How to Get a Free Phone After the End of Affordable Connectivity

If you’re looking to get a free phone after the end of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), you have several options worth exploring.

One way to secure a free phone is through the Lifeline program, which still operates and offers eligible households discounts on phone services. This program has stricter eligibility requirements than ACP, but it remains a valuable resource for those in need.

Additionally, some internet and mobile providers offer special deals for new customers or low-income families.

Changes After the End of ACP

With the end of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), things have shifted for many households. The program, which provided discounts on internet services, ran out of funding on June 1, 2024. Without the ACP, you need to explore other options to stay connected.

Internet Service Changes

Continued Service: If you agreed to continue internet service with your provider after ACP ended, your internet will remain active.

Increased Bills: You might notice an increase in your internet bill since the discounts from ACP are no longer available.

Alternative Programs

Consider applying for Lifeline, a federal program offering discounts on phone and internet services. Although Lifeline has stricter eligibility requirements, it can still help reduce your costs.

Actions to Take

Contact Providers: Reach out to your internet provider to check for any available discounts.

Apply for Lifeline: Visit the Lifeline website and see if you meet the eligibility criteria.

Useful Resources:

Lifeline Program: Offers up to $9.25 off your monthly internet or phone bill.

Local Assistance Programs: Check with community organizations for any local assistance programs.

Alternative Methods to Obtain a Free Phone

If you need a free phone after the end of the Affordable Connectivity Program, here are some alternative methods:

Nonprofit Organizations:

Some nonprofits provide free phones to those in need. Organizations like Cell Phones for Soldiers or Secure the Call collect donated phones and distribute them to those who qualify. Check local charities too.

Carrier Offers

Some mobile carriers offer free phones with specific plans. Companies like SafeLink Wireless and Assurance Wireless often have promotions for free phones when you sign up for their services. These offers may vary by state.


FreedomPop offers a very basic free plan. You get 10 minutes of talk, 10 text messages, and 25 MB of data every month. There’s a one-time cost of about $10 for the SIM card kit.

TextNow Free Plan

TextNow provides free talk and text if you buy a SIM card for $5. It’s not entirely free, but it’s close and gives you basic phone service.

Here’s a brief table summarizing options:

Lifeline ProgramFree phone service for low-income.
NonprofitsDonated phones from organizations.
Carrier OffersFree phones with service plans.
FreedomPopBasic free plan with $10 SIM.
TextNowFree talk and text with $5 SIM.

By exploring these options, you can find a way to get a phone without spending money.

Eligibility Criteria for Free Phones

To qualify for a free phone, you need to meet certain criteria set by various government assistance programs. These programs aim to help low-income households stay connected.

One of the primary programs is Lifeline. To be eligible for a free phone through Lifeline, you need to participate in one of the following federal assistance programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit

Additionally, you can qualify based on your income. If your household income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, you can get a free phone.

For those living on Tribal lands, the benefits and qualifications might differ slightly. The Lifeline program offers greater subsidies in these areas, making it easier for residents to qualify.

To summarize:

Government Assistance ProgramsSNAP, Medicaid, SSI, FPHA, Veterans Pension
Income-Based EligibilityHousehold income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
Tribal LandsEnhanced benefits and easier qualification

Each phone provider may have slight variations in requirements. It’s always a good idea to check with the specific provider you’re interested in to see if you meet their criteria.

Maintaining Eligibility

To keep getting free phone service through Lifeline, you need to stay eligible through annual recertification and report any changes in your personal situation.

Annual Recertification

Every year, you must prove that you still qualify for Lifeline. This means showing that your income is below a certain level or that you participate in a government assistance program like SNAP or Medicaid.

You will receive a notice from Lifeline about this recertification. Follow the instructions in the notice to submit the required documents. If you don’t complete this process, you could lose your benefits.

Make sure to keep any paperwork or proof of your eligibility handy. This makes the process go more smoothly and quickly.

Change of Circumstances

If your personal situation changes, such as your income going above the eligibility threshold or you no longer participating in a qualifying assistance program, you need to report this.

Call or contact your Lifeline provider to update your information. This is important because if you remain on the program without being eligible, you could face penalties.

Always keep your contact information current with your provider. This helps you receive important updates and ensures that your service continues without interruptions.

Staying Informed of New Developments

To stay up-to-date on new programs and offers for free phones, monitor the websites of major wireless providers like T-Mobile, SafeLink, and Assurance Wireless. These companies frequently update their information.

Sign up for newsletters from these providers. Many companies send out updates and promotional offers directly to your email.

Check official government websites for updates on funding and programs. Visit regularly.

Be active on social media. Many providers post updates and news on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Following these pages can keep you informed in real-time.

Consider joining online communities or forums that discuss affordable connectivity options. These platforms often share tips and news about emerging programs and benefits.

By staying informed, you can take advantage of new opportunities as soon as they become available.

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