The best idea to save up on your mobile service bill is by utilizing the free programs which include wireless services and government cellphones. In this article, we are going to share everything you need to know about the federal Lifeline assistance program, where you can find mobile service providers that are part of Lifeline or (do offer cheap packages), how to apply for them, and how you can cut down your cellphone bill. 

What is the Lifeline Program?

The American government has been well aware of the significance of cellphone services in a citizen’s life and their accessibility. This led to the formation of the Lifeline assistance program in the year 1985. This program provides free cell phone service to all who qualify the eligibility criteria determined by federal and state administration. 

Lifeline assistance program intended to provide up to $9.25 discount every month on cellphone services for the eligible subscribers. Eligibility is based on income, and the program participants are allotted a discount on either their cell phone service or landline phone line – but not both simultaneously. 

Customers can read FCC’s (Federal Commission ) Lifeline Information to find out if they qualify or not. 

COVID-19 update for Lifeline Assistance services

The global pandemic COVID-19 encouraged the FCC to form three modifications to Lifeline on the 17th of March, 2020.

1. The verification and re-certification provisions of the program were put aside for the next 60 days. This change in requirements was then later stretched out till the 31st of August, 2020.

2. Lifeline officers are also omitted from unconscious de-enrollment under the same waiver.

3. On the 29th of April, 2020, the FCC renounced the requirement for customers to provide three months of income documentation consecutively while applying for the Lifeline program based on their earnings.

How to apply for the Lifeline Assistance Program? 

Registration in Lifeline is open to any individual who meets the entitlement criterion as stated by the states and federal guidelines. Domestic income is one of the conditions used. Eligibility could also be earned if the person or anyone in the house is already a member of any other public assistance programs which can be:

  • SNAP, previously known as food stamps
  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
  • Medicaid
  • FPHA (Federal Public Housing Assistance)
  • Tribal programs (and survive on federally-recognized Tribal lands)
  • Survivors Benefit and Veterans Pension 

Proof of participation or proof of income in the other public support programs might be needed. The program only offers one home phone or wireless phone account for each household. If separate families are sharing the same address, then each household would be eligible. This covers the residents of homeless shelters or nursing homes. Customers can also have entitlement with a provisional address.

Applying for the Lifeline Assistance Program can take place in one of these three ways:

  1. Go to the Lifeline National Verifier website and apply online. 

Note: Oregon, Texas, and California do not participate in the National Verifier database yet. Therefore, the consumers residing in those states cannot apply online.

  1. Get in touch with the internet or phone service provider you intend to use and probe them if they take part in the Lifeline program. In case your provider doesn’t provide Lifeline you could use the USAC tool to discover the providers near you that do participate. Contributing providers could assist you to apply for the Lifeline program.

Once you apply, the Lifeline program would let you know the consequence. While applying online you might receive an auto-generated approval. At times, the program might ask you for further information before approving or disagree with your application.

  1. Post the application: You would be required to take a print of the application in English or Spanish, fill it up, and send this mail to the following address along with your eligibility proof:

Lifeline Support Center

P.O. Box # 7081

London, KY 40742

Providers participating in Lifeline

There are hundreds of wireless providers across the country that participate in Lifeline. It includes some prominent national carriers for instance Verizon along with a lot of discount carriers or smaller regional. You can also search for the providers that are nearby on the USAC website since it runs the National Verifier database formed by the FCC.

Be conscious the USAC search results might not be all-inclusive. Don’t be surprised if you come across a company that offers the Lifeline program but it doesn’t appear on this search list. If you are concerned about a certain provider, you can contact them directly to inquire ask if they provide Lifeline assistance. This will give you clarity without anxiousness. 

Economical substitutes to free government cellphones

Why do you need to keep an eye on alternatives? Because realistically speaking, not everyone is going to qualify for the Lifeline program. However, luckily there are several other cheap prepaid carriers that cellphone service along with the cellular devices at exceptionally cheap prices. Here we are enlisting a few:

  • Republic Wireless: Gets you unlimited minutes text messages, along with 1GB of data for $20 a month. Available for Android users only.
  • Gen Mobile – Provides 300 minutes with 1GB of data in just $10 a month. Further plans available with different amounts of text talk, and data starts from as low as $5 a month.
  • Ting – Gets you 100 calling minutes, 100 text messages along with 100 MBs data in just $15 a month.
  • Twigby – Gets you a variety of plans that start from 300 minutes of talk time with unlimited texts in just $6.75 a month. Those who require additional data can avail of a plan that has 3GB of data along with unlimited minutes and text at just $15 a month.

