Home How To’s & Guides what is the best free government phone program?

what is the best free government phone program?

0
what is the best free government phone program?

[ad_1]

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Smartphones aren’t cheap, but for many of us, they have become essential. We use them for our jobs, for communicating, looking up information, entertainment, and even paying our bills. If you need a smartphone and a wireless plan but can’t afford it, you aren’t without options in you live in the United States.

The US government subsidizes phone plan costs for those who are eligible via either its Lifeline Assistance program or Affordable Connectivity Program. It’s also possible to get a free phone and free service in some cases. Wondering how to get a free phone or what is the best free government phone program? Keep reading.

What is the best free government phone program?

There are two main programs that can help you either pay less for phone service or even get it entirely free. These are the Affordable Connectivity Program and the Lifeline Assistance Program.

Both programs work a bit differently to provide you with savings. The Lifeline Assistance Program actually pays for itself by requiring all qualifying carriers to pay a universal service fee that essentially finances the program. That means T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and others essentially finance it through fees. 

Meanwhile, the ACP is directly funded by Congress. That means this program is more likely to change in terms of benefit or scope, while Lifeline is a bit more consistent in its implementation.

In the next two sections, we’ll explain what the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program can offer and how to qualify.

What is Lifeline assistance, and how do you qualify?

The Lifeline Assistance program actually dates back to 1985 and was created as a way to bring affordable or free phone service to struggling families. It has evolved beyond its landline roots and now extends to smartphone service.

The program provides a $9.25 per month subsidy for broadband support to Americans with an income at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. You can also qualify if at least one person in your household participates in one of the following programs: Snap, Medicaid, SSI, FPHA, or Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit.

What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?

acp government program

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a much newer option that originally started as a pandemic-specific benefit. It’s also more specifically about ensuring households have reliable internet access than just phone service.

This program provides $30 per month to eligible households to help pay for online connectivity. This can be applied to an ISP like Comcast as well as many phone service providers. The program also gives a single, one-time discount of $100 that can be used toward the purchase of a laptop, desktop, or tablet.

The nice thing about ACP is that its eligibility requirements are a bit broader than Lifeline. You’ll qualify if at least one member of a household is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

You’ll instantly qualify for the program if are already on a government program like Snap, Medicaid, or WIC. Additionally, this benefit is automatically applied if you are already a Lifeline Assistance member.

In other words, you can absolutely combine ACP and Lifeline for the best possible discounted rates. To learn more about qualifications or to apply, you can head directly to the ACP website.

Best free phone service provider through ACP/Lifeline

There are many providers that partner up with ACP, Lifeline, or have plans that apply to both. This includes all the big guys like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. The catch is these programs tend just to add the discount to their existing plans and don’t include extras like a free phone in most cases. In other words, they cost less but generally aren’t free.

The cheapest and truly free plans tend to come from MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that are specifically designed to provide government-assisted service. That said, many of them actually belong to existing carriers. 

There are literally dozens of options out there, especially if you consider that you can also use ACP for an ISP and not just for wireless service. We won’t list them all, but we did pick one carrier that represents each of the major networks. All three are well rated and great options, though they differ in a few key ways. 

Assurance Wireless is a great Tmo-based choice

assurance wireless

Assurance Wireless is actually owned by T-Mobile and is dedicated exclusively to providing phone service to those with lower incomes. Provided you qualify, you’ll get the following benefits from Assurance:

  • Free unlimited data with 25GB of high-speed data
  • Free unlimited talk and text
  • Free 2.5GB of hotspot use
  • A free smartphone

Unlike traditional plans, you often have little say over the free phone you’re getting. Assurance Wireless does list what phones it provides, so at least you’ll have some idea of what you might get. To little surprise, it’s going to be mostly lesser-known brands like Coolpad, hot Ppper, ANS, and Orbic. They do at least have a few Motorola devices, though. 

Don’t like the free phone? You can always bring your own device as well. Be sure to check out our guide to the best unlocked phones for more options.

