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

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NOTE: Check out the news about FreedomPop at the end of the post regarding their recommendations that customers move to Ting Mobile.

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

Update 7/20/19: FreedomPop and UNREAL Mobile have made a deal to move all customers currently on the Sprint network to Ting Mobile, an industry-leading service provider on the Sprint Network. You’ll receive identical coverage on Ting, and you can keep your phone and your number. Ting has a compelling exclusive offer for FreedomPop and UNREAL Mobile customers:

Option 1: $6 unlimited talk and text + $4/GB
Option 2: $20 unlimited talk and text + 20GB data + first month free

Comparison of other MVNO providers

MVNONetwork UsedPlan Price
(Min. available)
Calls to 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 (Unlimited Talk / Text Plan)Smart / Pro Plans onlyFair2x per billing cycleNo
Gen MobileSprint$5 (Unlimited text)Yes (over 101 countries)GoodYesYes
Republic WirelessSprint, T-Mobile$15 (Unlimited talk / text), + $5/GBNoFair (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 $50 credit upon signupYesGoodOkayYes
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 + 300min + WiFi only)Yes (and China)GoodYesYes
UNREALSprint$10 (Unlimited text + talk + data - up to 1GB)NoFairYesNo
VisibleVerizon (Visible is not considered a traditional MVNO)$40 (unlimited talk,text and data)NoGoodOnly one plan offeredYes

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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18 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.

  2. bill tamsk says:

    freedom pop is the worst I have nothimg but problems – 2 difffermet phone
    novoice ,ail texting sporatic keep getting billed without ordering they just take it ot

    ready to junk it all

  3. M Tre says:

    I agree 100% with Keith Frasier and all of the caveats he notes. We’ve had 2 phones on freedom pop ATT sims, one for each of my pre-teen kids. My daughter used freedompop for a year, and more recently we added my son as well. While not super robust, the free plan was more than enough for our needs (occasional & emergency calls, messaging). Basically my kids are mostly on wifi at home and school, so the only time they needed service was on the walk back and forth to school and whenever they were out with friends and we needed to communicate with them. My kids don’t stream music unless on wifi (both their phones have FM tuners so not an issue) and they aren’t allowed to send texts unless its to us and its important. We communicate all the time when they are on wifi, and they manage their own usage when they are not. We disable all but the most critical apps from using data, and they also use Google Datally to manage their usage. They download Netflix movies for offline viewing as well, so they really aren’t missing out on much with the Freedompop experience.

    No MMS, no voicemail, annoying Freedompop app, having to “opt out” during sign ups and a few days before the free trials ends in order for it to truly be “free” are all downsides, but in the year we’ve had service with them, all we paid for was the initial sim cards ($10 each maybe, cant remember) and a couple of random 1 cent charges to our credit card that they refer to as “Account Maintenance” charges (my understanding is that if usage is not detected on your account for a period of time, they perform a verification on your credit card for 1 cent to make sure its good). That’s it. We brought our own phones, but you can buy a number of older model android or iphones directly from them.

    Setup can be confusing and you must read everything to understand how to avoid charges, but it is 100% do-able and my kids don’t need any more than what Freedompop offers. More recently, we moved our daughter to Project Fi as her use case has changed (new Middle School, more time away from home) but we still expect her to manage her usage and Fi allows us to only pay for what we use. Freedompop’s paid offerings were not as robust and the network not as flexible as what I could get by adding her to my Fi account on a family plan, otherwise, I might have put her on a paid plan with Freedompop. But for now, my son will stay on with Freedompop until it is his turn to go to middle school.

    I really can’t say enough about how pleased we were with the free plan. While all of her friend’s parents are pouring money into unlimited plans for their youngsters, we have been saving big time and laughing all the way the bank.

  4. Dave Leonard says:

    This has been the worst service experience ever! coverage is horrible, I’ve been getting $21 bills for no service. now I’m trying to port my number to Tracfone, and they are not allowing it, not providing an account number so they could not port. Instead they have told Tracfone that I no longer have an account with them (totally untrue!). I ended up canceling my account and losing my number. I’ve ended up spending over $80 on bills and fees in less than 3months.

  5. Nate says:

    They did a pump and dump on old wireless hotspots. Devices were $10 and had a free plan (although there was a hidden $11 charge to activate which was never mentioned). However, they sign you up for the expensive plan with 14 day free trial which starts when they ship, not when you receive the device. I caught on to this and tried several times to downgrade the service, but the website did not allow this option. They also did not allow phone calls to their tech support for this plan. So, I started a support ticket on their site and didn’t get a response for several days. So, I disputed the $33 unwanted service charge on my credit card. Then they cancelled my account because they said their service agreement says that if you dispute any charge they must cancel the account and not let you sign up again to use the device. So they sold me a device they rendered useless before I was able to even use it. No recourse.

  6. Tony K says:

    FreedomPop charged my credit card without my consent. They mailed me a SIM card pack that I never ordered, because I already had one. I have been trying to contact their customer support for the last 3 weeks. They don’t have a contact number that would allow you to speak with a real person. I see an unauthorized charge on my credit card, but they are unwilling to refund me.

    The worst carrier I have ever experienced, please stay away

  7. Christeen says:

    Getting rid of my Freedom pop after over 7 years of service. They’ve become really sneaky with the random charges. I downgraded to the free plan because their plans had randomly doubled in price and they charge you a fee of 20 dollars to downgrade. I had a strict budget set up for my brother (he is diabled) and this random charge nearly caused his bank to overdraft. I asked for a refund but I will charge back if I need to.

  8. Jerry says:

    Freedom Pop Scam

    This is a copy of the dispute I opened with my bank against Freedom Pop.