Note: inexpensive plans don’t indicate poor service. All the providers get you the networks of the four major providers that include Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. 

Apart from the Lifeline assistance program from the government, some companies also offer discounted prices and plans for the individuals that qualify Lifeline program in some select areas. This includes names such as Verizon, US Connect, and ATT that offer such plans for those people who are facing financial troubles in some states. Again, the best idea is to call and check with your local provider’s customer support department to learn more and get updated information. This will also ensure that you are getting the best deal according to your requirements.

Best free government cellphones for low-income households

American Assistance

American Assistance provides around 500 calling minutes with 500 text messages on an average for all those who meet the criteria for their Lifeline assistance program. In these allowances, you get some free features including three-way calling, call waiting, caller ID, and voice mail.

American Assistance, also known as American Broadband and Telecommunications is obtainable in these states: Colorado, Illinois, Hawaii, Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Utah, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and West Virginia,

Access Wireless

This network gets you a free phone along with around 750 calling minutes, unlimited text messages, and 200MB of mobile data each month. Californians can get a better deal as these free plans go up to a thousand minutes worth of calling allowance along with the unlimited text and 200MB data.

You should check with Access Wireless’ Lifeline free government cell phone service if you live in any of these states: Illinois, West Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Connecticut, Texas, Utah, California, Virginia, Arkansas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Assist Wireless

Assist Wireless offers various free government phone plans, and you can also apply for the latest device by simply signing an agreement and submitting your older cell phone. You can avail of this deal for just $15 credit in your account along with 1GB of free data.

Also Assist Wireless offers some discounted prepaid plans so you don’t need to worry about the next bill. This LifeLine service can be availed in Arkansas, Missouri, Maryland, and Oklahoma that has specified plans for both non-tribal and tribal applicants both.

ASTAC (Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative)

One of the LifeLine assistance free government phone providers that cover remote areas of North America, predominantly in Alaska’s North Slope coast. Moreover, their services cover the majority of the further areas in Alaska and are one of the rare methods that one can use to interact with your friends and family in this far-off area.

ASTAC provides unlimited calling minutes and text messages locally, therefore you have to pay a quarter for every minute of 411 calls. The company may also ask for a $200 security if someone regularly calls long-distance numbers.

TruConnect

TrueConnect offers around 1000 calling minutes, unlimited text messages, along with 2GB of data in about 24 states. International calling and text messages to Mexico, Canada, and China are also included in this package for Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Furthermore, you should also check these providers if they are providing Lifeline Assistance in your states: 

  • Assurance Wireless
  • Blue Jay Wireless
  • enTouch Wireless
  • Feelsafe Wireless
  • GCI (General Communications Inc.; Previously Alaska DigiTel)
  • Infiniti Mobile
  • Q Link Wireless
  • SafeLink Wireless
  • Sprocket Wireless
  • Standup Wireless
  • TerraCom Wireless

Here are enlisting some smart ways to save on the cellphones:

  • Before going for shopping a cellphone you should know exactly what you are looking for and what would be willing to pay for a cellphone set. Then follow that budget.
  • Don’t blindly follow the trends and fall for the latest cell phones. The latest models are always higher in price at least during the early days of their launch.
  • Go for a cellphone that acts like a cellphone, but do not sign up for unnecessary bells and hoots and associated costly data plans. This way you could easily save up to $20-$30 by evading data packages.
  • Prefer buying a cellphone through the discounted online channels instead of getting it from the mobile provider’s store.
  • Exchange or sell your old smartphone. Wireless carriers would typically offer a discount on the latest phone when you trade it with an old one. Or else sell your smartphone directly via eBay or other similar services to possibly get more than you can from an exchange deal.
  • The ideal way to save on a new smartphone? Skip this completely and stick with the cellphone you already have.