Ways to Get Cell Phone Service If You Don't Have it But Need it

By Chelsea Anderson

A cell phone keeps you connected wherever you go.
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A cell phone is practically a necessity these days to connect you with your friends, family, clients and coworkers wherever you go. Not having a phone can leave you stranded in an emergency or cause you to miss out on important events. Even if you don't use your phone often, not having one makes life harder than it needs to be. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to get cell phone service when you need it.

No Contract

Several cell phone companies provide cell phones without contracts. These phones can be purchased online or in retail stores, and they offer prepaid and pay-as-you-go plans. Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, AT&T and others all have plans where you pay a certain amount in advance for varying levels of usage. You can usually add more minutes either online, by phone with a customer service representative or with prepaid cards.


Most cellular providers allow you to sign an annual contract for cell phone service. In exchange for certain services and occasionally bonuses, you agree to regularly pay the agreed-to fee for your phone. Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and others all provide contract-based cell phone service at a variety of levels and prices. Some plans offer unlimited texting, while others might only give you a certain number of texts per month. Decide how many minutes you need and whether or not you want data and texting capabilities and then look for a plan that suits your needs.

Free Service

Some states provide free cell phone service to low-income individuals and families. The availability and extent of these programs varies by region, but this can be very useful for those in need of a phone who are unable to afford one otherwise. SafeLink Wireless, Assurance Wireless and others all provide free minutes depending on your income level.

Lifeline Service

Qualified people who make less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Level can apply for the Lifeline Across America program, provided by the United States federal government. This program offers discounts of at least $10 a month on your main phone line, whether it's a cell phone or a landline phone.