how to get a free laptop
Updated August 23, 2022

How to Get a Free Laptop: 21 Proven Tips

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It is difficult to get by without a computer in today’s world and many people would benefit from knowing how to get a free laptop. Computers are often necessary when searching and applying for a job, taking college courses, or looking for resources to help you improve your standard of living.

Good to Know: While you can do these things from a smartphone, that isn’t always the most efficient device. If you don’t want to have to rely on other people when you need to use a computer, you need to get your own laptop.

  • You will be happy to know that there are government programs, schools, and private entities which offer free laptops. In most cases, you will need to be a student or low-income earner to benefit from these initiatives. If that’s the case, one of the programs below should be able to help you.
  • Once you get your laptop, you may be able to get free Internet service to ensure you stay connected.

After informing you about opportunities to get a free laptop, we will tell you how to avoid free laptop scams online.

1. Apply to Computers with Causes

Computers with Causes accepts donations of desktops, laptops, tablets, and other computer equipment and distributes them to people who are experiencing hardship. If you want to get a free laptop from this organization, you will have to undergo a need assessment as well as background and reference checks. You will also need to explain why you should get a free laptop. Computers with Causes has strict criteria to eliminate people who are trying to take advantage of the system.

Important Tip

Accepting things like a free laptop may affect your continued eligibility for welfare benefits, food stamps, social security insurance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and similar forms of assistance.

2. Get Help from Your Local or State Department of Human Services

There is no federal program focused on helping needy families to get free laptops. However, you may be able to get one through the Department of Human Services thanks to state and local grants. Your local government may also be able to partner with a charitable organization to help meet your needs.

Important Tip

Families who would benefit most from having a computer are usually the ones who can least afford it.  If you can afford a laptop if you just modified your spending, don’t apply for scarce government resources. Leave these solutions for families and individuals who are really struggling to make ends meet.

3. Approach The On It Foundation

The On It Foundation is a public non-profit which provides free computers, training, and Internet to low-income households with students in grades K-12.  The students must be receiving a free or reduced cost school lunch, attending a public school and living in the United States.

Good to Know: If you apply to The On It Foundation, you may get a desktop instead of a laptop depending on what is available. This is still better than not having a computer at all.

Important Tip

If you don’t meet the criteria for getting a free laptop, you can get a heavily discounted computer through the Jump On It! Program. This is open to everyone regardless of income.

4. Submit an Application to Komputers 4 R Kids

Komputers 4 R Kids is a Southern California non-profit which collects computers from donors and passes them on to underprivileged students, schools and families. The organization also donates to other non-profits to help provide digital technology to people who can’t afford it.

Good to Know: In order to get a computer, which may be a desktop with peripherals, you will need to fill out a questionnaire to assess your eligibility. You will be asked whether you are receiving federal assistance or housing aid and if you or your child has disabilities. Komputers 4 R Kids will also inquire about your annual household income.

5. Look on Craigslist

If you don’t meet the criteria of some of the organizations on this list, you may think free laptops are out of your reach. However, you should consider looking on Craigslist.

Good to Know: When people upgrade their computers, clear out old stuff or have to move, they may give away things they don’t want anymore. Even if the laptop isn’t free, the owner may charge you a very small fee. You won’t get a brand-new laptop this way but with a few repairs, a used machine can meet your needs.

Important Tip

If you have to buy a computer, find out what needs to be repaired and get an estimate of the cost. You don’t want to buy a laptop and then realize you can’t afford to repair it.

6.  Search Community Facebook Groups

Another place you can look is on Facebook. You may strike gold on Facebook Marketplace if you’re patient. You can also join community or local groups and ask if anyone has a laptop they are willing to part with. Your query may remind someone that they have an old computer they haven’t used in years.

Good to Know: You won’t know what you can get unless you ask. As is the case with Craigslist, even if you don’t get a free laptop, you may not have to pay much for one. 

7. Try Freecycle

Freecycle is a good alternative to Facebook and Craigslist groups. The entire site is built around the idea of sharing unwanted items with other members and diverting things from the landfill.

Visit your local board and see if anyone is giving away a free laptop. You can also place a request to see if anyone can help you.

8. Use World Computer Exchange

Many of the suggestions in this list are for individuals living in the United States. However, World Computer Exchange assists institutions in developing countries as well as Puerto Rico following the hurricanes of 2017. The computers need to be used primarily by young people up to the age of 24. If you are a representative of a school or other organization which assists young people, you should look into this option for free laptops.

Important Tip

World Computer Exchange recommends that you get the laptop with a Linux operating system, but you can ask for Windows. The computers come loaded with educational content which can be accessed without an Internet connection.

9. Ask Your Employer

If you are employed but finding it difficult to afford a laptop, ask your employer if they can assist you. They may be able to lend or give you a laptop if you need to do work at home. However, if you have a generous boss, you may be able to get one for personal use. This may be a temporary fix until you can get your own computer, but it will help you tremendously in the interim.

Important Tip

Find creative ways to save money and earn extra income so you can purchase your own computer eventually.

10. Visit the Salvation Army or Goodwill

While these organizations don’t offer dedicated assistance with free laptops, they do collect funds to help needy families and individuals. If you approach them with your request, they may be able to help you directly or connect you with another individual or organization. If you’re unemployed or you lost your possessions to fire, the Salvation Army and Goodwill may be more likely to assist.

