I have previously written about my experience getting a free cell phone for Mom. You can read about that and also check out the video below so I don’t want to repeat everything that I wrote there. But the question was broached to me recently about the possibility of getting a free smartphone for low-income families, including seniors.
And I have to say, I hadn’t heard of it. If you take a look at that previous article, you can see that the previous cell phone that Mom got through Assurance Wireless was a very basic phone. It made calls and barely was able to text. So I decided to do a little research and find out a how to get a free smartphone from the government, if possible.
Free Smartphone For Low-Income Families
The first thing I looked into was whether or not this was possible. I decided to check Assurance Wireless, Safelink Wireless and Lifeline and really didn’t get anywhere. There is no requirement from companies that administer the free cell phone program from the government actually carry smartphones with touch screens.
Video Overview of the Free Cell Phones For Seniors Page
However, many providers will allow you to upgrade your free cell phone plan to get a smartphone at a nominal free ($30-$50). But there are two that I wanted to specifically mention…
Budget Mobile is a relatively new player in the free government cell phone market but they definitely offer touch screen smartphones and more. As their website states…
Budget Mobile helps out low income individuals by offering free LifeLine cell phones that include free cell phone service. In an effort to help those who have a hard time paying their monthly cell phone bills, a free government cell phone and free cell phone service from Budget Mobile is the perfect solution.
This program is intended to provide financial relief to low income individuals who are having trouble paying their monthly bills. By participating in the free government phones program through Budget Mobile with free cell phone service, eligible recipients will be able to make calls, send texts, and use wireless data without the worry of having their service getting cut off. There is no cost and there are no contracts.
Whether you’re calling to make a doctor’s appointment, conducting an interview over the phone with a potential employer, or texting your niece to babysit your kids while you run an errand, this free cell phone service from Budget Mobile will be there for you every step of the way. 1
Qualifying For A Free Government Smartphone
To qualify for the program through Budget Mobile (or any other carrier), your total household income must be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines in states that follow the federal eligibility criteria, OR you currently qualify for one of the following programs2…
- Medicaid (this is how Mom qualified…I merely sent in her Medicaid number and 5 days later the phone, which you can see below, arrived)
- Food Stamps/Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Plan
- Supplemental Security Income [SSI]
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF]
- Supplemental Rental Assistance [Section 8]
- Federal Public Housing Assistance [FPHA]
- The National School Lunch Free Lunch Program
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Plan
Benefits From Getting A Free Government Cell Phone
You will receive…
- Free Cell Phone with Minutes (typically 250-400 a month depending on the carrier)
- Free Voice Calls
- Free Text Messages
- Free Mobile Data (available in some states)
Can You Use An Existing Smartphone?
Now, if you already have a smartphone you would like to hook into the government cell phone program you can do that as well through enTouch Wireless. This allows you to get involved with the government program without you having to ditch the phone you love, if you choose to.
As the enTouch Wireless website states…
Bring your smart phone to our network and use it!
“No more monthly cell phone bill! Follow the directions to check if your phone qualifies for FREE phone service. You may be able to bring your smartphone to the enTouch Wireless network*. The Lifeline Free Government Cell Phone and Wireless Service Benefits include free monthly voice, text and internet that can be added to many cell phones. enTouch will add another 100mb of Internet for free tool.”3
Not all phones will work on their network, but they do have a widget on this page to allow you to check whether or not your existing smartphone can be utilized on their network. Just follow the instructions and then if it is you can apply.
Overall I was very surprised to know that there are a few options to get a free smartphone for low income families. And this list of carriers, Budget Mobile and enTouch, will probably be added to over time. So if you do in fact know of one that wasn’t on the list let me know in the comments below…