Assurance Wireless provides free cellular phones to certain low-income customers under the federal Lifeline Assistance program. The exact criteria to qualify for the program varies by state, but individuals are generally eligible if they receive some other form of public assistance or have household income below a certain level.
Some states require individuals to be on a public assistance program, such as Medicaid or SNAP, to qualify, while others simply base eligibility on household income.
Qualified applicants who have not already received a phone through the program from another source are eligible for a free phone from Assurance Wireless. The exact model of phone may vary and is very unlikely to be a smartphone. Service is provided by Virgin Mobile, and the actual device is usually one of their prepaid phone models.
Recipients of Lifeline Assistance phones through Assurance Wireless also get 500 free minutes for the first four months of service and 250 free minutes for any further months. Text messages are free and unlimited each month.
As of March 2015, Assurance Wireless makes these phones available in 42 states. Some of the states that are not serviced by Assurance Wireless include Hawaii, Alaska, Montana and Vermont. Other Lifeline Assistance providers are available in these states, however.