You cannot wish away the need to stay connected with family and friends. To connect to phone service, you can buy a SIM card or get a free one.
Luckily, for some service providers, you do not have to pay for your SIM card. Interestingly, they offer a free phone service if you meet certain conditions.
This article discusses getting a free SIM card with free service to help you know the different ways of getting connected without paying.
Free SIM Card with Free Service Via Lifeline Assistance
Lifeline Assistance is a government-sponsored program to provide free phone and services to low-income families. It offers both landline and mobile phone services for free. So, if you get a mobile phone, you’ll enjoy a free SIM card with free service.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established Lifeline Assistance in the early 1980s to help low-income families with connectivity. Today, the program offers a free phone and connectivity via participating service providers.
Each qualifying household gets one service at a time. The monthly phone service discount for Lifeline Assistance is $9.25, which may cover your entire bill based on your usage.
The household should have a household income of up to 135% of the prevailing Federal Poverty Guidelines or have at least one member benefitting from government assistance. However, the minimum income requirement may vary depending on your location.
Free SIM Card Free Service Via Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The FCC established the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to replace the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government provided free phone services to families that had experienced income loss.
The government offers eligible households a $30 monthly phone service discount through the ACP. People living on qualifying Tribal Lands get a $75 discount.
Households qualify for the ACP free SIM card and free service if they have an income of up to 200% of prevailing Federal Poverty Guidelines. Being a beneficiary of specific government assistance programs is also an eligibility criterion.
Who Qualifies for a Lifeline Assistance Or ACP Free SIM Card with Free Service
You must meet specific qualification criteria if you want a free SIM card with free service through Lifeline Assistance and the ACP. To qualify, you must have a household income under a given threshold and benefit from government assistance. The following are the several ways through which you can qualify for this service:
1. Income-Based Eligibility
Those who qualify for Lifeline Assistance must have an income of 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. On the other hand, qualification for the ACP requires you to have a 200% income at the most. Since poverty guidelines keep changing, checking what applies at any particular time is essential.
The following are the poverty guidelines for 2022 for territories and states in the U.S.A:
2022 Poverty Guidelines for 48 States and the District of Columbia
|No. of persons in a family or household
A single-person household applying for a free SIM card with free service via Lifeline Assistance should have an income of $18,346.50. Every additional household member leads to an increase in the income requirements by $6,282.
On the other hand, a single-member household applying for the ACP must have an income of at most $27,180. For each additional member, the income threshold increases by $9,440 based on the poverty guidelines.
2022 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska
|No. of persons in a family or household
If you live in your household alone, you would need an income of $22,936.50 to get a free SIM card with free service. There is an addition of $7,965 for every additional household member. So, it’s easier to qualify with more members in your household.
In the case of qualification for the ACP, you need a maximum income of $33,980. With every additional household member, you would need $11,800 more in your income. For Alaskans, the threshold is a little higher than the other states.
2022 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii
|No. of persons in a family or household
If you live in Hawaii, those in single-member households qualify for a free SIM card with free service with a $21,100.50 income. The income threshold keeps increasing by $7,330.50 with every additional member of the household.
The ACP benefit puts the income limit at $31,320, with an extra $10,800 for every additional household member. In Hawaii, the income threshold for the ACP is fairer than in Alaska.
2. Beneficiary from Government Assistance
In the United States, low-income families benefit from several government assistance programs. You can qualify whether you participate individually or with the entire household. Here are some programs in which you can participate to get a free SIM card with free service:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Pell Grant Award for the previous year (ACP only)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- SSI Disability Assistance
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (for ACP only)
- Section 8 Housing Vouchers
- SSDI for the blind
- Free or Reduced-Price School Breakfast Program or Lunch Program (for ACP only)
3. Beneficiary of Assistance on Qualifying Tribal Lands
The government also assists individuals living on qualifying Tribal Lands. Some of the assistance programs include the following:
- Tribal Head Start
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
How to Apply for a Free SIM Card With Free Service
You can get a free SIM card with free service if you apply correctly. The following are the procedures you must follow when applying for a free SIM card with free service:
Step 1: Confirm Your Eligibility
Before applying for a free SIM card with free service, you should confirm your eligibility. You need the Lifeline Assistance or ACP eligibility criteria as discussed in this article.
The Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) runs Lifeline Assistance and the ACP. It also controls the National Verifier, through which you can confirm eligibility for the two programs. Enter your identity information and search. You should be able to see your eligibility status after that.
