If you are low income, you can get a free cell phone or landline phone through Lifeline. You do not have to be on disability. Anyone who is poor can get one. Here’s the trick:
Stay the hell away from SafeLink.
After years of languishing in SafeLink desolation, I finally switched to a new service.
Now I have a great, free smartphone with two surprising features:
You can talk…. and you can listen!
That’s right. Talk AND listen!!!!
I actually forgot phones could do that.
Assurance Wireless – This is my new phone. Life is good.
Qlink Wireless – I have heard mixed reviews. Some people very happy. Some people report problems with difficult customer service and bait-and-switch phone plans. One reader below reports that the phone does not get service in his area.
Other services – Please comment below with your experiences.
Land Lines – It is also possible to get a landline instead of a cell phone. I believe these phones are discounted, not totally free (“My phone bill went from $35 per month to $6 per month”).
Some people with chronic illness find that cell phones cause symptoms. Learn more about Electrohypersensitivity.
If You are Married
If you are married and your spouse and you live together, you are only allowed to have one lifeline phone. You cannot each get your own lifeline phone.
If You Live with Other Adults
The rule is one phone per household. But wait!!! This rule is very tricky. A household is not what you think it is….
“The definition of a household is anyone living at an address who share income and household expenses.” The rules are explained here.
Suzy and Grace Example: Suzy lives with her sister Grace. They each pay half the rent and half the utilities. They do not share their income and keep separate bank accounts and finances. Suzy and Grace are two households. They are eligible for two phones.
Suzy and George Example: Suzy lives with her boyfriend George. Suzy and George share a bank account and share their money. Suzy and George are one household. They are eligible for one phone.
How I Canceled SafeLink
Someone asked me how I went about canceling. Here’s how it worked for me:
I cannot believe how long I stayed with SafeLink. I could not hear anything and half the calls were dropped. I tried to request a new phone, but there is no way to contact them online, and they are only reachable by phone… super helpful for someone without a working phone!
At some point they sent me a little text noting that due to such-and-such lawsuit they were required to offer me a new phone. I spent some time online trying to apply for this supposed new phone, only to be told that I don’t live where I (obviously) do live and that I should call them with my broken phone upon which I (obviously) cannot call them.
One day someone told me that some companies give smart phones. I thought there was no possibility on earth that this could be true. I was wrong.
I canceled SafeLink by going to my account online on the SafeLink website. Oddly, the SafeLink phone does not turn off when you cancel! My phone kept whatever minutes were still on there and kept working. They did not ask for it back.
It’s important to cancel your old account before applying for a new phone anywhere else. You are not supposed to sign up for two services at the same time. I printed out the page online verifying that my Safelink phone was canceled and kept it, just in case anything ever came up.
I applied for Assurance Wireless online. They sent me a form in the mail to sign. Then they sent me a phone. Whole thing took 2-3 weeks.
When I got the new phone it did not work correctly right away. It turned on, but it wasn’t sending texts. I finally figured out that I had to call Assurance and activate it.
They were very nice and treated me just like a regular customer and thanked me for using their service. I have been excessively happy with my phone.