A Simple Guide To Getting Totally FREE Smartphone Service
with the 99 cent FreedomPop (AT&T) LTE sim kit
2017

[Last updated: Oct 5, 2017]
I've been using FreedomPop for completely free smartphone service for over a year. I first started with a FreedomPop Global sim in August 2016, but changed to the much better and newer FreedomPop (AT&T) US-only LTE sim in January 2017. I have several FreedomPop LTE sims, several older FreedomPop Global sims, and even a FreedomPop Sprint-based Moto E2 phone. I've written extensive reviews on all three different Freedom services (the Global sim, the AT&T LTE sim, and the Sprint-based phones). In my opinion, the new LTE sim provides the best service, especially if you use it with a free Google Voice number and the Google Hangouts app. Recently, FreedomPop has been making several changes, so rather than trying to keep all three of my previous reviews up to date, and because I think the new LTE sim is the best way to go, I decided to write this (hopefully) simple "how to" guide on the best way to get free smartphone service from FreedomPop. I highly recommend that you read and understand the section on FreedomPop's Business Model and make sure that FreedomPop will work for you and meet your expectations. If you don't need a lot of monthly cellular data and you're up for the challenge (it isn't that hard), as long as you know what you're doing, you really can get totally FREE smartphone service with FreedomPop.

FreedomPop has three DIFFERENT services. If you sign up of a FreedomPop offer, make sure you know which of the three services you are signing up for. I've tested and used all three services, and think that the new LTE sim is the best way to go. For the record, here are my three previous FreedomPop reviews

My Previous FreedomPop Reviews:
#1. FreedomPop GLOBAL GSM Sim Review 2016 (no longer sold directly by FreedomPop)
#2. FreedomPop Sprint-based (CDMA) Smartphones Review 2016
#3. FreedomPop AT&T-based (GSM) LTE Sim Review 2017 (also covered in this guide)

FreedomPop Nationwide (AT&T) LTE GSM Sim Special Offers

Order the LTE Sim Kit for $0.99
(offer includes 2GB bonus data, plus free shipping)

notes on ordering:
note 1) Use a valid email address when you start the special offer process, and check that you have typed it correctly. Your temporary account password will be sent to this email address (in a "Welcome to FreedomPop" email) and you will need the temporary password to access your new account.
note 2) During the ordering process, you may get an offer for "PURCHASE CONFIRMATION - YOUR FREE GIFT WITH TODAY'S PURCHASE. One-time activation only $0.01". This is for a SECOND sim for a PENNY. The second sim can also get the 500mb monthly FreedomPop Friends bonus data (starting on the second cycle). The second sim will also have its own free trials that you will also need to downgrade. If you have a pop-up blocker, you should disable it before ordering or you might not be able to complete the second offer. I explain more about the second penny sim offer in the FreedomPop FAQ section below.
note 3) To get Free Shipping - the default shipping method now may be "Saver Standard 4 to 7 days - $6.99". You should be able to change it to "Super Saver 7 to 10 days - FREE".

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. Understanding the FreedomPop Business Model & Having Reasonable Expectations (MUST READ)
2. What FreedomPop Offers for FREE
3. Ordering & Setting Up the LTE Sim
4. How To Downgrade To The FREE Plan (and Service)
5. How To Get 500MB of Additional Free Data Every Month With FreedomPop Friends
6. Understanding Data "AutoTopUp" and How To Avoid Data Overage Charges
7. Talk & Text Considerations: Google Voice/Hangouts vs the FreedomPop App
8. How To Get More Data
9. FAQs, Tips, & Observations, and the Latest News and Updates
10. Comments

