Free Phones: How To Find Out If You Qualify

Addressing the critical and widening connectivity gap faced by low-income Americans is crucial. To address this issue, the Affordable Connectivity Program has been formed to both help pay for broadband services and provide a one-time device discount for low-income households. Another program used to help offset the cost of phone and broadband services is called Lifeline. You can participate in both Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline if you are eligible. To apply, just answer a few questions to verify your eligibility for these programs and the free or discounted phones and broadband plans.

Can I Get a Cell Phone For Free?

You may be qualified for a free phone and free phone service from the ACP or Lifeline benefits. If you are already participating in the Lifeline benefit, you are also eligible for ACP. 

Do I need to Apply for the ACP Benefit to Receive a Free Phone?

To apply for phones for free, no, you don’t necessarily have to apply for ACP. You can apply for Lifeline, which automatically makes you eligible for the ACP.

However, the income eligibility is higher for the ACP benefit, so if you don’t qualify for Lifeline, either based on income or program participation, you may still be eligible for ACP. And it is the ACP program that is providing a discount on the device.

The Lifeline program provides a discount on phone or broadband services (or bundled packages). 

How Do You Find Out if You’re Eligible for a Free Phone?

You can enroll online with TruConnect for both the Lifeline and/or the ACP benefit. Lifeline offers a $9.25 credit applied towards:

  • Landline services
  • Wireless (cellular) phone plan
  • Broadband service
  • Bundled services (such as broadband and a landline)

If you live on qualifying Tribal lands, you may be eligible for the enhanced benefit, which adds $25 towards your Lifeline benefit, making it a total of $34.95 per month. 

You qualify for Lifeline based on your household's income or program participation. 
If your or your household income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guideline, then you may qualify for Lifeline.

For Lifeline income guidelines, see Lifeline Income Guideline Chart. You can also qualify if you or a member of your household participates in one of the following programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps
  • Medicaid / Medi-Cal
  • Supplementary Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit

Only one Lifeline discount is allowed per household. USAC explains that "a household is a group of people who live together and share money (even if they are not related to each other)." You can learn more by visiting: "What is a Household?" on USAC's website.

You may be required to prove your participation with official documents when you apply for Lifeline. 

For those who live on qualifying Tribal lands, you may qualify based on the above income and program participation criteria. Additionally, if you or a member of your household participates in the following Tribal programs, you may qualify for Lifeline. 

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Head Start, if qualifying by income
  • Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

If you qualify for Lifeline, you also qualify for the ACP benefit. Don't qualify for Lifeline? No problem! You can still apply for the APC benefit. The ACP benefit's qualifying income amount is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which is higher than Lifeline's income-qualifier. The ACP benefit is what you think of when you hear about free government phones. It includes:

  • $30 towards a broadband monthly service. ($50 for those on qualifying Tribal Lands)
  • Up to $100 towards an internet-capable device, or smartphone

What Kind of Free Phones Can the Government Provide?

The options for free phones available depend on the service provider you choose. The government does not dictate which phones are available. For most service providers, you must fill out an application and enroll to see the full list of options. The majority of the phones available through the Lifeline and ACP programs are Android smartphones. These phones still support all the people and things you love to connect with. As the subscriber, you get choices that enable you to choose the phone that best fits your needs. You can also decide you want an upgraded device for a discounted price or can bring your own phone to the program with TruConnect.

Find Free Wireless Service and Free Phones with TruConnect

Do you have any questions about free phones and phone plans? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our TruConnect team. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have.

If you qualify for Lifeline and ACP, we offer a new Android smartphone with a free wireless service plan that includes unlimited talk, text, and up to 14 GB of data, plus free international calling. 

It’s easy to apply and sign up with TruConnect's Lifeline and ACP benefits. Once you’re enrolled in the Lifeline or ACP benefits, we'll ship you your shiny new phone or SIM Card—completely free! We include easy-to-follow instructions for setting up your phone, so you’ll be using your phone in no time!