FreedomPop Review: Is a Free Cell Phone Plan a Scam?

You may have heard the rage about the new cell phone service provider that offers free talk, text, and data. It’s called FreedomPop. Is it too good to be true? Find out in our review below.

FreedomPop review

When it first released, many news outlets covered the service from the angle of home users and domestic wireless users. Now, FreedomPop offers global cell phone service as well — a unique feat for such a cheap provider.

Since it’s hard to beat free, I thought we’d take a look at how all the other features stack up.

What You Get

FreedomPop offers 500MB of data, 200 voice minutes, and 500 text messages in its free monthly plan. This unique feature may be enough to sell you on the service. But for many people, 500MB of data won’t be enough to satisfy their web surfing and video streaming needs. Additional data and service can be purchased for a fee, which we’ll go over in a bit.

You can bring your own compatible device to the FreedomPop network to save money, or purchase one of FreedomPop’s devices. FreedomPop’s selection of phones is limited and doesn’t currently include the newest Samsung Galaxy or iPhone. The phones they do offer, though, typically come at a highly discounted price.

FreedomPop’s coverage map is continually expanding. As of September 2016, FreedomPop phones are serviced in 25 countries. This is unlike any other discount cell phone provider on the market. In fact, most don’t offer international phone service at all! According to FreedomPop, the phone service should be expanding to even more countries in the future.

freedom-pop

Additional features include visual voicemail (receive, manage, and store voicemails from a free app) and tethering (turn your phone into a hotspot and connect up to 8 devices wherever you go).

Pricing

As previously mentioned, the free plan won’t cut it for many people. That’s okay, though, because even the paid plans aren’t that pricey. Currently, FreedomPop offers two other paid options: Premium 1GB and Annual 1GB.

Premium 1GB offers unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB of data, for only $19.99 per month. Additional data can be purchased at 1.5 cents per MB.

You can save even more money by opting for the Annual 1GB plan. It costs $79.99 per year, which comes out to about $7 per month.

Unused data for either plan rolls over. You can bank up to 20GB of data for use anytime.

*These prices are based on service in the Washington, DC area. Prices may vary depending on your service area.

The Pros and Cons of FreedomPop

When considering a discount cell phone service provider, it’s important to compare what you’re getting with what you’re giving up. Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of FreedomPop service:

The Good

Free 500MB: The first tier of FreedomPop’s service is free. This plan comes with 500MG of data, 200 voice minutes, and 500 text messages. It’s a great option for people who only use their phone for basic necessities. It’s also a great option for a child’s first phone.

Low Plan Prices: Even if the free plan doesn’t cut it for you, FreedomPop’s paid plans are not expensive either. At just $19.99 per month or $79.99 per year, you can get 1GB of data, unlimited voice minutes, and unlimited messaging per month. Additional data is available at minimal cost: 1.5 cents per MB for the monthly plan and 2 cents per MB on the annual plan.

International Coverage: Unlike most discount cell phone service providers, FreedomPop allows you to use your phone overseas. It currently offers cell phone service in 25 countries and is expanding that coverage. This is a huge benefit for people who travel a lot.

Money Back Guarantee: If you aren’t satisfied with your service or FreedomPop cell phone, you can return it to FreedomPop free of charge. There is no cancellation fee. This is great if you want to give FreedomPop a try before you cancel your current cell phone plan.

The Bad

Domestic Coverage Could Be Better: Although FreedomPop offers international coverage, its domestic coverage isn’t perfect.

FreedomPop currently runs on the Sprint network. In fact, many other discount cell phone service providers run on the same network, including Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. Sprint has been consistently outperformed by other cellular networks, however, as found in various independent studies. Though they’ve improved in recent years, they are known for lagging behind the other carriers in domestic coverage.

Compare Other Options: Republic Wireless vs Straight Talk vs Virgin

Online Signup: Currently, you can only sign up for FreedomPop cell phone service online. This may be a drawback for people who prefer going into a physical store to look at the available phones and speak with someone in person about the services offered.

