How to Get a Free Smartphone and Wireless Plan?

Having a smartphone and wireless plan provides many benefits in today’s digital world. Smartphones give you 24/7 access to information, entertainment, communication, and much more, right from your pocket. A wireless plan keeps you connected wherever you go, allowing you to browse the internet, use apps, make calls, text friends, check email, and stay up-to-date through notifications.

Smartphones and wireless plans offer convenience, productivity, and security. You can do mobile banking, use maps and GPS, look up information on-the-go, snap photos, access social media, listen to music or podcasts, watch videos, and utilize countless useful apps. In an emergency, you can quickly contact emergency services or access safety resources. For peace of mind, smartphones allow you to stay in touch with loved ones no matter where you are.

Having a connected device opens up opportunities for work, education, and participation in modern society. You can complete tasks, access educational materials, apply for jobs, and stay engaged with what’s happening in the world. Overall, smartphones and wireless plans provide invaluable resources and connectivity that can enhance daily life in many ways.

Government Programs

Several government programs provide free or discounted smartphones and cell phone service to eligible low-income individuals. The most well-known program is Lifeline, which is run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Lifeline provides a monthly subsidy of $9.25 that can go towards free smartphone service, including unlimited talk, text, and data (Life Wireless: Free Government Cell Phone Lifeline Program).

To qualify for Lifeline, you must have an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, or participate in certain assistance programs like Medicaid, SNAP, or SSI. You can check your eligibility by applying through Lifeline carriers like Access Wireless (Access Wireless – Free Government Smartphone + Unlimited) or AirTalk Wireless (Government Benefit Program | Free Smartphone with Free). These companies offer free Lifeline smartphones and plans to those who qualify.

In addition to the base $9.25 Lifeline subsidy, some carriers offer extra monthly discounts through state-specific Lifeline programs. For example, California Lifeline provides an additional $14.85 subsidy. By stacking both subsidies, you can receive a free smartphone and plan worth over $500 per year in California.

Other government assistance programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provide a $30 monthly discount that can be used towards smartphone service. Check with local community organizations to find out what federal, state, and local programs are available in your area.

Carrier Deals

Major wireless carriers like T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T periodically offer free or discounted smartphones when you switch to their service. These carrier deals represent one of the most common ways to get a free device when signing up for a new wireless plan.

For example, T-Mobile offers various phone deals for new customers who switch to their network, including free 5G phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G when you trade-in an eligible device and sign up for an eligible plan [1]. You can also often find discounted or free iPhones and other popular devices when switching to T-Mobile.

Similarly, Verizon frequently provides new customers with hundreds of dollars off the latest iPhones and Galaxy devices or a free phone when you switch and purchase a qualifying Unlimited plan [2]. AT&T also offers various deals for free and discounted phones when you transfer your number to their network.

To find the latest carrier deals for free or discounted phones, check the major provider’s websites regularly, as the promotions tend to change frequently. You can often save hundreds of dollars on a new smartphone by taking advantage of these new customer offers when you switch networks.

Manufacturer Promotions

Phone manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, Google, and Motorola often run promotions where you can get free or heavily discounted smartphones when purchasing directly from them. Here are some current manufacturer promotions to take advantage of:

Samsung frequently offers deals where you can get new Galaxy phones for free or at a steep discount when you trade-in an eligible older device. For example, right now Samsung lets you get the new Galaxy S24 for free when you trade-in a Galaxy S8 or newer device [1]. You just pay the sales tax.

Apple’s iPhone upgrade program lets you get a new iPhone every year by spreading out payments over 24 months interest free. After 12 monthly payments, you can upgrade to the latest iPhone model and your payments start over. This effectively makes the new iPhone free outside of taxes [2].

Google has a Pixel Pass program that bundles a Pixel 6a or newer device with YouTube Premium, YouTube Music Premium, Google One, and Google Play Pass for one monthly charge. This can save you hundreds on the normal costs of these services and effectively make the Pixel free [3].

Motorola often runs significant discounts and rebates when you purchase direct, trade-in a phone, or switch carriers. For example, you may be able to get a Moto G Stylus 5G for free when switching carriers [4].

Retailer Bundles

Many major retailers now offer bundles and deals that package free smartphones when you sign up for a wireless service plan. For example, Verizon frequently offers promotions where you can get the latest iPhones, Galaxy phones, and Pixel phones for free with select unlimited plans. Similarly, T-Mobile allows you to get a free 5G phone when you switch to one of their Magenta unlimited plans. Both carriers typically require you to remain on the plan for 24-30 months to keep the free phone. Other retailers like Best Buy and Walmart also periodically offer free phone promotions when bundled with prepaid or postpaid plans from major carriers.

