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In filling out one of those endless surveys online the other day (don't take them, they truly are endless), one interesting thing came out of it. A window popped up advertising a federal program offering completely FREE cell phones and service.
I thought it was a scam at first, but after much curious research, including a call to a county office, I discovered this is for real! It is Q Link Wireless, the link is below. Or, you can call them toll free at 1-855-754-6543.
I looked up the qualifications and you must either meet federal monthly income guidelines or participate in any of the following programs: Medicaid, Temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), Food stamps/Supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), Federal housing/Section 8 assistance, Supplemental security income (SSI), Low income energy assistance program (LIHEAP), National school lunch program.
What a blessing for those who cannot afford a phone, or who would benefit greatly from an additional one. I just thought everyone should know this is available.
Source: internet surfing
I have heard about these but did not know that a person on social security would be eligible. Thanks for the info!
Ok. How many remember the TV show "Laugh In" from the late 60s - early 70s? The title of my tip originated from that show. I have a small cell phone. It's not a smart one, but it's fine for what I need it for. Anyway, my husband had purchased me a nice $15 case for it and I had the case for several years. Then I lost it and I would not spend another $15 to get a replacement case. Instead, I bought a pair of toddler socks. The phone fits perfectly down inside the sock and is easy to see in my purse. It protects my phone and serves its purpose. The added plus is I have a "spare case" if I should lose the sock. So "Sock It To Me."
Ha, ha! I DO remember Laugh In! I haven't heard the phrase "sock it to me" in a long time! This is a cute idea, and very clever. You got my vote! Alternatively, if you're a crocheter (or knitter), you can make your own case from scrap yarn, which I did for my little cell phone.
Cell phones are many times free to anyone receiving any kind of assistance: Lower income families, SSI, food stamps, Medicaid. I believe this service is available in many states in the US. Check the link below or Google - Free phones.
Also, many land-line companies offer a reduced rate for people in these programs. You have to ask about this as they will not volunteer this information.
What do you need? Cell phone or land line? Or both? Things to consider:
Here is one link that has some phone services described:
The editors may have removed the word 'Free' from the title. That does not alter certain facts. In my case and in the case of a multitude of others, those facts are:
I was in the work force for fifty years. I was placed in the highest tax bracket of all. All those years, I paid far more than my fair share of taxes. For a period of time, I worked two jobs just to try to keep up. I was taxed so heavily, it was costing me more than the extra job was paying. I had to give up the second job.
I have what is called a 'government phone'. Regardless of the omission from the title, my phone is free in the sense that it was given to me for free and the 500 minutes I'm allowed per month cost me nothing.
It is not free in the sense that I have paid in over fifty years of more than my share of taxes. Fifty years of taxes that went into the same pool as the taxes of those who think I don't deserve this small government sponsored gratuity.
And what about all the people who work for the companies commissioned by the government to provide these phones and services? They keep many people gainfully employed, people who pay taxes, too.
If you are genuinely concerned about people freeloading off the government, know that there are many areas far more serious than these free phones. When free housing, free food and free medical care are given to those who have never paid a penny of taxes, nor has any of their relatives; a free phone to a little old lady who must decide whether her money goes for food or medicine or fuel to keep warm, is a very trivial matter.
Get wise, Lisa.
If you are out on the water, particularly in smaller vessels such as jet skis, canoes, kayaks, etc., take note of the following tip. Place your cell phone inside a drink cozy and then place inside a plastic zip top bag.
You can get a cell phone for absolutely nothing. It is for low income people, every month you get 80 free minutes.There is no catch, no hidden charges. If you lose the phone, they will send you another one for free. I just got my replacement phone.
I dropped my monthly cellphone charges by getting a 20 dollar cellphone.
I recently noticed an ad for a free Verizon smart phone and was about to upgrade two of my family's older technology smart phones when my son pointed out to me that in doing so, I was giving up my unlimited data plan.
Did you ever notice that a cell phone plan/contract is 2 years and the phone only works for a year? Instead of spending a ton of money to buy a new phone, buy a Go phone (prepaid phone) for $15-$20. DO NOT have it activated.
