The Obama Phone is a popular name for a subsidized program providing low income Americans with a free cell phone. Not a free government cell phone, but rather a phone from an independent phone company that receives a subsidy from the Universal Access Fund, which was set up in 1997 by the FCC to keep Americans connected.
- 18 Obama Phone Providers
- 18 Obama Phone Providers
- How Do I Find an Obama Phone Provider Near Me?
- Obama Phone Providers
18 Obama Phone Providers
- Assist Wireless
- Assurance Wireless
- Access Wireless
- Cintex Wireless
- enTouch Wireless
- Easy Wireless
- FeelSafe Wireless
- Infiniti Mobile
- Life Wireless
- Q Link Wireless
- Tag Mobile
- True Wireless
- Safelink Wireless
- SafetyNet Wireless
- StandUp Wireless
- Tempo Communications
- Terracom Wireless
You may be wondering what an Obama Phone is, and why there are so many providers. Obama Phone is not a program that provides every low income person with a free government phone. Instead, here’s how it works: Every American who pays a phone bill on their own contributes a nominal amount of money to the Universal Access Fund. This fund is then used to subsidize independent phone companies and phone service providers to give out subsidized cell phones (often smartphones) to low income households around America.
To qualify for an Obama Phone, each household seeking to determine eligibility must either have a gross annual income 135% or lower of the Federal Poverty Line for their household. In some states, low income families can have a household income of up to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. In any case, these dollar amounts are based on the number of individuals in the household and its location—whether it’s in the contiguous 48 states, Alaska, or Hawaii. It’s a number that suggests how much a household needs to make in terms of household income in order to comfortably pay for living expenses, without having to resort to a government assistance program.
Another way to qualify is if a household can prove that they receive benefits from a government assistance program such as SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program), Medicaid, SSI (supplemental security income), or Veteran’s Pensions.
The Obama Phone typically comes with 250 phone minutes per month. But some phone companies may offer more talk time or additional talk time that can be purchased at a nominal price. They may offer other perks like texting and discounted internet. Also, except for Assurance Wireless, ReachOut Wireless, and Safelink Wireless (Tracfone), most Obama Phone providers are localized, so it depends on the state where you live.
In most cases, coverage extends across most of the United States and sometimes (depending on the provider) even abroad, so if an Obama Phone provider only services residents of a small group of states, that does not mean their phone users can only make phone calls to or receive phone calls from other residents of those states.
18 Obama Phone Providers
Assist Wireless offers users 400 minutes of talk, 500 texts, and 3GB of data usage for free every month. For just $5 extra, they can bump that up to 600 minutes and unlimited texting. Right now they cover Maryland, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
Assurance Wireless is a subsidiary of Sprint Nextel. With almost 3 million users in over 40 states, it’s the biggest Obama Phone company. Users get a monthly allotment of data and minutes that may vary by state and unlimited texting on an Android smartphone.
Access Wireless provides nationwide coverage for its users, along with free long distance. Users can make international calls for an extra charge, and add more data or minutes to their phones with prepaid cards available at retailers like Kroger, Family Dollar, and Speedway.
Cintex Wireless provides users with a free smartphone with unlimited minutes and texting and up to 10GB of data. It’s available to users in East Coast states like Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island and West Virginia, and also in Arkansas.
Residents of over 20 states can enjoy the benefits of enTouch Wireless, which allows subscribers to bring their own phone to the plan. In California and Kentucky, they can enjoy unlimited minutes and texts, with up to 3GB of data usage in the Golden State and 1GB in the home of Bluegrass. California Tribal members get an additional 2GB. In other states and among other tribes, there is a 1000 minute cap on talking, unlimited texting, and 100MB to 1.5GB of data usage.
Easy Wireless is affiliated with BoostMobile. Their phones offer free caller ID, call waiting, voicemail, and three way calls. Users can upgrade to a smart phone for a nominal fee. This phone company only offers Lifeline in Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma.
FeelSafe Wireless customers can enjoy coverage that spans most of the contiguous 48 states, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and parts of Alaska.
Infiniti Mobile serves just a handful of states. The company provides 1,000 minutes of talking time per plan and texting is unlimited. The free monthly plan for Lifeline subscribers also comes with 1GB of data usage.
Life Wireless provides almost a million Lifetime subscribers with a free phone, free minutes, and free data. They allow Lifetime subscribers to add minutes or data online or at their local MoneyGram.
