California is a land of extremes. No other state has as many rich people nor as many poor people. A full 1/3 of Americans living below the Federal poverty level live in California. That means the state has by far the most recipients of the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs.
The bad news: California set up its own bureaucracy to handle its Lifeline companies. The good news: They also added an additional state subsidy on top of the federal subsidy. That allows California Lifeline service providers to give customers more than they can get in any other state.
It’s like the Gold Rush of 1849 for service providers and customers. Because California adds it’s own layer of subsidies on top of the federal subsidy. So Lifeline companies make far more money serving customers in California than anywhere else they offer plans.
It’s a win-win situation for Lifeline and ACP customers and their customers.
The companies listed below are some of the biggest players.
Lifeline and ACP free government cell phone service providers in California
Following is a list of all the Lifeline Assistance free government cell phones in California. As you click through the service providers you’ll see that the plans vary quite a bit. Why would you not just go for the best plan and stop there? Well, not all phone companies offer services in all areas of the state, so you may not be able to get the top plan. All the companies’ plans we’ve listed are very good, even if not completely unlimited.
Access Wireless: Get a free smartphone plus unlimited talk, unlimited text, and unlimited data. (Click for info)
AirTalk Wireless: Free Apple or Android smartphone, unlimited talk, unlimited texts, and up to 15GB data. (Click for info)
Assurance Wireless: In California, you’ll get unlimited talk and texts plus 5GB data. (Click for info)
Entouch Wireless:Unlimited talk, unlimited texts and unlimited data. (Click for info)
Feel Safe Wireless: Get unlimited talk, unlimited text plus 3GB data. (Click for info)
Life Wireless: Free smartphone, unlimited talk, unlimited texts, unlimited data. (Click for info)
Q Link Wireless: New tablet, unlimited talk, text and data (Click for info)
Safelink Wireless: Get a free smartphone, unlimited talk, unlimited texts, plus 25GB data each month. (Click for info)
SafetyNet Wireless: SafetyNet Wireless will give you a free smartphone, unlimited talk, unlimited texts and up to 6.0GB data. (Click for info)
StandUp Wireless: StandUp Wireless will give you a free phone, unlimited talk and texts, 10GB high-speed data, unlimited low-speed data. (Click for info)
Tag Mobile: Get a smartphone, unlimited talk, unlimited texts, up to 8.0GB data. (Click for info)
TruConnect (formerly Telscape): Unlimited talk, unlimited texts, 14.5GB unthrottled data. (Click for info)
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:
– NONE IN CALIFORNIA
How to qualify for a California Lifeline free government 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:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Veterans Pension and Survivor's Benefit.
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (BIA)
- Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Tribal Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
Plus, you may be eligible under these state programs, until the new federal laws make them ineligible win 2017:
- 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)
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|
|For each additional member add $7,300 annually
Effective June 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023.
How to qualify for an ACP free government phone and unlimited service in California
It’s even easier to qualify for ACP service than it is to qualify for Lifeline service. The USAC website spells it all out:
Consumers qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) through participation in Lifeline or a Lifeline-qualifying program, having an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, through participation in ACP-qualifying programs, such as the free and reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program (including the Community Eligibility Provision), WIC, through award of a federal Pell Grant, or through participation in a participating service provider’s existing low-income program.
Inflation is developing into a huge problem and the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs can really help you plug the hole it causes in your personal finances. Don’t wait. Click around, find the plan that’s perfect for you, and enroll today.
Latest Lifeline and ACP News for California:
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If you have any other questions, please refer to the links in the sidebar.
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