No matter which service provider you choose, the LifeLine/Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is free to eligible customers. 100% free. There are no monthly bills, no long-term contracts, no activation fees, no recurring fees and no surcharges. Free means free.
More than a dozen major service providers all are compensated by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for giving you a free cell phone. They are paid monthly to help carry the cost of your air time.
Of course, the carriers hope that you will upgrade the phone or buy extra minutes, so they can make more money.
Keep in mind, however, that these free government cell phones are not free for just anyone. You must qualify by participating in a broad range of government assistance programs or by having a household income that is below 135% of the Federal poverty guidelines. Visit our Qualify for Lifeline/ACP page to see if you qualify.
Admittedly, there are some extras that you may end up paying for:
If you have a plan that is less than unlimited, and if you run out of minutes, texts, or internet before the end of the month, you may want to purchase what’s called a “top up” plan to get by until the next month rolls around.
If you want to a better free government cell phone, you may end up paying more to purchase an upgraded one.
And although the exciting new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) often offers plans with unlimited talk, unlimited texts, and unlimited internet, you may end up wanting to purchase a discounted tablet, laptop or desktop computer. That could cost you a one-time $10 fee.
Other than those understandable exceptions, the Lifeline/Affordable Connectivity Program is free. Absolutely free.