Tips for saving money on cellphones as suggested by the ThriftyFun community. The main thing you have to be careful of with a cellphone company is whether or not you'll have good coverage.
Looking for ways to lower cell phone bills? I have a generous Data Plan but my kids kept going over the megabytes allowed and increasing my payments. Since the text message plan we have is unlimited, my kids now mostly text message instead of BBM, lowering my costs.
If you are on a cell phone plan that offers Family and Friends calls, update your list before taking a trip. Family and Friends phone numbers are the same as mobile to mobile and there is not a charge for the call. This list updates within 24 hours.
I have a cell phone that I use for business purposes and have an unlimited plan that is very expensive. I have found out through my service provider (Verizon) that they offer a favorite five like another company.
I left my cell phone in my car for 2 hours with the heat index down here in the Rio Grande Valley being 110. When I picked it up, it was DEAD. No way to turn it on, or to charge it.
To save cell phone minutes, do as much online as you can. You can pay bills, contact companies, and email.
I receive 19% off my cellphone bill, each month, for being an educator. My husband and I also switched to the family plan. Contact your provider and they will give any information you need.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
What is the most economical cell phone plan for a light user with no texting?
By Flowery Trail from Chewelah, WA
I too cannot recommend TracFone enough either. No plans, no costs other than my time that I buy every few weeks (and it rolls over)... I have used TracFone for several years now and every few years I buy a new phone for 19.95 and have my number and minutes transferred over (Very easily!) and have never regretted giving up the "fancy" companies. Also, TracFone has sent me free phone replacements before due to certain features no longer being in use in my area, so I've been more than happy with TracFone.
I have an Alltel (now Verizon) prepaid phone, and it's great. $7.50 a month, and even though you don't use texting, it's included. (Though I'd recommend using Google SMS with your text feature...you can get the weather and all sorts of info via text when you're on the go.)
If you go to a place like Wal-Mart or Target, they have lots of phones with cheap plans. Tracfone isn't the only one; I switched from Tracfone to Alltel/Verizon, and I like this a lot better.
(Plus, if you buy a Tracfone, it could be a refurbished phone, esp. if you buy it from their website--so beware.)
I need a cell phone with minimum features and a low monthly service fee. I just want to make and receive calls, maybe a couple of times daily. Please recommend a phone model and service provider.
By Ed from DC
I recommend Tracfone. No monthly fee at all. All you need to do is buy the phone which you may likely find in Walmart, Big Lots, Dollar General, or Walgreens. The features on phones vary, but the last one I bought only has text and talk and cost about $5.00, but I have seen more fully featured phones for around $20.00. After you select your phone, pick up a Tracfone phone card. The cost of these varies depending on how many minutes you want to buy. The cheapest is 60 minutes ($19.99). I am not sure what the most expensive is. I have had my tracfone for over a year. Instructions come with the phone to get it set up, but you don't even have to talk to a person to get it charged and set up. It's all automated. I like knowing that there is NO bill. When my minutes are up (which is about every six to eight weeks for me), then I just get another minutes card.
I use Boost cell phone for mostly emergency in my car, since I use the plan for paying $10 or more for every 3 months, and all of the gas stations by me will load my cell for me, and only a nominal charge for doing that. Since I hardly ever use it, and since I do have to pay $10 or more every 3 months, I keep getting more accrued, but, it has helped me before when electricity was out for a couple of days, and my cell phone was very handy then also.
I want to have a cell phone for my home, no texting, just a basic cell phone. Any ideas? I had Triple Play with Comcast and after my contract expired my monthly rate went up about 70% so I dropped phone service. Now I'm trying to find a very basic, cheap cell phone plan to replace my land line.
By Comcast Hater
The first thing you need to do is make sure there is adequate reception in your area. I say this because we want to do the same thing but where we live reception is hit or miss, mostly miss. So we are waiting till we move (which we have been planning for several years now anyway).
Also, there may be only one company that has good reception in your area. Check that out with your neighbors.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area where you have good reception I'd say go for it. I know people (that dont' live in my area) that have done that and are very happy with it.
