Since smartphones are considered a necessity in the modern age, everyone wants to have a cell phone.
Some want the latest from a favorite brand, others are happy with a flip phone (like these Verizon flip phones) for infrequent or emergency use.
Unfortunately, because of financial circumstances, some individuals may not be able to afford a mobile phone – whatever the price point.
In such a scenario, they look to either get a phone for cheap or get one free altogether. Learn how to get a free smartphone online in 2022.
How to Get a Free Cell Phone Online in 2022
There are five ways you can get a free phone online.
- Government programs that provide free phones to low-income families
- When you sign up with a carrier online
- Exchanging phones on online platforms
- Buy nothing groups
Government Programs That Provide Free Smartphones
The government has initiated a number of programs to help low-income families and individuals with their internet and telephone bills.
To be eligible for Lifeline or ACP, you need to meet the following conditions.
- Have an annual income at or below 135% of the federal government’s poverty guidelines (based on household size). See the chart below.
|Household Size||48 Contiguous States, D.C., and Territories||Alaska||Hawaii|
|For each additional person, add:||$6,372||$7,965||$7,331|
- Have experienced a substantial loss of income since February 2020
- Are part of a government-sponsored program such as the SSI, Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), or TANF. For a full list, please see Lifeline Qualifying Programs
How to Get a Free Smartphone Through Lifeline
To get a free smartphone through Lifeline, you have to sign up and qualify for the program. Then you can select the phone and plan you want.
- Go to Lifeline’s website at www.affordableconnectivity.gov and sign up
- Provide the necessary documents to prove your eligibility:
- ID (Passport or driver’s license or birth certificate)
- Income documents or tax return
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
- Document proving that you are enrolled in a government-sponsored welfare program
- Statement of benefits from a qualifying program
Alternatively, you can also get verified directly from the wireless provider you plan to get a phone from.
Once you’re verified by Lifeline or ACP, head over to the provider you want to get a free phone from.
Obviously, different providers will give you different options for a free phone, and the phone you want may not be available at all providers.
Before you select your wireless provider, make sure to head over to their website and see if they serve your address by checking on the webpage zipcode lookup tool.
Wondering what type of smartphone you can get through this program?
Check out Best Free Government Phone Plans to see what you can get.
Safelink Wireless, a subsidiary of Tracfone Wireless, is a leading provider of free government cell phones.
Safelink offers service to more than 3.5 million customers across the United States and provides Tracfone cell phones under the Lifeline/ACP program.
Along with the free phone, you will also get 250 free minutes.
If there’s an existing beneficiary of Safelink Wireless in your household, you will not be able to benefit from the program unless the current member drops enrollment.
Access Wireless provides a free phone with 350 minutes, unlimited text, and free cell phone in all states except California.
For California, it offers unlimited minutes and text and 5 GB of data.
Assurance Wireless gives free government smartphones in over 40 States. Included with the phone are:
- 350 minutes
- Unlimited text
- 3 GB data
Infiniti Mobile has coverage in over 97% of the U.S and provides its Lifeline benefits to areas in Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
If you sign up either with the ACP or Lifeline, you will get:
- A free smartphone
- 1,000 minutes
- Unlimited texts
- 3 GB data
If you combine both the ACP and Lifeline benefits while signing up with Infiniti Mobile, you will get unlimited text, minutes, and data (with the free phone).
With Qlink Wireless you can receive a free smartphone and:
- 1000 minutes
- Unlimted text
- 3 GB data
Cricket Wireless provides free government phones through the ACP program and, if eligible, the beneficiary can receive a $30 discount on their phone bill.
Cricket offers the following free phones:
- Moto g7 Supra
- LG Stylo 5
- Nokia 3.1 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy J2 Pure
- LG Harmony 2
- LG Fortune 2
- Motorola E5 Cruise
- Nokia 3.1 C
SafetyNet Wireless provides free phones in California, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
- 350 free minutes
- 3 GB data
- Unlimited texts
We have given some more detail on a few smartphones and cellular providers that provide free services through Lifeline, but these are not the only ones you can use.
List of Free Smartphone Providers
In addition to the providers we detailed in the article, you can find many other providers that give free smartphones, tablets, free service or monthly discounts.
Other service providers that offer free smartphones online:
- Terracom Wireless
- enTouch Wireless
- True Wireless
- Safelink Wireless
- Centex Wireless
- Copper Valley Telecom
- Easy Wireless
- Feelsafe Wireless
- Tag Mobile
- Tempo Mobile
Apart from these service providers, there are also state-based providers who either give you a free phone + service or just free service.
