Updated on 12/13/22
UPDATE: Even though the new Affordable Connectivity Program now makes it possible for low-income Americans to get far better cell phones and far more talk, text and internet, and even though this article is now more than ten years old, every word is still accurate. Amazing.
Many people say that government cell phones program (formally, Lifeline Assistance) is one of the most successful government programs ever. So it’s not surprising that so many people are signing up all across the country. Estimates range from 12 – 15 million Americans who already have a free cell phone. Those are people who now have a phone to help them find work, to keep in contact with their families, and to have for all the various things that require communications these days.
There are dozens of regional and national companies that are approved in each state who specialize in providing you with these free phones and service, compliments of the government’s Lifeline Assistance program. At this point, 49 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico are participating. Nearly all these states have several companies to choose from, some with more than a dozen.
Getting a Free Government Cell Phone is as easy as 1-2-3
Step Zero: If you are on this page we assume you have already read the previous page to determine if you meet the general eligibility requirements of the program. If you have not already done so, click here, and then come back to this page.
Step One: The first thing to do is find out who provides the phones in your state, and that state’s specific eligibility requirements. To find out, go to our Free Government Phones by State page. Then, scroll down to find the list of states, and click on yours. The resulting page will list the mobile phone companies who will be able to provide you with your cell phone and service. And, it will list the eligibility requirements for your state.
Step Two: Find out more about each of the participating companies by clicking on the links you’ll find on your state page. On each of these resulting provider pages, you’ll find comprehensive information on their specific availability, their plans, and on how to contact them. We cannot stress enough that you should review every provider we list on your state page. While the federal Lifeline program provides parameters the companies must follow, plans and phone choices often vary substantially between providers. You owe it to yourself to look at them all.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices of providers, go to each company’s website and take a look at the phones and programs they have to offer. Or give them a call and talk to them. Choose the one that best meets your needs.
Step Three: Once you’ve determined which company is right for you, enroll either by phone or on the company’s website. It’s probably best to enroll online if you can, so you won’t have to spend time waiting for an available operator. Enrolling online most often allows you to easily upload any documentation they might require. By the way, if you qualify via the government program participation method rather than by your income level (most people do), be sure to select that method. Income qualification requires more documentation to gather up and send. Eligibility by program participation is a breeze.
Once enrolled, you now just have to wait for your phone to arrive in the mail. We hear that delivery times vary quite a bit between the different Lifeline cell phone companies, from a week to several weeks. So please be patient.
Please note that FreeGovernmentCellPhones.net is not associated with any of these companies, and we cannot assist in the application or shipment process.
Now CLICK HERE to find a free government cell phone provider in your state.