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If you’ve seen ads for TruConnect’s free phones and free cell service, the offer may seem a little too good to be true. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not so much that it’s not true. It’s just extremely nuanced.
TruConnect provides its free services through select government programs. If you qualify for these programs, the offer is legit and built for you. If you don’t qualify, it’s not really a service provider worth exploring.
Even if you qualify for these services, though, you’re going to want to make sure it’s a good match for your individual circumstances. Depending on how much data you use and whether or not you want cheap-to-free broadband services in your home, TruConnect could be a good match. But, you also may want to explore their competition.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a free iPhone, TruConnect isn’t it. The free phone is always an Android.
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How does TruConnect work?
TruConnect is a service provider that works with certain government programs. If you qualify for free cell phone service through Lifeline or discounted internet services through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), TruConnect might be one of your options.
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The Lifeline program provides lower-income people with free cell phone service.
You might have heard people refer to “Obama phones.” While it was born as a term of endearment, this colloquial term is a misnomer: Lifeline pre-dated the Obama administration by decades. Eventually, opponents of the former president started using the term in problematic ways, because the program did expand under his presidency as more and more people started needing cell service rather than landline service.
Whether they’re using the term affectionately or degradingly, when people refer to “Obama phones” they’re actually referring to the Lifeline program. If you’re lower-income, Lifeline provides you with free cell phone service and, in some instances, a free cell phone.
You can see if you qualify for the Lifeline program here. Also, you can find out who provides Lifeline services in your area here. TruConnect might be one of the providers, or they might not. It depends entirely on where you live.
TIP: You can explore TruConnect’s service areas here. Just keep in mind that just because TruConnect isn’t available in your area, that doesn’t mean that the Lifeline program is not available. You’ll just need to go through another provider.
The Affordable Connectivity Program helps pay for household internet based on qualifying income.
The primary purpose of the ACP is to help specific populations pay for their internet bill. You can qualify based on income, but if you’re enrolled in certain government programs that don’t weigh your income as heavily, you might qualify even if you pull in a salary beyond typical eligibility limits. That said, if you qualify for Lifeline, odds are ridiculously high that you qualify for the ACP. The reverse isn’t always true, though.
The big sell of the ACP is that you can save either $30 or $75 on your monthly internet bill determined by where you live. Depending on your income and internet service provider, you can also get a voucher to reduce the cost of devices like a desktop, laptop, or tablet. The ACP does not provide cell phones or data coverage.
But TruConnect does use ACP eligibility as a qualifier for specific plans. If you do qualify for the ACP, TruConnect will give you the following bonuses:
- Unlimited data (you only get 4.5GB/month if you’re solely enrolled in Lifeline)
- A tablet for just $10.01
- 2 months of a free Amazon Prime subscription
If you are enrolled in these programs, be sure to claim your discounted Amazon Prime membership rate before your two-month free trial is over. It can save you over 50% on your subscription every month.
TIP: If you do want to apply for Lifeline and the ACP, you can do it separately through government websites, but you don’t have to. TruConnect will enroll you as a part of the application process.
In terms of free phones offered, TruConnect typically provides an Android.
If you want a free phone, TruConnect usually hooks you up with an Android. Currently, the offer is for a Cloud Mobile Stratus C7. If you’re willing to pay for a better phone, you do have options, but it’s not going to be free.
The $10 tablet TruConnect offers is a Cloud Mobile Sunshine Elite.
A tablet for $10 bucks is a pretty sweet deal, regardless of brand. If you’re enrolled in both Lifeline and the ACP, TruConnect will give you a Cloud Mobile Sunshine Elite tablet for just $10.01.
What carrier is TruConnect through?
TruConnect doesn’t provide free Wi-Fi.
This is the tricky thing. TruConnect will give you unlimited data so you can access the internet as long as you’re within the service area. But you won’t be getting broadband hooked up to your home. So no free wi-fi, though in theory your phone and tablet should be able to connect to open wifi at places like Starbucks, etc.
If you do want free broadband services, you might not want to claim the ACP through TruConnect. If you claim the ACP through a broadband or FiOS internet provider, most will still provide you with a super cheap tablet (or maybe even a desktop or laptop). Plus, your home will be connected.
Then, you can get the free TruConnect cell phone service through the Lifeline program. This will reduce your package — no free Prime trial and there will be a cap on your data (4.5GB/month).