Customer Support: FreedomPop’s customer support phone line is currently serviced between 9am and 5pm PST. This may be inconvenient for people who are used to calling customer support during off-peak hours.

Wrapping Up

It seems that every couple of years, another discount cell phone service provider emerges to compete with the rest. With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to make an informed decision. FreedomPop should definitely be one you consider.

FreedomPop is the only discount cell phone service provider to offer a completely free plan. Although the talk, text, and data are limited, it’s a great option for people who don’t use their phone much or for a child’s first phone.

FreedomPop will work well if you’re tired of signing up for expensive two-year contracts. This discount cell phone provider offers a monthly plan and an annual plan. Both of these come with a 30 day money back guarantee.

Related: Is A Prepaid Cell Phone Right For You?

As with most services out there, this review is meant to provide a general overview and not be a definitive endorsement. It’s important to consider what you value most in a cell phone provider and make your decision accordingly.

FreedomPop

Free
FreedomPop
9

Cost

10.0 /10

Phones

8.0 /10

Service Coverage

9.0 /10

Pros

  • Free for some plans
  • Low cost for other plans
  • Good cell phone coverage
  • Good cell phone options

Cons

  • No new iPhones
Topics: Smart Spending

20 Responses to “FreedomPop Review: Is a Free Cell Phone Plan a Scam?”

  1. Bike Rider

    So – surprisingly – 100% free Freedompop is not actually free. In fact during the activation you get many screens that offer you all sorts of things ‘free’.
    They need your creditcard for a $1 activation fee. But during the activation they also took $42 from my bank account, supposedly for a free LTE trial that I do not need. And on top of that you can’t cancel and you won’t get your money back. No matter if you complain or not.
    Downgrading to your ‘free’ plan will cost you $20 for incidentals, non-refundable.
    On top of that all texts and calls go through an annoying app, not through your normal message option in your phone.
    So – all in all – Freedompop cost me a lot of time and in total around $50 for a couple texts. I obviously cancelled my account – will never deal with this company again.

  2. AnnoyedCustomer

    I just created an account with FreedomPop after reading some reviews. Firstly, according to FreedomPop, the Auto Top-Up feature turns on when you’re halfway through your data. So if you sign up for the free plan, you’ll get charged $15 when you reach 100MB of data. So, really, only the first 99MB are free, yet FreedPop promotes the plan as providing 200MB of free data.

    There’s also no longer a free way to turn off Auto Top-Up. You can only turn it off by enrolling in FreedomPop’s Safety Mode for $6.99/month. It’s a bait and switch! I think it’s illegal what they’re doing. I’ve reported them to the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

    I’m also trying to close my account but their website is giving me an error saying “Failure. Cancellation Unsuccessful. Please try again later.” They are unscrupulous company!

  3. Jon Moore

    Freedom Pop is an outright SCAM. They charged my account after I cancelled a Free Trial. They have lots of reasons why they can’t refund your money that they steal from your account without your knowledge or authorization. Be warned, from someone who has used their service twice now, both times they scammed me out of money.

  4. Maksym Vasylkov

    This Septemeber I was traveling to California and was attracted by the price of FreedomPop sim card.
    How a big mistake I did by choosing this almost free service?
    OK, i’ll tell you.
    A month after I can see that I charged $33 two times the same day. After talking during a week by emails with the support team they told me that for that 1 sim card I had 2 accounts and have to pay for both.
    After I discovered from the Internet that they are practicing these things to many users.
    So, please dear friends be aware that your few calls than can cost you more then $50 :disappointed:

  5. I returned a non-working phone to FreedomPop all on June 18th. After many emails and no refund, I was told the issue would be “escalated”.Still no refund so I did a dispute for the charge on my card. FreedomPop’s response was to cancel my account. This was the 3rd non-wroking phone bought from them and didn’t credit me when it was returned so you all cancel my account. The terms state that you have to contact customer service prior to going to the financial institution. I sent 6 emails with no refund so I went to my financial institution. FreedomPop is claiming I didn’t follow their terms. But I did. Scam!!

