Our FreedomPop Review
FreedomPop is an affordable carrier that runs on Sprint’s network, with widest coverage in the South and Mideast. It’s the perfect solution if you are looking for 4G mobile broadband internet on a budget. Its speeds aren’t going to be too impressive alongside carriers like Verizon, but for the frugal, there’s literally nothing cheaper than FreedomPop’s $0 per month Basic 200 plan (though you will have to pay for the equipment). FreedomPop’s data limits may be a bit lower than some other mobile broadband providers, but with add-ons and programs like Data Rollover and Data Top-Up, hitting your base data cap doesn’t mean you’re out until next month. If you live to stream videos and music, be aware that you’ll hit your data cap quickly. If you’re consistently a fierce data user, we recommend checking out carriers like Cricket Wireless, which offer unlimited data plans. Though FreedomPop does allow you to purchase or earn additional data, it just isn’t the same as having access to a completely unlimited plan.
If you’re shopping for family plans, know that FreedomPop doesn’t offer any group discounts, but you do earn extra data each month by referring friends to FreedomPop. For each friend that you refer, you get an additional 50MB of free data. And they’re not just one-time rewards: You continue to get 50MB for free every month that your friend keeps their account with FreedomPop — which can add up to a lot of free data, especially if you’re already on the free monthly plan.
A Closer Look at Features
|Price||$0-74.99 per month|
|In Business Since||2011|
|Best For||People who want the cheapest plans possible|
|Not For||People who want generous data caps|
|States and Territories Served||48 states|
Our Deep Dive
FreedomPop has a few features that we found impressively unique among mobile broadband carriers: they offer a free plan (literally $0 per month), you can earn extra data by referring your friends, and you can also share data with your friends once they’ve joined. We’ve outlined the details below.
FreedomPop offers five mobile data plans, from $0-$34.99 per month: whether you only use broadband once in a blue moon or need to catch up on your favorite video series every day, there’s a plan for you. The number and kind of plans available to you depend on your device capabilities: you’ll need to have a FreedomPop phone, SIM card, Hotspot, or USB to qualify. We’ve focused on the phone plans below, but be sure to check and make sure your equipment is compatible if you’re interested in the SIM card, Hotspot, or USB plans.
|Plan||Base Price||Data and Speed Caps||Maximum additional data usage|
|Basic 200||$0/month||500MB, 1mbps speed||750MB|
|Premium 1GB||$19.99month||1GB, 5mbps speed||1GB|
|Premium 2GB||$24.99/month||1GB, 5mbps speed||1GB|
|Premium 3GB||$29.99/month||3GB, 5mbps speed||1GB|
|Premium 4GB||$34.99/month||4GB, 5mbps speed||1GB|
*Information valid as of 1/15/18
For extremely light data users: Basic 200
Talk is cheap, but it doesn’t get better than free — literally $0 per month, for 500MBs of data and speeds of 1mbps. We’ll be honest: that’s not a lot. It’s not fast enough to stream video or music, and it’s just enough to surf the web for a little over 13 hours, post 50 photos to social media, and send 500 emails. But when your monthly bill is a solid 0, you can’t really complain.
That means it’s best for users who partake only in light web surfing and occasional streaming, and want to avoid paying for more data than they’ll ever use. All the same, if you’re worried you might go a little over your data limit, it only costs $15 to top up 750MBs of data, and $4.99 to boost your speed. That makes a good choice for people who are still figuring out exactly how much data they need — you’ll be free to toggle your data limit until you find a comfortable range, and can upgrade accordingly if needed.
For extra-light data users: Premium 1GB and Premium 2GB
If you frequently surf the web, post on social media, and occasionally stream short videos or music clips, the 5GB per month plan will likely work for you. You’ll be able to stream non-HD video for 45-90 minutes, listen to music for 7-14 hours, surf the web for 27-54 hours, post 100-200 photos to social media, and send/receive 1,000-2,000 emails at speeds up to 5Mbps. These plans are best for people who aren’t huge data crunchers, but still want to be able to stream some music and video.