AT&T Prepaid is a great choice for AT&T coverage

ATT logo stock image 2

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

While many of the mainline carriers offer ACP support, AT&T does one of the best jobs. AT&T Prepaid is a good choice if you want to get service directly under a major carrier brand. There are actually three plans available, with the base plan costing you absolutely zero. Here’s a handy chart that can quickly explain your options:

Plan Price Talk and Text Data Hotspot access Extras
Plan

5GB Data

Price

$0/monthly

Talk and Text

Unlimited talk and text

Data

5GB of 4G/5G
SD streaming
Rollover data
Hotspot access

Mobile hotspot up to plan limit

Extras

Unlimited text from US to over 230 countries
AT&T ActiveArmorSM mobile security

Plan

15GB Data

Price

$10/monthly

Talk and Text

Unlimited talk and text

Data

15GB of 4G/5G
SD streaming
Rollover data
Hotspot access

Mobile hotspot up to plan limit

Extras

Unlimited text from US to over 230 countries
AT&T ActiveArmorSM mobile security

Plan

Unlimited Max

Price

$20/monthly

Talk and Text

Unlimited talk and text

Data

Unlmited 4G/5G
4K streaming

Hotspot access

10GB mobile hotspot data

Extras

Unlimited text from US to over 230 countries
AT&T ActiveArmorSM mobile security
100GB Cloud Storage

Plan

15GB Tablet Plan

Price

$5/monthly

Talk and Text

None

Data

15GB of 4G/5G

Hotspot access

Up to plan limit

Extras

None

Plan

50GB Tablet Plan

Price

$25/monthly

Talk and Text

None

Data

50GB of 4G/5G

Hotspot access

Up to plan limit

Extras

None

As you can see, AT&T Prepaid doesn’t just offer phone service. There are also options for tablet data too! Overall, AT&T Prepaid is the best choice if you need a ton of data from a more mainstream carrier. It’s not free, but $20/monthly is extremely affordable for Unlimited data. It’s also truly unlimited high-speed data, though you will see deprioritization during times of congestion. 

AT&T Prepaid doesn’t give you a free phone, but it has many cheap options out there as well. For a better idea be sure to check out AT&T Prepaid’s phone list, also, be sure to check out our guide to the best cheap phones if you want to go the unlocked route.

SafeLink Wireless is a great Verizon-based choice

safelink

SafeLink is actually a subsidiary of Tracfone, which is actually owned by Verizon. This means you get access to Verizon’s massive network at no cost to you. What you get will depend on your region and if you qualify for Lifeline, ACP, or both. Here’s a quick breakdown of the best plan, for those with Lifeline and ACP qualifications:

  • Unlimited talk and text 
  • Unlimited high-speed data (LTE/5G)
  • Up to 10GB of hotspot data
  • A free phone (no model specified) 

The ACP Plan is similar but only gives you 10GB of high-speed data, in addition to 5GB of hotspot data. This plan includes calls to Canada and Mexico as well. Lastly, the Lifeline plan is the most basic, giving you just 350 voice minutes, unlimited texts, and 4.5GB of data. 

Don’t qualify for ACP or Lifeline? There are still a few options

Even if you don’t qualify for ACP or Lifeline you might still have a few options open to you. FreedomPop offers a free plan that’s basically designed only for emergency use. TextNow Free gives you free talk and text, though a SIM card will require a one time purchase of $5. 

Your options get better if you’re willing to spend a bit, as there are basic plans out there that can cost as little as $15 a month. Be sure to check out our guide to the best cheap phone plans for more details. 

[ad_2]

Source link

Previous article Longevity Expert’s All-Time Favorite Breakfast Recipe
Next article the best budget headphones for less than £100
Harmony Evans is an award-winning author of Harlequin Kimani Romance, African-American romance, and so on. Harmony Evans is an award-winning author for Harlequin Kimani Romance, the leading publisher of African-American romance. Her 2nd novel, STEALING KISSES, will be released in November 2013. Harmony is a single mom to a beautiful, too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter, who makes her grateful for life daily. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting, reading, and of course, napping and also review some of the best-selling and popular brands and services in the market and also write comprehensive blogs.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here