For years, lifeline providers have had free touch screen government phones for low-income households. And recently, some of these companies have been giving out a free tablet with EBT or any other assistance program.
However, are these new deals really free? Are they worth attention? And if yes, how can I get one today?
Well, this article covers everything you need to know about the free tablet deals for those with an active EBT account.
Is the Free Government Tablet Worth it?
At this moment, we’ve got a little over a dozen government-sponsored carriers with free cell phone service. And out of all, only a couple usually gives decent phones.
Once approved, most of these lifeline providers will send you entry-level phones with only the basic features. Some people have even complained about these basic features being inoperable from the limited specs of the devices.
Sadly, 90% of the operators with the free / discounted tablet also hand out low-end brands, perhaps for higher profit margins. A perfect example is the free Sky Devices government tablet from StandUp Wireless and Q Link’s Scepter 8 Tab, both with 1GB RAM.
If you know about smart devices, 1GB or even 2GB operating memory is merely enough for most applications today. But if you’re okay to stick with light use, it might be worthwhile, considering it’s free.
Well… the Tablet isn’t Free, Free
Indeed, don’t get your hopes too high thinking the free government tablet is totally FREE. Yes, of course, the lifeline providers will let you apply and even send it to you without having to pay anything then. But after a month, you’ll receive an invoice for $10.01.
I agree it should be illegal for the lifeline providers to advertise the tablets as free and then ask you to pay later. But when you ask, they’ll redirect you to the official FCC’s Affordability Connectivity Program page with the $10-$50 copayment details.
In case you’re wondering, this is the same Affordable connectivity program with Verizon and other broadband providers. Only that these prepaid and postpaid providers don’t include the low-cost tablet.
Regardless, not all lifeline providers are being shoddy on their low-cost tablet deals. Cintex Wireless, for instance, is very clear on its offerings. They’ve listed the devices with a $10 price tag from FCC instead of marketing them as FREE.
Even better, the lifeline company doesn’t stock the entry-level brands on the shelves of its competitors. Instead, the $10.01 budget could even get an Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, or Lenovo Tab- certified refurbished, yes, but better.
The Various Ways to Get free Government Tablet
As I’ve just mentioned, the low-cost government tablets are available to eligible participants through the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
The eligibility requirements for the broadband assistance benefit are pretty much the same as the regular lifeline program.
In fact, users of the discounted phone service are automatically eligible for the connectivity program. Then again, not everyone might be interested and others prefer to use the discount on fixed broadband like Frontier or Xfinity.
Therefore, the lifeline providers will have the option of Lifeline-only or Lifeline + ACP benefits. And the latter will be the only feasible means to get the supposedly free government tablet.
In case you’re applying as a new customer, you can get the low-cost tab with proof of a low income or participation in a government assistance program.
The low income here’s currently set at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. Then, the assistance programs includes participation in:
- Federal public housing assistance
- Supplemental security income (SSI)
- Veterans pension or survivors benefits
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Tribal Head Start, TANF, or Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
The affordable connectivity program is also available to the students on a Federal Pell Grant or who participate in the School Lunch/ Breakfast Programs. But I’m not sure the cheap specs of the discounted tablets will be worth it at all to most of them.
About the Free Government Tablet with EBT
Simply, Electronic Benefits Transfer (or EBT) is the electronic system used to pay for food under the SNAP benefits. It usually operates in the same way as a debit card, whereby the cost of the items is debited from the user’s SNAP EBT account. Though, you can only use your EBT card at only the authorized food stores and retailers.
Meanwhile, SNAP is one of the assistance programs eligible for the affordable connectivity program. And that would mean you can get the supposedly free tablet with an EBT card as proof to the lifeline providers.
What Lifeline Providers Give a Free Government Tablet with EBT
Out of the active lifeline providers, only about half of them have a clear mention of the discounted tablets. And from that half, Cintex Wireless is the only one who has made efforts to display the $10.01 fee and the various brands you can get.
Of course, Stand Up Wireless has also put it out clearly you’ll need to pay the “$10.01 for the discounted ACP tablet”. But as with most, they have no option for a user to choose a brand he/ she may prefer.
In short, that’s to say you’ll have to sit at home waiting for whatever the operator will mail to you. And as I’ve said earlier, don’t get your hopes up on that latest iPad Air or Fire HD.
