California Free Cell Phones

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. Unfortunately, when they did, the program had a small monthly fee associated with it. However, this still was much less than a traditional plan sets a phone user back.

But now Lifeline cell phone giant Assurance Wireless has joined the battle for distributing free phones to needy Californians. And better news yet, not only is Assurance Wireless offering the program for at no cost, but Budget, ReachOut Wireless and others are also doing so now. And, we see new regional providers opening up shop.

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 three companies listed below are three of the big five players. We would not doubt that they and 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

If you qualify for Lifeline Assistance, but 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 Lifeline discounts off their regular mobile phone plans in California:

How to Qualify for a Lifeline Cell Phone in California

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)
    1. California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
    2. Stanislaus County Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (StanWORKs)
    3. Welfare-to-Work (WTW)
    4. 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 Household Annual income Monthly 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:

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.



  1. stephen fine says

    Hi my name is stephen fine a gentleman about 5 weeke ago signed me to an obama phone at the losangeles mission i was just wondering where it was and if i was still getting one thank you because i would like to have one thank you

  2. ron weiner says

    If I qualify for a free cellphone and I have two children in school is there cellphone assistance for them.

  3. MIeng Nguyen says

    I have received the letter to qualify for one Life line cell phone on 06-06-2014.But i didn’t got any cellphone until now. Please review and response my case.

    Thank you so much.
    Mieng Nguyen

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      You need to contact your phone provider. We’re not the cell phone company.

  4. jewell says

    I’m on food stamps and get $300 in cash aide. My son is a 8th grader. Is there a plan we can get for us to have phones. And my son gets free food from school as well

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      Yes, there is! Just look up at this page and you’ll see links for Assurance Wireless,
      Budget Mobile, ReachOut Wireless and Telscape. The school lunch program he is on will qualify him.

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