Review (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.
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.
- Uses AT&T’s nationwide 4G LTE network
- Unlimited talk
- Unlimited text with attachments – images, short videos, short audios
- 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.
I 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.