Free Government Phone in California

The government through the Lifeline and ACP programs is making it possible for every household in America to have an access to a free phone service. In California, you may be eligible to get a free government phone plan that allows you to call and text your friends and relatives and access the internet at no cost. The free government phone California plans may also include a free phone to help you finish homework, apply jobs, and contact emergency services. 

In this article, we look at how to get free government phone in California and the best Lifeline mobile carriers that offer a free phone.

How Do I Get Free Government Phone in California

Free Government Phone in California

Individuals from low-income families in California can apply for the California Lifeline and ACP programs to get a free phone, free minutes, free text, and free data. The Lifeline and ACP are government programs that ensure every household has an access to a mobile phone. You only need to apply with your preferred mobile carrier to receive the benefits. Your carrier will use the Lifeline benefit on your monthly phone bill. If the Lifeline benefit is equal to or more than your monthly phone bill, you will enjoy a free phone plan. However, if your monthly exceeds the Lifeline benefit, you will pay the balance, which is the case with most major phone carriers.

We advise that you look for Mobile Virtual Networks Operators (MVNOs) like Safelink Wireless, Access Wireless, and Assurance Wireless for a free phone plan. Most MVNOs offer free unlimited minutes and texts to households that qualify for the California Lifeline program. Households that qualify for Lifeline benefits get a discount on their cell phone or phone plan.

Lifeline Government Program Offer for a Free Government Phone in California

Knowing how much the government offers phone carriers through the Lifeline program can help you fully utilize the benefit. Remember you can only use the benefit once and hence, the need to choose a plan that lets you get the maximum benefit. A household can only apply for the Lifeline benefit once unless it is participating in the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program where it can get two-line discounts. The available discounts for California Lifeline participants include:

  • $16.23 flat-rate monthly service discount
  • $16.23 flat-rate monthly discount on cell phone service
  • $39 home phone services conversion discount
  • Waived fees on monthly bills

ACP Program Offer for a Free Government Phone in California

The ACP program helps low-income families to access affordable broadband services. Mobile phone carriers combine Lifeline and ACP benefits to offer their clients free minutes, texts, and data. You may find a carrier offering free unlimited minutes, free unlimited texts, and free unlimited data to customers eligible for ACP. However, you will have to apply for ACP differently even if you are already receiving Lifeline benefits. The available ACP California benefits you may get include:

  • $30 monthly broadband service discount
  • $75 monthly broadband service discount on Tribal Lands
  • $100 one-time phone or internet-capable device discount

How to Qualify for Free Government Phone in California

The Lifeline and ACP programs are for financially disadvantaged households. You must show proof that you are facing a financial challenge to qualify for the free government phone in California. The government offers two qualifying procedures that you can use to get a free phone plan. You can use:

Program-Based Qualifications

Families already approved for other Lifeline programs do not have to show proof of their needy status again. Some of the programs that make you eligible for the Lifeline phone plan include:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • SNAP
  • Section 8 or Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • National School Lunch Program
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • Tribal TANF
  • Federal Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefits

Income-Based Qualification

If you are not enrolled in any Lifeline participating program, you can use the income eligibility to get a free government phone. You can qualify for the lifeline program if your household income is at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. California Lifeline household income limits for 2022 include:

Household sizeIncome limits
1-2 $28,700

Add $7,300 for every additional household member.

You will need documentation that shows your household’s total income meets the annual limits to qualify for the free government phone. The total income is the annual gross income of all household members before taxation, including gifts, grants, salaries, child support, alimony, stipends, and inheritances.

California ACP Eligibility Requirements for Free Government Phone

You can apply for ACP benefits if you are a participant in a Lifeline program like TANF, Medicaid, Federal Pell Grant program, National School Lunch program, and any other low-income program. You may also qualify for ACP government benefits if your income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.

Documents to Show Proof of Eligibility

Before you apply for the free government phone California, you should have documents that can prove your eligibility. California Lifeline program participation is renewable every year on the customer’s anniversary date. Failure to renew your participation will make you lose your Lifeline benefits. The documents you can use to show proof of your eligibility include:

  • Identification card
  • Notice of eligibility from a qualifying public assistance program
  • 3 consecutive months’ income statements
  • Benefits statement from Veterans Administration, Social Security, and Pension
  • Child support/alimony documents
  • Other official documents

6 Best Lifeline Providers That Offer Free Government Phone in California

California residents have a bigger selection of mobile carriers that offer free government phone plans. Almost all major Lifeline providers run their free phone plans in California, which is good news to customers as they benefit from increased competition. Generally, most carriers offer better plans in California than in other states. In this article, we will only look at the best Lifeline providers that offer a free government phone for their California customers.

1. Assurance Wireless

Assurance Wireless is a popular Lifeline provider that offers free unlimited texts and a minimum of 1000 free minutes to qualified customers. New Assurance Wireless customers in California get free unlimited high-speed data, free unlimited minutes, free unlimited texts, and free 10GB of mobile hotspot data. Assurance Wireless further offers a free Android smartphone to enable customers fully enjoy the 4G LTE speed data. The carrier has one of the largest selections of free government phones.

