How to get a free phone in Sacramento?

Getting a free cell phone in Sacramento is possible through government assistance programs like Lifeline and through other organizations that provide free phones and service to those in need. With the right qualifications, you can get a free basic phone with cellular service included at no cost. This guide will walk through the main ways to get a free government phone in Sacramento, the requirements, and tips for applying.

Lifeline Assistance Program

The Lifeline Assistance program, sometimes called the Obama Phone program, is a federal benefit that provides discounted or free cell phone service to low-income households. It is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). If you qualify based on your income level or participation in certain government assistance programs like SNAP or Medicaid, you can get a free phone with service through Lifeline.

Here are some key facts about Lifeline free government phones in Sacramento:

  • You can receive either a free smartphone or basic flip phone.
  • The phone will come with a set number of minutes, texts, and data already paid for.
  • You can get up to 350 minutes, 3GB of data, and unlimited texts per month.
  • Only one Lifeline phone is allowed per household.
  • Service is provided by major carriers like Safelink, Assurance Wireless, Access Wireless, and more.
  • You must recertify each year to keep receiving the free phone service.

Lifeline Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a Lifeline phone in Sacramento, you must either have an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines or participate in certain government assistance programs.

Income Requirements

If applying based on your income, your household income must be at or below the following Lifeline limits:

Household Size Annual Income Limit
1 person $17,388
2 people $23,517
3 people $29,646
4 people $35,775
Each additional person Add $6,129

Government Assistance Programs

If you don’t meet the income requirements, you can still qualify for Lifeline benefits in Sacramento if you participate in any of the following government assistance programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Veterans Pension or Survivors Benefit Programs

Proof of participation in one of these programs, like an acceptance letter, will qualify you.

How to Apply for Lifeline in Sacramento

To get your free Lifeline cell phone, you’ll need to apply with an approved Lifeline carrier. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Choose a Lifeline provider – Some options in California include Assurance Wireless, Safelink Wireless, Access Wireless, and more.
  2. Contact them to apply – You can apply online, over the phone, or in person.
  3. Provide eligibility proof – Submit income documents or proof of government program participation.
  4. Activate – Once approved, you’ll receive a free phone in the mail to activate.

The approval process takes 2-4 weeks. You’ll need to recertify each year to remain eligible for Lifeline benefits. Usage outside of the allotted minutes and data will require paying regular rates.

Other Free Phone Programs

In addition to the federal Lifeline program, there are some other options for getting free cell phones and service in the Sacramento area, such as:

Assurance Wireless

Assurance Wireless is a Lifeline provider, but they also offer free phones and service to people facing economic hardship who don’t necessarily qualify for Lifeline. You may need to provide income verification. Plans include unlimited talk and text plus 3GB of data each month.

SafeLink Wireless

Like Assurance, SafeLink also provides free phones outside of the Lifeline program. They offer various free phones and plans to low-income individuals. You can apply online or by phone without needing to provide eligibility documentation upfront.

StandUp Wireless

StandUp Wireless has a FREE250 Plan that gives 250 minutes, unlimited texts, and 250MB of data per month at no cost. You’ll need to verify eligibility through income or government program participation.

Local Charities

Some local non-profit organizations and charities may offer free cell phones, service, or prepaid cards to those in need. For example, the Sacramento Food Bank provides emergency cell phones. Contact local organizations like United Way, Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities to find out if they offer free phone assistance.

Family Mobile

Family Mobile offers a free phone with 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts, and 1GB of data each month at no cost for one year to eligible low-income households. You’ll need to verify eligibility.

Tips for Getting a Free Government Cell Phone

Here are some tips to help you get and keep a free Lifeline phone or other free cell phone program in Sacramento:

  • Make sure you meet the income or government program eligibility requirements before applying.
  • Have your necessary proof documents ready like pay stubs, Medicaid cards, etc.
  • Read all terms so you understand included minutes, data, and conditions.
  • Consider getting a free smartphone if you want to use apps and internet.
  • Activate service right away once the phone is received.
  • Add minutes or data if needed so you don’t lose service.
  • Mark your calendar to recertify on time annually.
  • Contact your provider if you have any issues with your service or phone.

Taking advantage of a free cell phone program requires staying on top of usage limits and recertification deadlines. But for eligible households, it can provide access to critical communication services.


Getting a free government phone or free cell phone service in Sacramento is possible through Lifeline Assistance and other programs if you meet the right eligibility conditions. Low-income households and those receiving government benefits like SNAP or Medicaid are usually able to qualify. By providing the required income and participation proof when applying, and staying under usage limits, you can get and keep a free basic or smartphone with service at no cost. Using free phone programs wisely makes cell phone service accessible for those in financial need.