LogoReview (5-minute read)

Four months ago, I finally found a way to reduce my cell phone bill – from about $44 per month to $50 per year. I had been using 3 of the 4 major USA carriers (postpaid and prepaid) at different times starting around the year 2000. Since I can rely on WiFi connectivity 90% of the time nowadays, this cellular plan from the MVNO FreedomPop with a 1GB data per month limit is enough. You have unlimited talk and text (MMS!) with this plan. FP has the best prepaid cellular phone plans I’ve seen in the USA to date. (Can’t get by on 1GB of data? There is a great 5GB plan that I’ll cover below.)

I do not recommend the FreedomPop free-trial SIMs! The features and experience will not be the same. I recommend only the annual 1GB and 5GB plans. You get a money-back guarantee on the 1GB and 5GB plans within 30 days of signing up – that does the job superbly as your “free trial”.

You have to pay the $50 up front. Then you don’t see another bill for a year. It works out to less than $5 per month. It’s important to note that a 1GB data plan will work for you only if you restrict video streaming activity to a WiFi connection. You can’t really stream more than the occasional few minutes of video from the AT&T network with this plan – one solid hour or two of streaming videos, sports or a movie would quickly use up your 1GB allotment. Restrict your 1GB data usage to emails, phone and tablet applications (non-streaming activities), and a moderate amount of website access. Plan on using your WiFi connection as your go-to for video.

These are the 2 best prepaid cellular phone plans I’ve seen in the USA, with the lowest cost data allotments.

1GB/mo 4G LTE data, unlimited talk & text $50 per year

Need more data than 1GB per month? select the 5GB/mo plan for $150 per year paid upfront (works out to $12.50/mo). These 1GB and 5GB plans are the only plans that I recommend. There’s no activation fee.

I recommend that you try out the service without porting out your existing cellphone number at first. Keep your existing service and just swap out the SIM card to test FP and determine if it works for you. Pick out a new phone number for the SIM (it’s temporary if you want it to be and they can port your existing phone number if you want to, later). You will have 30 days to return the SIM for full credit if you have any service issues at your location (or, if you simply changed your mind). To swap out your SIM, just power down your device, then insert the new SIM, and reboot.

Features:

  • Uses AT&T’s nationwide 4G LTE network
  • Unlimited talk
  • Unlimited text with attachments – images, short videos, short audios
  • Voicemail
  • Voice transcription (read your voicemails in text format)
  • No activation fee
  • Simply install the FP application, then shut down your device, replace the SIM card in your iPhone or Android handset (it must possess GSM cellular radios and most do), and reboot

The caveats are (and these tradeoffs are minor in my opinion – read on and decide for yourself):

Phone calls use VoIP over the cellular data (not voice) network, with no impact on your monthly 1GB data allowance. Or, you can use your available WiFi network – it’s your choice.

You must use FreedomPop’s separate app to place a call using it’s own keypad or contact list in the app (or other VoIP apps such as Google Hangouts (free) or Ooma (paid subscription), if you have them).

Texting must be done from the FP app as well.

Your FP contact list gets duplicated from your phone’s native Contacts List when you first install it, and will sync with the native list when you make changes.

You must get used to paying attention to what you are connected to – WiFi or AT&T cellular, and set it accordingly. I recommend that you learn the habit of turning off cellular until you are outside somewhere and need it. That way, if Wifi drops out, your phone won’t default to the cellular connection and have you unknowingly draining your 1GB data. This change didn’t take long for me to adjust to.

If you approach using up your 1GB limit, FP will warn you with a prompt giving you the option to pay for extra data, at $2 per 100MB with your credit card or PayPal. If you run out of data, you will be limited to WiFi internet access until your next month starts, including phone calls and texts.

Customer service is via email, and on the rare occasion that you need to contact FP or get some questions answered, they take about 24 hours to respond, or you can ask me your questions right here by posting a comment. You can opt to pay extra for real-time FP customer service by phone ($5.99 per month to join the call queue – that’s kind of funny – but I recommend that you avoid add-ons like this one as they will quickly erode the value you’re after – stick with the original plan for $50 per year). This plan is turnkey and you don’t typically have any need to contact customer service.

