This review is by Glenn Stok, a technical writer with a Master of Science degree. He evaluates products and clearly explains their features.
FreedomPop is a cellular provider with several pricing plans based on your needs, but they also offer a totally free plan. I'll walk you through the options.
Is FreedomPop Worth Considering?
I used FreedomPop when they first began and was pleased with the service. Since then, I switched to another service when my usage requirements increased, but FreedomPop's free plan, known as the Freemium Plan, is an excellent choice if you use your smartphone mainly for emergencies or minimal usage.
With the Freemium Plan, you can send or receive ten texts per month and use up to 25 MB of 4G LTE data.
If you use your cell phone in areas where you have access to WiFi, your data and calls are unlimited.
What Are the Benefits?
They provide several significant benefits that I find unique among cell phone carriers.
- There is no contract, and you can cancel anytime.
- No phone app is required for calling and texting. It uses the native cellular service built into your smartphone.
- You can use your smartphone as long as it’s a GSM phone and is unlocked for any carrier. When using FreedomPop, my iPhone displayed AT&T as the carrier, although I know they use the Sprint network in some cases. It all depends on the phone you use.
- It uses WiFi when available, and that works for talking and texting in any country. Therefore, you can use your phone while traveling internationally. You just need to be in a WiFi hotspot.
What Are the Disadvantages?
There are a few negatives: Poor customer support and unclear guidelines that catch people off-guard if they don't read the complete instructions.
- I discovered that customer support is inferior. They do respond to emails, but only after a long delay without understanding the question asked. Their replies to my questions have been useless. Being a systems analyst, I was able to figure things out on my own, and I'll walk you through the steps.
- You need to renew the free plan every month or disable features that add data when required to avoid any billing.
- Some of the features are difficult to follow when selecting options on the customer portal. You can easily choose billable options if not careful to read all the fine print. I try to make those things clear in this article.
I notice many people complaining in social media forums that FreedomPop is crooked, and they charge monthly, even though the plan is supposed to be free. Those forum posts are by people who never read the fine print, but I’ll help you with that here.
What's Included in the Freemium Plan
The free plan includes:
- Talk: 10 cellular voice minutes, unlimited on WiFi
- Text: 10 cellular messages, unlimited on WiFi
- Data Limit: 25 MB 4G LTE
FreedomPop uses the cellular network. But if WiFi is available, voice calls use VoIP technology. If your call goes over WiFi then your minutes are not depleted. If your data usage is over WiFi, you're not using up your cellular data either.
How to Keep the Free Service Free
FreedomPop doesn't make it easy. They continually try to upgrade you to a paid plan.
It's important to understand that they will automatically upgrade you to 500 MB LTE for $8 if you go over 25 MB. When that happens, it's crucial to remember to renew your free service option for the following 30-day cycle to be back with the free service.
You Can Bundle Various Paid Plan Options
If you ever need more than 25 MB of data per month, it’s easy to switch plans by selecting other plan options. You can do that on the customer portal on their website. But remember that you will automatically be upgraded to 500 MB LTE for $8 if you go over 25 MB.
It might be less costly to select a paid plan if you need a lot of data. 500 MB isn't much data at all, and not worth $8 every time you add another 500 MB!
You can switch plans at any time. If you are going on a trip and need extra minutes or extra data for a month, you can select one of the paid plans for that month and switch back later.
You can change plans anytime by creating a bundle of data, voice, and text you prefer, as shown in the following table.
One problem I noticed is that you forfeit the remaining minutes if you upgrade or downgrade your plan before your 30-day billing cycle ends. That's because the new plan starts a new 30-day cycle.
All plans include unlimited WiFi calling.
Free and Paid Monthly Plans
|Monthly Fee||4G LTE Data||Cellular Minutes||Texts|
My Experience With FreedomPop Customer Service
The service infrastructure is excellent since it uses the AT&T network, and that's what counts. As long as you know what you're doing and understand how to stay within the free service limits, this works well.
When I first started using the service, I had questions. I received a reply to my support questions with silly answers that didn't apply to the questions I had asked. That showed that the agent didn't care to read my query carefully.
He or she should have just said to go to support.freedompop.com (I discovered that later on my own). All the technical answers are there, and you don’t need customer support from a human being.
I can understand that live support can't be given with a free service, but those online support pages should be made more noticeable.
Common Questions People Ask
- Can I use FreedomPop Worldwide?
You can use FreedomPop worldwide if you have access to WiFi, which it uses rather than the cellular network when available.
- Do you have to switch from an existing service to use FreedomPop?
You do not need to switch from an existing service unless you want to keep your old number.
FreedomPop lets you chose a new number from a list of available numbers. Once you have the service activated, you can request to port over your existing number.
