Most people find life without a cell phone unimaginable. In fact, most people can’t even imagine spending a day without their cell phones. After all, we rely on these practical devices for so many things. We need them for communication, safety, entertainment, search for information, shopping, scheduling, and much more. Cell phones have become an indispensable part of modern life, providing a wide range of benefits and capabilities that make our lives easier, more connected, and more efficient. However, having a cell phone is just part of the deal. To be able to make calls, send text messages, and use data, you also need a SIM card and an active service plan.
Unfortunately, these things can be quite pricy. Sure, buying a mobile device can be done in just one installment but you need to pay for services every month – over and over again. Many people struggle to afford it. Luckily, there are some ways to get a free SIM card with free service and in this article, we will learn all about it.
Why Do We Need a Free SIM Card With Free Service
Some people need a free SIM card with free service because they are unable to afford it. And while some things we cannot afford we don’t really need, free wireless service and a connected device are far from unnecessary. We need a free SIM card with free service (and a cell phone to use these services with) for several reasons:
- Communication: Cell phones and wireless services allow us to communicate with others wherever we are, whether it’s through voice calls, text messages, or video calls. This communication capability is critical for staying connected with family, friends, and colleagues, and is especially important in emergency situations.
- Information: Wireless service provides access to the internet, allowing us to quickly search for information, news, and updates on any topic of interest. With a cell phone and wireless service, we have access to a wealth of information at our fingertips.
- Navigation: With GPS capabilities and location-based services, cell phones and wireless services can help us navigate unfamiliar locations and find our way around.
- Entertainment: Cell phones and wireless services provide a range of entertainment options, including streaming music, videos, and games, as well as social media and other online communities.
- Business: Many people rely on cell phones and wireless services for work, allowing them to stay connected with colleagues and clients, access important information, and complete tasks remotely.
How Can I Get a Free SIM Card With Free Service
By far the best, simplest, and most reliable way to get a free SIM card with free service is through a government assistance program. The program that offers free phone and wireless services, SIM cards, and even free cell phones for low-income people is called Lifeline. Moreover, there is the new government assistance program, called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) that offers discounts on monthly internet services and one-time discounts of up to $100 on internet-connected devices, such as tablets, laptops, or desktop computers. Many wireless companies offer both Lifeline and ACP benefits, which provide enough funds to cover a free SIM card, a free service plan with unlimited monthly talk minutes, unlimited text messages, and unlimited data, and a free smartphone.
In addition to the Lifeline (or Lifeline-ACP combination), you can also explore the following options to get a free SIM card with free service:
- Look for promotions: Some mobile carriers offer promotions where they provide a free SIM card with free service for a limited time. Keep an eye out for such offers on carrier websites or social media pages.
- Check with local non-profit organizations: Some non-profit organizations may provide free SIM cards with limited free service for individuals who meet certain criteria. Check with local organizations to see if they have any such programs.
- Alternative – use a free messaging or calling app: If you have access to Wi-Fi or data, you can use free messaging or calling apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, or Skype to communicate with others without needing a mobile service plan.
Note that even if you can find a free SIM card with free service through a promotion or a non-profit organization, there may be additional charges for data usage, calls, and texts. It’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully before signing up for any service.
On the other hand, Lifeline and ACP benefits come with no strings attached and no additional expenses. Nevertheless, not everyone can apply for a government assistance program. Only people who qualify will be able to enroll successfully.
How to Get a Free SIM Card With Free Service Through Lifeline/ACP
Because getting a free SIM card with free service through a government assistance program is by far the best and most reliable way to get these great benefits without any limitations or extra charges, we will focus on helping you get what you want through Lifeline and ACP. The process of receiving a free SIM card with free service (and potentially even a free cell phone) is as follows:
- First, you must make sure that you qualify for the assistance program. You can qualify for both programs based on your low income or your participation in another qualifying assistance program. Moreover, people who qualify for Lifeline are also automatically ACP-eligible.
- Secondly, you must be able to prove your Lifeline/ACP eligibility. You can do so by providing copies of certain valid official documents that verify your eligibility and personal information.
- You can then apply for the Lifeline/ACP program through the National Verifier.
- If approved, you must find a service provider that offers free SIM cards with free service in your area and apply for their program.
- If your application gets approved, you will receive a free SIM card with free service (and perhaps even a free phone) and you will be able to enjoy all of the numerous benefits.
Let’s break down these steps in the following sections.
How to Qualify for Lifeline/ACP to Receive a Free SIM Card With Free Service
In order to receive a free SIM card with free service, you must primarily apply for Lifeline, as Lifeline is the program that offers free phone and wireless service. However, if you wish to get more monthly minutes and data, and a better phone, you should also apply for the ACP program, which should be easy once you have become a Lifeline subscriber, as those automatically qualify for ACP as well.
To apply for those assistance programs and benefits, you must qualify. These two programs were designed to help low-income people in need get phone and wireless services and devices, as they tend to be unable to afford them on their own. As such, only people who are struggling financially qualify.
