10+ Best Carriers with Free eSIM service for iPhone XS

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission. Thanks.

When was the last time you changed your phone provider? The best way to find the perfect phone service for your needs is to switch between the carriers in your area. And now with the free eSIM service for iPhone, it’s so easy to do this.

Well, eSIM is the latest SIM design for cell phones and the new best thing in cellular technology. It’s not compatible with many Android devices, unfortunately. But as an Apple fan, you can now access the feature on dozens of carriers, some even for Free.

What is eSIM?

eSIM or “embedded SIM” is a new type of subscriber identity module that comes built into a phone. It was first available on smartwatches- Samsung Galaxy watches to be exact. But Google rushed in and became the first company to have it on phones.

In fact, not many Samsung smartphones support eSIM to this point, yet all the Google Pixels from series 2 support it. Apple has also been supporting the feature since 2018, with the release of the iPhone XS/ XR. But the recently-released iPhone 14 is what rattled carriers like Cricket and Metro, forcing them to launch the digital SIM earlier than they intended.

We’re calling eSIM “digital SIM” as it requires you to download the profile of the carrier to activate your service. You no longer have to wait for the physical (PVC) SIM kit to arrive to start using phone service.

Other Advantages of eSIM over Traditional SIM card

As was just mentioned, eSIM requires you to just download your preferred carrier profile to your phone to activate service. So, everything is instant regardless of where you are or the time of day.

In addition to that, eSIM is better than a physical SIM card as:

  1. You can activate dual SIMs on even single-SIM iPhones and Android phones. The multiple cellular services can be from the same carrier (weird but doable) or different carriers.
  2. You can now Switch from AT&T to Verizon (or any other carrier) within seconds and from anywhere, anytime.
  3. You never have to update eSIM to “newer version” for better speeds, as with a physical SIM card. The digital SIM updates its software automatically.
  4. It has a lower risk of misplacing your SIM data as opposed to the removable card.
  5. You can track a stolen phone easily since the thief can’t just pop out the SIM or delete the eSIM profile.
  6. If you travel abroad often, eSIM has also made it possible to join the local carriers in your target destinations with ease. You don’t have to pay the expensive roaming fees.

How Much Does it Cost to Activate eSIM?

The 2020s have been the most competitive decade between the US cell phone carriers. It started with T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, which we can say affirmed Verizon’s desire for Tracfone and its brands.

When 5G was finally up, we again saw the Main carriers, especially T Mobile vs Verizon, battle up to dominate. Verizon kind of lost the race after going with mmWave, which wasn’t as convenient as the midrange (C-Band) frequencies T-Mobile has adopted. T-Mobile still leads with the best 5G coverage across the country at the time of writing.

free eSIM service for iPhone

The eSIM is now the new race between cellular providers. Our Main Carriers didn’t have much competition here as they were already offering the feature, most on Postpaid plans. The competition has been on the rate plan offerings and fees.

In my previous guide on the fees to activate a phone, we saw carriers will charge a minimum amount for assisted activation. The assisted activations now don’t just include when you activate your device at the local store. You’ll also have to pay when you activate your device with the help of an agent through a call or online chat.

Moreover, the fees here apply when the customer representative helps you activate your service on a physical SIM card or eSIM. Verizon and AT&T have been having a similar activation fee of $35 for postpaid customers.

However, in November 2022, T-Mobile reported they will also be charging a $35 activation fee on all postpaid transactions. “All transactions” include activation of lines and devices, regardless you do it online or in-store.

Also, this will be the same cost to activate eSIM and not just physical SIM cards. But you can always negotiate with the agent serving you on any carriers to waive it.

Is There a Free eSIM Activation with My Carrier?

When choosing a cell phone service, there’s usually the option of postpaid, prepaid, and lifeline. Postpaid service is the priciest of all since it also has the best features and perks. Then there’s an applicable activation fee, which the providers only waive during promotional deals or by request.

As was just mentioned, these activation fees apply to both eSIM and physical SIM cards. T-Mobile was the only one not charging on postpaid when you activate your line or device online by yourself. But this rule ended on November 15 2022 and they now charge for online activations.

The T-Mobile prepaid eSIM has no activation fees, either when doing it alone or through an agent. The difference, though, is that you’ll have to use the T-Mobile Prepaid eSIM app for the feature at the moment.   

Verizon and AT&T also offer free eSIM activation online. If you do the process at the local carrier stores, there’s a fee unless the representative agrees to waive it.

Prepaid MVNOs also don’t charge any fees to activate your phone on eSIM online. Only select, including Cricket Wireless, Metro by T-Mobile, and Boost Mobile, have physical stores to visit, anyways. Most of the other options are online-only services with just virtual customer care.

Meanwhile, none of the Lifeline providers with free government phones support eSIM at the moment. But SafeLink is more likely to be the first with the feature if Verizon continues to support the program as it has been doing lately.

How To Get Free eSIM On iPhone?

If using a Main Carrier, you can activate eSIM service on Apple, Google, or Samsung phones. However, most MVNOs introduced the feature just recently (August 2022), where they only limit the feature to iPhones.

Fast forward, you can get free eSIM service on iPhone in two different ways: through the limited-time trial or ACP benefit.

Part 1:Get Free eSIM on iPhone with a trial plan

The first way how to get free eSIM on iPhone is by taking advantage of the trial period. It’s not the best idea as you only qualify as a new customer and for a short time. But it does offer an insight into what to expect from the network in question.

The allowances and features you get with your free eSIM trial subscription vary with the carrier network used.