I'm probably one of the few people who doesn't have a cell phone. We used Vonage for awhile through our computer but quickly realized if we lost power we also lost our phone.
For one week after April 27th, 2011 all of Alabama had no power for 5 days.
All my neighbors cell phones were useless because of all the cell towers were damaged.
They also had no way to recharge their Cell Phones and the lines at all the gas stations, if they were even opened were very, very long. In many cases it was hard to even recharge their phones while they wasted gas, running their cars.
Our house line was still working and basically our house became the call center for the entire neighborhood.
Where can I get a free or cheap cellphone?
I have a track phone because I really just need it for emergencies. I got it on sale to begin with and have hardly used any minutes so it works for me. It used to be with a tracphone that you had to use up your minutes by a certain time or you would lose them but not so now.
Because I am very low income and disabled I was approved for a free Safelink phone and free minutes per month. I use it for emergencies or if I am away from home and need to call someone. I chose the 125 minutes a month plan because those minutes roll over so I have been able to collect some extra minutes to have on hand for when I am emergency hospitalized and would need to make long distance calls to family and friends.
You can choose 250 minutes but they do not roll over if you don't use them all during the month. If you need more minutes than the 250 you can purchase more for a very reasonable price. Go to this link and apply. If you aren't accepted for the free phone and service they still have a really good deal for a phone and for minutes. There are different rules for free phone and service approval so you might qualify. It's a completely secure site so don't be afraid to give them the personal info they will ask you.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
My husband has started a new job. I need to pick him up everyday from the job sites so he needs a cell phone to call when ready. I got on a couple of sites and all the plans started at like 39.99, can anyone recommend a company that has cheap, basic plans for less? Would it be better to go with a plan or a prepaid? I also have tons of old cell phones just laying around, so if I could use one of them it would be great.
Natalie from Utah
Get a tracfone. You get 800 minutes a year for $100. (07/24/2008)
We have Verizon and get our home phone with unlimited long distance and a cell with (I think) about 400 minutes (we use usually 18 min/mo.) and they cost us $31.00 all together. You can go to Verizon.com and find out all the plans. Also, we have free (no minutes used) when we use our cell to call other Verizon people. Good for kids who are away and mother wants to check often. (07/24/2008)
I second the comment about the Tracfone. I just bought a phone for $40 and it has a promotion that doubles all the minutes for the life of the phone. You can also do a search for Tracfone codes that give you bonus minutes when you add minutes to your phone. For less than $20, I added 200 minutes that will last until December, and will carry over as long as I add minutes before then. (07/25/2008)
I use Net10. It's the sister company to Tracfone. It's all prepaid minutes and so easy to use. If your minutes get low, buy another card, go online to add minutes or add them from your Net10 phone.
You can get the phones at places like Walmart, Dollar stores, or on the Net10 website.
I add minutes every 60 days and it costs me $30. So I'm using their basic prepaid plan = 300 minutes, 60 days, $30. 10 cents a minute.
It couldn't be any easier and it's great area coverage and I can talk anytime, anywhere to anyone. (07/25/2008)
I agree Tracfone is a good option for what you described, but ask around about which company is their carrier in your locality. I used one for years with great results, until they changed carriers and I had nothing, but dropped calls and had to quit using them. (07/26/2008)
I'm using a T-mobile prepaid phone. The minutes are cheaper than the tracphone, you can get as many minutes as you need. I buy a 1,000 minutes for $100.00 and it is good for
1 year. Otherwise, your minutes will be deleted every three months if you don't use them. I don't use many minutes, but this way I have lots of time to use them up. I have been able to use it most anywhere.
I have had an STi phone for several years and have used it all over America including Hawaii. It costs .10 a day plus .10 a minute. Since I only use it when needed to change a meeting, etc, or on vacation, it costs me $3 to $5 a month. I got the phone with a total rebate, but now you have to pay a little for the phone. You can buy them at Staples or at cheapphonecards.com.
You can buy the cards to add minutes at cheapphonecards.com, there is a 3% discount and no tax. You can buy $10, $25, or $50 at a time.