A person/household is Lifeline-eligible if it meets one of the following criteria:
- Your annual household income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. These guidelines depend on the state and household size.
- You or any other member of your household participate in one of the following government assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard)
A person/household is ACP-eligible if it meets one of the following criteria:
- Your annual household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. These guidelines depend on the state and household size.
- You or any other member of your household participate in one of the following government assistance programs:
- Any of the Lifeline-qualifying programs listed above
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools
- Your household received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year
Moreover, the applicant (for both Lifeline and ACP) must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor, a resident of one of the states where the selected provider operates, and the only applicant in the household, as both programs are limited to one benefit per eligible household. You can, however, apply for another benefit in your household, however, the qualification for that is even stricter.
How to Prove My Lifeline/ACP Eligibility to Receive a Free SIM Card With Free Service
It’s not enough to just say that you are eligible for Lifeline and/or ACP, you need to be able to prove it. This can be done by providing an official document that has all the necessary information. Depending on the eligibility requirements, you may need to provide proof of your low income or participation in a program. Additionally, you may be required to confirm other personal details.
To prove your low income (for Lifeline or ACP), you can provide a copy of an official document that contains your full legal name and income. Acceptable documents include:
- A Social Security statement of benefits
- Child support award
- Current income statement from your employer
- Divorce decree
- Paycheck stubs
- Prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
- Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation statement of benefits
- Veterans Administration statement of benefits
To prove that you participate in a qualifying assistance program or that your household has received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year, you must provide a copy of an official document that includes your full legal name, the name of the program, the name of the establishment that issued the document, and an issue date within the last 12 months or a future expiration date. Acceptable documents include:
- Approval letter
- Benefit award letter
- Benefit verification letter
- School documentation
- Statement of benefits
Additionally, you may be asked to:
- Verify your identity (with a copy of a valid ID, passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, etc.)
- Verify your age (with a copy of a valid ID, passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, etc.)
- Verify your address (with a copy of a valid ID, driver’s license, utility bill, most recent W-2 or tax return, etc.)
- Provide proof of life
- Provide your Social Security Number
- Provide proof of emancipation (court document or emancipation certificate)
To ensure a fast and smooth application process, it’s best to prepare the copies in advance. The copies must be clear and made with a camera, smartphone, scanner, or copy machine. Above all, make sure to never send original documents.
How to Apply for Lifeline and ACP
Once you have determined your eligibility and prepared proof of it, you can apply for the assistance programs. This step is vital, as only by successfully applying can you get a free SIM card with free service through the government. Some wireless companies automatically run your application through the National Verifier. However, as not all companies do so, it’s best to first apply through the National Verifier yourself. You can do so online or via mail. Applying online is the fastest and may result in immediate approval. However, if you prefer to apply through mail, you will need physical copies of your proof documentation instead of digital ones.
To apply for Lifeline and ACP online, follow these steps:
- Visit nv.fcc.gov/lifeline/?ebbp=true&id=nv_flow&ln=RW5nbGlzaA%3D%3D.
- You might have to log in or create a new account.
- You will see the online Lifeline and ACP application form. Complete it by providing all the necessary information and documentation. At the bottom of each page, press ‘Next’, and at the end of the form, press ‘Submit’.
Application Via Mail
To apply for Lifeline and ACP via mail, follow these steps:
- Print out a Lifeline application at lifelinesupport.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/get-lifeline/LI_Application_NVstates.pdf and an ACP application at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf.
- Complete both application forms.
- When applying for the ACP, it’s optional but recommended to include a Household Worksheet, which is available at affordableconnectivity.gov/wp-content/uploads/lifeline/images/ACP-Household-Worksheet-English.pdf. Fill it out.
- Add copies of the documents that prove your eligibility.
- Send the package to Lifeline/ACP Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
If your application gets approved, you will be notified via email or another contact mean. You will get an application ID, which you must save, as you will be required to provide it when you apply through your selected provider.
How to Find a Provider that Offers Free SIM Cards With Free Service Near Me
Finding a Lifeline and/or ACP provider that offers a free SIM card with free service in your area is easy. First of all, Lifeline and ACP providers are available in all U.S. states, territories, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands. Secondly, most of them offer free SIM cards with free service. Finally, to find a provider in your area, you can use your favorite online search engine or the highly convenient Lifeline and ACP search tool from the USAC (Universal Service Administrative Company) – the institution that manages these programs.
To find a suitable company near you, visit cnm.universalservice.org, enter your ZIP code or city and state, select the assistance program, and press Search. The system will then provide you with a list of all the companies that offer these benefits in your area.
Once you find this list, you can either contact each company’s customer support team (the number will be available on the list) to ask about what kinds of benefits they offer or visit each company’s website and read about their offered benefits yourself.
Once you have found a company that offers benefits that best fit your need, you will have to apply for their program as well. The exact application process varies between providers, however, generally, you will be asked to provide your ZIP code, get the list of plans available in your area, select a plan that best fits your needs (the Lifeline and ACP combo plan tends to offer the most generous benefits), and when redirected to the company’s application form, fill out the form. When you do so, make sure to provide all the required information and proof documentation and that all the provided details match the details provided in your National Verifier form. If approved, you will be notified.
