How to get a free government cell phone

The government’s Lifeline Assistance Program gives out free cell phones and monthly service to Americans in need of financial help.

It’s 2014, six years since the great recession, and times are still tough. Among all your other expenses, you might be faced with choosing whether or not you can continue paying for your mobile phone, if you even have one. Cell phones have become a necessary part of your day-to-day survival, and to be without one is unthinkable. But there is help. Did you know that the government has authorized phone companies to provide free cell phones and service to tens of millions Americans at no charge? Yes, it’s true.

Just how much would one of these free government cell phones change your life?

  • An employer can more easily reach you with a job offer if you have a free government cell phone.
  • You can you stay in touch with your doctor and other emergency medical professionals more easily with a free government cell phone.
  • A free government cell phone can help you keep in touch with family and other loved ones.

The government will pay for your free cell phone and service

Thanks to the FCC-mandated, government-sponsored program, called LifeLine Assistance, the financially disadvantaged can receive a free government cell phone and up to 250 free minutes and texts every month, although some programs in some states provide even more (a few less). An estimated 15 million other Americans already participate, and tens of millions more qualify to enroll today. With the economy falling further and further behind, more and more Americans are finding themselves eligible for the Lifeline phone service program.

In the 90′s, the federal government set up the Lifeline phone service program via a mandate by the FCC. This program, funded by Universal Service Fund fees on telephone bills, provides qualified consumers with discounted (often free) monthly telephone service. It began as just a landline program and a few years ago made it’s debut with cell phones. It’s been commonly called the “Obama phone” but that’s an urban legend as free cell phones begin under the Bush Administration.

A short six years later there are an estimated 15 million active owners of free government phones with service provided through the Lifeline Assistance program in nearly every state of the country. (And the FCC is helping Americans with cheap internet too!)

Here’s what you get with your free cell phone

A free government phone isn’t a cheap wireless phone or a discounted model. These are recent model, fully-featured cell phones, backed by prominent mobile phone companies. You won’t get an iPhone, Android or Blackberry, but you’ll get a basic, modern phone.

In addition to the phone, which comes with voice mail, call waiting and caller ID, you will typically get from 250 to even 1,000 minutes of airtime per month. In addition, most companies offer the ability to send and receive text messages. It may not be a lot of airtime, but anyone complaining should remember that service is made available to you for free, and is indirectly paid for by other Americans.

Who do you get the free cell phone from?

You can get your free mobile phone and service from dozens of companies in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (check for your state now). From big companies such as Safelink Wireless, Assurance Wireless and Budget Mobile to regional providers to single state companies, odds are you’ll have an assortment of vendors to choose from.

Since this is a federally-mandated program, there are basic features each company must offer. That said, the plans can vary measurably from company to company, so you need to check each offer in your state. You would not want to settle for 250 minutes, when a competitor will give you 1,000 minutes, would you? Some companies even offer unlimited minutes, but you have find out which ones might be in your state.

Eligibility is nearly uniform from state to state, with across the board qualification by participation in federal aid programs such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SSI among others. But, each state may have its own additional ways to qualify. And, if you aren’t on one of the listed programs, you’ll be able to qualify based upon your income level, even if substantially higher than the poverty level. It’s easy to qualify for a free government cell phone.

So no matter why you need a mobile phone: to look for a job, to keep in touch with your kids, or have for an emergency,­ you can get one at no out of pocket expense.

We invite you to explore this site and learn more about the companies, the plans and how you can get your own free cell phone. Follow the link below to learn more on how to qualify.

NEXT STEP: Now, see how you qualify for a free phone

Comments Now Open for Testimonials

For this page, we accept comments that are testimonials of the free government cell phone program. All other pages have comments available where you can comment on specific subjects. Thank you.



  1. norma sammons says

    this will be wondreful,to have phone to take with me. my kids will be very happy for me to have that safe filling

  2. Andrea Savoie says

    Thank you President George W. Bush and our Bi-Cameral Congress for creating and passing this law so we now have this opportunity to get back on our feet and get off of government assistance.

  3. Lee says

    When I got this phone you were given a small amount of minutes for use in emergencies. This is what I used mine for. If I went out I would take it with me. I never used it at home.
    It was a Godsend! There were times when I really needed to call someone for help, and there are very very few pay phones around.
    Now I have to use it as my primary phone bc my landline doesn’t work and I cannot get the phone company I use to respond to my calls or emails.
    Suddenly, my cell phone has stopped working and I don’t know where to go to get help. I have no phone service at all now. Cannot even call 911 if necessary.

  4. Annette says

    Hi Beverly,
    I have had Reachout Wireless for a couple of years now and love it. You get a free phone with 250 free minutes per month. If your batteries “fries”, they will send you a new one for free. If you don’t l like the phone they send you, you can upgrade real cheap. You get all the features, 3 way, call waiting, etc. They also send you the charger. No hassles! I have hjad it for a couple of years and I have not one single complaint. Can’t beat it and it’s free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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