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Free Cell Phone, Minutes and Texts for Low-Income Families in NM and USA

Flip phone for families
Flip phone for families
Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

If your family receives Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, WIC or is enrolled in other assistance programs, you are likely eligible for a free cell phone with free limited minutes and text messages every month. These are not fancy smartphones nor do they have any extra features such as a camera or games. They are standard phones that can only make and receive phone calls and text messages. This is a great service for those who cannot afford a phone but could benefit from having a telephone for personal, work or emergency reasons. The first thing you'll want to do is gather proof that you are enrolled in one of the above mentioned assistance programs as well as any proof of income. Next, you'll be turning this in, along with any other required documentation to one of the free cell phone programs below. Be sure to visit the site and read any policies and procedures that are required of you as a participant in the programs, such as abiding by the rule of only one free phone per household.

Safelink wireless gives recipients 500 minutes for the first three months of service, followed by 1,000 texts and 250 minutes for talk every month. Safelink has a handy application that you fill out and submit online. You will need access to a scanner to be able to upload your documents of proof to the website. Enter your zipcode and follow instructions to apply online. You may also print an application to send via email after you enter your zipcode.

The Lifeline Program for Low-Income Customers offers free cell phone with minutes to families at or below 135% of the federal poverty line or be enrolled in eligible assistance programs. Applications vary by state and for New Mexicans, they ask that you call your local telephone company.

Assurance Wireless is part of the federal Lifeline Assistance Program. It's likely that if you call the local phone company about Lifeline that they'll direct you to Assurance Wireless. You can access their application on their website which you can fill out and either fax or mail in, along with required proof of income. There is also an option to apply online but then you must send in your proof separately. Participants receive 250 free minutes and 250 free texts each month with an option to pay a little extra to load more minutes and texts onto your phone. The phone typically arrives in 2-3 weeks.