On TMobile you have to buy $100 worth to get the .10 a minute rate. I know some others have .10 a minute, but on most the minutes expire and you really can't use the phone for less than $9 a month. I've never seen anything cheaper than this STi. (07/26/2008)
I saw a print ad for a phone called the Jitterbug. They claim to have plans for as low as 10.00 per month. (08/03/2008)
I recommend Net-10. You can get a basic phone starting as low as $19.99 and it comes with 300 minutes and 60 days of service upon activation. Also, super simple to buy additional minutes on-line. (07/16/2009)
Not a decade later, I found myself in a cellphone store (late nineties) and purchasing one with a plan. Even then, not everyone had a cellphone so our costs were really low. We used them mostly to contact each other (my partner and I) if we were meeting up somewhere or plans changed. It was very convenient but we didn't live by them. I think sometimes we forgot we even had one. And text messaging wasn't what it is now, most people didn't text back then.
Then fast-forward another decade. I don't know anyone who doesn't own a cellphone. Even friends of mine who swore 5 years ago that they'd never get one, have one. It has become commonplace. Many of my friends who live in apartments don't have a LAN line and just use their cell as their home phone.
On one hand, I like the convenience but on the other hand I really hate them. I don't spend a lot of money on mine but many of my younger friends are constantly glued to their phones, especially since Blackberries and IPhones came out. It seems as though I can't have a coffee, dinner or even a nice day out with someone without them having to text or call someone or even taking a call.
Please consider shutting your phone off when spending time with friends and/or family. I love going to Holland since many restaurants there have a no-cell usage sign on their door. I am then guaranteed quality time with whoever I am with as I know their cellphone won't be dining with us.
All this being said, we are obviously using our cell a lot more than before which means our costs are probably a lot higher as well. So how do we cut costs? Have you ever received a ridiculously high cellphone bill? Are you on a budget and still spending $100 a month on it? Here are a few things you can do. Look at your bill, figure out when and who you call and pick a plan that is appropriate for your life. Believe it or not, some companies have plans that they don't advertise so it's a good idea to call, tell them what your needs are and find out if they have any suggestions. They are trained to do this and will look at your bill for you to determine what's best for you. Don't let them talk you into something you don't need though. Make a point of saying that you want to stay with that company but that you need to reduce your costs. The nice thing about Pay as You Go is that all services are included and you won't run up a bill. It's like being on a cellphone diet. Some people I know hated it because it limited their usage but that's the whole point. Do you really need to text your friend to say that there is a good sale on at the clothing store or that you ran into an old friend? My mother does the same thing when she goes to Spain for a month every year. She has a Spanish pay as you go and just gets a card when she arrives. The nice thing about European cellphones is that all incoming calls are free, so even if we have run out of minutes on our card, his parents can still call us on it. It might cost you 30 euros to get a cheap phone and card but that's a lot cheaper than paying roaming charges. If I am only going out of the country for a few days, I just turn off my cellphone and don't use it at all and use payphones or my laptop to send emails. Cellphone usage has become a scary addiction, I really wish most people I knew would go on a cellphone diet because it has not enhanced my friendships at all, if anything I feel as if it has made them less personal. I always feel less important than their cellphone. We have this obsessive need to be connected to everything and everyone at all times. I don't think it's healthy. Although I do find them useful, I do think it's time for most people to reevaluate their usage. Not only to save money but to enhance personal connections. Good luck! Source: Written by me and taken from my blog: By freya1970 from Halifax, NS I have a 10 dollar a month, no contract deal with Consumer Cellular. It costs me 25 cents a minute for usage. I don't text and I don't give out my number. It is strictly for emergencies. It stays turned off most of the time. I use my house phone for yapping. My cell bill never goes above 14 dollars a month. It was only 20 when I was using it when my new grandson was born. When Ike hit Houston I ran up a 30 dollar bill because my cordless phones didn't work without electricity. For the most part this plan works great for me as an old person. This company also has a selection of free phones available.
