Top Lifeline Providers Offering Free Smartphones

The Lifeline program, administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), provides discounted phone and internet services to qualifying low-income consumers. The program aims to ensure that all Americans have access to essential communications services. This article will provide an overview of the top Lifeline providers that offer free smartphones to eligible subscribers. We will introduce the Lifeline program, discuss eligibility requirements, and review some of the most popular Lifeline carriers that provide free mobile devices. The goal is to inform readers about this valuable program and help connect eligible households with discounted connectivity.

What is the Lifeline Program?

The Lifeline program is a federal benefit that provides monthly discounts on broadband internet and home phone service for qualifying low-income consumers. Established in 1985 by the FCC, Lifeline aims to make communication services more affordable and help low-income Americans connect to jobs, family, healthcare, and emergency services (

Lifeline provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on home broadband internet or a $5.25 monthly discount on home phone service. Eligible consumers can apply the discount to either standalone home internet from a participating provider, home phone service, or a bundled package with both services (

To qualify for Lifeline, consumers must have an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, or participate in certain government assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, or public housing. Veterans pension and survivor benefits also qualify. Subscribers must recertify their eligibility annually to remain in the program.

Lifeline aims to make vital phone and internet access affordable for low-income Americans who would otherwise struggle to stay connected. The program helps close the digital divide by providing discounts that make communications services more attainable.

Lifeline Program Providers

There are several major wireless carriers that participate in the Lifeline program and offer free smartphones and monthly service to eligible low-income households. Here are some of the top Lifeline providers:

Assurance Wireless – Owned by Virgin Mobile, Assurance Wireless provides a free Android smartphone and 350 monthly minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB of data to Lifeline subscribers. They have nationwide coverage. More details at

Safelink Wireless – TracFone’s Safelink Wireless offers a free smartphone and 350 monthly minutes, unlimited texts, and 4GB of data. They have nationwide coverage on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and other networks. More at

Q Link Wireless – Q Link provides a free smartphone with 350 monthly minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB of data. They utilize T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon networks for nationwide coverage. Learn more at

Qlink Wireless

Qlink Wireless is one of the top Lifeline providers in the United States, offering free and discounted wireless service and devices to low-income households in multiple states ( As of 2022, Qlink has over 1.7 million Lifeline subscribers across the country.

Qlink Wireless provides both free and paid Lifeline plans, depending on the state and eligibility requirements. Their Lifeline plans provide free monthly minutes, texts, and data. For example, in California, Qlink offers the Qlink Gold Unlimited plan which includes unlimited talk, text, and 1.5 GB of 4G LTE data each month. They also offer free Android phones to California Lifeline subscribers.

Some key states where Qlink Wireless offers Lifeline benefits include California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. They have a large presence across the United States.

In addition to cell phone plans, Qlink also offers free WiFi hotspot devices with free monthly data to eligible Lifeline households. This provides home internet access to those who cannot afford traditional broadband services.

To receive Qlink Wireless Lifeline benefits, customers must qualify based on low-income status or participate in certain government assistance programs like SNAP or Medicaid. Applying is free through the Qlink website or by phone.

Provider #2 – Assurance Wireless

Assurance Wireless is one of the major Lifeline providers in the United States. Owned by Virgin Mobile, Assurance Wireless provides free wireless service and free mobile phones to eligible low-income consumers.

According to their website, Assurance Wireless is available in over 30 states including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. 1

As of 2021, Assurance Wireless had over 2.8 million Lifeline subscribers across the United States. 2 The service offers an unlimited voice plan with unlimited texting and up to 1 GB of data per month.

Customers bring their own phone or choose from a selection of free Android smartphones. There are no contracts and no extra fees outside of taxes and government surcharges.

Provider #3: Safelink Wireless

Safelink Wireless is a Lifeline provider that offers free smartphones and monthly wireless plans to qualifying low-income consumers in over 30 states. According to their website, Safelink has over 6 million Lifeline subscribers across the country. Safelink offers both Android and iOS smartphones from major brands like Samsung, LG, Apple, and more. The free monthly plans include 350 voice minutes, 3GB of data, and unlimited texts.

Some key states covered by Safelink Wireless include California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and more. Subscribers can choose between a basic “Safelink” plan with 350 minutes and 3GB of data or an unlimited talk and text plan with 4GB of data.

To qualify for Safelink services, subscribers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, or participate in certain assistance programs like Medicaid, Food Stamps/SNAP, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance, and more. Interested participants must provide eligibility documentation when applying for Safelink Wireless service.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a free smartphone and discounted service from Lifeline providers, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. According to the Lifeline Support website, you can qualify for Lifeline if your household income is 135% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Specifically, the eligibility requirements are:

  • Your household income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (see table on Lifeline Support for the income limits based on household size)
  • You participate in certain assistance programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension or Survivors Benefit, or certain Tribal Programs (USAC has a full list of qualifying programs)

So in summary, if your income falls below a certain threshold or you already participate in certain government assistance programs, you can qualify for Lifeline benefits like a free smartphone and discounted cell phone service.

Applicants must provide documentation proving eligibility based on either income or participation in qualifying programs. Eligibility requirements ensure Lifeline resources go to those most in need.

How to Apply

Here are the steps to apply for Lifeline benefits and select a provider:

  1. Check if you are eligible for the Lifeline program. You must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in certain assistance programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or Veterans Pension. See the eligibility page on for full details.
  2. Submit an application. You can apply online at National Verifier or request a mail-in application by calling 1-800-234-9473. You will need to provide documents proving eligibility.
  3. Choose a Lifeline provider. Search for providers in your area by entering your zip code on the National Verifier website. Select a provider and contact them to enroll.
  4. Activate Lifeline benefits. Once approved, contact your chosen provider to complete enrollment and activate your Lifeline discount. You can get either a free smartphone or discounted home internet.
  5. Recertify annually. Lifeline recipients need to recertify their eligibility each year. Your provider will contact you when it’s time to renew.

Pros and Cons

There are a number of advantages and potential disadvantages to consider when choosing a Lifeline provider. Here is an overview of the major pros and cons:


  • Most Lifeline providers offer free smartphones, including popular models like the iPhone 6S through Assurance Wireless [1].
  • Many Lifeline plans come with unlimited talk and text, allowing you to stay connected without worrying about overage fees [2].
  • Lifeline providers operate on the major wireless networks like AT&T and T-Mobile, providing reliable nationwide coverage [3].


  • Data limits can be very low on some Lifeline plans, like just 1GB per month with Assurance Wireless [1].
  • Certain eligibility requirements must be met to qualify for Lifeline benefits.
  • Limited selection of devices may be available depending on the provider.

When choosing a Lifeline provider, be sure to review plan details and coverage maps carefully to find the best option for your needs.


The Lifeline program provides low-income Americans with access to free or reduced cost phone and internet services from various providers. Government support for Lifeline makes these savings possible.

The top Lifeline providers discussed in this article that offer free smartphones include Provider #1, Provider #2, and Provider #3. These providers have the most generous smartphone offerings available through Lifeline.

In summary, Lifeline can make phone and internet service more affordable for those who qualify based on low income status or enrollment in certain government assistance programs. Taking advantage of a free smartphone offering from a Lifeline provider is an excellent way to save money while staying connected.

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