As you may have noticed, we have more providers of free phones from the government than we did a decade ago. Qlink is one of these companies that offer free phone service with the T-Mobile network. Safelink, on the other hand, is one of the few government services that use Verizon towers. The question we’re asking today is, though, can I have SafeLink and Qlink at the same time?
Well, this may sound like an excellent idea to take full advantage of these government subsidies on phones. It may also be a nice idea to enjoy the perks of both Safelink and Qlink. But you may be able to have the two or not.
In this guide, I’ll be covering this situation where you can have Safelink and Qlink service simultaneously and where you can’t. But before that, let’s quickly go through the perks each service has got for you.
Perks of Safelink and QLink Wireless Free Government Service
Safelink Wireless and Qlink Wireless are both what we consider eligible telecommunication carriers (or ETCs). That means they have the FCC license to operate as lifeline phone providers of free mobile service. Then, the government will reimburse them the money for each of the registered subscribers.
USAC (Universal Service Administrative Company) is the institution responsible for distributing the Lifeline funds to participating providers. And for now, the subsidy amount to each subscriber is $9.25/ month (or $34.25/ month for those on tribal lands).
Besides the Lifeline phone service, USAC is also the body that administers the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). SafeLink and Qlink were both naturally eligible to participate in the ACP program since they already were in the FCC system. All they had was to file an ACP election notice.
Like the Lifeline phone program, Safelink and Qlink receive the same amount of funds for the ACP program. However, the features and perks you get from each vary and are better than the other.
What You Get on Safelink Free Service
- Safelink has at least 350 talk minutes on the Lifeline phone plans in most States. In California, you get unlimited talk.
- Safelink offers 4.5GB of high-speed data in most states on the Lifeline-only plan. Californians get 6GB of data.
- Safelink has truly unlimited data on the Lifeline + ACP combo plan. I’ve seen people use up to 1.2TB on their phones without getting throttled. But when they flag your phone for abusing the policy, you’ll be getting 60GB data.
- Safelink offers a mobile hotspot feature to share data with your other internet-enabled devices. However, the hotspot data has a cap at 30GB- not much, but still better than most.
- Safelink is one of the few Lifeline/ ACP providers where you can enjoy both 4G LTE and 5G. When comparing Safelink vs Qlink, we saw the Tracfone brand peak at 400+Mbps on the Ultra-Wideband.
- Safelink’s free service allows you to make not just local calls. The service also allows you to make calls to Canada and Mexico at no additional cost.
- Safelink will give you a free smartphone when you join for the first time. The phone you get is either a Motorola Moto G Pure or a TCL A30. They are both decent phones, with 32GB internal storage and up to 3GB RAM.
What You Will Miss on Safelink
Unfortunately, Safelink has a few drawbacks that may be a little inconveniencing. They include:
- Safelink charges call to customer care from your monthly allowance
- Safelink does not offer tablet discounts with the ACP program. It has only a broadband discount.
- Safelink is on the lower QCI tier of the Verizon network. Thus, it deprioritizes your data during network congestion.
- Safelink has no international roaming. Thus, you’ll have to use other means to call/ text when traveling outside the US.
What You Get on Qlink Free Service
- Qlink gives you at least 1000 talk minutes in most states for the Lifeline-only service. In California, you get unlimited talk.
- Qlink offers 4.5GB of high-speed data in all states, including California, on the Lifeline-only plan.
- Qlink does not have “truly” unlimited data on the Lifeline + ACP combo plan, as they advertise to do. They offer a high-speed allowance of 30GB, then drop to lower 2G speeds.
- Qlink is now available on the 5G network if you’d like to take advantage of faster data speeds. However, the last time I checked Qlink would start you off with super-fast data speeds before dropping to around 5 – 10Mbps.
- Qlink gives you a free government tablet if approved for the ACP. The tablet you receive is a branded Qlink Scepter 8 Tab.
- Qlink may also give you a free smartphone when you join for the first time. The phone you get is a branded HP Serrano 3, which is from the same brand that makes the Scepter tab.
What You Will Miss on Qlink
- Qlink is still yet to offer a mobile hotspot on the free service. The data you get is only for use with the phone.
- Qlink has no free international calling on the free cellular service they give you. The free service is only for local use.
- Qlink charges all the incoming and outgoing calls from the allowance they give you per month.
- Qlink is on the lower tier of the T-Mobile network. So, your data speeds will drop (in most cases to unusable speeds) when the towers are busy.
- Qlink does not offer international roaming. Thus, you’ll have to use other means, like WhatsApp, to communicate at home while abroad.
Can I Have Safelink and Qlink at the Same Time?
As you can see in the summary above, Qlink and Safelink are different in almost every aspect. That means you’ll always benefit from the other in a few ways.
But now come to our question, can one have Safelink and Qlink at the same time?
Well, the government has limited the service discounts with Lifeline and ACP to only one enrollment per household. A “household” qualifies as a group of people that live together and share income/ expenses.
So, a nuclear family is one household if they’re all living on shared income . But two brothers under the same roof can be separate households if they have individual incomes and expenses, plus file taxes separately. Also, seniors at the nursing home or students in a hostel can be different households.
Speaking of the students, I’m sure you know a student can qualify for the ACP through the Pell Grant or breakfast/ lunch program. Better yet, the student can qualify if living on his own, even when the parent/guardian at home has enrolled.
Therefore, the answer is a NO, you can’t have Safelink and Qlink on the same program at the same time. However, students can apply for ACP (for broadband and tablet discounts) and still be able to help his/ her parents enroll.
Remember, one of the requirements the National Verifier (a USAC system) uses to determine your eligibility for the Lifeline and ACP program is your physical address. If a student applies for his ACP and that of parents using the same address, one gets declined.
Regardless of these limitations, one can still have Safelink and Qlink at the same time. See below how you can achieve that.
How Can I Have Safelink and Qlink Free Service at the Same Time?
As you may know, the main difference between ACP and Lifeline is that they’re 100% separate programs. They have a different source of funding, and so is the amount of service discount you get.
Furthermore, you can apply for Lifeline and ACP programs from different service providers. That means you can apply Lifeline service with Qlink Wireless, then Safelink for the ACP program. In that manner, you’re going to have the free government service from the two companies simultaneously.
Nevertheless, Qlink and Safelink have the best service discounts when you combine Lifeline and ACP combo. For instance, the Qlink Lifeline-only plan has at least 1000 talk minutes instead of unlimited and 4.5GB of data instead of 30 GB.
On the other hand, Safelink ACP-only plan has 10GB of data instead of the 1TB, and 5GB hotspot instead of 30GB.
If you Don’t Use it, You’ll Lose it
In conclusion, the answer is YES, you can have Safelink and Qlink at the same time. The way to do that will be to apply for the Lifeline program from one, and ACP benefit from the other.
As I’ve mentioned, though, each company wants you to use only them for both assistance programs. It’s the reason they have packed the Lifeline + ACP combo plan with a data allowance of about 6 times more than the individual plans.
While the allowances may still be enough for your needs, the government requires you to use them to continue receiving. If you fail to use the free service, you’ll get disconnected and the companies give it to another person.
Also, when you decide to combine your Lifeline and ACP programs into one company later, the other one disconnects. If it doesn’t disconnect automatically, you should cancel manually. Otherwise, when the USAC system notices your household has the same program from both Safelink and Qlink, you may get disqualified on all.