To find the best retailer bundle deals, check the websites and promotions from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and other major carriers. Also look for phone + plan bundle deals from electronics retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon. These retailers will sometimes advertise free flagship phones from Samsung, Apple and Google when you activate a new line with a carrier. Just make sure to read the fine print on any bundled phone deal to understand the plan requirements and any additional fees.

Used and Refurbished Phones

One way to get a free or low-cost smartphone is to purchase a used or refurbished phone. There are many reputable places to buy high-quality used and refurbished devices.

Retail stores like Best Buy often have a selection of pre-owned phones in stock. You can browse their inventory online or in stores to find discounted previous generation models. Best Buy pre-owned phones come with a 90-day warranty.

Online marketplaces like Gazelle specialize in selling used and refurbished phones. They thoroughly test and certify the condition of devices before reselling them. Purchasing a refurbished phone from Gazelle can save 40-50% off the original price. Phones come with a 30-90 day warranty.

Asking friends or family if they have an old smartphone they no longer need is another option. Often people upgrade and have a functional older model sitting in a drawer. If you can get the phone for free or very cheap, this can be a good way to get a free device.

Overall, purchasing a high-quality refurbished or used smartphone can be much more affordable than buying a brand new phone. And reputable retailers will offer a warranty, so you have peace of mind with your purchase.

Friends and Family

Ask around your friends and family if they have an unused smartphone gathering dust in a drawer that they’d be willing to give you. With how often people upgrade their phones, it’s likely someone has an old iPhone or Android device they no longer need. Let them know you’d really appreciate being able to use their unused phone. If they agree, make sure to get all the accessories like the charger and case as well. Having a direct connection increases the chances they’ll want to give it to you rather than selling it or tossing it.

You can also ask any tech savvy friends if they know of any free phone offers or can help you get set up with a cheap wireless plan if you do get a free device. People in the industry often have access to promos and insider knowledge. It never hurts to ask around your personal network for any potential leads.

Credit Card Rewards

Many credit cards offer generous rewards programs that allow you to earn points, miles or cash back that can be redeemed for a free smartphone. Here are some of the top options:

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card from Chase lets you earn Ultimate Rewards points on all purchases, including cell phone bills. You can redeem those points for gift cards to cover the cost of a new phone. The Ink Business Cash Card is another good option from Chase with no annual fee.

American Express cards like the Platinum Card and Gold Card offer credits each year to cover wireless bills and other incidentals. The credits can offset the cost of a new smartphone.

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Card is a premium travel card that allows you to redeem miles for any travel purchase. You may be able to redeem miles to cover the taxes and fees on a new smartphone.

Other cards like the Citi Double Cash offer straightforward cash back that could be applied towards a new phone. Always make sure to pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges.

Community Programs

Many local nonprofit organizations and community programs provide free cell phones and service plans to those in need. These programs aim to increase access to communication services for disadvantaged groups like seniors, victims of abuse, and individuals experiencing homelessness.

For example, the Access Wireless program partners with nonprofits across the country to distribute free smartphones, minutes, unlimited texts and data to eligible recipients. They work with community leaders to identify those most in need of receiving a free device and wireless plan.

Other community assistance programs like Lifeline allow qualified low-income households to get discounted or free cell phone service. Nonprofits help spread awareness of these programs and assist people with applying.

To find free smartphone programs in your local community, search online databases like for nonprofits and charities near you. You can also call 2-1-1 to speak to a community resource specialist who can point you towards free cell phone assistance programs for those in need.


Getting a free smartphone and wireless plan is possible through a variety of options. Government programs like Lifeline provide subsidized service and discounted or free devices to qualifying low-income households. Most major carriers offer free phones or large bill credits with new line activations or upgrades. Phone manufacturers frequently run promotions where buying one of their devices comes with a prepaid plan or service credits. Retailers often bundle a free phone with a postpaid plan to entice switchers. Buying a used or refurbished device can save a lot upfront. Asking friends or family if they have an unused device to give away is another route. Credit card rewards programs allow cashing in points for phones or wireless gift cards. And local community assistance programs sometimes supply free smartphones to those in need.

The best options for getting a free smartphone with wireless service are taking advantage of government Lifeline subsidies if eligible, or carrier promotions for new subscribers. The benefit is getting a brand new phone with data, minutes and texts at no charge. Just be sure to research plan pricing after any introductory promotions expire. With a bit of effort, anyone can find a complimentary device along with cellular service.

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