Anyway, in this section, I’ve made efforts to research and compile the brands of the low-cost tablet you’re likely to get. They include:
|Brand of the Low-Cost Tablet||Provided by||Built-in Memory||Screen Size|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 4||Cintex Wireless||32GB ROM, 3GB RAM||8” w/ 1536 x 2048p|
|Apple iPad Mini||Cintex Wireless||32GB ROM, .5GB RAM||8” w/ 768 x 1024p|
|Alcatel Joy Tab 2||Cintex Wireless||32GB ROM, 3GB RAM||8” w/ 800 x 1280p|
|Vortex Tab 8||StandUp Wireless||32GB ROM, 2GB RAM||8” w/ 800 x 1280p|
|Sky Devices Elite T8 Tablet||StandUp Wireless||32GB ROM, 2GB RAM||8” w/ 800 x 1280p|
|Q Link Scepter 8 Tablet||Q Link Wireless||16GB ROM, 1GB RAM||8” w/ 800 x 1280p|
|Cloud Mobile Sunshine Elite||TruConnect||16GB ROM, 2GB RAM||8” w/ 800 x 1280p|
|Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus||Cintex Wireless||64GB ROM, 4GB RAM||8” w/ 1200 x 1920p|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab A||Cintex Wireless||32GB ROM, 2GB RAM||10.1” w/ 800 x 1280p|
|KonnectONE Moxee||Cintex Wireless||32GB ROM, 3GB RAM||8” w/ 800 x 1280p|
|NUU Tab 8 4G LTE||StandUp Wireless||32GB ROM, 2GB RAM||8” w/ 800 x 1280p|
1. Cintex Wireless
Cintex Wireless is the only lifeline provider you can get slightly better deals on the free tablet with EBT benefit.
Of course, you’ll still need to pay the $10.01 charge that FCC has instructed the eligible participants to pay. But the company is much better than others as they have a whole catalog of tablets that you use to choose your favorite.
Some of the best Cintex Wireless low-cost tablets include:
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 4
- Apple iPad Mini
- Alcatel Joy Tab 2
- Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A
- KonnectONE Moxee
It’s worth mentioning that Cintex has even much better selections of discounted tablets, including Apple iPad Air and Samsung Galaxy Tab S. But you’ll need to top another $10-$25 to grab one.
2. StandUp Wireless
StandUP Wireless is another wireless provider you can consider for the ongoing Lifeline + ACP benefits. The ACP benefits include the discount on the connected devices, specifically a tablet since it’s what they stock.
Earlier on, StandUp Wireless has been handing out the Sky Elite OctaX on the low-cost government tablet program. But they have recently updated the page and now you can receive either:
- Sky Devices Elite T8
- Vortex Tab 8
- NUU Tab 8 4G LTE
Unfortunately, the catalog isn’t as wide (or most appealing) as with Cintex. But at least the users can now have a clue of what to expect- the three tablets actually have similar specs.
TruConnect is one of the most popular lifeline providers. On top of the standard talk, text, and data, its monthly allowances also include free international calling. Then, there are free rewards that one can redeem for top-ups, phone discounts, and other free stuff.
Furthermore, TruConnect has some nice offerings under the renewed government broadband program. The program includes the connectivity allowance and a one-time discount on a tablet computer.
Sadly, the company isn’t clear on the kind of tablet they’ll be sending. But you can expect to receive an entry-level Cloud Mobile Sunshine Elite Tablet, with an 8-inch display and 16GB of built-in storage.
4. TAG Mobile
TAG Mobile is yet another leading company in the free lifeline phone service. It’s only limited to nineteen states at the moment. But those covered seem more impressed by its flexible network, thanks to the deal with T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T.
TAG Mobile is also one of the few providers that are pretty open on the details of the ACP program. They have even mentioned the discount for the connected devices, which is available for those willing to co-pay the $10.
However, they haven’t gone into the specifics of the tablet brand/s to expect if approved. My hours of research have also been futile, thereby you’ll be applying blindly and waiting for whatever the company sends.
5. Easy Wireless
Easy Wireless isn’t one of the most popular lifeline providers. But they do have some pretty nice allowances and perks for the eligible participants.
The company is also among those with an affordable connectivity program for a discount on monthly broadband internet.
Easy Wireless even adds that you’ll be getting an “8-inch tablet (valued at $120)” for a better online experience. But you’ll be applying blindly as they kind of left out the details of the tablet brand to expect.
6. Q Link Wireless
Although my last on the list, Q Link Wireless is the most talked-about lifeline provider online. Not all of the recent talks have been intriguing, unfortunately. But the service is always free and one can leave for another at any time.
As for the ongoing ACP benefits, the company was one of the few marketing their discount tablets as “FREE”. Then I’m guessing after the online criticism for the $10.01 invoice they’d send after delivery, they decided to update the ads to “New Tablet”.
Nonetheless, the Q Link team still didn’t include the details of the kind of tablets one can expect on the ACP deal. But after lengthy research, I’ve learned the carrier usually sends out their Scepter 8 Tab with 16GB/ 1GB memory.
The Discount’s Still Per Household Card
While the others might also have, these are the only top lifeline providers I’ve verified still offer a low-cost tablet with EBT card/ Food Stamps. But out of the six, Cintex Wireless is my favorite since you’ve got the option to choose your desired device.
Of course, the devices are mostly certified refurbished models. But they’re recognized and more decent brands compared to what other companies are giving.
As you apply for the government tablet with ACP, do remember the benefit is still only one per household. Otherwise, you’ll risk losing your active service if your preferred carrier notice attempts for multiple applications.