How much do you spend on your cell phone plan?
For most of us, the answer is “too much!”
The cheapest cell phone plans with data on the big carriers start at $40/month – before paying for the phone itself. If you decide to buy an iPhone with your plan, you can expect a monthly bill close to $100.
If you think spending $1000+ a year on a phone bill is ridiculous, you're in luck. There's a new kid on the block…
FreedomPop offers a 100% free cell phone plan – with data!
When I first heard about FreedomPop's free plan, I got excited. But like you, I'm no fool. I know that nothing's free in life. So, naturally, I had to sign up and test it out!
It turns out that FreedomPop really does offer a free plan – but it has it's limits (of course). This article covers my review of FreedomPop in the US (it's also available in the UK), who I think it's appropriate for, and why I'm using it in addition to my current cell phone provider.
Here's what FreedomPop's free cell phone plan offers
The FreedomPop 100% free basic phone plan offers the following each month:
- 500 text messages
- 200 minutes of talk time
- 500MB of data
- 100 minutes of international talk time to select countries
- Unlimited calls/texts to other FreedomPop users
If you look at that and laugh because you talk more than 3 hours on your cell phone, or use more than half a GB of data every month, then the basic FreedomPop plan may not be for you (although their other plans may be appropriate).
For example, if you're often on WiFi but need unlimited talk time and texts, you can purchase an unlimited text/minutes plan (with 500 MB of data) for $12/month – still far less than most other plans.
FreedomPop uses Sprint's network – the 4th largest network in the US after Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. This means that FreedomPop covers all major US cities and much of the East Coast – but is lacking in the Northwest and many rural areas.
I recommend exploring Sprint's map to determine if FreedomPop will meet your coverage needs. You can check your local coverage here.
What's not included in the FreedomPop basic plan
Ok, so here's where FreedomPop gets youâ€¦
In addition to the limits on data/talk/text, the basic plan also limits some functionality that you wouldn't expect. Unless you pay extra, FreedomPop does not provide:
- Sending MMS' – texts that include videos or images (the free plan sends a link)
- Voicemail functionality (receiving, managing, and storing)
Although many people don't use voicemail often, these two functions have become commonplace for most of us.
If you do want these features, FreedomPop offers a $7.99/monthly option that provides:
- MMS texts
- Voicemail (including the ability to read voicemails)
- Tethering of up to 8 devices to connect to the web via your phone
- Data rollover of up to 20 GBs
For most heavy cell phone users, I imagine that this $7.99/month option would be a necessary addition. Although inexpensive, it does bump up the cost of every plan.
Additional perks that come with all FreedomPop plans
Although voicemail and MSS aren't default, there are a few perks that come with all FreedomPop plans – free or paid.
A few that we mentioned above are worth pointing out again:
- Unlimited FreedomPop user-to-user calls/texts. If you get your friends and family using FreedomPop, the limitations may not be that substantial.
- 100 free international landline minutes. There is a large list of countries that you can contact for free with FreedomPop's free international minutes. For someone living in the US from abroad, this may be just the right amount of time to catch up with friends and family back home when Skype or FaceTime isn't available.
Additionally, another great perk is the ability to earn free data via FreedomPop:
- Earn an extra 50MB/mo for every friend who's on FreedomPop. If you connect with 10 friends who also use FreedomPop, you've just earned an extra 500MB/mo – just for being friends who both use FreedomPop!
- Earn additional data for completing offers. FreedomPop will provide you with free data in exchange for completing partner offers online. Although this may be appealing, you'll probably benefit more from signing up for these offers on a cashback site like Ebates or Swagbucks, and paying for the extra data.
- Receive an inexpensive phone and low-cost activation fee. I received a Huawei Android phone, all set and ready to use, for just $30.
FreedomPop's paid plan options: How much does Freedompop cost?
For many people, the free plan probably won't be enough – even with the added bonuses. If that's the case for you, there are a variety of paid plans available.
FreedomPop states that they offer up to an 80% discount on their traditional plans compared to other carries. And, when compared to the big 3, they're right.
Every FreedomPop plan is month-by-month with no contract. Additionally, all of FreedomPop's paid plans include unlimited minutes and texts.
FreedomPop plans fall into two categories. The first are Premium plans with the following limits and prices:
- Premium 500MB for $11.99/mo
- Premium 1GB for $19.99/mo
- Premium 2GB for $24.99/mo
- Premium 3GB for $29.99/mo
- Premium 4GB for $34.99/mo
Additionally, FreedomPop provides Unlimited Everything plans which include high speed data up to a set limit, followed by unlimited slower speed. This is similar to Verizon and T-Mobile's unlimited plans:
- Unlimited Everything 1GB for $24.99/mo
- Unlimited Everything 2GB for $29.99/mo
Finally, remember that it will cost an additional $7.99/mo per plan to be able to send images/videos via text and have voicemail set up.
As you can see, most of these plans are still cheaper than larger carrier alternatives – especially if your phone use is limited and you don't need the many additional features provided by the top players in the market.
