What’s the Best Free Government Cell Phone Plan in 2021?

When we start listing off necessities, our phones are often first on the list. Food, clothes, and shelter are certainly important, but these days it’s nearly impossible to get by without a phone to help us stay connected. From finding or maintaining a job to keeping kids on track in school, connectivity is a vital service.

If you need connectivity but are one of the millions of Americans facing economic hardship in 2021, you may be able to get a free government cell phone plan. Read on to learn more about this program and what your options are for getting free or affordable cell coverage. We’ll also give you a tip on how to get a brand new tablet for just $10.01!

What Is the Lifeline Program?

Before we talk about the best options for getting a free phone plan from the government, let’s talk about Lifeline. Lifeline is a federal program that helps subsidize the cost of phone and internet services. Established in 1985 during the Reagan administration, the Lifeline government benefit allows low-income Americans to get phone service for free or at discounted rates. 

In 2016, the Lifeline program received an update that added data services to the list of offerings. This enables low-income citizens to use data to access the internet in addition to receiving voice and texting services. Lifeline is available in all fifty states, all United States territories, and on tribal lands.

Why Is It Important?

What began as a program to provide low-income senior citizens with land line telephone service has turned into an essential resource for many Americans. These days, phones are much more than just a convenience or a luxury; our phones are a source of connection and security and a critical part of maintaining a productive, dignified lifestyle. 

We use our phones to stay connected with friends and family and our employers, medical providers, schools, and more. When we’re in danger, we call for help. Many people trying to get a job also need a phone so that their potential employers can contact them for interviews and scheduling. 

How to Qualify for Lifeline 

The primary requirement to qualify for the Lifeline program is household income level. Low-income single people and families who fall at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines may qualify.

If you qualify for other federal aid programs, you will probably qualify for the Lifeline Program. Other qualifying aid programs include veteran pension and survivor benefit programs, Social Security Income (SSI), and Federal Public Housing Assistance.

In addition, if you’re on Medicaid or if you receive SNAP benefits, you’re eligible for the Lifeline program.

Free Phone Service when You Bring Your Own Device

One thing to know about free wireless service with the Lifeline program is that you often must provide your own phone. However, that’s good news if you already have a phone you know and love, plus a new phone may be more accessible than you think.

Affordable Phone Options 

Though a free phone is not guaranteed, some Lifeline providers may offer free phone promotions from time to time. If a provider isn’t giving away a phone at the time you need to apply, they can still help you obtain a phone at a very affordable price once you are approved for the Lifeline program.

You can also find a used phone through local means such as Facebook Marketplace, friends and family, or other local vendors. Just make sure you stay safe when acquiring a used phone by keeping an eye out for scams and always meeting people you don’t know in safe public locations like the police station.

The phone you use will need to be unlocked and IMEI compatible. If you obtain a phone through an authorized Lifeline provider, you won’t need to worry about this.

Which Plan is Best?

Now that we have the basics of the national program, it’s time to look at individual plans.

(All offer information below is current as of 2/8/2021. Offers may change or vary over time.)

StandUp Wireless

Authorized by the Federal Communication Commission and approved in 29 states, StandUp Wireless offers flexibility in providing free or affordable service to qualifying customers.

StandUp Wireless offers free talk and text and 4.5 GB of data to qualifying Lifeline customers. At times, the company may also offer a free phone with Lifeline registration.

If you do not have a Lifeline compatible phone and a giveaway offer is not available, StandUp has phones available for you to purchase for affordable prices once you have been approved for the program and established a Standup Wireless account.

If you don’t qualify for the Lifeline program, StandUp Wireless offers another affordable option with StandUp Prepaid. With this service, you are not committing yourself long-term until you have a chance to use StandUp Prepaid free for thirty (30) days when you bring in your own phone. You can complete this trial without providing a credit card number.

The free month provides you with 2GB of data and unlimited voice minutes and text. When you sign up, you will receive a free SIM card and a waiver of the activation fee.

The standard StandUp Prepaid program consists of a 5G network, nationwide coverage, no overage fees, high-speed data, and worry-free billing. The real bonus is there is no contract, and you can keep your phone number.

Bring Your Own Device Kit

When you bring in your own phone to use, the cost for qualified Lifeline customers is $0 at StandUp Wireless. You will receive a tricut SIM card that unlocks the service on your phone when installed. The card is available in various sizes, all within one single unit, and fits into any compatible telephone you own. You may also buy a phone for a very affordable price if you qualify for the Lifeline program.

You will receive nationwide long-distance and all other benefits of using StandUp Wireless service. This card goes into any compatible GSM, 4G LTE, and VoLTE capable devices.

You will receive the delivery of standard micro and nano-size cards to fit your phone. Your envelope will contain the SIM card, easy installation instructions and resources, and a welcome document.

SafeLink Wireless

When you use your own compatible smartphone, you will receive unlimited talk and text and 4.5 GB of data.

Entouch Wireless

This company offers $10 off your monthly plan if you qualify for Lifeline and bring your own device or purchase one.

Q Link Wireless

Q Link offers 1,000 minutes of talk, unlimited text, and 4.5 GB of data for qualifying Lifeline customers.


This company offers free service including unlimited talk, text, and data, plus free international calling to select countries.

Choosing the Best Free Government Phone Service Option for You

When it comes to choosing a Lifeline wireless service provider, trust and credibility are important.

StandUp Wireless has been providing low-income customers with free or discounted communications services for over 35 years. Under the StandUp Wireless program, you receive a free SIM card with at least 1,000 minutes, 4.5GB of free data, and unlimited texting every month.

While the federal program only allows each household one free account, with the StandUp Wireless Prepaid Program you may activate additional devices, allowing you to have reliable service at an affordable price.

Overall, you need to work with a provider who can meet your needs and provide you with support when you need it. Standup Wireless has customer service representatives who will treat you with dignity and respect and help you find a plan that will meet your needs, no matter what those are. 

Find the Best Government Cell Phone for You 

If your income is below certain levels or if you already participate in other government benefit programs, you could qualify for a free government cell phone plan. This can be incredibly important if you’re trying to find or keep a job, as well as for coordinating childcare and more. Make sure you work with a provider who will give you the flexibility, service, and coverage you need.

Get a Tablet for $10.01

Here’s that valuable tip: Now for a limited time, get an 8” tablet for just $10.01 when you qualify and sign up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program! Once you’re approved for the program, we’ll send you a separate email to unlock your one-time discount on a brand new tablet. Apply here to get started!

Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service

If you’d like to learn more about Lifeline service, check out the rest of our site at Standup Wireless. Apply now and start getting connected in a way that makes sense for you today.