Best cell phone plans for low income earners

Making ends meet can be tough in today’s economy in the United States. You can’t do without the basics – and today that means having a smartphone that keeps you connected to jobs and potential employers, your support network, and anyone you can network with to increase your income.

There are several attractive cell phone plans for low income earners, but before we go over them, you’ll want to learn about an important government-sponsored program called Lifeline.

What is Lifeline and How Can You Get a Cell Phone Plan With It?

Supported by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), Lifeline is a government program that subsidizes cell phone plans for eligible low income earners.

To qualify for Lifeline, you must make a rate at least 135% below the federal poverty guidelines and / or participate in assistance programs like Medicaid, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), SSI (Supplemental Security Income), and FHA (Federal Housing Assistance). If you live on tribal land and / or also receive tribal assistance and benefits, you may also qualify for Lifeline.

Do you think you can qualify? Head to the FCC’s site to learn more about the application process.

Lifeline Plans From National Cell Phone Service Providers

Individual cell phone service providers send you to the FCC to qualify for Lifeline, but each lists different requirements and reminds you that state provided benefits are different everywhere. Here are some links to get you started in comparing Lifeline plans for low income earners from the major service providers in the United States:

  • T-Mobile’s Lifeline Plans
  • Verizon’s Discounted Wireless Lifeline Plans
  • Assurance Wireless Lifeline Service (Virgin Mobile)
  • AT&T Lifeline

What If You Don’t Qualify for Lifeline?

Even if you’re a low income earner, you might not qualify for the FCC’s Lifeline program. In addition to inquiring about similar state-run programs, you can check out plans from the following companies:

  • Straight Talk Wireless: With Straight Talk, you can bring your own phone to the plan and get some unlimited services for as little as $30/month.
  • Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk: How’s $40 per month sound? For that amount, you can get unlimited text and data as well as 300 minutes per month.
  • Ting: Careful about managing your minutes and data? If you’re good at budgeting your usage, Ting could be right for you – and it could cost you less than $30 per month.

Being a low income earner doesn’t have to disqualify you from quality smartphone service. If you find yourself stuck with your existing plan, most major carriers are happy to work out a payment plan to help you catch up or keep current on your bills. Communicate with them and you may be surprised about what they’ll do to help.

Did you know that you can also negotiate a lower rate with your cell phone company? Ask them to audit your plan and eliminate any services or add-ons you don’t need (you’d be surprised at what sneaks in there). For example, you can save money by receiving your bill electronically from some providers.

Best of luck in finding a cell phone service that works for you! Don’t forget to shop around and compare pricing. In additions to finding the right low cost cell phone plan, there are also services that provide free cell phones. Learn more about accessing subsidized or free cell phones here.