Change Your Plan As Your Life Changes Cellphone companies have plans depending on our usage. Sometimes one plan is good for a while but then life changes and that plan no longer works. I used to have a 5-faves plan when my friends lived in the city. These are people I would call on a regular basis and I didn't call others as much. So I could text, call and receive calls from these people constantly and it wouldn't cost me a dime. Everyone moved away so I had no use for this anymore. I changed my plan and am now saving $20 a month.
Get Pay As You Go A lot of people won't like me for suggesting this, but it's the only way to closely monitor your usage. I knew a lady who bought a $15 card monthly for her phone. Once it ran out, she didn't buy another one till the month was up. This was her way of monitoring her costs. She then realized when she really needed it and when she just wanted to use it.
Don't Bring Your Cell When Traveling Overseas. Unless you are there for work and your cell is paid for, leave it at home! The roaming costs are ridiculous overseas. When we visit my partners parents in Holland, we have a Dutch Pay as you Go (we have a used one his mom gave us) and get a card for it.
Get Work To Pay Part Of Your Bill If you have a personal cell but find that you are using it for work sometimes, talk to your employer and find out if you can expense some of your usage. I know a friend who used to do this and part of his bill was paid for by his company. If they refuse to pay, tell them that you can no longer afford to take work calls on your cellphone, they might change their minds.
Get A Basic Phone With No Bells And Whistles. Most of my friends are serious tech geeks so telling them to get rid of their Iphones or Blackberries is nearly impossible. Myself, I have a basic phone with no data plan, I can just call and text, that's it. It's not very exciting looking but it does the job. I can text easily and it works perfectly. There is no need to get the latest gadget to keep up with the Jones'. I got my cell company to block the internet portion of it so I wouldn't use it. My bill is less than $30 a month right now and believe it or not I am still trying to find ways to reduce it.
Send Text Messages Online. There are a number of free text messaging services online such as freetxt.com or freetxt.ca. You can also text message from the cell providers website. I have done this before when I didn't have a text plan way back when. Texting your friend's cell from your computer will save you money. Some people have their cellphones set up with MSN so you can text someone's cellphone if they are not online and it goes right to their cellphone.
Look at your bill, figure out when and who you call and pick a plan that is appropriate for your life. Believe it or not, some companies have plans that they don't advertise so it's a good idea to call, tell them what your needs are and find out if they have any suggestions. They are trained to do this and will look at your bill for you to determine what's best for you. Don't let them talk you into something you don't need though. Make a point of saying that you want to stay with that company but that you need to reduce your costs.
The nice thing about Pay as You Go is that all services are included and you won't run up a bill. It's like being on a cellphone diet. Some people I know hated it because it limited their usage but that's the whole point. Do you really need to text your friend to say that there is a good sale on at the clothing store or that you ran into an old friend?
My mother does the same thing when she goes to Spain for a month every year. She has a Spanish pay as you go and just gets a card when she arrives. The nice thing about European cellphones is that all incoming calls are free, so even if we have run out of minutes on our card, his parents can still call us on it. It might cost you 30 euros to get a cheap phone and card but that's a lot cheaper than paying roaming charges. If I am only going out of the country for a few days, I just turn off my cellphone and don't use it at all and use payphones or my laptop to send emails.
Cellphone usage has become a scary addiction, I really wish most people I knew would go on a cellphone diet because it has not enhanced my friendships at all, if anything I feel as if it has made them less personal. I always feel less important than their cellphone. We have this obsessive need to be connected to everything and everyone at all times. I don't think it's healthy. Although I do find them useful, I do think it's time for most people to reevaluate their usage. Not only to save money but to enhance personal connections.
Source: Written by me and taken from my blog:
By freya1970 from Halifax, NS
I have a 10 dollar a month, no contract deal with Consumer Cellular. It costs me 25 cents a minute for usage. I don't text and I don't give out my number. It is strictly for emergencies. It stays turned off most of the time. I use my house phone for yapping. My cell bill never goes above 14 dollars a month. It was only 20 when I was using it when my new grandson was born. When Ike hit Houston I ran up a 30 dollar bill because my cordless phones didn't work without electricity. For the most part this plan works great for me as an old person. This company also has a selection of free phones available.