There are numerous Lifeline and ACP companies available in all states. However, the following are considered some of the most generous Lifeline and ACP companies.
- Access Wireless (see its offer and apply at accesswireless.com)
- AirTalk Wireless (see its offer and apply at airtalkwireless.com)
- American Assistance (see its offer and apply at americanassistance.com)
- Assist Wireless (see its offer and apply at assistwireless.com)
- Assurance Wireless (see its offer and apply at assurancewireless.com)
- Cintex Wireless (see its offer and apply at cintexwireless.com)
- Easy Wireless (see its offer and apply at myeasywireless.com)
- enTouch Wireless (see its offer and apply at entouchwireless.com)
- Infiniti Mobile (see its offer and apply at infinitimobile.com)
- Life Wireless (see its offer and apply at lifewireless.com)
- NewPhone Wireless (see its offer and apply at newphone.com)
- Q Link Wireless (see its offer and apply at qlinkwireless.com)
- SafeLink Wireless (see its offer and apply at safelinkwireless.com)
- StandUp Wireless (see its offer and apply at standupwireless.com)
- Tag Mobile (see its offer and apply at tagmobile.com)
- TruConnect (see its offer and apply at truconnect.com)
In addition to free SIM cards with free service, all of these companies also offer a free government-funded smartphone for eligible customers.
What Benefits Can I Expect to Receive Through the Government
The list of benefits depends on the providing company, the plan, the state, and whether the company offers both assistance benefits of just one (Lifeline or ACP). Nevertheless, here are some general benefits that you can expect to receive:
- A free SIM card
- Free monthly phone and wireless service plan with:
- Free monthly talk minutes
- Free monthly text messages
- Free monthly data
- Access to a nationwide network
- Other calling features, such as caller ID, 3-way calling, call waiting, voice mail, etc.
- A free cell phone (in most cases you can expect to receive a mid-range Android smartphone, however, there are also companies that offer basic flip phones and iPhones) or the ability to bring your own (unlocked and compatible) phone to the company’s services
- A discount on a tablet (some ACP providers also offer a one-time discount of up to $100 on internet-connected devices, mostly tablets)
What to Do After Receiving a Free SIM Card With Free Service
After your application has been approved by your selected provider, you can expect to receive your free SIM card with free service along with a free smartphone (if you applied for one) within a few days. Once you receive the SIM card that is tied to your free service account, you must activate it. To do so, follow these steps:
- Charge your new original or old compatible phone and turn it off.
- Find and open your phone’s SIM card tray or slot. In case, there is another SIM card inside it, remove it.
- Pop out the SIM card in the right size from the SIM card kit.
- Carefully insert the SIM card into the phone’s slot. Make sure the contact chip is facing the right direction.
- Close the SIM card tray or slot.
- Turn the phone back on.
- Then visit your company’s website and search for its activation instructions. Follow them to finish the activation process.
- In case you can’t find any online activation instructions or tools, contact your provider’s customer support service and ask how to finish the activation. The agent will guide you through the process.
- Check if your phone, SIM card, and service account were successfully activated by trying to place a call, send a text, or use data. If you can, you have succeeded. You can now enjoy your service. If not, make sure to contact your company’s support team.
After your free SIM card and service have been activated, you will be able to enjoy your benefits for a whole year. After a year, you must recertify your service. The recertification process is a way for the government to check if you are still eligible for the program. In case you no longer qualify sooner, you must inform your provider within 30 days. Moreover, to continue getting free service each month, you must use the benefits at least once every 30 days.
Free SIM Card With Free Service Related FAQ
How Long Does the Application Process Take?
The application process depends on whether you are eligible, if you have already prepared proof of your eligibility, and how long it takes you to fill out the form. After you apply, you may receive approval the same day – that is if you apply online and if you provided all the necessary information and documentation so that the National Verifier or your provider don’t struggle to find additional information on their own.
How Long Will it Take to Receive a Free SIM Card With Free Service?
The company will send you a free SIM card via mail as soon as your application gets approved. You will be able to start enjoying your free service as soon as you activate your SIM card and account.
Can I Use the Free SIM Card With Free Service With My Own Phone?
Yes, most (but not all) Lifeline and ACP companies offer a Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) program, which enables customers to bring their own devices. However, the device must be carrier-unlocked and compatible with the provider’s network and services.
Can I Switch to Another Provider to Get a Free SIM Card With Free Service?
Yes, you can switch to any other provider in your area at any time, however, you can only have one Lifeline and one ACP benefit per household at a time.
What to Do if I Have Additional Questions About My Free SIM Card With Free Service?
In case you have any additional questions about the Lifeline or ACP program in general, you can contact the National Verifier at usac.org/lifeline/contact-us. In case you have any provider-specific questions, contact the provider’s customer support service. You can find the contact number online.