How to Get a Free Cell Phone

Cell phones have become a necessity in modern society. Unfortunately, they can be costly to obtain. While cell phones can be acquired at little or no cost, cell phone use almost always involves paying for service and upgrades. Try out the following methods for getting a free cell phone and you’ll be making business calls and text messaging your friends in no time!

Acquiring a Phone from Your Mobile Carrier

Decide what features you want.

These days cell phones are much more than just devices to make phone calls. Different carriers offer various phones as part of plans, from basic flip phones, to camera phones, to top of the line smartphones. Knowing what you need out of your phone before you decide what plan you want will help you avoid up-selling and can keep you from spending extra money on a phone.

  • Free phones most often come with a contract with a minimum of two years.

Check out AT&T’s plans and phone selections.

Like all providers they carry phones from various manufacturers. Deals change all the time so keep an eye on the offers and wait until you find one that fits your needs and your budget. AT&T has plans for Motorola, Nokia, Apple, LG, HTC, and Samsung smartphones.

  • AT&T offers that involve free phones require 2-year wireless agreements, credit checks, and once active could involve overage fees and taxes.

Explore wireless plan options through Verizon.

Verizon carries phones from a host of brands, many of which start as low as $0.99. Free phone plans include options from LG and Motorola.

  • Verizon’s free phone plans come with a 2-year contract.
  • Certain deals from Verizon are only available online. Be careful when purchasing and ensure you get the deal you want.
  • Special offers may be for a limited time only.

Look into Sprint’s service plan agreements that include free cell phones.

As with the other major providers, these plans involve 2-year service agreements. Available brands include Kyocera, LG, HTC, Sharp, Lumia, and Alcatel.

  • Phones range in technological capabilities, as the more advanced options offer touch screens and less expensive plans cater to simpler needs with flip phones.
  • Offers from Sprint may not be available in all markets, and some require rebates to acquire a cell phone for free.

Getting a Free Phone Through Your Employer

Determine if your work responsibilities justify having your employer buy you a cell phone.

Ask yourself whether or not your job can be done without the technology. Are you expected to be available for calls from customers or business partners at odd hours or extremely frequently? If you feel a cell phone or an advanced smartphone is necessary for doing your job, and you don’t have one that can fill the needs of your job already, then you should consider speaking to your boss or Human Resources department.

Ask about communication subsidy programs at work.

When you sit down with the appropriate person at your place of business, inquire as to whether or not the company already has a program in place for providing cell phones. Many companies have such programs, similar to systems that exist for subsidizing gasoline expenditures or other transportation costs, in place for communication.

  • With the globalization of modern business travel has become a standard aspect of operations, making cell phone usage a necessity for many companies.
  • In the Internet Age there is a need for instant response times. Employees without cell phones are at a serious disadvantage in relation to competitors with cell phones.

Make a strong case for a company funded cell phone.

If the above points don’t convince the decision makers at your work place, try personalizing your argument with concrete examples of when your lack of a cell phone or your discretion to keep cell phone costs down hindered your (and your company’s) success or profits.

  • Remind your boss of the importance of being reachable, and the stress the importance of being able to reach the office. Sometimes you need tech support, product details, or a superior’s decision in a hurry.
  • Another great point to raise is that employee cell phones are no longer taxable by the IRS!

Receiving a Free Cell Phone from the Government

Apply for LifeLine Assistance.

This program helps those who can’t afford a cell phone by providing both the phone and the wireless coverage plan for free. The program funding comes from Universal Service Fund fees on telephone bills. Despite the nickname “Obama Phones,” the program actually began during the Bush presidency. The phones are often refurbished and come from different providers and offer different plans which are outlined in the subsequent steps.

  • Each state has its own requirements, but they don’t vary by much. If you qualify for federal assistance programs like Food Stamps or Medicaid you’re very likely to be eligible for a free phone.

Check out Safelink Wireless.

This is the oldest and largest provider in the program. Although it isn’t available in all 50 states, it does cover citizens in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

  • Safelink plans offer up to 250 minutes and 1,000 text messages. For the first two or three months, however, the minutes are doubled to 500.
  • Eligibility depends on enrollment in other federal aid programs, but households with low enough income may be eligible as well. This varies by state.
  • Remember that Safelink phones are often very small, cheap or hard to use and that most smartphones aren’t compatible with the Safelink service. Many Safelink phones are also from Tracfone, of which many phones accept the Safelink program.

Apply for Assurance Wireless’s free cell phone plan.

Assurance Wireless offers phones in 40 states, with unlimited talk and text in California. Otherwise, they service the following: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

  • Like Safelink, Assurance offers 250 minutes, although they provide unlimited text messaging and double minutes in the first four months.
  • Based on your state residence, you may be eligible depending on your income in relation to the poverty line.

Take a look at Budget Mobile and see if you’re eligible by applying online.

Budget offers unlimited minutes and texts for California and Oklahoma, with Oklahoma users receiving 500MB of data as well.

  • Budget provides a free phone with 250 minutes to qualified citizens in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington, Utah, Texas, West Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Finding Other Ways to Obtain a Free Cell Phone

Ask someone close to you for a new cell phone as a birthday or anniversary present.

Many phones aren’t too expensive, and with all the new technology available with smartphones they’re a gift that keeps on giving. You aren’t just getting a new phone, you’re getting a camera and a gaming device, too.

  • If someone is hesitant to get you a cell phone as a present, remind them how you can use it to keep in touch with them. It’s like getting a gift for both of you.
  • Lots of great deals on cell phones pop up around the holidays. Drop a few hints to family or friends and let them bring you some joy next holiday season.

Ask someone for their old phone if they get a new one.

It’s a simple way to help them get rid of unneeded clutter and it a great opportunity to pick up a new cell phone at no cost. Many people end up with boxes of old technology (think about that VCR in your closet), ask around and see if anybody would be willing to give away an old phone. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Enter raffles, sweepstakes, and other contests.

Search the web for opportunities to win a free phone as a prize. Companies often offer new technology as a draw for obtaining email addresses to send newsletters and other offers later on. If you think you can resist the marketing, take the risk. You’ve got nothing to lose and a new phone to gain!


  • Depending on whether you currently own a phone and what your carrier offers, you may be able to trade in for a new phone at new cost.
  • Read the fine print on contracts from carriers to avoid agreeing to any unfair or expensive fees.


  • Although cell phones can be obtained for free, in many cases you will still need to pay for wireless service and data.

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