11. Head to Your Local Library

If you need to use a computer but you haven’t gotten your own as yet, don’t forget about your local library. Most libraries will allow you to use their computers in one-hour periods for free.

While this is not as convenient as having a laptop at home, it presents you with an opportunity to do research, look for a job or find other resources.

12. How to Get a Free Laptop? Attend a College That Offers Them

Education is expensive and even if you save money for college, there may not be enough left for a new laptop. However, there are a number of colleges and universities which offer students free laptops. Some are online colleges while others are small private institutions. However, you will also find some public universities making such offers.

This probably won’t be the sole reason you choose one university over another, but some options are Seton Hill University, Northwest Missouri State University, and St. John’s University.

Important Tip

While you get to keep the laptop when you graduate from some universities, others expect you to give it back.

13. Have Your Child Attend an Online Public School

In some public school districts, students can study online from the comfort of their home. This is ideal for children who may not fit into the traditional schooling system but whose parents don’t feel comfortable teaching them. Some online public schools offer free laptops for students as an incentive for enrolling in their institution.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, inquire with about an online schooling option from officials in your school district.

14. Go to Local Computer Shops

You never know what you may find in your proverbial backyard. Search online for retailers of recycled computers near you and go check them out. They may be able to sell you a low-cost recycled computer or direct you to someone who is willing to give away a laptop. If you really want to get a free laptop, don’t be afraid to ask around.

15. Look into the Computer Technology Assistance Corps (CTAC)

The CTAC is a program which provides refurbished computers to economically disadvantaged individuals and low-income families. It also helps schools, libraries, and non-profit organizations to get the modern technology they need. CTAC accepts donations of computers and laptops and then re-distributes them. You have to meet certain criteria to qualify for a free computer. You must be currently receiving a form of government assistance like Medicaid, Medicare, cash assistance or food stamps.

Important Tip

Depending on how much you make, you may be able to get a laptop for as little as $100 if you don’t qualify for a free one.

16. Consider PCs for People

This is another income-based program. In order to be eligible for a free computer, you must be below the 200% poverty level or be enrolled in one of the government’s income-based assistance programs. You will need to provide proof of your eligibility. You can get a free desktop on a first-come, first served basis at PCs for People’s offices. These are older machines. If you must have a laptop, these are available in the St. Paul, MN and Denver, CO stores every day. However, you will have to pay at least $50.

Online purchases are also available and computers are shipped nationwide.

17. Reach out to an NGO or Non-Profit Organization

NGOs and non-profits have access to resources which individuals don’t. If none of the previous suggestions on how to get a free laptop are suitable, reach out to community organizations to see how they can help. Some get refurbished computers from Interconnection, an organization which refurbishes computers to a high standard and ships them across the nation. Interconnection’s mission is to help underserved communities. 

18. Find a Member of The National Cristina Foundation

The National Cristina Foundation is another entity which works with non-profits to get technology into the hands of underprivileged people. The foundation has more than 100 members who distribute free computers to families and individuals in their communities. Members include non-profits, schools, and government agencies which educate and rehabilitate economically disadvantaged people, at-risk students, and people with disabilities.

19. Try a Member of the Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse

The ATRR is another network of non-profits which may be able to help you get a free or low-cost computer. The Alliance has locations across the US, and you can find the location nearest to you by checking the website. Each member organization is different so what is available in your area is likely to differ from another.

20. Use Online Rewards to Get a Free Laptop

If all else fails, you can use rewards apps to make extra income and use this to get a laptop. There are several apps which pay you to do things you already do online like play games, watch shows, take surveys, complete offers, and shop. Some pay you in cash while others reward you with gift cards which you can use at a range of retailers.

With this option, you have to work for your laptop, but you’ll have fun along the way. If you’re not in a hurry to get the computer, gradually earning the required points won’t be a problem. 

21. Look for Giveaways on Social Media

Entering sweepstakes or giveaways can’t hurt if you really want to get a free laptop. There are often laptops up for grabs as prizes. You just need to make sure the contest you want to enter is legitimate. Follow tech brands and stores near you which sell computers so you can keep an eye out for any competitions.

Getting Low-Cost Laptops

As noted before, if you can’t get a free laptop, you’ll have to settle for a heavily discounted one. In addition to the options already mentioned concerning how to get a free laptop, there are a few more things you can try. For example, your local pawn shop may be able to sell you a refurbished laptop for a lot less than what you would pay for a new one. There are no income restrictions on shopping in a pawn shop so this is a good option if you have average income, but you want to save some money. You can also seek a Dell Refurbished laptop if you want a brand that’s known for quality.

How to Avoid Getting Scammed When You Try to Get a Free Laptop

You now know how to get a free laptop, or at least a discounted one. As you have seen, there are many ways to get a laptop with breaking the bank or going into debt. Many non-profit organizations and non-governmental organization exist solely to get technology into the hands of people who can’t afford to buy it on their own. However, many scammers know the lure of a free laptop and they seek to con unsuspecting people.

Good to Know: If you don’t want your identity or money stolen, you need to do your research before you hand over your information or cash. Make sure you read the reviews concerning any organization offering free laptops. Websites like those of the Better Business Bureau and Trust Pilot can help you to ascertain whether a business is legitimate or not.

Never give out your social security number or share your password. Also, remember to read the terms and conditions carefully.

If something doesn’t seem right, it is better to leave the site.

Now, let us know in the comments: Have you ever received a free laptop? How did you go about it?



Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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