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:

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.



  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.

  5. Dino says

    I was signed up and approved back in June of this year. I spoke once to the 1-800 number and was assured my phone was being shipped and that was on July 1st. It’s now middle of August and no phone and funny thing is. That 800 number is now out of service. I’ve spoken with the partnership that takes care of the ten dollars and was advised that’s same number they have and the number I was issued was in fact registered to me. So how do I contact a number that no longer works and receive a phone that’s already registered to me?

    • Dino Soke says

      It has been since July 1st since I’ve received my “Qualification” letter for the Lifeline program but as of yet I have not received the phone. The 1-800-480-0430 number seems to be out of service. I have spoken once to them and was assured the phone was being sent. That was June 25th, 2014 when I spoke with the person. How do I go about calling a real number to a real person to receive my phone???

  6. Maria C Muro says

    I am snding this message, because I am trying to help an elder person who is 81 years old and she doesn’t speak too much English and she doesn’t have a computer. Where she can apply for this program? I will really appreciate your help.

    Please contac me and help me to help some one in need.


    Maria C Muro

  7. Myriam says

    Hello, My husband applied to the program but the phone didn’t work and had a very bad signal in my area, we applied with Telscape, can we switch the company?… do you know if Verizon will come soon with this program because my area its kind of difficult for reception, Telscape told me to return the phone but know that I know that we can choose the company, we would like verizon better, Can we?

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      You can switch companies after 60 days. At that time you would contact another California provider and them them you want to switch. No plans that we know of for Verizon to enter the free Lifeline cell phone biz.

  8. Angelique says

    If you haven’t found any locations yet. I have a couple of places: 90th and Bancroft & 35th and International. I just got my phone from 90th and Bancroft last week. This one is through Budget Mobile I believe. You get 1,000 minuets & unlimited texts a month. The phones are really nice.

  9. Kat says

    I was sent an alert message via email when I changed my personal identification number (PIN). Is it normal practice for both the PIN and account number to be sent in the same email? If is not, how do I go about switching companies (does the 60-day rule still apply)?

  10. Kat says

    I have received the free phone offered but I would like to use a phone I already have instead of the free phone offered. How can I achieve this?

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      Some vendors let you bring your own phone if it is compatible with their network. You’ll just have to contact them all and ask.

  11. Ali Zaidi says

    Good Morning
    I want to know how to apply for free phone because i am very low income person, i am diedbities patient and my also. My total monthly income $971 after deduction. I have section 8 house and food stamp also. Due to diedbities i cant hard work. I am working as a Security Guard in Orange County . Can you e mail office address?
    [address removed]

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      Sorry, we don’t send out applications. You need to contact one of the vendors on this page.

  12. Sonjanette says

    I signed up for my Obama phone on 8/04/2014 through a vendor at the Riverside Bus Terminal and have not heard anything or gotten my phone can you tell me what is going on

    • Free Government Cell Phones says

      It takes a while to get these phones, more than a month often. You can contact the company, which is one of the ones listed on this page.

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