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).
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:
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.
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.
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?
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
|MVNO||Network Used||Plan Price|
|Calls to Mexico & Canada Included in Plan||Customer Service||Plan Friendliness|
(Ability to uprade / downgrade at will)
|Boost||Sprint||$35 (Unlimited / 3GB data)||$5 extra||Fair||1 month notice||No|
|Consumer Cellular||AT&T, T-Mobile||$15 (250 min / no data) AARP members can get 15% discount.||International direct dial||Good||Anytime||-|
|Cricket||AT&T||$25 (Unlimited Talk / Text Plan)||Smart / Pro Plans only||Fair||2x per billing cycle||No|
|Gen Mobile||Sprint||$5 (Unlimited text)||Yes (over 101 countries)||Good||Yes||Yes|
|Republic Wireless||Sprint, T-Mobile||$15 (Unlimited talk / text), + $5/GB||No||Fair (Most CS logged to community)||2x per billing cycle||Yes|
|Straight Talk Wireless||AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon||$35 (Unlimited text/talk + 2GB)||Add-on||Good||Anytime||No|
|Tello||Sprint||$5 (100 min / Unlimited text)||Yes (texts and MMS only)||Good||Anytime||Yes|
|Ting||Sprint, T-Mobile||$15 (100 min / MB / text. Plans based on what you use). Offers $50 credit upon signup||Yes||Good||Okay||Yes|
|TracFone||Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile US, Sprint Corporation, and U.S. Cellular||$14.25 for auto-renew (200 min / 500 texts / 500mb)||No||Fair||Okay||No|
|Twigby||Sprint, Verizon||$9.00 (Text + 300min + WiFi only)||Yes (and China)||Good||Yes||Yes|
|UNREAL||Sprint||$10 (Unlimited text + talk + data - up to 1GB)||No||Fair||Yes||No|
|Visible||Verizon (Visible is not considered a traditional MVNO)||$40 (unlimited talk,text and data)||No||Good||Only one plan offered||Yes|
- 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
- Upsell offers (beware)
- Data is limited for free plan (charged overages)