25 MB of high speed data each month. Yes, it’s not much data each month, but they also have plans for $30 a month that include unlimited texting and 10 GB of data.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Get A Free Cell Phone

Below are answers to common questions about how to get a free cell phone and plan.

What programs give free phones to low-income individuals?

The Lifeline program is a government benefit that gives free or discounted phone services to qualifying low-income customers, including a free cell phone in some cases.

What are the top free phone plans in the US?

There are many popular free phone plans in the U.S. where you can get free cell service. Some popular options include the Lifeline Assistance program, which gives free or discounted cell phone service to eligible low-income consumers. Plus, carriers like Life Wireless have free monthly unlimited data, talk, and text through Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Who has the best free government phones? Which free government phone company is the best? What Lifeline provider sends the best free phones?

There are many different companies that participate in the free government phone program such as Life Wireless, Assurance Wireless, SafeLink, and Q Link Wireless. Each company is a little different, and you should choose the best one for you based on their coverage map, plan options (how much data do you need?), and phone device.

How do I qualify for a government assisted phone? Who is eligible for a free cell phone from the government?

To get a free government-assisted phone, you will have to meet certain income requirements or participate in a government assistance program such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, or Veterans Pension program.

Which carriers give free cell phones to seniors?

Some phone carriers have special deals and discounts for senior citizens, but I don’t know of any free phones that are targeted specifically for seniors. However, if you are a senior who qualifies for any of the government assistance programs mentioned earlier, you might be eligible for a free cell phone or a discounted service.

How do I apply for a free government phone?

Getting a free government phone is usually pretty simple and can be done on the phone company’s website directly. You can visit the website of a cell phone company that participates in the program, such as Life Wireless, and see if you qualify. They have easy instructions to follow, and you can find out if you are eligible for a free phone.

How To Get A Free Cell Phone – Summary

If you need a free cell phone or wireless service, there are many different options to look into.

Free cell phones can have a big impact on the lives of individuals and families. With these phones, they can:

  • Connect with potential employers
  • Call for emergency services
  • Stay up to date about news and important events

Both government-sponsored programs and wireless carriers have ways to get free phones.

The government programs are designed to provide free cell phones and service to eligible households, usually those who meet specific income or program participation requirements.

Telecommunication companies (like AT&T and Verizon) sometimes have deals to get potential customers to switch to them, such as free cell phone deals that are usually tied to specific contract terms (1 or 2 years long).

Do you want to know how to get a free phone? Did you know that you can get a free government cell phone?

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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