For the full list, please see Free Cell Phones By State.
Get a Free Smartphone by Signing With a Carrier
If you can afford monthly service but getting a smartphone is out of reach, consider signing up for a service contract with a major cellular network.
You can often get a free phone in exchange for signing up for a monthly service contract. These contracts usually last for 2 years.
Sprint is known for its reliable network and great customer service.
The company has a wide range of plans and services that cater to different needs and budgets.
It has been a part of T-Mobile since 2020. You can get a (second) LGV30+ from Sprint free of charge if you sign up for Sprint Flex and lease an LG V30+ for 18 months.
To get a free iPhone 10 or Samsung Galaxy Note 10 from AT&T, you will need to sign up for a 24, 30, or 36-month plan.
You can also get a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G (trade-in) for $5.50/month.
Verizon often has free phone perks when you sign up for certain monthly plans.
iPhone 12: Get a qualifying Verizon Unlimited plan and get $700 off towards an iPhone 12.
The discount is applied to the customer’s bill over 36 months with no trade-in required at the time of purchase.
iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max: Though not completely free but you can get up to $1,000 towards an iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max ($800 discount + $200 gift card).
Your discount will be applied over 24 months and new customers will get a $200 gift card (limited time).
Verizon also gives you the choice of an Alcatel AVALON V, Samsung Galaxy A10e, or Motorola Moto E6 for free when signing up on the 24-month plan.
One of the main reasons to choose T-Mobile is its coverage. T-Mobile has a very large and reliable network that covers most of the United States.
This means that you will be able to get service in most areas, even if you are in a rural or remote location.
T-Mobile also offers good coverage internationally, so you can stay connected while traveling.
iPhone 13 or 13 mini: Get an $800 discount on your iPhone 13 or 13 mini (that makes it free) when you trade in your phone and get T-Mobile’s Magenta Max Unlimited plan.
Offered over a 24-month plan only for new users.
T-Mobile also offers your choice of REVVLRY, Samsung Galaxy A10, or Moto G Power on their 24-month plan.
Exchange Your Phone Using Online Platforms
There are various online groups where you either buy, exchange, or get phones for free outright – especially when the owner just wants to dump an old phone.
These phones may not be the latest model (and may have seen heavy use) but they might be good enough for basic, everyday use.
Your chances of getting a good, recent model increase when you consider an exchange option and get the other phone for free.
Craiglist is well-known as a platform for buying or selling used items (including phones) and this could one of your very best options for getting a free (used) phone).
If you’re looking for a phone in pristine condition or a recent model, you will most like will have to exchange or buy a better phone.
You may be able to get a free phone if the owner is looking to sell a phone that is a little damaged or is of little use to him now.
You can gradually upgrade the quality of your phone by buying a little better one each time as you exchange your existing phone for a newer model.
OfferUp is a site that’s very similar to Craigslist where people are looking to sell or exchange their used items.
Many users also post items they are looking to give away for free.
Specifically connecting neighborhoods or people living within a specified local area, Nextdoor facilitates users to connect, trade, or barter their stuff.
The advantage to using NextDoor for this type of exchange is you’re not buying from a complete stranger.
This is more of a ‘technically’ free option to get a phone rather than getting a free phone outright.
As the name suggests, Buyback Boss will give you cash for your used phone, and then you can use that same cash to buy a new phone from someplace else.
Here are a few other platforms to check for free phones.
Buy Nothing Project
These groups are solely based on the idea of giving away/sharing things that you no longer need.
They connect local communities to donate items and teach skills to others in their local group for free.
The ‘Buy Nothing Project’ touts itself as the biggest gift economy.
There is an option to list or ‘Ask’ for what you need here and if someone has your desired phone, you’ll likely get it for free.
Wondering how a Buy Nothing Project group works? Learn all about it in this video, including the “fine print!”
There are a few online sites (like giveawaybase.com) that offer free phones in exchange for completing online tasks (watching ads, playing a game), and then you are awarded entries.
If you refer a friend, you will receive 5 entries and increase your chances of winning a phone.
Often influencers or prominent Youtubers hold giveaways to hand over a couple of phones to their followers.
Although the chances of one getting a free phone this way are slim, still there are people who have won free phones and it’s worth a try.