While Budget Wireless is not counted alongside the “big three” in the world of Lifeline Assistance free cell phone providers (ReachOut, Assurance and Safelink), it probably should be. The company is nationwide, and currently has a presence in 30 states as well as the territory of Puerto Rico. They are currently planning to expand into about a dozen more states. In fact, within a few years, there will probably be less than a handful of states without Budget Wireless service.
Budget Wireless currently serves:
Arizona | Arkansas | Colorado | Georgia | Idaho | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Missouri | Nevada | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Pennsylvania | Puerto Rico | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Texas | Utah | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
Budget has plans for Lifeline Assistance subscribers and non-subscribers, and even the non-subscriber plans are pretty outstanding.
* Free: 250 voice minutes plus 250 text messages.
* $5/month: 350 voice minutes plus unlimited text messages.
* $10/month: 500 voice minutes plus unlimited text messages.
* $20/month: 1000 voice minutes plus unlimited text messages.
* $30/month: Unlimited voice minutes plus unlimited text messages.
Standard (Non-Lifeline) Plans
* $5/month: 100 voice minutes plus 100 text messages.
* $10/month: 250 voice minutes plus 250 text messages.
* $15/month: 350 voice minutes plus unlimited text messages plus 50 MB data.
* $20/month: 500 voice minutes plus unlimited text messages plus 250 MB data.
* $30/month: 100 voice minutes plus unlimited text messages plus 400 MB data.
* $40/month: Unlimited voice minutes plus unlimited text messages plus 500 MB data.
Top Up Minutes
Need more minutes on your Budget plan? You can purchase additional voice minutes in packages ranging from $5 to $15. You also can purchase additional texts, MMS messages, and data.
Do I Qualify?
Budget Wireless is an excellent option even if you do not qualify for Lifeline Assistance. The rates above are some of the lowest you are going to find in the country. If you do qualify for Lifeline Assistance, you can enjoy the super low Lifeline Assistance rates or the free plan. There are two ways to qualify: the income method or the qualifying program test. You only need to qualify via one method or the other, not both.
The Income Test
If you live at or below 135% of the federal poverty level (150% in some states), you qualify for a free government cell phone from Budget Mobile:
Persons in family | household Poverty guideline
1 | $14,580
2 | 19,660
3 | 24,740
4 | 29,820
5 | 34,900
6 | 39,980
7 | 45,060
8 | 50,140
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,080 for each additional person.
You also qualify for a free government cell phone if you are participating in a qualifying aid program (state or federal). The programs vary depending on the state you live in, so you will have to look up your own state to get the full list. Examples of common programs include WIC, TANF, Section 8, SSI, and SNAP (food stamps). Again, you only need to meet one test or the other to qualify.
There are two more qualification requirements for Lifeline Assistance. You need to live at a US street address (P.O. Boxes do not qualify at this time), and you must be the only member of your household applying for Lifeline. Only one Lifeline phone is allowed per household under the current rules.
Budget Mobile is not as famous as Safelink, ReachOut or Assurance, but they are every bit as large, and provide service to customers in 30 states. They are quickly expanding and adding states, and in a few years, it is likely they will cover almost the entire country. Both their Lifeline and non-Lifeline plans are very cheap, so even if you do not qualify for Lifeline Assistance, you may want to sign up with Budget Wireless if they operate in your area.
If you found your state in the list above, have a look at the company’s website and see if you find their free or cheap mobile service compelling. You can sign up on the company’s website and submit your application and verification documents electronically to prove that you qualify.