How to Get a Low-Cost Smartphone and Plan

Did you know that qualified customers can get free phones through a government cell phone plan?

Well, now you do! SafeLink Wireless provides free smartphones and data plans to eligible households across the United States.

Some users may even receive SafeLink minutes at no cost to them. The best part about this program?

You can get a new phone like the ZTE Z3001S – a touchscreen smartphone – at no cost!

Many free and reduced cell phone programs in the past issued flip phones and antiquated beepers, but SafeLink offers an array of free touch screen government phones and accompanying plans to fit all styles.

To learn more about the eligibility requirements, how to apply and how to get a free phone, continue reading the topics below.

Learn About Requirements for Free Phones

To qualify for free touch screen government phones or free cell phone plans, all interested customers must first meet the eligibility requirements.

Each state that offers the program is responsible for setting these minimum conditions.

These requirements are often based on a person’s enrollment in state or federal assistance programs.

But that isn’t the only way to get a free cell phone; customers who meet the specific Income Poverty Guidelines (IPG) as defined by the U.S. government may also be eligible for the plan.

Which programs help me qualify for SafeLink?

Free phones are available through SafeLink to families whose income level falls below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Others can receive a free smartphone and plan if they are enrolled in one of the following assistance programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Food Stamps
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
  • Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

It’s important to understand that states may have slightly different requirements. Not all states may recognize these programs as cause for eligibility.

In fact, others may consider eligibility for those who participate in tribal programs, such as:

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (BIA)
  • Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
  • Tribal Head Start

How to Apply for Free Phones

Before you ever receive SafeLink minutes, phones or data plans, you need to apply. The application process determines your eligibility for the program depending on the state in which you live.

Each state has slightly different eligibility requirements, so it’s important to enter your correct zip code.

To apply for a free phone through the SafeLink Wireless program, follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Visit the SafeLink Wireless website.
  2. Enter your zip code, then click “Apply Now.”
  3. Enter all required personal information, including:
    1. Name
    2. Social Security Number
    3. Date of birth
    4. Phone number
    5. Address
    6. Email address
    7. Income verification
    8. Copies of state or federal benefits

The approval process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks. Once approved, it can take even longer to receive a device.

How to Stay Enrolled

After getting approved for free phones, applicants must understand a few key things to stay enrolled.

First, all approved customers must keep their phones turned on at all times. If a phone is shut off for an extended period of time, SafeLink reserves the right to terminate the user’s enrollment.

SafeLink participants must also use their phone at least once per month to avoid termination. This can be a call or a text.

Doing so ensures that each participant is using the benefits of the program and not letting them go to waste.

Lastly, to continue in the program, users must recertify each year. This requires all candidates to update SafeLink regarding their income and other qualifying factors.

SafeLink notifies each user when it is time to recertify, which can be done by mail, phone or online for convenience.

What do you get with SafeLink?

When it comes to getting free phones online, many are skeptical. However, SafeLink is one of the few government-approved programs to offer free or reduced cell phones and plans to those in need.

Some applicants qualify for free SafeLink minutes, though the quantity depends on eligibility factors.

SafeLink is contracted through Tracfone, a prepaid, no-contract cell phone service. This means that all customers have a certain number of minutes they can use per month.

Approved applicants will receive a free device in the mail, though they do have the option to bring their own phones into the plan.

They can even keep their own phone number if they choose. Those who use their own phones will receive a free SIM card from SafeLink instead of a new device.

Applicants can upgrade if they want a specific device. The ZTE Z3001S, for example, is a popular choice among customers. Instead of a free government iPhone 5, they may want something a bit newer.

SafeLink website has an online store where customers can purchase phones and upgrade devices.

Most of the phones available for purchase are offered at discounted rates to eligible customers.

How to Avoid Scams

Scams focused around free touch screen government phones are splattered across the internet.

Most of these promise free phones, free data plans or free minutes in exchange for sensitive information. Any website, company or advertisement that requires you to submit personal information before the application is a scam.

Some of these scams even state an affiliation with SafeLink, which can be confusing and misleading for many folks.

Many of these false posts are found on Craigslist, Ebay, and other similar sites.

SafeLink does not partner with any individual sellers; do not respond to offers found on third-party websites.

The best way to avoid falling for a free phone scam is to apply for the program directly through the SafeLink website.

This guarantees the legitimacy of the program and protects users from sharing sensitive information with the wrong people. Alternatively, you can apply by calling 1-800-SafeLink.