Many consumers are still trying to recover and rebuild one year after the pandemic. Credit Sesame has some tips to help them prioritize savings. Eligible households can apply their Lifeline discount to broadband service through leading telecommunication companies and a handful of low-income programs offered by other providers and nonprofits.
How to Find a Service Provider
When choosing a service provider, finding one reliable and trustworthy is important. You can often find this information by searching online reviews or asking your peers for recommendations. It’s also worth looking at the service providers’ websites, which will usually reveal how they prioritize customer care and their approach to problem-solving.
If you or someone in your household is eligible for Lifeline, it’s a great way to reduce the cost of phone and internet service. Eligibility is based on income, and requirements vary by state. You can use Lifeline for one telephone (home landline or bundled phone and internet) per household and for one broadband connection (provided it meets minimum service standards).
In addition to federal Lifeline support, there are also a number of other programs that offer low-cost broadband service. These include Access from AT&T, Internet Essentials from Comcast, Spectrum Internet Assist from Charter, and offerings from a handful of other service providers and nonprofits. To apply for Lifeline, visit the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) website or download and submit a form. The program will be applied to your bill once you’ve been approved. If you’re already a Lifeline customer, talk to your service provider about applying for the ACP benefit, which provides a monthly discount on broadband.
Finding a Discount
There are a variety of reasons why consumers would want to switch Lifeline providers. The most common reason is to find a better deal. This may be due to a desire for more minutes or a smartphone upgrade, but it can also be because of poor customer service. Another reason to switch is to use the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers a monthly discount of up to $30 or $75 for residents living in qualifying Tribal lands to help lower the cost of broadband internet service. Unlike the former Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which was intended to be a short-term support measure, the ACP is designed to be more long-term and available to more households. To qualify for the ACP, households must have incomes at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. To apply, talk to your provider or visit the ACP website to learn how. You can receive both the Lifeline phone and ACP benefits at the same time, but only one phone line and one device per household are eligible.
There are a handful of low-cost broadband programs that are compatible with the ACP, including Access from AT&T, Internet Essentials from Comcast, and Spectrum Internet Assist from Charter. Learn more about these options in Consumer Action’s Getting Up to Speed: Broadband for Low-Income Households.
Switching to a New Service Provider
For many reasons, consumers may decide to switch their Lifeline phone provider. They might be unhappy with their current service or want to upgrade to a smartphone. Or, they might simply want more talk and text minutes. Whatever the reason, it is easy to switch to a new Lifeline provider. All you need to do is notify your old service provider and give them written or verbal consent to transfer your account. Once you do, your previous service will be canceled, and your new Lifeline service will start. However, remember that you can only have one Lifeline provider at a time.
Depending on your new provider, they will ask you to provide a few documents before giving you the go-ahead for service transfer. These include proof of financial eligibility, the last four digits of your social security number, and a letter of consent. In addition, you will need to agree that no other member of your household is receiving Lifeline benefits at the same time.
You can find a list of approved Lifeline providers for your state on this tool. You can compare benefits like free smartphones, special offers, network coverage, and more here. You can also use this tool to locate companies that offer home internet for the Lifeline program. This can be a great option for households with low incomes that don’t qualify for traditional broadband services.
In a world where many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, juggling debt, and trying to meet our goals through savings, it can be easy to let the little things slip. Switching your lifeline provider can help you prioritize and lock down your savings to make it easier to save and reach those big-ticket items you’ve been eyeing. Think of it like locking your shoes in a safe to stop you from buying them – a visual reminder that your money is meant for plane tickets and baguettes in Europe instead of shoe shopping.