There is no hotspot feature in this plan. You can’t tether to another device such as your laptop computer. Since WiFi continues to expand its geographical area and speed, this would be a minor limitation for most users. I used to tether occasionally in the past, and that ended a few years ago. It’s a feature I no longer need.

hope you enjoyed this review and if you have any questions about the FreedomPop SIMs or want to leave your own personal review, leave a comment below.

Purchase 1GB FreedomPop SIM at FreedomPop

Purchase 1GB FreedomPop SIM at Amazon.com

11 thoughts on “Found a way to almost get rid of my monthly cell phone bill”

  1. This is a great plan for anyone trying to cut their recurring monthly expenses! Great for students, retirees, anyone for that matter – who is not dependent on cellular data for data intensive tasks such as video streaming.

    1. Thank you Vicki! The USA took a long time to get a deal like this, and Canada is still high priced – probably similar to NZ. The EU and India have some good cellular deals – if you control your usage there you’re not stuck with a ~$50 bill every month. I’ll continue to build out my US market analysis on my website, and then consider expanding the scope to overseas countries.
      John

  2. Wow, its really great to know there’s such and affordable option out there! I’m on wifi most of the time so I feel like this could work for me. How much data does a phone call take if you’re off wifi? Do you find you have as good a connection as AT&T? Since it’s on their network I would think so. The 5GB plan sounds like it would be great for me and still be less then a monthly bill!

    Thanks so much!
    Kitty

    1. Kitty, Phone call minutes are unlimited with this plan, so you need not keep track of the usage for that, but for the record, they use a very small amount of data compared to video. A 60-minute phone call uses around 30MB. I measured the speed of my AT&T connection using the Speedtest app, and it is very fast all over my town, even inside my place, faster than my WiFi which is usually around 20Mbps upload and download. If you’re already on AT&T, yes, as you thought, you will get the same speed as you were getting before.

      Thanks for your comment!
      John

  3. Wow, this sounds like a great plan! I am curious. So when I am driving around and need to use cellular data, that is when it goes against the 1 GB data limit? Even getting the 5GB data plan at $12.50 a month is a bargain. If you do this, you still pay $50 a year? Still a bargain. I pay $300 for two phones thru AT&T a month! This sounds like the way to go. I am curious about phones. Since it uses the AT&T network, can we keep our iPhones?

    1. Hi Matts Mom, Yes, once you leave your home WiFi area, typically you have to depend on your cellular data until you find available WiFi somewhere again.

      Driving around, say you have your phone mounted to your dashboard and you’re using the Google Maps GPS navigation app – you would need to use your cellular data. But actually, there’s a workaround for that – if you download your area’s map while on WiFi before you leave home, you can re-use that map and navigate with cellular data off – there’s one catch – you will not see traffic updates without a live cellular connection – GPS apps are not nearly as bad a data hog as streaming video, but I need to find out what the data hit would be for, say, a 30-minute commute and add it to my website.

      You can choose to purchase either the 1GB $50 plan or the 5GB $150 plan – there’s no need to purchase the $50 plan before you purchase the $150 plan. (The monthly amounts are shown only to help you compare costs with other carrier offers.)

      Yes, you can keep your AT&T iPhones. Most phones have the necessary GSM radios built in – mine and yours do. I’m still using a Verizon iPhone 6 Plus purchased from Apple that I never used on Verizon (in case I moved and needed to use their CDMA network, but it didn’t happen). I used it on T-Mobile for 3-1/2 years, and then switched it over to FreedomPop using the AT&T network.

      Thank you for your inquiry!
      John

  4. Oh wow!
    This is extremely cheap. Reading this from Canada, and WOW we cant even get a plan for $50 a month! Sounds like a great go to for a phone plan.

  5. That’s such an amazing idea you did my friend. I’ve seen this in the past but thought there was a “catch” or something because it sounded too good to be true. However, as you explain it in the caveats section, there are some things we need to follow and in my opinion they aren’t even that bad. I think I’m going to give FreedomPop a whirl, they sound amazing. Thanks!

    1. Brandon, I’ve been watching them over the years and they really did it this time with the service offering and I went for their SIM card. I tested it out for a month before canceling my existing service, and got used to using their application where needed. Like you said – not bad at all, and the price is outstanding!

      Thanks for your comment!
      John

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