Access Wireless Free Cell Phone Service!
Access Wireless is one of a continually growing number of LifeLine
offers free cell phone service to qualifying households.
to how Assurance Wireless is a Virgin Mobile Lifeline program, and
SafeLink is a TracFone Lifeline program, Access is an i-wireless
operated program that launched in 2011. I-wireless itself is
MVNO on the Sprint network.
As these programs expand, I wonder why there needs to be so many
providers. Their offers can vary, but generally speaking a
handful of carriers could ultimately cover the entire country, and they
don't compete with one another at the same level as regular paid
cellular services. That's not to say that they don't compete
one another, because they absolutely do. However, I'm not not
sure how far they can really go, and they start looking very similar
from a customer perspective.
Interestingly, in April 2016, Sprint announced that it would be selling
off Assurance Wireless to i-wireless, which would continue its Lifeline
program under the Access Wireless brand. Although Sprint
retained 70% ownership, it would be run and managed by i-wireless.
This is really a function of Sprint's strategy to simplify
its business, and focus on its core contract services, despite the fact
that Assurance was a much larger program than Access was.
These programs also start to make me wonder about the efficiency of the
approvals, audits, and other functions of these free cell phone
services. I suppose these activities can be seen as job
That said, ultimately the more providers of free cell phones,
more options for potential customers, which in turn translates into
better, more feature rich options. So with that in mind,
some additional information about Access Wireless:
Who Is Eligible?
Eligibility is basically the same as most of the other services, and
includes people participating in the following programs. Note
that even if you're not using any of these services, low household
income alone can also be a qualifier. What defines low income
varies by state.
What Wireless Services Are Included?
- Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- National Free School Lunch
- Federal Housing/Section 8 Assistance
- Free phone
- 250 minutes & unlimited text messages (plus free
incoming texts and
carry forward minutes)
- Ability to add more voice minutes and text messages with
add-on bundles ($10, $25, $35, and $50 options)
- Local and long distance calls are included
- No contract, startup fees, or surcharges
Where Can I Get Access Wireless?
- Access Wireless also offers Monthly
however, with the spirit of this program being for those people needing
free service, I won't go into these plan details. I suppose
you become disqualified from the program, you can use the same phone on
a paid plan, which is good to know.
- What's included in the plan can vary by state.
For example, in California, you get 1,000 minutes, unlimited
text messages, AND 200MB of data on a smartphone.
The program is available in certain states. As
are constantly changing (i.e. they're continually adding more!),
checking their website is the best approach: www.accesswireless.com
You can apply by visiting their website and printing out an
application, or by calling 1-888-900-5899 (their old number also still
Can I Get A Better Phone?!
If you don't like the phone they provide you for free, you
any i-wireless feature phone or smartphone and transfer your Access
Wireless service to that phone. I like the clarity here.
Most of the other programs don't make this point very clear.
For example, Assurance Wireless initially only allowed
Virgin Mobile phones to be used, which continues to be a source of
What Else Should I Know About Access Wireless?
- As this is an i-wireless program, you can add money (for
additional voice minutes, text messages, or other services) by
redeeming i-wireless airtime cards, which can be convenient for those
who can't, or don't want to use a credit card on their website or on
the phone itself.
- As with all other Lifeline programs, you'll need to
each year, so be on the lookout for the renewal application form, and
if you don't receive it, I recommend proactively reaching out to them
BEFORE your year is up to ensure that you don't lose service.
You can also re-certify from within your account on their
- If you don't "routinely" use your phone, you could become
disqualified. They don't, however, clearly define what
"routinely" means. If you're using it monthly, you should be
fine. If you go for a number of months without using it,
certainly be at risk of being disqualified.
- Your monthly minutes are automatically added to your phone
month; there's nothing special for you to do other than to ensure that
your phone is powered on. If for some reason you have a
give them a call.
- Similar to regular i-wireless customers, you can also
in their free minutes rewards program at the Kroger family of stores.