However, I would probably chose Verizon or T-Mobile plans before signing up for one of the $30+/mo plans on FreedomPop.
Ready to try it out? You can sign up for Freedompop here and receive premium +2 GB free for your first month ($35 value).
Should you switch to FreedomPop's free (or cheap) cell phone plan?
After reviewing the features and costs associated with the FreedomPop free and paid plans, you probably have a better idea of whether or not it's right for you.
In short, I think the 100% free basic phone plan is appropriate for anyone who:
- Doesn't text or call on a regular basis
- Has WiFi accessible most of the day
- Is okay not sending and receiving picture/video texts
- Doesn't need voicemail
- Lives and travels where Sprint's network covers
- Wants to save $600-1000/year
Some of the people who would likely benefit the most from this plan include:
- Retirees who have a landline and just need something for when they travel or leave the house
- College students who spend most of their time on campus with WiFi and don't text/call excessively
- Anyone else wanting to save money who doesn't use their phone an excessive amount when away from WiFi
Meanwhile, the FreedomPop paid plans are an excellent choice for people who need a bit more connectivity, but don't want to break the bank. If you choose the unlimited text/talk plan and add the voicemail/MMS, it only costs $20/mo for 500MB of data! Add a few friends to your FreedomPop network and you could easily have 1GB of data without increasing your monthly bill.
My review of FreedomPop conclusion: I'm using the free plan, and keeping my current carrier
After spending a month testing the phone around Orlando and Daytona in Florida, and Austin and Dallas in Texas, I've decided that I will stick with my current carrier for my primary phone.
The main reason I'm keeping my current provider is that I travel across the US frequently – for both work and fun. Because I'm often in rural parts of America, I need adequate coverage that will be available everywhere.
However, if I find myself doing less US travel in the future, I will certainly consider making FreedomPop my primary carrier.
In short, here's what I love about FreedomPop:
- They offer great deals on new and refurbished phones and WiFi hotspots. For anywhere from $20-300 you can find new and refurbished phones. From iPhones and Samsung, to WiFi hotspots for your computers, you have plenty of toys to purchase.
- They really do offer a 100% free plan. Sure, there are a few hassles that come with the free plan – but it really is 100% free! Offering a freemium phone service is brilliant in my opinion – and makes phone service more affordable for many people.
- Their paid plans are very reasonably priced. I believe that most people could save money by switching to FreedomPop – if the platform met their needs. This is impressive and something I love.
- Their network is decent. I've seen free phone services in the past that use solely WiFi – which isn't reasonable for most people. Although Sprint is not the best network, it does allow FreedomPop to satisfy the coverage needs of 95% of Americans.
- They have free international minutes. For international students or immigrants living in the US, the 100 free international minutes every month are a huge perk.
- You can own multiple devices. FreedomPop keeps each plan separate. This means that you could have a work phone, personal phone, and WiFi hotspot – all with their own data amounts, for free. So essentially, you would be able to use 1.5GB of data across these three devices without paying extra! Not a bad deal.
And here's what would need to change for me to make FreedomPop my primary carrier:
- The FreedomPop messaging app needs improvement. This is probably the biggest drawback to me. I'm not sure how it impacts an iPhone's messaging capabilities, but the app replaced the Android's regular messaging app. Not only did this feel different, but it sometimes seemed to create a lag in when texts and calls were sent/received. This would need to be improved for me to use it regularly, as I need communications to go through immediately when working.
- Improved coverage. Again, for many people the coverage is adequate – and it may fit my needs in the future. However, right now Sprint's coverage isn't enough for my needs. If they gained access to Verizon or AT&T's networks I would feel more comfortable using FreedomPop exclusively.
- Combined plan discounts. Having to pay an extra $7.99/mo for MSS and voicemail isn't terrible – except that I would need to pay for that once for me, and once for my wife. Based on our current needs, I would probably spend $50-60/month for both of us to use FreedomPop – which is just $15-20 cheaper than a plan on another network with substantially better coverage. If that difference jumped up to $30-40/month, we would be more likely to fully switch over.
For my current situation, I've decided to keep my original provider. However, I will hold on to the $30 Android that I purchased through FreedomPop and use it for work calls or an emergency backup if my other phone goes dead while traveling.
Since it's free, you may as well give it a shot!
My recommendation is that everyone should at least try FreedomPop. If you already have a phone you want to use, the cost to get started is $0.99 for a sim card. Or, if you want to buy a new phone to use with FreedomPop, you can pick up a decent Android for $30-50 from their shop.
If you discover that the plan fits your needs, cancel your current provider and start saving huge amounts of money.
Meanwhile, if FreedomPop can't do everything you need, use the free basic plan as a backup phone! Keep it charged and in your car or backpack. Then, the next time your phone goes dead or breaks, you'll still be able to call someone to pick you up.
Check out the current FreedomPop offers to determine if this is a valid way for you to save money. Then, share your thoughts on the plan in the comments section below.