- How difficult is it to cancel the contract to leave the previous carrier before switching to FreedomPop?
That all depends on the rules that your previous carrier has. If you are still under contract, they might charge a termination fee to release your number. You need to contact them for the details.
- Can I port out my number from FreedomPop if I decide to leave?
If you should ever decide to cancel your service, you can keep your number. FreedomPop makes it easy for you to move your number to another carrier.
Log into your account and select “Port Out Info” under Settings. You will see a PIN that you need to provide to your new carrier to initiate the port out process.
How to Get the FreedomPop SIM Card
To activate your FreedomPop Service on your smartphone, you need to get a SIM card kit. The kit includes all sizes, so you'll have the right one for your iOS iPhone or Android phone.
You can find the FreedomPop SIM Kit on Amazon or local stores such as Target, Walmart. But you can also order it on their website. The kit costs $10, and the service does not begin until you activate it. Make sure you order the kit for the free service.
When you receive the kit, log on to their website and select the option to activate your SIM card. The 30-day monthly cycle begins when you activate it, so remember to renew your free plan every 30 days to keep your free service active.
Using an Older FreedomPop SIM Card
I updated this article to apply to new customers who are using a new SIM card. However, if you have an older SIM card with a number beginning with 89011, you can avoid charges by turning off Automatic Top-Ups.
Those options don't exist for new customers since FreedomPop simplified its website and service options since then. New customers don't need to be troubled by that.
How to Disable Automatic Top-Up
If you don’t disable the Automatic Top-Up feature, you will be charged $20 each time your reach your data limit. The charge applies to extra data usage on an as-needed basis.
An alternative method is to select Safety Mode. That will give you 500 MBs of additional data monthly for $6.99. It’s best to disable Automatic Top-Up if you use Safety Mode.
Safety Mode can be enabled or disabled under the “Services” tab on your account portal.
To disable Automatic Top-Up, select the Safety Mode option and scroll down to the “Disable Automatic Top-Up” button. Once you choose that, you will not be charged $20 to top-up your data when needed.
To avoid the monthly $6.99 Safety Mode charge, make sure you do not click the "Activate" button while you are in the Safety Mode settings.
With both these options disabled, you will not be able to use your phone until the next 30-day cycle begins if you use up your free 25 MB. However, unlimited calls and texts are still possible with WiFi.
Free service is nice to have when you're not a big phone user but still want to have an active phone with you in case you need it.
The only issue I have with FreedomPop is how they automatically move you into a paid plan if you don't pay attention to your usage. That's not usually a bad deal. After all, it's better than getting cut off when you suddenly need to make lengthy calls or use more data than the free allotment.
You just need to keep close tabs on your usage and remember to renew the free plan every 30 days. It's cumbersome, I know, but what else would you expect with what's free?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Glenn Stok
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on April 25, 2018:
Terry - I discussed this under “How to Disable Automatic Top-Up” in this article. You only have to pay a one-time fee to disable automatic top-up. Don’t select the “safety mode” option when you see the offer appear. Decline it. You don’t need it and it will cost you a $6.99 monthly fee. Just select the “disable automatic top-up” option with the slider switch. That only has a $5 one-time fee. See the details under the subheading above in this article.
Terry on April 25, 2018:
Regarding the DISABLE AUTOMATIC TOP OFFS. A page on their web site says in order to disable automatic top offs you have to have Freedom Pop Safety mode services which costs 6.99 per month. Is this right?
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 26, 2017:
Eric Farmer - Since you use over 200MB per month, FreedomPop wouldn’t work as a free service for you anyway.
As for upselling, they are in business to make money, so you can’t blame them, as I mentioned in the article. If they didn’t have paying customers (who needed more data) then they wouldn’t be able to offer free service to those who don’t need that much data.
Eric Farmer from Rockford Illinois on December 26, 2017:
I have heard of this service before. I saw it on a Google or Facebook ad. While I do truly believe FreedomPop offers a free service I don't like how they are trying to upsell you and hope you end up paying for something. I can understand for truly low usage this would be great but it sounds like lots of hoops to jump through to me.
That and I use over 200MB of data each month in one APP alone. But like I said I can see this service being good for some people. A very informative Hub either way.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 13, 2017:
Natalie Frank - I recommend this for low-usage customers.
If your usage is higher than the free limits, this may not be good for you. You’d have to compare the pricing of the various non-free plans that I included in the table in this article.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 13, 2017:
Heidi Thorne - I noticed that they don’t advertise too much, maybe because they get a lot of word-of-mouth references.
Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on December 13, 2017:
Your articles are always so fill of information! This is the first I've heard of this carrier! I plan to read over this again as my monthly phone bills are so high. Thanks for writing this!
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on December 12, 2017:
I didn't even know this existed. Good to know. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, as always. Happy Holidays!