It’s not too hard to find free wifi in most towns. Whether it’s your local library, a cafe, a hotel lobby, or even at the nearby McDonald’s, there’s usually a free wifi hotspot somewhere nearby. But what if you could get free internet access in your own home?
With so many households taking it for granted that we have to pay for internet service, the idea that you could have the internet at no cost to you might be surprising. After all, a “good deal” on an internet package might start at $40 per month, with some monthly plans soaring into the triple digits. And for some people wanting to make money from home, even $40 per month just isn’t in the budget.
The great news is that there are quite a few ways you may be able to get free or low-cost internet access, often right in your own home. These are all totally legal, and really exciting! Let’s take a look.
Note: None of these options are guaranteed. Some may have eligibility requirements. Some opportunities may vary by location.
EveryoneOn is part of a government partnership with the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC. The program is called Connect to Compete, and its purpose is to make internet access available for low-income and disadvantaged families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.
What I love about this program is that it emphasizes the reality that today’s students need access to the internet if they’re going to have a chance to compete against their more affluent peers. This program brings the internet not only into homes but into schools that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. Isn’t that great?
There are some pretty specific parameters around who will and won’t qualify for the program. It’s easy to find out for sure if you qualify, though. Just visit the website, enter your zip code, and click on Find Offers to see what’s available in your area.
You might not qualify for a free plan, but you may be able to get a low-cost internet plan. The options I was provided for my area ran about $10 – $15 per month. It’s definitely worth checking out! Plus, they’re linked to the PCs for Everyone program, which provides very-low-cost computers to families in need.
FreedomPop has been around for a few years, and it’s great for free internet for your computer and for your smartphone. This is an especially good option for someone who doesn’t use a ton of internet and can’t justify the expense.
It works like this: you set up your account and pay a deposit. FreedomPop sends you the equipment you need, and off you go! For your first month, you get 2GB of free data. That’s not a ton of data, but it’s a decent amount.
Then, from your second month on, you’ll get 500MB of free data on the 4G network. That’s not a lot of data for a typical user, but it’s a good amount for people who don’t want to do much more than check their email and do a quick video chat with family once or twice a month. (For reference, one minute of video chat uses approximately 10GB of data.)
What a lot of people love about FreedomPop, besides the fact that they can get it for free, is that it’s really portable. The internet device you’re buying is basically a personal hotspot, and it’s really easy to transport from place to place.
If you like the idea of FreedomPop but need more data, you can sign up for one of their low-cost plans. They also offer low-cost smartphone data plans, which can save you a ton of money if you aren’t attached to a specific type of mobile phone and are willing to pick up one of the ones they sell.
NetZero used to be huge back in the heydays of dial-up. They’re still around (to the surprise of some!) and they’re still a good option if you need free internet.
Now, be advised that NetZero is still using dial-up, and you’ll probably have some advertising banners and whatnot. But if you’ve got a phone line, you can use NetZero to connect to the internet for absolutely free. The one “catch” to NetZero is that you’ll be limited to 10 hours per month if you want to stick on the free plan.
If the free plan just isn’t right for you, they also have paid plans that tend to be significantly less than the standard internet service provider plans. They’ll still run through dial-up so they’ll never be as fast or powerful as the big ISPs, but if you don’t really care about speed or power, dial-up can be a solid low-cost option for you.
Juno offers pretty much the exact same thing as NetZero.
4. WiFi Map
WiFi Map is a smartphone app that works as a database of all the free wifi hotspots all over the world. It currently operates on most continents, actually, so it’s a great app to have especially when you’re traveling. The catch with this app is that the free version only covers a 2.5-mile radius from wherever you are.
There’s also a feature where you can watch some ads and then get access to user-provided passwords to a WiFi hotspot near you. This isn’t something everyone is comfortable with, but the option is there.
5. Check With Your Internet Service Provider
It’s a little-known fact, but many of the major internet service providers have low-cost internet programs. You might be able to pick up some “free” internet by bundling services, like TV and phone.
You might also uncover a really low-priced internet package that gives you everything you need with a tiny price tag. These plans aren’t advertised, so you won’t know if they exist unless you ask specifically for lower-cost internet plans.
Also, here’s a bonus tip: a lot of internet providers will also have free wifi hotspots across their service areas. It’s worth a phone call! You might have easy access to free internet while you’re out and about and not even know it.
You may be able to get some free wifi if your mobile phone carrier has hotspots. Again, definitely worth a phone call.
6. One More Resource: All Free ISP
While All Free ISP doesn’t actually provide you with internet service, it does connect you with free internet service providers. It’s basically a big database of all the different free internet offers all over the country.
You plug in your state or zip code, and it will give you a list of all the free and cheap internet service providers in your area. What’s great about them is they also include reviews of all the different providers, so you can do some research before signing up. What’s not so great about them is that they run on dial-up, which is not ideal for today’s typical internet users. But slow internet is better than no internet!