If you think you’re not sure that’s enough, you’ll still be able to top up 1GB of data for $15 up to seven times per month, and pay for Speed Boost if your speeds aren’t quite up to scratch. We recommend considering the 4GB data plan if you’re one the fence: it’ll give you double the data allowance for just about $10 more per month.
For light data users: Premium 3GB and Premium 4GB
Frankly, FreedomPop’s prices for its 3GB and 4GB plans aren’t phenomenal — for the same price, you can get a higher data cap from carriers like Cricket Wireless. But the kicker is the add-ons and special features: if you have friends you can refer and share data with, purchase Speed Boost, and Data Rollover, you’ll be enjoying the high data caps and speeds of more expensive carriers like AT&T and Verizon.
Even at the base data allowance, the 3GB and 4GB plans allow you do to quite a lot with your broadband: You’ll be able to stream standard video for 2.25-3 hours, listen to music for 21-28 hours, surf the web for 81-108 hours, post 300-400 photos to social media, and send/receive 3,000-4,000 emails at speeds up to 5Mbps. If you know you’re not interested in the add-ons, we’d recommend shopping elsewhere to get more for your money, but if you’re interested in being able to receive, use, and store data as flexibly as possible, these plans might be right for you.
No matter which plan you choose, you’ll be able to apply a variety of add-on features. We’ve read the fine print and broken down the mobile broadband options here:
Freedom Friends: This is FreedomPop’s referral-rewards system. You’ll earn 50MB per month for each friend that joins up, with a limit of 500MBs added on per month (in other words, you can only get rewards for referring up to 10 friends). That’s only a maximum of 0.5GB additional data per month. But if you’re on the free Basic 500 plan and successfully refer 10 friends to FreedomPop, you can have 1GB of data per month for free. You can also share data with your friends, as long as both your accounts are active: up to 100MB per friend, with a maximum of 500MB sent out or received per person.
Data Top-Up: When you exceed your data limit, you’ll automatically be charged $15 to your account to cover additional data usage. If you’re on the 500MB plan, the $15 will cover an additional 750MBs. If you’re on a plan with over 1GB base data, the $15 Top-Up will allow for an extra 1GB of data usage. You’re limited to 7 top-ups per month ($105 worth of Top-Ups total, though at that point, we’d just recommend you upgrade your plan). You can disable top-ups by changing your account settings, but you’ll need at least $5 in your account before you can do so. And if you cancel Top-Up, your account will be suspended when you hit your data limit. Note that the Top-Up only allows for additional data usage — if you run out of minutes or messaging, you won’t be able to place any more calls or send texts for that month unless you upgrade your plan.
Data Rollover: Your data won’t automatically roll over. While that’s just a dead-end truth you have to accept with other carriers, with FreedomPop you can purchase a data rollover option. The regular Rollover plan costs $3.99 and lets you roll over up to 500MB of unused data per month, and store a maximum of 20GB unused data total. The Rollover Plus plan costs $6.99 and lets you roll over 1GB per month, and store up to 40GB of data. That means you don’t need to worry as much about wasting money on data you’ll never use — if you don’t hit your data limit one month, you can still get your money’s worth. Unfortunately, you can’t rollover leftover data from Freedom Friends, and if you cancel Data Rollover, you lose any stored data. But if you tend to always be just under your data limit, it might be a smart way to get the most for your money.
Speed Boost: FreedomPop’s speeds aren’t great. They’re on par with other cheap carriers’ like Cricket Wireless — you’ll be able to surf the web and send messages just fine, but streaming videos quickly may be a challenge at 5mbps. If speed is a must for you, you can purchase the Speed Boost add-on: It costs $4.99 per month and can boost your speeds up to 25 mbps, depending on your signal strength.
The Bottom Line
FreedomPop is best for users who want flexible, customizable, yet affordable mobile broadband offerings: It’s the only carrier with a free monthly data plan. Though data caps and max speeds aren’t too impressive, you have the option of purchasing affordable add-ons that let you top-up your data, rollover unused data, and boost your speeds. In addition, the Freedom Friends program allows you to earn data from referring friends, and share data between friends — even if you have different plans, which makes it easy make sure no data is wasted. If you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for buck and never spending more than you need, FreedomPop may be a great fit for you.