For instance, T-Mobile offers a 90-day test drive with unlimited talk, text, and data (50GB of high-speed data). Verizon has a relatively shorter trial period (30 days), albeit comes with relatively more premium data, as we shall see shortly.

In the prepaid MVNO category, US Mobile and Visible have the best free eSIM trial plan, with unlimited allowances. Cricket Wireless trial plan is not bad either, as you get unlimited talk minutes and text, plus 3GB of premium data.

Part 2: Get Free eSIM on iPhone with ACP Benefit

The second way how to get free eSIM on iPhone is through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). But lifeline providers are yet to offer the digital SIM option.

So, the only way to get Free eSIM service with ACP will be to redeem the program through participating prepaid carriers. The federal assistance program provides a monthly subsidy of $30 to non-tribal households and $75 on tribal lands.

If eligible for even the lowest ACP benefit, $30/ month, you can get free eSIM service with prepaid AT&T (Verizon offers a partial discount). Prepaid MVNOs like Red Pocket Vs Cricket Wireless also have the option to get service at no cost.

That said, keep in mind ACP is only available once per household. This means you can’t apply for the benefit if someone else in your family has registered or you’ve already enrolled with a fixed broadband service.

Which Carrier Provides eSIM?

At the time Apple was announcing the launch of the eSIM-only iPhone 14, many MVNOs didn’t support the digital SIM. But to avoid losing their loyal customers to competitors, the small operators had to launch the feature.

So, about all carriers (except lifeline providers) provides eSIM service now. The difference is that only a few offer free eSIM for iPhone phones, either with a free trial plan, ACP benefit, or both. See below.

Cell Phone CarrierFree eSIM Service with Trial PlanFree eSIM Service with ACP
VerizonYES  N/A  
T-MobileYES  NO
Visible WirelessYES  NO
Mint MobileYES  N/A
Cricket WirelessYES  YES  
Metro by T-MobileNOYES  
US MobileYES  N/A
Red PocketYES  YES  
Total by VerizonNOYES  
Straight TalkNOYES  


You can get free eSIM service for iPhone on Verizon Wireless through the trial plan. The free test drive lasts thirty days and includes:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (with 100GB of premium data)


T-Mobile also only offers the free eSIM service for iPhones through the test drive plan. The T-Mobile Network Pass (as it’s called) runs for 90 days and includes a monthly allowance of:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (with 50GB of premium data)


 Unlike its closest rivals, AT&T offers the free eSIM service for iPhone users through the ACP benefit. The AT&T Affordable Connectivity Program is only Free with the basic prepaid plan and includes:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (with 5GB of high speed)

Visible Wireless

You can get Free eSIM service on iPhone with Visible, a brand of Verizon, through a trial run. The Visible free trial runs for 15 days and includes:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (50GB of high-speed data)

Mint Mobile

Before you commit, Mint Mobile also offers a free trial that you can get with either eSIM or a physical SIM card. The free Mint trial plan lasts for seven days and includes:

  • 250 talk minutes
  • 250 text messages
  • 250MB of high-speed data

Cricket Wireless

 Cricket Wireless, a brand of AT&T, is one of the few you can get the free eSIM service for iPhone on the trial plan and ACP. On the Cricket Free Trial plan, you get to enjoy 14 days of:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • 3GB of high-speed data

If eligible for the Cricket Wireless ACP plan, your free monthly service will include:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (with 5GB of high speed)

Metro by T-Mobile

 Metro by T-Mobile (formerly MetroPCS) doesn’t have a free test drive as of now. However, you can still get a free eSIM service by applying for the Metro Affordable Connectivity Program, which includes:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (with 5GB of high speed)

US Mobile

The only way to get free eSIM service on iPhone with US Mobile is through its free test drive. US Mobile free trial plan runs for 10 days when applied with a new number and 100 days with successful port-ins. Then it includes:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited text
  • Unlimited data (with 15GB of high speed)

Red Pocket

Red Pocket is another carrier you can get free eSIM service on iPhone through the trial plan and ACP Benefit. The Red Pocket trial plan is available for 7 days, with:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (with 3GB of high speed)

If eligible for the ACP benefit, you can get free eSIM service through the Red Pocket Assist plan, which includes:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (with 10GB of high speed)

Total by Verizon

Total by Verizon (formerly Total Wireless) is yet another carrier with free eSIM service for iPhone through the ACP benefit. If eligible, your free monthly service will come with:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (with 5GB of high speed)

Straight Talk

Last but not least, you can get a free eSIM service on your iPhone by redeeming your ACP benefit on Straight Talk. The Straight Talk ACP plan will include:

  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data (with 5GB of high speed)

How Do I Get An eSIM Mobile Plan?

Simply, the process to get an eSIM plan is pretty much similar to when joining with a physical SIM card. Like in the Mint Mobile review, we saw you will start by selecting your service plan on the carrier website.

At checkout, the carrier will ask whether you need to join with a physical SIM or eSIM. And when you opt for eSIM, you’ll just need to scan the QR code to download the carrier profile. Then, follow the onscreen instructions to complete the initial setup and connect.

Make Sure Your iPhone is Compatible with the Free eSIM Service

Here in the U.S., we have over a hundred cell phone providers. And this means there are other options you can get free eSIM service for iPhone, not just the eleven above.

Also, the features I’ve listed on each of the providers on my list are not everything. You will get full access to all the features available in that particular plan, including mobile hotspot, WiFi calling, and free calling to Canada or Mexico.

Speaking of access, not all iPhone devices have access to the free eSIM service. You need to have an eSIM-compatible device to take advantage of this benefit, and this requires an iPhone XS/ XR and later. The iPhone X and earlier models don’t have eSIM support.