    “I paid Freedom Pop for a year of cell phone/data service. However I am unable to make a phone call. In an emergency, I was unable to dial a phone number because they impose advertising that interrupts the dialing process. This happens 3 or 4 times each time I try to make a call. They lied to me and never informed me they I would be bombarded with ads so badly that I would not be able to use my phone. They refuse to listen to me or give me a refund. They scammed me and stole my money.”

    By obstructing me from making phone calls and cheating me out of my money, Freedom Pop has made a Great Enemy of me. When I tried to make an emergency phone call, Freedom Pop bombarded my phone with ads (as is their Standard Operating Procedure) and that obstructed and prevented me from calling for help. As a result, one person almost bled to death and another is in a coma which would have been prevented if I could have been able to dial 911. The injureds lawyers and state regulatory officials who are asking to meet with me to sign an affidavit of my attempt call for help. I will be most eager to work with them to expose freedom pop and take them down!

  9. Quent says:

    Never got started with these guys. I think the package was delivered to the wrong address.

    Never received the hotspot I ordered. Someone else did, racked up some data useage. I contacted these guys multiple times, their customer services is horrible. Even to resolve shipping errors, apparently they want you to upgrade to paid customer support?
    Submitted credit card disputes, we’ll see how it goes.

    Their customer service portal is pretty bad, not intuitive to get help from.

  10. Jaime Ortiz says:

    Don’t go with them. Look at the reviews on Google & you’ll see that almost no-one is able to use their phone … The same thing happened to me, I bought a FreedomPop phone, then made the terrible mistake of paying for a year in advance. I was not able to make calls out for most of that year. A low-cost company that you CAN trust instead is out there, but it’s NOT FreedomPop!! Even if you disable the top-up setting, they still take money from your CC without authorization. For all you end up paying, you could have a nice phone with fully functional service: stay away from FreedomPop!

    • Mike says:

      I agree with Jaime after I used Freedompop for a year.
      (1) They increased their rate by 40% more and charged to my credit card directly without telling me.
      (2) They only provide technical support through submitting a ticket on their website. No real-time technical support
      (3) There are a lot of issues with their Freedompop calling application. You may have to remove and reinstall it many times
      (4) From time to time, you cannot make phone calls to certain numbers or to any numbers due to IO Errors.

  11. Sylvia Keppel says:

    Beware Freedompop! I bought the 12-month, unlimited talk & text, 1 GB data plan bundle through a local retailer, but Freedompop is only giving me the Basic 200 min, 500 text, 200MB plan. Their website acknowledges I have the 12-month plan under my account information, yet my plan usage is being recorded as the lesser Basic plan. AND they charged me $23.21 for the lesser plan even though my 12-month plan was prepaid. After 8 complaints which they labeled “resolved” while not resolving the issue, I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and now Freedompop won’t let me log in to review my complaints or file more complaints. I’m awaiting the BBB’s efforts at resolution. Freedompop is a total SCAM!

  12. lover of texas says:

    I purchased Phone. Did not work. Reps who sold it did not tell the “truth” per second rep. Cancelled service Feb 2017. Charged my cc March 2017 and never refunded my money. Plan was about $18/month. Got a cc charge Nov 2018 for $28.xx (18 months later). Then they charged another cc Feb 2019 $28.xx which declined & March 2019 $20.xx. I managed to catch the March one and get the CC companys to block them. Beware once they have your CC # you are at their mercy.

  13. Dave null says:

    Whatever you do, DON’T fall for this scam. You’ll never get a free account and you’ll discover unexpected charges on your account frequently. The customer service is AWFUL. I can’t decide whether they don’t understand enough English to do their jobs or they are trained to be as unhelpful and obstinate as possible. Don’t fall into their trap. Not convinced? Go to “Victims of FreedomPop” on Facebook.

  14. JimTex says:

    FreedomPop (FP) seemed to be the ideal service for me as I had a phone primarily for emergency usage. For the first couple of years, most things went okay except for the occasional charges made to my credit card (CC) which would happen every couple of months or so. I then had to submit a ticket and in a couple of weeks or so, everything was hunky-dory until the next problem occurred which took another couple of weeks to get cleared up.

    But, sometime in July of 2019, I needed to make a near emergency type call and I only had my iPhone to use. My iPhone used FP as my carrier. I dialed the number and immediately knew there was no service! Fortunately , I found another way to make contact with the person I urgently needed to speak with!

    I started researching why I had no service! I went to my FP account and was told I had no service with FP and needed to sign up for service! What? After years of service and in good standing I don’t have an account with FP? This could not be!

    So, after some research, I find out my account has been “migrated” to TING without my knowledge and consent! And, to top all that off, FP migrated the wrong phone number to TING! And, even worse, that wrong phone number is still active and belongs to someone else!

    I then decided to sign up with another carrier other than TING and have asked that my FP (the correct one) be ported to my new account at a new carrier. FP has refused to do so on at least 3 occasions. I reminded FP that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled that carriers must port numbers when requested. FP completely ignores this and continues to refuse to port my number (which I know is available for them to do so)! My new carrier is getting upset that for over a week now, they cannot activate my new service!

    FP is not customer oriented when the customer is on the basic plan (essentially free) service! The customers they unloaded on TING are essentially the “freeloaders,” myself being one of them!

    So, you have to take a lot of details into consideration before signing up for FreedomPop…..one being that you can expect a lot “monitoring” of your account to keep unexpected charges being made, keeping the Top Balance activated (after they deactivate it monthly wanting to make you add more) and lastly, whether you still have an account should they decide to unload you to another carrier (and I speak of experience in that matter)!!

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