Step 2: Choose a Provider for a Free SIM Card with Free Service
Now, you must choose a network carrier offering a free SIM card with free service. Some companies providing free SIM cards and free service include Access Wireless, American Assistance, SafeLink Wireless, Q Link Wireless, Assurance Wireless, TruConnect, enTouch Wireless, and Feelsafe Wireless.
Each company provides various benefits, including talk-time, texts, and data. Be sure to pick one with services in your state. Their benefits under Lifeline Assistance and ACP should also be attractive.
Step 3: Collect Proof-of-Eligibility Documents
You must attach documents proving your eligibility when applying for Lifeline Assistance and ACP. Now is the time to collect the necessary documents. Some of the key documents include the following:
To prove that it is you and not anyone else applying for Lifeline Assistance and ACP, you must provide any of the following documents:
- U.S Government, State, Military, or Tribal-Issued ID
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s License
- Birth Certificate
- U.S. Passport
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Foreign Passport
Network carriers require Lifeline Assistance and ACP applicants to provide proof-of-address documents. The purpose of supplying an address is to enable your provider to reach you with correspondence and billing information easily. One of the following documents should suffice:
- Existing Mortgage or Lease Statement
- Driver’s License
- Tribal, State, or Federal-Issued ID
- Current Utility Bill
- Current Paycheck Stub Income Statement, or W2
Do you have income-based eligibility for a free SIM card with free service? If so, you should provide the relevant proof-of-income documents, which may include the following:
- Worker’s compensation benefits statement
- Tribal, state, or federal tax returns for the previous year
- Social security benefits statement
- Divorce decree or child support documents
- Current paycheck stub or income statement
- Veterans Administration benefits statement
- Retirement or pension benefits statement
Proof of Government Assistance Benefits
If you or any of your household members benefit from government assistance, you must provide at least one document proving it. The document type may vary based on the government assistance program in which you participate. Here are examples of documents you may provide:
- A Tribal, state, or federal assistance program statement for the past or current year
- A letter of benefit from a Tribal, state, or federal program
- Other documents proving benefit from a Tribal, state, or federal program
- A document with your name, program name, and the issuing Tribal, state, or federal
Step 4: Apply for Lifeline Assistance or ACP
Now you have to fill out an application form either online or in-store. All Lifeline Assistance and ACP providers have a portal where you can easily apply for a free SIM card with free service. Alternatively, you can visit your network carrier’s store to fill out an application form.
Make copies of your collected documents and attach them to your application. Photos of the documents should do for the online application. If you opt for an in-store or mail-in application, photocopies of the documents are necessary.
Step 5: Wait for Approval and Supply of the SIM Card
If you meet all Lifeline Assistance and ACP requirements, the network carrier will approve your application and notify you via mail. You may have to wait several days for the provider to ship the SIM activation pack to you.
Free SIM Card with Free Service by Switching Providers
Besides Lifeline Assistance and ACP, you can also get a free SIM card and service by switching to a different network provider. Many mobile virtual network operators hardly require new clients to purchase a new phone. Instead, you can bring your phone and get a free SIM card.
Before switching to a new network provider, you should check that it is compatible. Next, you must ensure that you meet all your old contract obligations. Once that’s done, you should end your contract with the previous network provider.
Apart from your device being compatible with the new network, it should also be unlocked. With that, it would be possible to accept the new SIM card once you get it. In most cases, the free SIM card comes with free phone service to entice clients to shift from other networks.
After receiving a free SIM card, you must activate it on your phone. While you can do that online, calling the network provider can help. You will most likely get free, no-contract service from a reliable network provider.
The Bottom Line
Getting a free SIM card and with free service is as easy as qualifying for Lifeline Assistance and ACP. After ascertaining your eligibility for the two programs, you can apply for any one of them. You will get a free SIM card and phone service if you already have a device. If you have no device, you will also get a free phone.
When switching networks, some providers provide free phone service to entice them to bring their phones. Sometimes, the providers may also offer free phones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can get a free SIM card through Lifeline Assistance or the ACP from network carriers. Some networks may also offer free SIM cards by pre-installing them on the phones. So, when you receive your device, it will already have the SIM card pre-installed.
The duration of the free service offer may vary from one network carrier to another. While some providers offer free service for a limited period, others provide it perpetually. So, you should find your network carrier the duration for their free service.
Yes, you can get a free phone with a free SIM card. Companies offering free phones to switching customers aim to entice new clients. So, they provide free phones together with free SIM cards. However, you might have to sign up for one of the company’s service plans.