Author Topic: Freedompop deals  (Read 3091 times)

FrugalZony

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Freedompop deals
« on: February 19, 2016, 01:47:02 PM »
I'm close to FIRE and am looking for a low cost option to replace my work phone.
I am not a heavy user when it comes to non work related communications.
A few texts, some data mostly email and a very limited number of minutes.
So I never had a personal cell, as I was allowed to use my work phone.

I have read "The Guide" (thank you IP Daily!) and searched the boards and I have seen several folks are happy with freedompop.
Also saw that some options in the guide are discontinued now or are being discontinued.

I have found several freedompop deals with older phones and refurbished tablets on Groupon
https://www.groupon.com/visitor_referral/h/0dfbdf14-d887-48af-a4cb-c12ec1f34430
and think they look good:
500 MB data, 200 minutes, 500 texts, which seems plenty for my use

A Samsung SIII is roughly 70 bucks
a LG Gpad talblet deal can be had for 61
a bit more for newer models like an S4 or S5

We will be full time RVing for the next couple of years, so not tied to one region, I mostly use Skype and wifi when available anyways
This will not be critical for work or business.

so I am thinking this would be a good option for us for very little money to get in and basicaly no reocurring cost,
(once we disable the costly upgrade options, that they seem to try to upsell you on)

Has anyone considered any of these Groupon deals lately?
What do you think?

After doing quite a bit of reading, I suffer from decision paralysis right now.
I never had to buy a phone, just always took what my company gave me.
I never got the people who had to have the newest iphone etc. so I really feel a bit lost about what to choose.

I am very much leaning towards the SIII option for 70 bucks and 500/500/200 package.
I can talk to people (duh), take pictures, send emails and occasionally look something up on the web.
That sounds totally sufficient to me.

Where is the catch?

Anyone want to share their experiences??
Thanks!

« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 01:50:09 PM by FrugalZony »

Another Reader

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Re: Freedompop deals
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2016, 02:00:59 PM »
My suggestion is to look at the full timer RV blogs to see what they use.  From what I have seen, most of those folks rely on Verizon or AT&T, because no one else provides adequate coverage away from urban areas.  "Rely on" is the critical standard, because if you are 100 miles from the nearest hospital or repair shop, you NEED to make that phone call.

neo von retorch

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Re: Freedompop deals
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2016, 02:01:26 PM »
I've made some use of Freedompop - a little for emergency free internet, but mostly for free and low-cost service for my father. The main catch (besides spotty Sprint coverage) is that they opt you in for pricey services, and you have to turn them off. In some cases, you have to call them to change things, and that usually takes a solid 45 minutes. I think their web site and customer service have been trending towards the positive in customer service, but it's still not great. They also have some unpleasant gotchas, like you have to put a $10 credit on your account to even use the last 100MB of whatever allocation you're getting for free (or $4/month, depending on plan) and... they "expire" that $10 every 90 days without notification. And if that happens, they may charge an additional $10 on to your account that you really don't need. So you've got to log in and "re-activate" the $10 account. A lot of customer-unfriendly things in exchange for the free/cheap stuff.

arebelspy

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Re: Freedompop deals
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2016, 03:48:50 PM »
It has sprint coverage. It's free each month, so all you have to risk is the initial cost. Worth checking out, IMO.

I never put a single dollar in our accounts, not sure what neog is talking about. Some different plan I guess. We just went for the free stuff. :)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

neo von retorch

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Re: Freedompop deals
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2016, 08:55:53 PM »
I'm sure it's possible to do it 100% free, though I'm pretty sure you would not be able to use that last 100MB. Not sure where the official policy is, but here's a thread about it: https://forums.freedompop.com/discussion/11027/shutoff-100mb-before-limit

You just have to be sure to turn off all services, turn off automatic top-off, and stay under the usage limits.

Also - use "freedom friends" to get the extra 500MB of data, which should help a lot. I learned about that after having to put $10 on the account to get the last 100MB for my dad, but now he has all that extra, and if he gets low, I log into a spare account and send him more.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 08:57:37 PM by neogodless »

FrugalZony

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Re: Freedompop deals
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2016, 09:14:37 PM »
Thanks neogodless and arebelspy for your input! I'll definitely try it!
And I'll watch out for all the pitfalls, thanks for pointing those out.
I had read about that while doing research and was wondering how cumbersome this was.
I need to figure out the freedom friends thing, can people just help each other out back and forth?

@Another Reader
the full time RV folks are what I checked out first, but a lot of them depend on their wireless service to blog, work etc.
So some of them have HUGE monthly cost, which what we are trying to avoid.

After a bit more research on the available options I'll probably go with the S4 for $100. I have a few credits at Groupon from returning an
unused Groupon, so my out of pocket cost will be reasonable and if this won't work out, at the very least I tried a low cost option first.

neo von retorch

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Re: Freedompop deals
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2016, 08:37:26 AM »
https://slickdeals.net/f/5276432-freedompop-friends?page=230#commentsBox

For every "friend" you add, you both get 50MB additional per month. On top of that, you can "share" data by giving a portion of your unused data to someone else. But the 50MB boost (times 10 = 500MB) is really the primary benefit.)