  6. FreedomPop has HORRIBLE customer service and they will not refund you anything, even for accidental double orders. I accidentally ordered a phone twice because their website wasn’t refreshing. They wouldn’t cancel the order and said I needed to refuse the 2nd phone when it ships, then I would get a refund. Well, while I did have 2 tracking numbers, only 1 phone showed up. I never refused the 2nd phone because it didn’t come at all! So I disputed the 2nd charge with my bank and they reversed it. In response, FreedomPop canceled my account and banned me from ever opening one with them again. So I am being punished for their lack of communication and lack of proper customer service (I work in customer service management). I have reported them to the BBB, also.

    Steer clear of this company. While the service is OK when it works, their customer service and their TOS both need some work to cater to the customer’s needs better. The fact that you have to pay an extra $5.99 for good customer service should be a BIG RED FLAG. Customer service should be free to all. This company is a scam.

  7. I’ve been using Freedompop for several years now with little to no issues or billing problems. With the family we have 5 cell phone (2 CDMA and 3 global sim) 1 is on a full paid plan ($10 plan plus $8 premium) and others all have the $1.99 MMS addon…. additionally i have 2 data only plans (1 free the other $3.99 plan) for a mobile hot spot and the other for email on a tablet. The only issue i’ve ever had with Freedompop was with a Freedompop messenger app update. it had issues but the fixed app was up the next day and fixed the issue. customer service (i’ve only needed to call once) answered quickly (within 7-8 minutes on hold) and transfered me to a technician which stepped me through a service reset on the phone that made the phone respond and register with the freedonpop system much quicker. All in all… great service for a free cell phone with all the perks! it only cost a few dollars to try it for yourself (Freedompop is always has deal of the month going) just pay attention when downgrading your plan to the free plan if that’s the way you want to go after the trial month. you have to downgrade the plan AND the services!!!! 🙂 i lot of people miss that one!

  8. Eliot Necio

    I had a really bad first experience with FreedomPop. I purchased the 99 cent SIM card to use in my own phone, but did not have time to activate it yet because of work and because of taking care of an elderly parent. I did not get a phone number yet, but FreedomPop starting billing my credit card $32.98 for service they did not render.

    I sent an email message and it was returned saying they would not respond to email. I tried calling customer support during their posted open hours and there was no answer. They seem to have the worst customer service on the planet so far. Now I’ll have to spend time calling the credit card company to dispute the charge. FreedomPop is just a huge headache.

  9. I don’t know how anyone can use freedompops free plan with so little data. I go through the months supply in like the first few hours of my day! Recently I heard Verizon went unlimited! Ive only been waiting for this for forever! SO I’d say yes to answer the title of this post. A free plan is too go to be true

  10. I have had FreedomPop for several years and with several phones, now up to a Galaxy S5. I use the free plan with 500 mb a month of data. FreedomPop is good if you live in a Sprint area with 4G LTE as I do and also have access to wifi. I also turn background data off to conserve. The program works well for me, but will not work for someone who actually needs to receive and make phone calls. Even with their premium voice add-on, quality can be poor. Their wifi calling app does not provide the call quality that you might get with Oooma or Skype apps. You cannot use google voice to forward calls because the FreedomPop answering service picks up first and cannot be turned off. This means no texts or emails of voicemail transcripts from Google, and you have to pay a little extra each month for FreedomPop voicemail. So I still use Google Voice but do not forward to Freedom Pop. I am not a big phone user so it does not matter so much.

  11. I have been using Freedom Pop for about nine months on their free plan. I purchased a SIM for $5 and use it in an iPad Mini. I also installed the FreedomPop app so that i can make (but not receive) calls from my iPad Mini. (The ability to receive calls using their app costs extra.) I have not interacted with their customer service so I have no opinion on it. Their web site interface is very oriented towards upselling you to a fee based plan. All the defaults are set so that you select a paid plan so you must be VERY diligent in your selections. That being said, I have been lightly using FreedomPop for free in the Portland Oregon area and everything works as promised.

