5 Cellphone Service Plans for People With Low Incomes
Budget Mobile specializes in offering Lifeline phone service to low-income customers. To qualify, customers must meet federal requirements for income and household size. Budget Mobile services include a free cellphone and unlimited text and voice service.
Verizon Wireless offers Lifeline assistance to low-income customers in the form of steeply discounted home and cellphone accounts. As of 2015, the Verizon Wireless Lifeline plan for cellphones costs $24.74 a month, and the one-time activation fee of $35 may be waived for Native American customers with tribal affiliations.
AT&T splits its Lifeline service between two plans. The regular Lifeline plan provides basic talk and text services but allows customers to add extra features at additional cost. Enhanced Lifeline plans are available to low-income customers who live on federally recognized tribal land.
T-Mobile discounts its basic service plan for customers who meet the Lifeline program's eligibility requirements. Discounts for regular customers can be as high as $13.50 a month, and tribal customers have the option of receiving phone service for as little as $1 a month.
ReachOut Wireless, which is a cellphone provider affiliated with Nexus Communications, offers Lifeline home and cellphone service to low-income customers. The program restricts members to one Lifeline plan per household, although recipients have the option of choosing between mobile and landline services. The company is also an authorized vendor for Lifeline broadband access, which provides discount Internet access to people and families who qualify for the regular Lifeline phone service.
Low-income families sometimes need help to establish or maintain cellphone service. The federal government offers the Lifeline service, which subsidizes phone service so that members of qualifying households can look for work, reach out to emergency services and carry out personal business without borrowing others' phones. The program is administered by individual carriers, each of which offers its own range of plans. To take advantage of low-income phone service, applicants must meet basic income and asset requirements, as well as adhere to program guidelines to remain enrolled.
It can be difficult for low-income families to get access to the phone service they need for handling normal, day-to-day business. The federal government addresses this problem by subsidizing private companies in an effort to encourage them to expand coverage and aid people who would not otherwise be able to afford their services. Although plans vary, the requirements for each plan closely follow the government's guidelines for program eligibility and continued enrollment. As a result of the diversity of these plans, low-income and needy households have a variety of choices that conform to their individual needs.