Can You Have Two Government Phones?
This information is current as of June 9, 2022.
If you qualify for Lifeline or ACP, you may also get a free phone through certain phone companies like StandUp Wireless. The question is, can you have two government phones simultaneously?
ACP and Lifeline benefits are only given to one household at a time, which means you won’t be able to get two government phones with free service at once.
However, you may be able to get a government phone from one company and later receive a new phone if you switch your benefits to a new company. Only one of these phones will be able to receive your free service.
Let’s dive into exactly when and how one person can have two government phones.
How Can One Person Have Two Government Phones?
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline are federal programs that give one set of benefits per household. This means that ACP/Lifeline providers will only be able to provide service and a free phone to one designated person in the household.
The free phone might be used by multiple people in the family. Still, only one set of benefits will be given to provide discounted or free phone service on one contract. Each provider has different rules around their free government phone.
Some may require that you stay with the company for at least one year to keep the phone. Others may give you the phone upfront once you sign up and not have any further requirements. Before signing any contracts, speak to a representative at the company to know what they require before you get your free phone.
If you are allowed to take your phone with you if/when you leave the company, you may be able to get a second free government phone. You would need to transfer your ACP/Lifeline benefits to a new provider that offers a free phone for new customers.
If this is the case, you would be left with your old free phone (with no service) and now have a new phone with your ACP/Lifeline service. You now have two government phones, but you’ll need to pay for service out of pocket for the original phone if you want to connect it to a network.
What Is a Household?
Since ACP and Lifeline only give one set of benefits per household, let’s break it down. A household is not every person living under the same roof. Instead, it’s people who live together and share money.
For example, if you live with your brother, but both have separate incomes. You file taxes separately and manage your own expenses. You are considered two separate households.
If you live with your partner and share expenses, pay taxes as a married couple, and combine incomes, you are considered one household.
How Can I Get a Free Government Phone?
ACP and Lifeline can pay for some or all of your phone and/or internet connection. If you qualify, apply for, and are accepted to one of these programs, you can choose from a long list of providers for your service.
These providers offer internet, phone plans, and sometimes even free phones! For example, suppose you are eligible for ACP and Lifeline. In that case, you could qualify and receive a free 5G phone straight to your door from StandUp Wireless.
Other providers that may provide a free phone include Cintex Wireless, AirTalk, and AirPhone.
Once you choose a provider, Lifeline or ACP will pay the phone company – AKA “provider” – directly every month.
The best part? You can have both ACP and Lifeline benefits combined to give you the most coverage if you qualify.
Can I Use My Government Phone With a New Company?
Most companies will let you bring your own phone when contracting a new ACP/Lifeline service. However, if you got your government phone from another provider, you’ll need to read the fine print to see if you’re eligible to take the phone with you. Some companies may require you to be contracted with them before leaving for a set amount of time.
What’s the Difference Between ACP and Lifeline?
ACP provides a discount of up to $30 monthly for internet service for qualifying households. They could also provide up to $100 to buy a tablet, computer, or laptop for these same households.
ACP participants must make 200% or less of the federal poverty guidelines. Check out that link for a complete list of income standards listed by state. You could also qualify by participating in specific government assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, or Public Housing.
On the other hand, Lifeline provides a monthly discount of up to $9.25 for phone service for qualifying households. If you participate in Lifeline, you are automatically eligible for ACP.
Does ACP/Lifeline Pay the Phone Company or Me?
Lifeline and ACP pay your phone and internet bill directly to the company.
If the bill is less than your benefit, you will not receive the difference. If the bill is more than your benefit, you will be responsible for paying the difference if you want to keep your service. Many times, ACP or Lifeline will cover the whole tab.
The only way one person can have two government phones is if they receive a free phone with Lifeline/ACP benefits from one provider, then leave the provider and do the same thing with a different company. Since every company has other requirements for receiving a free phone, this may only be possible with specific providers.
Both ACP and Lifeline only grant one set of benefits per household. In the above scenario, the original government phone will no longer be connected to a network when you switch to a new provider. Your second phone will have service, but you’ll need to pay out of pocket if you want both phones to have service.
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
When you qualify for government benefit programs like SNAP, you may also be eligible for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Both Lifeline and ACP are government-run programs that help low-income consumers receive free or heavily discounted communication services.
Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.