SafeLink Wireless was created by the folks at TracFone to provide free wireless phone service to folks who qualify. Prior to the advancement in wireless technology, the Lifeline program only pertained to landlines (you can read more about the LifeLine program here). With advancing technology and societal lifestyle changes, TracFone realized more and more people would benefit more from a free cell phone than a free landline and thus created SafeLink Wireless.
What SafeLink Wireless Offers
Qualified candidates will receive a free smartphone that has the most frequently used features such as caller ID, three-way calling, text messaging, voicemail and 911 access. In addition to the free phone, SafeLink provides free airtime units, unlimited texting and data plans. The website mentions that plans vary by state. However, I checked a handful of states and the plans offered were as follows:
- Free monthly airtime minutes: 350 (these units are not carried over to the next month. Use them or lose them)
- Data for Internet usage: 1.5 GB for the first three months if you use your own phone. Afterwards, SafeLink lowers the data to 1GB. The 1GB of data limit is what they offer if you opt to receive the free phone. In other words, by using your own phone you get an extra half GB of free data for the first 3 months. Afterwards, the data limit is the same as if you opted to receive the free phone.
The beauty of the plan is you can always purchase additional airtime if 350 talk minutes per month are not enough. It costs as little as $10 for an additional 350 airtime minutes Or if you browse through this site, you might find a cell phone provider in your area that offers more monthly talk minutes than Safelink. TerraCom, for example, offers anywhere from 500 to 1380 voice minutes per month.
Currently, SafeLink Wireless is available in the following 44 states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
If SafeLink Wireless isn’t currently available in your state, click the By States link from the menu above to find a program in your state.
Qualifying for the SafeLink Wireless Program
Although the requirements vary by state, in general, if you participate in any of the following government-sponsored public assistance programs you’re eligible:
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit or,
- Have an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
You may also qualify if your state offers the following programs Tribal programs:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance (BIA)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
- Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Tribal Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard)
If you meet the qualification criterion, the next step is to apply. Go to the Safelink Wireless website and insert your zip code and click Start. As you’re filling out the application form online, you’ll see a box for a promo code. If you don’t have one, do a quick Google search for promo codes (here’s one I found when writing this article). By using the code you can get additional airtime.
Annual Verification of Eligibility
You are required to verify annually that you’re still eligible for the SafeLink Wireless Lifeline program (aka recertification). The proof can be anything from a sworn statement or physical proof of income.
Lastly, if you decide that you no longer want to participate in the SafeLink program, you get to keep the phone. You can continue to purchase airtime and use it as you had before. The only difference is that you won’t get free airtime.
Things to know:
- Must make at least one call or send one text each month to keep service active.
- If you have an unlocked Smartphone, you can bring your own phone instead of using one provided by SafeLink.
- Airtime minutes are added to the phone during the first 3 days of the month. Your phone must be powered on in order to receive the airtime.
- If you want to make international calls, you’ll need to purchase the Global Calling card.
- Only one Lifeline phone is allowed per economic unit.