Another Reader

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Re: Freedompop deals
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2016, 09:51:19 AM »
Look at the coverage in the locations where you will be before you pull the trigger.  Sprint is woefully inadequate outside of the urban areas.  I can't get service in many stretches from the Bay Area to Phoenix on the major highways.  I pay for Verizon because I need the coverage.  Sadly, there are no good MVNO's for Verizon.

Daley

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Re: Freedompop deals
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2016, 10:01:13 AM »
Just so everyone is aware, there have been changes to the FreedomPop ToS at the beginning of the month.

http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2016/02/freedompop-raises-minimum-auto-top-to.html

It's $15 now instead of $10 on auto top-up, and you need $5 of credit to disable auto top-up - and if you don't have it, you'll be charged for a $5 credit so you can.

Unfortunately, these changes just outline exactly how tight the margins are that FreedomPop is operating on. That's not a great sign for long term business health, and they've done a lot of these changes since the shutdown of the WiMAX network last October.



FrugalZony, I gotta be honest with you here... if you're traveling a lot and doing the RV thing and this is your primary means of communication, you're probably not going to want to be on either the Sprint or T-Mobile networks, no matter how low-priority you say your communications are. Another Reader's right, you want to be on either an AT&T or Verizon first network, probably with partner roaming. That, or bring a CB/FRS/GMRS radio with you and get licensed for your emergency communications and just get used to not having access and the ability to communicate most of the time outside of metro areas for the most part. (Not that it wouldn't hurt to get and learn how to use a two-way emergency radio anyway, no matter what mobile service you choose.)

Selectel (Verizon + roaming) or Consumer Cellular (AT&T + roaming) would be your best bets, unless you need a crap-load of data. If you think 500MB is fine, than even that's probably overkill. With the numbers you floated from the FreedomPop usage limits, you'd be looking at around $25-30/month going Consumer Cellular or Selectel, but if you found you used less, it would be easy to reduce costs further, especially with Consumer Cellular.

On one hand, it's important not to spend more than you absolutely need to, but also don't be afraid to pay for what you need. I would expect to need to spend an average of at least $20/month for something reliable in your position. Consider that your realistic target.

As far as hardware is concerned, I would recommend avoiding the Galaxy S3, no matter what network you wind up on. Terrible antenna design, terrible reception. If you're traveling and especially if you're doing a lot of outdoor stuff with the phone on you, you'll want something kinda rugged. If you go with a GSM provider like Consumer Cellular, a refurbished Galaxy S4 Active (Samsung i9295 or i537) might be the way to go. Better specs than the S3 you were contemplating, more current version of Android available without going Cyanogenmod first, and runs about $100-125 carrier unlocked in good condition. Alternately, and especially if you're already a Windows 8/10 user, the Nokia Lumia 640 might be a good option as well if you go GSM.

I can't really make as detailed a recommendation on the CDMA+LTE/Verizon end. Going AT&T over Verizon is just going to be more flexible on the hardware end, a larger selection of phones, and overall a bit cheaper on the provider end. Again, as Another Reader pointed out, there's not many good MVNOs for Verizon. The only two I'd be willing to even name-check these days are Selectel and Puppy Wireless, and Puppy Wireless is still a young company and doesn't offer roaming - even if it is owned and operated by the folks at Kitty Wireless, who has a very long standing pro-customer track record in their years of being a Page Plus master dealer.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2016, 10:12:23 AM by I.P. Daley »

FrugalZony

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Re: Freedompop deals
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2016, 11:32:30 AM »
Thank you all for your further input!
I.P. Daily, thanks for the detailed suggestions, I was hoping you'd chime in at some point.

We do have a foreign prepaid cell phone, that DH has had for a long time.
It is expensive, but has an old grandfathered in "no miminum" plan, so we pay for what we use.
The cost is high, the advantage is it logs into whatever network is the best at the time.
So we only use it for emergencies or when there is no other option at all.
For a true emergency, I don't care paying $2 per minute and $1 per text, as long as I can get into whichever network is best at the time.
So this is our SHTF backup, plus CB radios, thanks also for reminding me that I have those.

We got a decent deal on the Freedompop phone, there was a 15% off deal and they dropped the price for the S4 to $100
So $85 after discount and between that and my credit I paid like $30 oop.

We deactivated all the costly stuff, put on the $5 credit as suggested and will be using this for our casual use.
I wanted something real cheap now, primarily to back up my work phone contacts and have a personal phone number just in case.
So this will do it, until we actually get serious about finally hitting the road, at which point I'll look at the Consumer Cellular or Selectel options again.

They were out of all the numbers in my area, so I got a kick out of picking Superior, AZ,
which is the place the movie Uturn was filmed
http://thennowmovielocations.blogspot.com/2014/01/u-turn_10.html

Thanks again for all your input, I very much appreciate it!
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 11:38:40 AM by FrugalZony »