California residents who receive Supplemental Security Income, food stamps (SNAP), MediCal or other public assistance, or who meet certain income guidelines, can receive free cell phones through the federal Lifeline* program provided by Assurance Wireless. Roughly 4.6 million California households could be eligible.
Those who qualify for Assurance Wireless will get a basic cell phone, plus 250 free minutes and 250 text messages each month. There are no long-term contracts or activation fees. Phone service includes voicemail, call waiting, caller ID, 911 access and Nationwide Sprint Network coverage. You can even keep your current home or cell phone number. Other low-cost packages are available if you want to add more minutes or texts.
In California, the free cell phone is a limited-time offer that expires on June 6, 2013, so you’ll need to act quickly. You’ll find much more information and can apply here.
*Lifeline is a government benefit program to provide low income people with communication services. Many providers, including Verizon and AT&T, offer their own versions of this program. Virgin Mobile’s version, called Assurance Wireless, is the one that offers the free cell phone and minutes/texts.