Q Link Wireless
Q Link Wireless services customers in almost 30 states and allows subscribers to bring an existing phone into their Lifeline plan. Users get unlimited texting, 1000 minutes, and up to 3GB of data. Freed domestic roaming, three way calling, and wifi are some of the other perks that subscribers get.
Tag Mobile is a regional Lifeline service provider in 19 states. The company has carved out a solid reputation by offering Lifeline subscribers the chance to sign up in retail locations. They are also proactive about promoting community events to create awareness about the Lifeline assistance program.
True Wireless connects low income families in Arkansas, Rhode Island, Maryland, Texas, and Oklahoma with wireless service. The exact nature of the plans differ from state to state, but in many cases you can only choose phone service or internet service.
Safelink Wireless is the oldest player in the business of Obama Phone. It’s a subsidiary of Tracfone, a name that is pretty much synonymous with subsidized or low cost, pay as you go phone plans. In fact, while Safelink users number around 4 million, there are 20 million tracfone subscribers across the United States.
SafetyNet Wireless offers needy Americans phones through the Lifeline assistance program in a handful of states. Plans vary from state to state, ranging from 350 minutes to 1,000 minutes. The California Lifeline benefit under SafetyNet offers slightly different terms and applications must be submitted in person. In California, low income families can have a household income up to 150% of the federal poverty guideline to qualify for a Lifeline phone.
Bring your own phone into the Lifeline assistance program with StandUp Wireless. They’ll mail you a SIM card and you can activate their telephone service, with at least 1,000 minutes, unlimited texting, and 3GB of data.
Tempo Communications offers home phone and wireless service to low income Americans, which makes it unique as a Lifeline service provider. Having a landline is a little different than having a Lifeline cell phone. It’s more of a Lifeline discount than getting a free Lifeline phone. But as far as the Lifeline benefit goes for cell phones, this Lifeline service provider offers unlimited minutes and texting with 3GB of data in around two dozen states.
Terracom Wireless gives subscribers in almost two dozen states 1,000 minutes of talking and unlimited texting, with up to 3GB of data usage. In certain states, the plan is slightly different in several states. Users in Kansas get 1840 minutes. Nebraska users get 1350 minutes. Tribal users in Oklahoma and Washington get 2,000 minutes.
TruConnect offers service in select Western and Midwestern states like California, Texas, Nevada, Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky talking texting, and up to 3GB of storage, along with unlimited international calls to certain countries. Some users can upgrade their phone to a 5-inch Android model. TruConnect also offers users the chance to upgrade with a hotspot that provides 60 hours of music, viewing of 10,000 web pages, 5 hours of video streaming, and up to 5GB of data storage for a tiered plan of $15-$40.
How Do I Find an Obama Phone Provider Near Me?
The first thing you’ll want to do is check out Lifeline’s official provider search page. All you need to do is input your zip code or your city and state, and Lifeline will populate a list of telecom companies in your state that offer subscribers the chance to participate in the Lifeline Program, along with their business phone numbers and links to their website.
Take advantage of all the information and visit each website so you can shop around and find the best plan for you. Remember that while Obama Phones generally have a 250-minute cap, many of the providers give their users more minutes, along with other perks like texting, international calling, data usage, and discounted broadband internet.
Remember that finding the best Lifeline provider is not just about how to get Obama Phone in your state and who offers the most minutes—it’s also about how you will use your phone. If you have family overseas, for instance, an Obama Phone with free international calling can be a real boon, especially since a regular phone plan with international calling can sometimes be more expensive. For example, at the time of this article, AT&T has an international calling plan that costs $10 daily. A roughly $300 monthly cost would be burdensome for a low-income household. But with the right Obama Phone plan, they can have that benefit for free.
Obama Phone Providers
Low-income households that rely on government assistance programs like SNAP food stamp benefits or Medicaid will want to know: What is Obama Phone? Obama Phone is a subsidized program that provides low-income households with a free phone. The hope for the Obama Phone program is that facilitating better connectivity for low-income Americans will improve their safety and life quality while bridging opportunity gaps.
It is easier to find and retain employment with a phone and/or internet service. It is easier to make emergency phone calls. And it is easier to stay in touch with family and friends. If these benefits sound like something your household would appreciate, it’s time to look into the list of Obama Phone Providers near you.