Free cell phones with unlimited talk & text from U.S. government-backed program

The government’s Lifeline Assistance Program gives out cell phones and monthly service — at no charge — to Americans in need of financial help.

It’s 2015, seven 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 a free cell phone and service to tens of millions Americans at no charge? Yes, it’s true.

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

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

The government will pay for your cell phone and service

Thanks to the FCC-mandated, government-sponsored program, called LifeLine Assistance, the financially disadvantaged can receive a cell phone and anywhere from 250 to an unlimited number of minutes and texts every month — at no charge! And in the best deal in the country, Assurance Wireless, in conjunction with the California Lifeline program, offers an incredible unlimited talk and text plan. No cost. We see this as a trend that others will follow.

An estimated 12-15 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 Communications Commission (FCC) 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 no charge) 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 a misnomer, an urban legend as the Lifeline phone program begsn under the Bush Administration.

A short six years later there millions of active owners of free government phones with service provided through the Lifeline Assistance program in nearly every state of the country.

Here’s what you get with your free cell phone

These free phones aren’t cheap wireless phones or a discounted models. These are recent model, fully-featured cell phones, backed by prominent mobile phone companies. You won’t get an iPhone, 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 at least 250 minutes, but as we’ve pointed out, you could receive unlimited voice minutes per month with some providers in some states. In addition, all companies offer the ability to send and receive text messages, some offering an unlimited number of texts.

Who do you get this cell phone at no cost to you?

You can get your free mobile phone and service from dozens of Lifeline companies in 49 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico . From big companies such as Safelink Wireless, Assurance Wireless, Budget Mobile, Access Wireless and ReachOut Wireless 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

Lifeline cell phones authorized by the FCC

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  1. Angela Bowen says

    I have a new address and have not had a gov. Cell phone for more then three years when it was lost but when I had it the service was excellent.

  2. Michelle Lea says

    Thank you for this program. I get a break from one cell phone bill which saves me money for food/bills. I also think its good for those people who have less means to afford a cell phone or any type of phone. Again its a wonderful program for the less fortunate.Thank you.

  3. linda wright says

    I’m glad that there’s somebody out there that will help the poor people instead of everybody looking out for the rich one I’ve been disabled my whole life

  4. art aguilar says

    i am disabled and thank you president obama for making access to phones available. i can now feel connected to the world

  5. Janak Mody says

    I would like to salute to those people who has come up with this idea. free cell phone for disable citizens. I am disabled and would like to thank you for giving me this cell phone to use. It’s very handy for emergency purpose.

  6. David Aguayo says

    Assurance wireless is great for low income family’s and people with disabilities I haven’t been able to pay for a phone in years but tanks to assurance am able to be connected

  7. Debra peoples says

    I like life line service very must. It good to have in case of emergency I will like to have unlimited minute for talk and texted

  8. theresa crews says

    I got a phone, and am extremely thankful for it, but I did not receive a nice, up to date, nice cell phone as stated in your ad. I have a cheap little model with nothing but the basics, how can I get a nicer, more modern phone??

    Thank you!

    • M. Chavez says

      For free cell phones, you get what they have in stock. If you want to be a paying customer and upgrade it to a modern phone, then call them to see if they offer it for non lifeline service or you might just have to switch to another provider.

  9. Linda Alvarez says

    I presently do not have income, forced to give up my apartment and renting a room. Im in desperate need of cell phone.

  10. tamela says

    Im so greatful for having this phone it keeps me in contact with family qnd friends i dont have to worry about a monthly bill very appreciative of this service

  11. JackDawg420 says

    I am greatly appreciative of my free phone. I have unlimited talk and txt. The carrier is Q-Link Wireless and its service is outstanding. Thank you Obama!! Lots of love to you.

  12. frankie joe fannon says

    I just have to say thanks for the life line phone I have health problems and I feel secure with the phone

  13. reynold says

    I like to thank (Carlos Slim) for all of the cell phones. If you don’t know him look him up. He paid for millions of phones so poor people can have phones! The government don’t give a **** about nobody! So thank you again Carlos Slim.

  14. Edith Ann says

    This is a godsend for some of us, even if I buy 60 minutes I get extra minutes, I couldn’t afford otherwise. I don’t feel ashamed I feel grateful services like this are out there, can be the difference in life or death, not everybody was born with a silver spoon in their mouth or got promoted to a higher paying job, had to take what we could. So Thankful for whoever made this possible

  15. Rachael says

    This free government phone has worked put perfect because I know I hav a secured phone with minutes and emergency situations that what it is used for.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

    • adneris says

      me too, I have a phone from them for almost 2 years and I haven’t had any problems with them at all, I love it.

