FreedomPop Review – Is Free All It’s Cracked up to Be?

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freedompop reviewSome say you can only value something if you’ve paid for it. There’s “skin” in the game, they say – so you’re more apt to take care of it and appreciate it.

While I can see the truth in that, I think the offer of free has to be taken on a case by case basis.

Free food? Depends on what it is (I’ll always say no to seafood!) Free round of golf? I’m there! Free cell service? Is the quality good? And, what’s your angle?

We’ve heard of FreedomPop for some time now. Known for their “free” cell service (and free phones!), I’ve been wanting to give them a try for awhile.

Our friends over at PT Money have a helpful review on the service (if you want to check that out too). 

What is and how does FreedomPop work?

We’ve discussed MVNO’s (mobile virtual network providers) at the site quite a bit. And you probably know, we’re fans. Charlie uses Republic Wireless, while I’m on the Tello Mobile plan. We’ve both been using these services for over two years and have no plans of going back to the bigger (more expensive) networks.

FreedomPop is also in the MVNO family of providers. They started back in 2012 by Stephen Stokols and Steven Sesar and are based in Los Angeles. Utilizing the Sprint and AT&T networks, they boast of having over 1 million users.

While they’ve had their ups and downs (who hasn’t, right?), the company seems to be on firm footing with a lot of venture money coming its way (a total of $109 million in 2016).

FREE cell service from freedompop

My experience with it

And, to keep everything on the table here, FreedomPop was gracious enough to let me try out their service by providing a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S4 phone from their inventory (an upgrade from my shattered-screen HTC One. )

There were some initial hiccups in getting the phone up and running. And, I also struggled a bit to find assistance on the website.

I was grateful that I had my representative from FreedomPop to assist in my onboarding and was soon on my way.

There are a few things to know upon signing up / launching the service.

One, you’ll want to be very aware of your usage. If you are just signing up to get their free plan (which ended up costing me .99 cents to get things going), know that you only have so much to play with. Their free offering and other plans are as follows:

freedompop plans
FreedomPop plans (as of 6/25/18)

Since I chose to go with the free plan, I thought I might encounter some minor (or major) issues with the service. But, I never had any problems with sending texts, getting online or making a call when I was all set-up.

The “catch”?

One of the things to note – if you choose to go with FreedomPop – is you may find their “upsell” tactics a bit – shall we say – yucky. Here’s just a look at some of the screens I encountered as I got things setup.

The premium 2GB is pre-selected for you for your first month, then $25/after.
At checkout, some offers are pre-selected again for you to uncheck
Deal #3 – Do you really not want to take advantage of that free month, then $28 every month after?

So, again, it’s really important to know what you want from your cell phone plan and how much data, texts and minutes you intend to use. I have mine generally down to a science where I know I will never go over a certain amount, unless I’m traveling or away from WiFi.

They also offer a lot of different phone options and run sales now and then. You can find out more at their store.

Is it worth it?

Its funny to ask this question when something is offered for free. But, we’re also wise to the fact that most things that are free, tend to come with catches. And, mind you, you don’t need to opt for their free plans (as noted above, there are plenty of other options for a fuller experience with FreedomPop).

As stated in an LA Times piece on FreedomPop, their goal is to get you to become a paying customer. So, they will monitor your habits and cell phone useage to see if they can pitch you services. And, they even can sense if you’re just a freeloader.

I would personally say that FreedomPop is a great option for many thrifty people – but in particular – those who know what they want in a provider and don’t want to pay much – if anything.

If you are looking for more, you can find other competing offers that can match or beat their plans.

But, the free option is certainly one you may wish to consider and experiment with.

Have you had any experience with FreedomPop?

FREE cell service from freedompop

Comparison of other MVNO providers

MVNONetwork UsedPlan Price
(Min. available)
Mexico & Canada Included in PlanCustomer ServicePlan Friendliness
(Ability to uprade / downgrade at will)
Free Tethering
BoostSprint$35 (Unlimited / 3GB data)$5 extraFair1 month noticeNo
Consumer CellularAT&T, T-Mobile$15 (250 min / no data) AARP members can get 15% discount.International direct dialGoodAnytime-
CricketAT&T$25 (Talk / Text Plan)Smart / Pro Plans onlyFair2x per billing cycleNo
Republic WirelessSprint, T-Mobile$15 (Unlimited talk / text)NoFair (Most CS logged to community)2x per billing cycleYes
Straight Talk WirelessAT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon$35 (Unlimited text/talk + 2GB)Add-onGoodAnytimeNo
TelloSprint$5 (100 min / Unlimited text)Yes (texts and MMS only)GoodAnytimeYes
TingSprint, T-Mobile$15 (100 min / MB / text. Plans based on what you use). Offers $25 upon signupYesGoodOkayNo
TracFoneVerizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile US, Sprint Corporation, and U.S. Cellular$14.25 for auto-renew (200 min / 500 texts / 500mb)NoFairOkayNo
TwigbySprint, Verizon$9.00 (Text + 200min + WiFi only)NoGoodYesYes

FreedomPop

8.3

Costs

9.0/10

Reliability

7.5/10

Customer Service

7.0/10

Thrifty

9.5/10

Pros

  • No contracts, hidden fees
  • Free cell phone option (w/ small setup fee)
  • Free phone option
  • Ability to change plan
  • Free data upgrades by referring friends

Cons

  • Upsell offers (beware)
  • Data is limited for free plan (charged overages)

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2 comments

  1. Keith Frasier TGOTY says:

    Hello Aaron, Good review. I’ve used them off on on for over 5 years and have a couple of important things to add. You only get the 500 MB per month if your on the Sprint CDMA sim. The (better) ATT sim that I use only gives you 200 MB per month. In most cases the ATT coverage is better than the Sprint even though you get more data with Sprint. Also If you ‘add’ 10 ‘freedom friends’ to your account (easy to do just enter their email) you get an additional 500 MB per month for a total of 700 MB per month with ATT sim. Data does not roll over. Free plan does not include voicemail or MMS. The other main issue with many is that you have to use the FreedomPop App to make and receive calls and texts. You can not use your own text app. And lastly, the voice calls are VOIP not standard cell phone calls. Many find this annoying as VOIP requires a ‘really’ good signal to sound good. In addition to your list of rate plans, they now offer 3 month, six month and yearly plans with significant savings. For example, you can get a quarterly plan with unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of data for only 21 dollars every three months. That comes out to only 7 bucks a month! If you can put up with the up-selling you mentioned and the VOIP concerns, it’s still a good deal. I personally use RedPocket, Tello, and FreedomPop at my house.

    • Aaron says:

      Excellent feedback here Keith. Thanks for providing more color on making calls (needing to use the app) and the VOIP aspect.

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