1. Understanding the FreedomPop Business Model & Having Reasonable Expectations
FreedomPop's business model is to offer limited basic service for free to entice people to sign up for FreedomPop. But FreedomPop then expects that a certain percentage of these new customers will decide to pay for more generous paid monthly plans and/or will pay for various add-on services. An example of this strategy is their offer of 200 minutes of free voice calls. If you want more than 200 minutes per month, you need to change to one of their paid monthly plans (which then gives you unlimited minutes). Similarly, the free plan does not include voicemail, so if someone calls you and leaves a message, you can't listen to the message without paying for monthly voicemail service (though you can turn off voicemail, and then your number will just ring and ring until the person hangs up). To some extent, FreedomPop is similar to Pandora and Yahoo Email, both of which have limited free service or paid premium service. It's important to understand that FreedomPop must make money if they are going to stay in business long term. Although FreedomPop uses a lot of automation and technology to keep their costs low, every customer account still costs them a small amount of money, and in the end, it all adds up. FreedomPop can tolerate a certain number of non-paying customers (aka "freeloaders") as long as they have enough paying customers to make up for the costs and generate a profit. One legitimate gripe against FreedomPop is that while some customers are willing paying customers, because of FreedomPop's often confusing "fine print", some other FreedomPop customers become unwitting paying customers (which is a source of many negative reviews). But if you read this guide and pay attention, and you determine that the limited basic FreedomPop service is enough to meet your needs, then you can use the information in this guide to avoid accidentally becoming an unwitting paying customer, and instead you can instead be a happy "freeloader" like me!

Managing Your Expectations: If you think that FreedomPop wants to give away free service, you should probably reread the section above. Similarly, if you wonder why FreedomPop doesn't give you larger amounts of free data nor make it easy to get a lot of data for free, then you probably don't understand the FreedomPop business model. FreedomPop is willing to give away some limited basic service to entice people to join, but they aren't going to make it super easy to get free service nor are they going to give away any more data than they need to to entice people to join. All this said, I've been a happy FreedomPop "freeloader" for over a year now, and it's really not that hard. And it's great getting absolutely free smartphone service. It's just important to have reasonable expectations and be up for the challenge (again, it is not that hard).

2. What FreedomPop Offers for FREE

200mb (700mb with FreedomPop Friends) of AT&T Nationwide 3G/4G/LTE data
200 voice minutes & 500 texts (voip, must use FreedomPop talk/text app)

The FreedomPop LTE sim card works in any unlocked GSM smart phone, and provides you with AT&T cellular data. You get 200mb of free LTE data every month. If you add 10 FreedomPop Friends to your account (explained below), you'll get 500mb of free bonus data, or 700mb per month total. If you don't add FreedomPop Friends to get the bonus data, the 200mb of data probably isn't worth it and doesn't make sense, but adding 10 "friends" is easy and you only have to do it once. All you need to do to get the free data working on your phone is to install the sim card in the phone and then set the phone APN. You do not need to install the FreedomPop app to get the free data. Your FreedomPop account will have a data feature called "AutoTopUp" enabled by default. When you get with 100mb of you data limit (600mb on a 700mb account), you will be charged $15 to create an account credit that will then be used to pay for additional data if you go over your free limit. You can turn this feature off, but you have to pay for a $5 credit on your account to do this. Or you can just keep your data usage below 600mb per month and not worry about it. If you have wifi at home and/or at work, and you just need cellular data when you are out and about, 600mb should be fine for most (light) users. Your FreedomPop LTE sim will come with two free 30 day trials... a PLAN trial and a SERVICE trial. You need to downgrade the plan and remove the service trial before the 30 day trials are over, or you will be charged at the end of 30 days. The 30 day trials start when your order ships, not when you get it. In addition, you will get to chose a local phone number for your LTE sim account, and you will get 200 free voice minutes and 500 free sms texts per month, but the phone number is a VOIP (voice over internet or data/internet type) phone number and you must download and use the FreedomPop app to use the phone number. Again, it is not a traditional cellular number, but instead is a voip number, and it will not work unless you use the FreedomPop app. Many people (including myself) just use the free data and don't install the FP app, and instead get a free Google Voice number (which is also a VOIP-type phone number), and then use the Google Hangouts app for talking and texting. The LTE sim will work in any unlocked GSM-capable Android smartphone or iPhone. The service is via AT&T, and gives you LTE speed data, but also falls back to 3G/4G if LTE is not available. There is no roaming. The cellular service is only via AT&T, so you obviously have to have decent AT&T coverage for the service to work, but according to AT&T, they cover 97% of the United States.

Note that you need to have a GSM-capable smart phone. FreedomPop does not sell phones with or for the LTE sim. The only phones that FreedomPop sells are for their Sprint-based CDMA phones, which are different. If you see a FreedomPop offer for a phone, it is for their Sprint service and not for this AT&-T based LTE sim.

So in a nutshell, with the FreedomPop LTE sim you get 700mb of AT&T data (600mb usable, and assumes you add 10 "friends"). If you install and use the FreedomPop talk&text app, you also get 200 free voice minutes and 500 free sms texts, or you can use a free Google Voice number with the Hangouts app for talking and texting. If you get multiple sims, you can switch sims if you need more data (each sim will have 700mb of data assuming you add 10 friends).


