The prepaid cell phone — the next best option if you cannot get a free government cell phone

Many people know that the government gives free cell phones and 250 monthly minutes to needy Americans through its Lifeline Assistance program. But what’s the next best option if you don’t qualify for a free Lifeline cell phone?

Fact is, everyone needs a cell phone these days. They’ve rapidly moved from luxury items to necessities because they can be literal lifesavers for anyone with health or aging issues or other challenging circumstances.

If you don’t qualify for the Lifeline program, there are several reasons you might want to consider a prepaid cell phone.

Prepaid Cell Phone Advantages

1. There are no contracts and no surprises.

With a prepaid cellphone you only pay for the minutes you actually use. There are no recurring monthly fees, no federal taxes, no fees, network fees, no data fees, no deposits required, and no costly changes in terms of service that may push up your monthly cell phone bill to an unaffordable level.

If the prepaid cellphone provider you’ve chosen doesn’t give you good service you aren’t tied to it by a long-term contract. That means you won’t be charged one of those hefty early termination fees if you decide to switch to a different provider. You simply use up your minutes and then purchase service with a different provider.

With contractual phones you will pay steep overage charges if you use more than your allotted minutes. But if you use up your allotted minutes with a prepaid cell phone, it simply stops working until you buy more minutes and activate them.

2. Prepaid cell phones and minutes are easy to purchase.

Most prepaid cellphone providers offer prepaid cellphone service, phones and minutes online through their website and at merchants such as Walmart, your local supermarket or your local convenience store.

When you shop for a prepaid cell phone, look for a “bundle” that include the activation, the phone and your initial minutes purchase, since providers will sometimes offer sales and deals on these bundles. For example, some providers offer generous double or triple minutes deals that can really stretch your cell phone budget.

When you buy a prepaid cell phone you’ll pay an initial activation fee that gets you a phone number to which the minutes you purchase will be attached. Activation fees are typically around $20 in the United States.

Most prepaid cellphone companies offer a very basic, inexpensive phone with an initial service purchase. If you are able to pay a bit more, you can choose from a number of upgraded phones with more features.

If you need more minutes, you can easily purchase them online directly from your prepaid cellphone provider or by purchasing an additional minutes card at many stores right in your neighborhood. Activating a new minutes card is easy – just go to the provider’s website and follow the simple instructions.

3. Bad credit, no problem.

People who’ve had life and health challenges often end up with bad credit scores that can limit their access to cell phone service. Most contract cell phone providers will turn down people with bad credit or make them pay exorbitant deposits, but with a prepaid cellphone there is no qualification of any sort. If you have the cash or an active credit card you can get the phone, the service and the minutes, no questions asked.

4. Prepaid cell phones are available without age restrictions.

You must be 18 years of age to enter into a contract. That means you won’t be able to get a contractual cell phone if you’re underage. But the good news is that there is no age qualification of any kind for prepaid cell phones.

Prepaid Cell Phone Disadvantages

Now that we’ve told you all the advantages of a prepaid cell phone, you might wonder if there are any disadvantages. There are, but they are minor.

For example, minutes are usually good for a specific period of time, usually 60 to 90 days. To roll them over you need to purchase more minutes prior to the expiration of your current minutes.

When you first purchase your prepaid cellphone it may be tricky to gauge how many minutes you actually need. If you purchase too many minutes you might be put in the position of having to pay for more minutes just to save the ones you’ve already purchased.

The per minute charge is a bit higher on prepaid cellphones, but this is more than offset by all the advantages.

Prepaid cell phones are an outstanding alternative

Considering all the pros and cons, we come to the conclusion that prepaid cell phones are an outstanding alternative to the government’s free cell phone program.

Check it out. It may be perfect for you.



  1. terri says

    I’m still looking for the LOW cost pre-paid cell link,I have TracFone for awhile now & I can’t stand them in fact I bought a El Cheapo phone 7 bucks & it’s Junk I just wanted a separate phone so I can try to start a home business & moved out of old state & wanna keep old number but start a new area code phone here but the 7 dollar phone was so bad I went & bought another better 15.00 one & Nothing but trouble w TracFone finally got a phone number but no service & I have other tracfones & they work here in middle of no-where & I really can’t afford how much I pay monthly for dam cell phone & I don’t even like talking on the phone just got for emergency’s yet still looking for anything cheaper for me & my son,I pay like 20.00+ for 2 phones but w him trying to get a job is using more mins & it stinks ughhhh on fixed income I’m disabled it’s not easy…..

    • sstone says

      if it free what are you complaining about I am disabled and you are only allowed one phone with the prepay government services if you can afford to buy a phone for you and your son then you don not need a free government prepaid cell phone. I need mine for emergencies and cannot afford to buy one or pay for minutes and if you are disabled then why are you working?

  2. bill says

    The person that is in need of the free phone don’t have a phone number are a computer
    I am trying to sumit this applacation for her . We live in a very small town where if you have your mail
    left at the curb it may not be there when you check it. It seems that poor people have no chance, we don’t even have a police here in town , it would seem that you people should make allowance for
    things such as this

  3. BobSSS says

    OK, back to low-cost phones…
    Apply for a “free” phone, and if you don’t qualify for the “free”, you may still qualify for the “low-cost”, and it’s NOT from Walmart…
    Phone companies like Reach-Out, are still phone companies… The difference is they are willing to collect a little from lots of people, rather than alot from a few people… 2 differing business styles…
    The government is “handing them” potential customers, what do you do with potential customers that don’t quite qualify for a program? Throw them away or build a program they may be able to afford that provides even minimal profit…
    Walmart, et. al., have larger over-heads that have to be covered, Online-Only companies don’t… In this case, they don’t even have to pay for advertising… tens of millions of people are being handed to them… It’s almost unfair competition, but it is what it is…
    I would be willing to bet, they don’t throw anyone away, I wouldn’t…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *