California Lifeline Free Cell Phones

One big free phone provider in California is now offering UNLIMITED VOICE and UNLIMITED TEXTS. Will the others match the incredible deal?

One would think that the trendsetting state of California would be at the forefront of the free government cell phone program. But it wasn’t until late 2012 that the first company, ReachOut Wireless, entered the state. And now in 2014 we see four major phone vendors participating in the California Lifeline free cell phone program.

But the late start in California has been all but made up for now. Leading the country with the best widely available plan in Assurance Wireless with their new California FREEdom plan, which provides struggling Californians with a phone, free unlimited voice minutes and free unlimited texts.

This is great news for the not-so-Golden State with their unemployment levels higher than national average, and run by one of the most dysfunctional governments in the country.

The companies listed below are some of the biggest players. We would not doubt that others begin operations in the state shortly.

Free Cell Phone Providers in California:

Here’s a list of all the Lifeline Assistance free government cell phones in California. They all offer different plans with different numbers of minutes, different refill options, and serve different geographic areas. So click through them all and find the plan that’s best for you.

Lifeline Discount Companies in California

Since California is such a big state, you may find that none of the companies offer free government cell phones where you live. But no need to despair, since you have another option. The companies below, while not offering free cell phone plans, do offer substantial California Lifeline discounts off their regular mobile phone plans:

How to Qualify for a California Lifeline Cell Phone

There are two ways to qualify, and they are a bit different than other states.

Method 1 Program-Based – You can qualify if you or another person in your household is enrolled in any one of the following public assistance programs:

  • Medicaid/Medi-Cal
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8
  • Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)
  • Healthy Families Category A
  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
  • Stanislaus County Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (StanWORKs)
  • Welfare-to-Work (WTW)
  • Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN)
  • Tribal TANF
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Head Start Income Eligible (Tribal Only)

Method 2 Income-Based – You may also qualify if your total annual household gross income is at or less than annual income limits for your household size:

Income Based Eligibility for California
Members in HouseholdAnnual incomeMonthly Income
1-2 member$25,500$2,125
3 members$29,700$2,475
4 members$35,900$2,992
5 members$42,100$3,509
6 members$48,300$4,025
7 members$54,500$4,542
8 members$60,700$5,059
For each additional member add $6,200 annual or $516.67 monthy

Latest News for California:

How to get a free government cell phone in California - The California Lifeline program offers great deals on free cell phone service in California. Unlimited voice and text. Many providers to choose from.
Assurance Wireless gets aggressive: Introduces unlimited talk/unlimited text Lifeline plan in California - Assurance Wireless just introduced the best plan in the free government cell phone business. California customers now get free unlimited talk, free unlimited texting, and of course, a free cell phone.
California breaks out the checkbook, offers more money to free government cell phone companies - In addition to the $9.25 that the federal government pays Lifeline cell phone providers, California will now pay those companies an additional $6.35 to $13.15 per month for some customers.
Free government cell phone war heats up in California: Assurance Wireless enters the state - Assurance Wireless has just been approved to offer free cell phones in California. And that is good news, indeed, for low-income residents of the nation’s largest state.
California joins the 21st century, finally approves free government cell phone program - The California Public Utility Commission is just weeks away from authorizing Sprint’s Assurance Wireless subsidiary to offer free government cell phones.
Free government cell phone program creeps into California - Telescape is providing cell phones for low-income residents in Bakersfield, California under the Lifeline program. The plan gives $2.50 per month for 300 minutes.
Lifeline Cell Phone Service Comes to California - California has been conspicuously absent from the list of participating Lifeline states. But now it's covered by fast-growing cell phone company ReachOut Wireless.
$3.7 Billion in Income Could Be Generated for the Poor by Making Lifeline-Subsidized Free Cell Phones Available to All Eligible Americans - $3.7 Billion in Personal Income Lost in States – Including CA, CO, HI, MT, NE, ND, OK, SD, VT and WY – Without Access to Program for Their Poorest Citizens.

See more cell phone news.

If you have any other questions, please refer to the links in the sidebar.



    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      They are to help people of low-income, via income verification or participation in various government programs. There is absolutely nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

  1. Stephanie hollon says

    My family are involved in cal works, cal fresh (snap), medical, lunch programs, I was given a number while whatching commercials and applied but we were told our city wasn’t eligible, but I keep receiving calls and am told we are qualified. I would like a straight answer please.

    Stephanie, Jack, ****** (16) and ***** (15)
    **** Levelside Ave.
    Lakewood, ca, 90712

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      We don’t have anyway of knowing, as you would have to contact the various vendors on this page. The best deal in California is Assurance Wireless so try them first.

  2. Roger says

    I am a homeless man. I make about $6/month recycling cans. I cannot prove income because you can’t prove a negative. I have never gotten any government assistance. Or a job. I would like a phone with 30 talk minutes/month (no texts, I don’t know how to use those). It would save me a lot of time because people could tell me when to meet them and I wouldn’t have to go places only to find they weren’t there. I have never had a phone. My question: How can I get a phone without an address and without proof of non-existant income?


    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      Unfortunately, there’s probably not a way for you to get a phone, because 1) you need a physical address, and 2) you have to be on either one of the qualifying government assistance programs or prove you low-income with pay stubs, etc.

      It’s a shame that someone who is poor, homeless and doesn’t take money from the government, is a person that cannot get a free phone.

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