    For AlyB – I have some senior, non-techical friends who use Consumer Cellular and are delighted with it. Good customer service and a friendly web site. Their basic plan for 200 minutes, plus some data, and lots of texts is about $20/mo.

  12. I appreciate the input in these comments! It seems that most of the issues center around the data portion of the plan. And the PC Mag article does a great job also pointing out the problems with the data plan, thanks for referencing it. Does anyone have any experience using FreedomPop free plan for ONLY the 200 voice and 500 texts per month and not using data at all? I have older parents who do not want to get rid of their phone landline, and therefore do not want to pay additional costs for a cell phone. However at age 80, I would feel better if they had a cell phone that they can take when in the car for emergency use only, and maybe some texting. I could see this plan as something they might try, since it is free. Does FreedomPop have any Senior friendly phones? Can anyone comment on their experiences using the voice and texting only?

  13. I updated my FAQ’s Page with more detailed information regarding FreedomPop. In your article, you are mixing up service on FreedomPop (Sprint MVNO) with the FreedomPop Global SIM.

    aenews1.weebly.com

    The Global SIM has domestic roaming (EDGE, HSPA, HSPA+) on AT&T/T-Mobile with 700MB/Month (Including the 500MB/Month Freedom Friends Bonus) on the Free Plan. The Global SIM can be used with Unlocked GSM Devices and has service abroad in the countries you listed.

    FreedomPop sells refurbished Sprint devices and offers free service with 1GB LTE/Month on the Free Plan (Including the 500MB/Month Freedom Friends Bonus). In addition to selling those devices, FreedomPop also offers a BYOD Program ($20.00 Fee) to activate any eligible unactivated Sprint device.

  14. I have had FP for 2 months. Customer service is horrible. The only way to actually speak to someone ia to pay an additional $4.00 per month for premium customer service ! The wait for your emails to be answered can be a week or longer. I’ve had to email them over 20 times for one issue, which happened to be that they over charged my credit card for $30 dollars. I finally got a credit after threatening to go to the BBB. Now, I have been waiting for their reply for the past 5 days as to why they claim all of my data has been used since I have used none, only wifi. They have suspended my service, although I guess they mean my data service because I can still send text and make calls. I can also still web surf as usual because I use my home wifi. They have refused to send me a copy of the detailed data I have used because I have not used any. Anyway, bottom line is they provide horrendous cust service , charge you for items they shouldn’t BUT if you are persistent they will eventually credit you back. I have put up with this, along with my blood pressure skyrocketing because I do not need many minutes of talk and I usually do not need data BC I have wifi and 500 texts a month are sufficient for me. And of course, let’s not forget the main reason, it’s free (not including the blood pressure med and xanax lol)

    • If you contact FreedomPop Support on Twitter, you’ll get a response within a day and have the charge refunded. No need to pay them. The experienced representatives and forum moderators are in charge of that channel. You can also contact FreedomPop through the online account using the Support Tab though you won’t necessarily get assigned an experienced representative and the wait time can be much longer. Don’t call Customer Support as the representatives in charge of answering the calls often are inexperienced and won’t be as helpful. You also don’t need to pay to call FreedomPop if you call the main technical support number.

    • I used to be with freedompop. Unfortunately, they are the Comcast of cell phone providers. It was good for me for the first six months. Then they became greedy, and tried to nickel and dime me. I had to contact customer support several times a month with service issues, billing issues, or both. Yes, freedompop saved me money, but I had to be very careful in using the service, constant vigilance, always trying to get my money back from unauthorized billing charges, dealing with bad customer support, and withstand the constant headaches that were coming each week. I eventually left freedompop for T-Mobile, and I have been happy since then. No more headaches and no more unauthorized billing charges, which freedompop wouldn’t hesitate to charge you.

      • For more information, read Sagan’s article on “FreedomPop Supernova 655” from PCMag.
        Go to “Worrying Sales Tactics”, this will explain some problems that I also experienced during my business with freedompop, and it appears to have gotten worse.

        Take care, readers

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