A typical billing summary from one of my LTE sim accounts.
What do I pay each month for my FreedomPop service? Nothing, nada, zip, zilch, $0.00!
FreedomPop really can be free... if you know what to do!

3. Ordering & Setting Up the LTE Sim
You can use this link to order the FreedomPop LTE sim for 99 cents with free shipping. Be sure to use a real email address to access the offer, because after you order, your order confirmation, information, and account password will be emailed to the email address you use to sign up.

After you complete your order, your LTE sim kit will be sent to you via US First Class Mail from California. FreedomPop previously sent sim cards via FedEX SmartPost with a tracking number, but now sends them in the First Class mail without any tracking number. Unfortunately, their system still issues a tracking number, but the number doesn't work. On your account, you may get a shipping notification that says something like, "Your order 79598410 has shipped! Tracking code 0004000074523375954293111. It may take up to a day for the shipping information to appear at Fedex.", but the LTE sim will come in your regular mail, and there is no tracking number. You should expect to receive it in 2-5 business days.


Although I already have several FreedomPop LTE sims, I ordered another one to make sure this new FreedomPop guide has the latest information. I ordered the sim on Tuesday, September 26 (2017). It shipped the same day and I received it two days later on Thursday, September 28, via US First Class mail. It came in the regular standard size plain white envelope shown above, and was mailed from Poway, California.

Your FreedomPop LTE sim will come with instructions on how to use it, but the instructions are very simple. First, you need to pop out the correct size sim for your phone. The sim card is perforated so that you can pop out a regular size, micro size, or nano size sim. Then you install the sim in your phone and set your APN to fp.com.attz. Once you set the correct FreedomPop APN (fp.com.attz) on your phone, your cellular data should work (you might need to restart/reboot your phone, and/or enable or turn on your phone's cellular data setting). That's all you have to do. Install the sim in your phone, and set the APN. If you want to use the FreedomPop phone number for calling or texting, you need to install the FreedomPop app.



Setting the APN:
 For Android, go to Settings > Network Connections > More > Mobile Networks > Access Point Names". Click on Add or "+" and enter fp.com.attz as your APN and save.
  *Note that some Android phones may be a little different. On my ZTE ZMAX2, I went to SETTINGS > Mobile Networks > ACCESS POINT NAMES. I then tapped the "+" sign to create a new APN and typed "FREEDOMPOP" for the name and "fp.com.attz" for the APN. I then saved the new APN.
 For iPhones and iOS devices, connect to wifi and go to www.freedompop.com/iosapn  Select [Country: United States] and [Product: US LTE SIM]


Setting up the FreedomPop LTE sim is simple. Just pop the correct size sim out of the card and install it in your phone. Then set up an APN for "fp.com.attz" and use it. You will note that the service is indicated as "AT&T" instead of "FREEDOMPOP".

4. How To Downgrade To The FREE Plan (and Service)
When you order the FreedomPop LTE sim, you are automatically signed up for TWO one month "free trials". One trial is for a PLAN (for example, the "Premium 1GB LTE Unlimited Trial ($19.99/month)" plan, and the other trial is for a SERVICE (for example, the "FreedomPop Premium Plus Trial ($7.99/month)" service. Here is an example from one of their recent offers...

"By clicking Activate, you agree to pay the amount Due Today. Your FreedomPop service will not begin until your device ships. Your subscription includes a 1-month(s) free service trial. At the conclusion of your free trial, your service will automatically renew at the provided rate found in your shopping cart of $27.98 every month. Switch to the free plan by logging into your FreedomPop account."

If you don't downgrade your plan and your service within 30 days (from when your sim ships, not when you receive it), you will be charged. If you only downgrade your plan and not your service, you will be charged for the service. You need to downgrade/remove both! But if you can follow simple directions and you downgrade your plan and your service to their free plan, it really is free. I've ordered several LTE sims, several Global sims, and a FreedomPop Sprint-based Moto E2 phone, and I have never had any problems downgrading any of them to the free plan and service. I have never received any additional or "unexpected" charges. Please note that some FreedomPop offers are for monthly plans and services, while some other offers are for six-month plans and services.

