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5 Budget-Friendly Cell Phone Plans That Give Free Smartphones

4 minute read

By Editorial Staff

Cell phones are a necessity for many of us these days. Unfortunately, they tend to be expensive. Plans can cost more than $100 each month — and then there’s the cost of the phone itself.1 In fact, a smartphone can run anywhere from $700 to $1,000.2

Fortunately, savvy consumers can find budget-friendly plans that even throw in a free smartphone. Some options are specifically for low-income households, while others are available to a broader range of consumers.

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1. AirTalk Wireless

AirTalk Wireless is a Federal Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) service provider that offers free smartphones to eligible individuals. Those who qualify will likely find the plan hard to beat. That’s because it includes not only a free smartphone but also free high-speed data, talk, and text. Moreover, this plan is available nationwide.

As for the free smartphone, AirTalk Wireless gives customers several choices. For instance, the iPhone 7, Galaxy S9, and Google Pixel 3 XL are options. So, customers can get an iOS smartphone or an Android smartphone.

Who’s eligible? You may qualify based on your income or if you receive assistance from any of the following government programs:

2. Life Wireless

Life Wireless is another Lifeline and ACP service provider. In addition to a free smartphone, those who qualify for the program can get a plan with free unlimited data, talk, and text. The plan also includes voicemail, no roaming charges, and Hotspot data.4

Much like AirTalk Wireless, eligibility is based on income or enrollment in other government assistance programs. However, it’s more limited when it comes to the free smartphone. Instead of giving options, Life Wireless says devices are selected at their discretion.5

Life Wireless offers plans nationwide, as well as in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

3. T-Mobile

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t qualify for a free phone and cellular service through a government program — you aren’t out of luck. T-Mobile, for example, offers affordable cell phone plans that include free smartphones for new lines.6 T-Mobile offers a variety of budget-friendly plans to suit a range of customers. Seniors can get monthly plans starting at $40. First responders, military service members, and veterans can purchase plans from $55 per month. Even if you don’t fall under any of these discount categories, T-Mobile’s regular plans are quite affordable, starting at $60 per month.7

Available free smartphones change periodically. At the time of publication, options include the Galaxy A13 5G and Nord N20 5G. Customers earn credit toward the phone that makes it free after 24 monthly billing cycles.

T-Mobile is a leading wireless provider that highlights its reliable nationwide service. In fact, the company says it’s the second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S.8 And it claims to have the nation’s largest 5G reach.9

4. SafetyNet Wireless

If you qualify for a free phone through a government program, then SafetyNet Wireless should also be on your radar. It works much like similar Lifeline and ACP service providers. As such, it offers program-based and income-based eligibility.10

Those who qualify can get a free phone and monthly plan that includes free talk, text, and data. The amount of data included varies from state to state, but customers can purchase “refills” if they need more. For instance, an additional 1GB costs $9.99.11

Similar to Life Wireless, SafetyNet Wireless doesn’t detail which phones are available. However, the provider says phones may be refurbished and guarantees they’ll be able to send texts and make calls. The phone may not be fancy, but it’ll get the job done.12

Unfortunately, SafetyNet Wireless plans that include a free phone aren’t available nationwide. But they are offered in the following states:

5. TruConnect

TruConnect is yet another Lifeline and ACP service provider that qualifying customers can use to get free smartphones and cell phone service. It has the same income-based and program-based eligibility guidelines as the previous options.

Once an applicant is approved, they get unlimited talk and text, plus up to 14GB of monthly data. The plan even includes free international calling. Additionally, customers can purchase a “Top Up” if they need extra data.

While TruConnect doesn’t specify specific phone brands or models, it does say that its free plans include a new Android smartphone. Free plans are available across the country, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.13

Explore Your Options to Find Plans with Free Phones

While many of us can’t cut a cell phone out of our life, we don’t have to settle for a plan that costs more than $100 per month. By taking some time to research options online, consumers can find cheaper phone plans that include the necessities — talk, text, and data — along with a free smartphone.

Since programs and plans can vary by state, be sure to compare your options to find the right fit for your situation. That way, you can feel confident to be getting every benefit you’re entitled to and the best deal available.

Editorial Staff