Although it is not a prepaid cell phone plan, I believe ReachOut Wireless deserves a post on this blog. ReachOut Wireless provides free cell phones and cell phone service to those who qualify. There is no contract, no credit check or monthly billing. ReachOut Wireless is a government assisted cell phone program.
ReachOut Wireless Lifeline Plan
Falling under the Lifeline government program (just like Assurance Wireless) , ReachOut offers deeply discounted or free cell phone service to low income individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford telephone service. Once approved for this service, your phone cannot be deactivated as long as you are a member of the program.
As mentioned earlier, there are no contracts, monthly billing, activation fees or credit checks but you do have to qualify for the program. If you are currently enrolled in any of the government assistant programs listed below, there is a good chance that you qualify for the LifeLine service:
If you currently receive:
- Food stamps
- Low Income Health Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Section 8 or Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- or National School Free Lunch Program
The one caveat however is that if someone in your household is currently enrolled in an existing lifeline program you may not participate in the ReachOut Wireless program. You have the choice of either canceling the other program and enrolling in the ReachOut program or keeping the old plan, but your household cannot participate in two Lifeline programs.
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The Application Process
You can apply online by visiting their enrollment page or call the toll-free number (is 1-877-870-9444) and speak to one of their representatives. If you don’t want to sign up online or call a representative, you can download and print the application, fill it out and return it to them via FAX, email or via snail mail. ReachOut Wireless is not available in all states.
Purchasing Additional Phone Time
The plan offers three talk time plans.
- 50 talk minutes 50 texts
- 125 talk minutes or
- 250 talk minutes (250 minutes do not roll over – they are replenished monthly).
If the above plans do not offer enough talk time for your household, you can purchase additional minutes by visiting the ReachOut website and buying air time cards. The cards cost as little as $3 for an additional 20 minutes of air time up to $52.95 for a 1,000 minutes of air time.
Once you buy air time it is automatically added to your phone. You don’t have to activate the additional air time. If you don’t want to purchase phone time online using your credit, debit or PayPal account, you can buy time in person at any Emida, Money Gram or Western Union location.
Purchased airtime never expires. Therefore, if you buy 20 minutes today and don’t use your phone for six months, your 20 minutes will be ready to use six months from now as long as you’re still in the program.
If you wish to continue using the ReachOut wireless plan, there is a possibility that you may have to recertify at the end of the year. Not all customers are required to recertify but the program requires ReachOut Wireless to request a random sampling of customers in each state to recertify.
If you do receive a text message asking you to recertify, you must do so within 30 days of receiving the notification.