To downgrade to completely free service, you will need to change TWO THINGS, your PLAN and your SERVICE. After you've downgraded your plan and service, then you need to CONFIRM that both are actually downgraded. To get started, log into your FreedomPop account, and do the following:

DOWNGRADE TO THE FREE PLAN:

 FIRST - DOWNGRADE YOUR PLAN:
   > Go to "My Account > Plans". You should see that you have paid plan (for example, the "Premium 1GB LTE Unlimited" plan for $19.99/mo)
   > Find and click on the link "Details and Plan Management"
   > Then click on "To downgrade your plan, click here"
   > You will get the following warning screen: "Warning: you are about to downgrade your plan. By downgrading your plan, if you are on a trial, you will lose all additional minutes/messages/data. Any usage incurred above your new plan limits will incur additional charges."
   > Click "Downgrade anyway". You will need to click on a couple more screens and enter your password to confirm your decision.
 You can downgrade at any time after you order. You can downgrade right away immediately after you order, or you can wait until you get your sim and verify it works. I do recommend that once you get your sim and confirm it works, you should then downgrade, or at least downgrade soon after that so you don't forget.

September 2017 update: Starting in September, FreedomPop now requires that you pay for and add a $5 credit to your account before downgrading to the free plan. They disclose this new policy in the offer terms by stating, "When downgrading to the free plan, an account balance is required to protect ourselves from fraud and leakage, as data usage can be delayed up to 3 hours." If you pay for the $5 credit, you can then also turn off auto-top-up without adding any further credit, which many people do anyway. If you don't want to pay for the $5 credit to downgrade, as of now, you can downgrade your plan on the FreedomPop beta website at http://my.freedompop.com and you won't be asked to pay the $5 credit.


As of the beginning of October, you can still downgrade on the FreedomPop beta website at [ http://my.freedompop.com ] and you won't be asked to pay $5 to downgrade to the free plan.

DOWNGRADE AND REMOVE THE PAID SERVICE:

 SECOND - DOWNGRADE YOUR SERVICES:
 > Go to "My Account > Service". You should see that you have the "FreedomPop Premium Plus" service for $7.99/mo
 >  Click on the "View Details" button.
 > Almost hidden at the very bottom of the next page, you will see "To deactivate the FreedomPop Premium Plus service, click here"
 > click the link to deactivate the service. You will need to click on a couple more screens to confirm your decision and decline any other service. You will eventually get the message, "YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY DOWNGRADED".

 THIRD - CONFIRM YOU ARE ACTUALLY DOWNGRADED (both PLAN and SERVICE)
 Since some time in March 2017, there seems to be an ongoing "service downgrade bug" that FreedomPop has not fixed. Even though you downgrade/remove your service trail per my instructions above and your "services page" shows no services, your account may still have the Premier service trial on it. You should check your account-overview page to see if the service was actually removed. If your account-overview page still shows a paid service, you may or may not be charged at the end of your free trial cycle, but just to be safe, I recommend you remove the paid service if is still shows on your account-overview page. It's easy to remove it. Just click on "view details" and repeat the service downgrade/removal process. Check again when you are done. Some readers have reported that it takes multiple attempts to finally get the service removed. If you don't remove the paid service, and you do get charged, you can contact FreedomPop billing and they will refund the charge, but it is much simpler to just check your account overview page and remove the Premium service (if you need to). One reader reported that he didn't know the overview page still showed the service, but he did not get charged, so maybe FreedomPop fixed the bug to not charge your account even if the overview page still shows the paid service? I don't know, but I'd be safe, and just remove the paid service from the overview page as well.

LTE sim accounts do not have a direct link on the account home page to get to the account-overview page. You can either use this link [https://www.freedompop.com/acct_overview.htm ], or access the overview page from your account page as follows (see picture below). 
  > Go to "My Account > Plans".
  > Click on the link for your plan or "Details and Plan Management"
  > Now click on the link for "My Account". This will take you to your account overview page [https://www.freedompop.com/acct_overview.htm]
  > Verify you are on the free plan and that there are no paid services. If you see any services, click on "view details" and repeat the downgrade process. Check the overview page when you are done to make sure you are not signed up for any services. Some readers have reported that they have had to do the downgrade/removal process twice.

