Assurance Wireless, which is backed by Virgin Mobile and supported by the Lifeline Assistance program offers free cell service to qualified applicants. This service helps low-income households enjoy the benefits of being able to talk/text and access the internet on a free smartphone.
What Assurance Wireless Offers
If you qualify you will receive a free Android smartphone and 350 talk minutes. The talk minutes are automatically replenished each month. If you need more than 350 talk minutes you can always purchase more at a discounted rate. In addition to the talk time you get unlimited texting and 1 GB of data, all for free.
There are other talk/text/international calling options you can add to your account for a discounted rate. If you choose to do so, you can pay using either a credit/debit card or the Virgin Mobile Top-Up card. You can purchase Top-Up cards at retail stores such as Best Buy or WalMart or online from the Virgin Mobile site.
Currently, the Assurance Wireless program is offered in over 40 states with new states being added all the time. So if your state doesn’t currently offer the Assurance Wireless program, check back later. In the meanwhile, click on the “By State” link above to find an alternative Lifeline provider. Maybe Assurance Wireless isn’t offered in your area, but there several other free government phone programs that might work for you.
Qualifying for Assurance Wireless
In order to get the free phone, you must meet the qualification criteria. Keep in mind that the qualifying criteria differ by state. In general, if you participate in any of the following programs, you qualify for the Assurance Wireless program:
- Food Stamps/SNAP
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) or Section 8
- National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
If you don’t participate in any of the above programs, you may still qualify if your household income is 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or lower.
Please be aware, however, that the qualification list mentioned above is a general list. As mentioned above, qualification requirements do vary by state. Please visit the Assurance Wireless website to become familiar with your state’s requirements.
Applying for Free Phone
To apply you can apply online or call Assurance Wireless at 1-888-898-4888. You could also go to the website and download the state-appropriate application (there’s a different application for each state). Complete the application and mail it back along with the necessary documentation. Out of curiosity, I called Assurance Wireless to find out how long it would take to get the phone after submitting a completed application. They told me it could take up to 4 weeks.
Please be aware that you may only have one free government phone in your economic unit. If anyone in your economic unit is participating in another Lifeline program, you won’t be eligible for Assurance Wireless unless the other program is canceled.
If you are living in a group facility where other residents (not part of your household) participate in the Lifeline program, you’ll need to complete the one per household worksheet.
If you don’t have a permanent residence, you must provide a temporary address. It must be an actual address and not a P.O. Box.