  18. aisha says

    it is good that I have one free cell phone,, the problem is even if I call Toll free number, they deduct minutes. I answer calls, it deduct minutes too. it makes that The minutes go very fast. if one employer called and doing the interview on the phone, then one interview cost me 30 minutes. if no free minutes, I will miss some chance…..hope it can change that call toll free and answer call doesn’t cost minutes.

    • Robert C Manthey says

      It’s very true what you say, but you have to look at the bright side of these kinds of things. We’re getting some free cell service instead of NO free cell service. I’ve had mine for about 5 or 6 years now and I never understood the need for a cell phone…before that. Do they do everything a paid service does? No, but things cost more at Macy’s than at the Unique Thrift Stores and I certainly make use of the Unique Thrift stores. Really, I do hear what you’re saying I just pay $20 when my free minutes are loaded and I have 900 minutes of calls and texts, and those purchased minutes rollover.

  19. Tina says

    Thank you for the phone. It comes in handy since I live in the country it has come in handy. I fell about a month ago and fractured my pelvis and had to use my phone to call an ambulance. no telling how long I would have had to lay here. my only complaint is my phone messed up and now I am trying to come up with the 40 dollars to replace it when the phone was a refurbished one. could you not extend your warrenty plan ? thank you

  20. Maria says

    My husband had a heart attack while driving, by some miracle he was able to pull over and dial 911 with the free phone you supplied us with. If it wasn’t for that phone my husband would have died!
    Thanks to you I still have my husband and my two daughters ( age 5 & 7 ) still have their father!
    We can’t thank you enough!!!!!!!!!
    God Bless!

  21. C. Cohen says

    Thanks for writing this article! I had heard of these free cell phone programs but didn’t know where to go to find one.

    It turns out that a local business has them – it’s Postal Center USA in Randolph, Mass. (they are right across the street from the high school – next to the supermarket).

    I went to to see them and had a free phone in a few minutes. It’s a good phone too!

    Thanks Again,


  22. Jason says

    I Too am Great full of this government phone AND THE 250 Minutes! Thanks to the Americans & Government that make this possible.

  23. Darellena says

    This government phones are a life saver and it benefits to have employers reach you, how ever I think it should have internet accesss it would help research jobs efficently because libraries only give you limited timing, Some copanies have cheap phone card so it would be costly to have this feature. Thanks again

  24. T-Asia says

    Thank you for this governemnt phone. I lost my job and wasn’t able to keep my old phone. I wish they gave out iphones so I could still be on internet.

  25. Franz Heich says

    I have relied on these phones for my family for many years. I simply can not afford a real phone since I live in section 8 housing and it’s hard to get.

  26. maddie says

    this phone is alot better than i thought i dident think that was going to work but it did thankl ypu for giving me this phone

  27. Grateful says

    I appreciate the minutes and the cell phone! I have reported car accidents and individuals that I have seen commit theft. I am truly grateful for the minutes! This is an excellent program for individuals as myself and others that are “not” trying to beat the system, but seek help from the system. Thank you!

  28. James says

    Thanks for the free phone! I don’t know how people can live without a phone. I’ve been unemployed for four years, and thank goodness for public programs like this, or I would not have a home, food or spending money. I worked hard for almost 5 years and then the economy wrecked, so it’s only fair that I get help now from the government. My only complaint is the time limit of 250 minutes a month. I use that in just over a week, and then I have to buy tracphone minutes at the store. We need more minutes. Appreciate all that you do.

  29. 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Thankful says

    Regardless of who came up with the plan? A plan is just that until its put into use…..1 year left, and we will be at the mercy of the next person with 47% interest in America. Please be thankful for now we have a chance to change our own lives for the better before that times comes. Use it wisely, before you find yourself sitting on a thumb complaining about the “new guy,” wishing you had been more tactful about the “old guy.” ;)

    Being in a situation caused by my health, this is such a weight off. I can no longer drive,walk, or do the normal things I used to alone without worry.There arent many pay phones left and if you do find one, they smell like bathrooms, out of order, and full of germs. Thank you for enabling millions like me that need just a hand UP not a hand OUT get closer to being thriving, productive members of society once again. <3 <3