The Assurance free government phone plan supports call waiting, voicemail, and caller ID to help you know who is calling and also avoid missing calls while you are on another call. The Assurance Wireless free government phone California plan also supports free 911 access, unlimited calls to customer care, and calls to 211 to enable customers to get assistance when they need it at no cost. The carrier further allows you to keep your current phone and number. Some of the free Android phones Assurance Wireless offers new customers include:

  • ANS Rapidz
  • Alcatel Dawn
  • ANS Wiko Life
  • Wiko Life 2
  • Wiko Life 3
  • Coolpad Avail
  • Coolpad Belleza
  • Coolpad Legacy Go
  • Kyocera Hydro Reach
  • Moto G Pure
  • Unimax693
  • Unimax U683CL

2. Standup Wireless

Standup Wireless is one of the few Lifeline providers that offer high-speed data in California. The carrier offers its services over 5G and 4G network towers, which guarantees decent speeds. California customers get free unlimited talk and unlimited text when they bundle Lifeline and ACP benefits, which translates to monthly savings of up to $40. The Standup free government phone plan comes with 10GB of high-speed data for your entertainment needs. You will need a 5G compliant device to enjoy the high-speed streams.

The free Standup Wireless phone plan supports Caller ID, Voicemail, 3-Way Calling, and Call Waiting, which allows you to effectively manage calls. You can tell the caller before answering the call and you will not miss a call even if you are on another call. Standup Wireless further offers a free phone, which enables new customers to start calling, texting, and browsing immediately. You will get a free smartphone in the mail upon qualifying through the National Verifier. The free phone availability depends on the running promotion. You can call customer care at 1-800-544-4441 to enquire about the available free smartphones.

3. Safelink Wireless

Safelink Wireless is a no-contract Lifeline provider with a high data allotment for customers who qualify for Lifeline and ACP benefits. The standard free Safelink phone plan comes with unlimited minutes and texts, which you can use to call friends and relatives nationally. It also features 6GB of data that you can use to browse and apply for jobs online. The free government phone plan supports Caller ID, Voicemail, and 3-way calling to help you easily manage and respond to calls. It also supports free 411 calling, free 911 access, and free customer care calls.

Safelink California customers get a free smartphone to enable them to access the free phone service as long as they qualify for Lifeline and ACP benefits. Safelink ACP customers also enjoy 25GB of high-speed data and up to 5GB of hotspot data. Call 1-800-723-3546 to find the available Safelink Wireless free phones.

4. Life Wireless

Life Wireless offers free phone service to eligible households in California. The free government phone service comes with free unlimited talk and text, free unlimited data, and 5GB of hotspot data. Life Wireless is one of the best Lifeline carriers for customers who need more data. The free plan supports call waiting, 3-way calling, voicemail, and caller ID service, which makes it easy to tell the caller even before answering a call. The voicemail feature lets you receive calls even when you are engaged or away. Life Wireless further offers a new free government phone upon approval to eligible customers. The availability of the free phone depends on the running promotion. Call customer care at 800-848-5580 to enquire about the available devices.

5. enTouch Wireless

enTouch Wireless offers an easier pathway to the California Lifeline cell phone program for mobile and landline customers. The eligible customers qualify for free unlimited data, unlimited text, and unlimited talk with Lifeline and ACP benefits. Customers also get free international calling, which allows them to keep in touch with friends and relatives in Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, South Korea, India, and Vietnam. enTouch Wireless further offers new customers a free phone upon government approval. Call enTouch Wireless customer care at 866-488-8719 to enquire about the available free devices.

6. TruConnect

TruConnect is a reliable Lifeline carrier if you are looking for a provider with decent data allotment and international calling. TruConnect offers California customers up to 14GB of monthly for their entertainment and browsing needs. Customers further get unlimited text, unlimited minutes, and free international calling to select countries. The free government plan also comes with a free phone upon approval. Call customer care to find the available free phones. Although free phones depend on the running promotion, you may get:

  • Cloud Mobile Stratus C5
  • Cloud Mobile Mist Flip
  • Nokia 225 4G
  • Alcatel Go Flip 3
  • Nokia 6300
  • Motorola Moto E6
  • Nuu F4L Flip Phone


California Lifeline phone service makes it possible for individuals to get a free phone and a free phone service. You only need to apply with one of the Lifeline carriers featured in this article to get a free smartphone that you can use to call and text your friends. However, the free phone is subject to Lifeline approval and the carrier promotional offer.

People Also Ask

Can I get a free government phone in California?

Yes. You only need to register with a Lifeline carrier that offers a free phone. However, you must meet California Lifeline and ACP guidelines to qualify for the free phone.

Which carriers offer a free government phone in California?

Assurance Wireless, enTouch Wireless, TruConnect, Life Wireless, SafeLink, and Standup Wireless are some of the Lifeline carriers offering a free phone.

Do I have to return the free phone if I cancel the free phone service?

No. You will keep the free phone, but you may need to consult your carrier.

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