Cell Phones for Refugees

Volunteers are welcome to assist refugees in choosing a phone. Cricket wireless or Tracfone are suggested providers. Also consider assisting them in filling out an Assurance Wireless application at www.assurancewireless.com. Assurance Wireless is a government lifeline assistance program as part of Virgin Mobile. Lifeline is a government benefit program supported by the federal Universal Service Fund. Not all refugees qualify for the program, but those who do receive discounted phone services.

If the refugee family expresses a strong desire to get a cell phone, below are a few recommended options for them. It is important to encourage them to purchase a pre-paid plan, rather than an expensive two-year contract, as this is not a wise financial move at the onset of their resettlement. You can present them with the options below, and then allow them to make the decision on their own. Many clients will be able to make the decision when presented with the options. When in doubt, proceed with the Wal-Mart TracPhone option as it will put the least financial burden on the client until they are able to afford a more elaborate phone plan.

1. TracPhone (Wal-Mart)

  • Good option for clients who will NOT talk on the phone often
  • $10-15 for the phone
  • Purchase phone card and activate (minutes will double)
  • Do not purchase an international card to use with this phone**
  • Can call some landlines and cell phones in other countries (call 1-800 number to dial out internationally)

2. H2O (Via Best Buy Stores)

  • Good option for clients who can manage their account online
  • $40 per month for unlimited calling and texting

3. Cricket phone (Cricket)

  • Good option for refugees who will talk on the phone regularly
  • $30 for phone
  • $35 for unlimited calling and texting

Does WR help with the funding for phones or phone plans?

No, WR does not purchase phone plans for refugees, as this should be a decision that is made by the refugee when they have a sufficient grasp of their personal finances and can budget accordingly.