 

5. How To Get 500MB of Additional Free Data Every Month With FreedomPop Friends
The free plan includes 200mb of cellular data every month. You can get up to 500mb more data every month by getting "Freedom Friends". You will get 50mb every month for each "Freedom Friend" you have on your account, up to 500mb maximum. Once you get a friend, you get the data every month. You don't need to keep adding more friends, though you should have some extra friends (more than 10) in case any drop out or have their accounts suspended. All you need to send a friend request to another FreedomPop account is the email address associated with that account. After you send the request and the other account accepts, you will get the 50mb bonus, which will repeat every month. I recently started a FreedomPop Friends list where you can find email addresses for sending invites, and add your email address to the list if you want. I also have one of my account email addresses listed there if you want to send me a friend invite.

 To send a friend invite, just cut and paste an email address into your FreedomPop account Friend Finder (look for "friend finder" or "Freedom Friends" on your account homepage, and then use the "Invite Friends" form and "Invite by Email Address"). People won't see your request until the next time they log into their FreedomPop account, so you might not hear back from some people for a while, and some people may have already gotten enough friends and may not every respond. In general, it's pretty easy to get at least 10 friends fairly fast, and then you'll have the extra 500MB of data every month.

 

6. Understanding Data "AutoTopUp" and How To Avoid Data Overage Charges
Your FreedomPop LTE sim account will come with a feature called "Automatic Top Up" that is enabled by default. When you get within 100mb of your data limit (i.e. at 600mb if your data limit is 700mb), you will be charged $15, and a $15 credit will be added to your account to pay for any data overages (at $.02/MB). If you continue to use data and use up your $15 credit, the process will repeat. You can be charged for up to seven $15 credits per month, and then your account is suspended. From the FreedomPop website:

"FreedomPop uses an 'Automatic Top-Up' feature to ensure you are never left without broadband access when you exceed your subscribed Monthly Plan limits. The default top-up amount is $15.00.... In any billing month that your usage is within 100mb of your Monthly Plan broadband data allotment limit, your FreedomPop Account will be charged the automatic top-up amount using the registered payment method associated with your FreedomPop Account. As your broadband data use exceeds the broadband data allotment of your Monthly Plan, an amount equal to your total additional usage multiplied by the additional cost per megabyte as defined by your Monthly Plan, will be deducted from your FreedomPop Credit Account balance. When your FreedomPop Credit Account balance falls below $2.00, your registered payment method will be charged the applicable Automatic Top-Up amount as described above. This payment will occur each time your FreedomPop Account balance falls below $2.00 to prevent an interruption in the Broadband Service we provide you... If you do not use your Account Credit for a period of 30 days, FreedomPop will place your Account Credit on inactive status. You can reactivate the Account Credit by following the reactivation link at https:// freedompop .com/billing_overview.htm Account Credit on inactive status is not refundable."

There are two ways to avoid data overage charges.
First, you can set a cellular data limit on your phone. On your phone, go to Settings > Data Usage... and turn on "Set mobile data limit". Change the monthly cycle (start and stop days) to match your FreedomPop billing cycle, which you can find on your FreedomPop account under "data usage". After you've set the correct cycle, you can then pull up or down the warning level and limit level to adjust them. Set your data limit to be less than the point where the Automatic Top Up would charge you $15, or, if you've disabled Automatic Top Up (see below), set your phone's data limit little a little below your FreedomPop data limit to account for any data reporting delays and/or small discrepancies between your phone and the FreedomPop system.


Example of a cellular data monthly limit and the warning message and cut-off message you see when you hit your warning and then your data limit.

Second, you can disable the "Automatic Top Up" feature, but it requires paying $5 to put a $5 credit on your account. If you turn off the Auto Top Up and pay the $5, when you hit your free data limit, assuming your credit balance is active, you can continue to use cellular data (and pay for it) until your credit balance drops to $2, and then your data gets cut off until the next cycle. If your credit balance is less than $2 or is inactive, then your data should be disabled when you hit the top-off trigger (i.e. 100mb under your limit). When your data is suspended, your account will be disabled until the next billing cycle. Regarding the $5 credit, if it isn't being used, after 30 days it will become "inactive". You can "reactivate" the credit by clicking a link on your account under the billing section [BILLING > CREDIT BALANCE > CLICK TO REACTIVATE]. You can reactivate the credit as many times as you want, but you need to reactivate it within 90 days or you may need to contact customer service to get it reactivated. Whether your credit is active or inactive, or expired, once you turn off the "Automatic Top Up feature" it will remain turned off. If you keep your credit balance active and over $2, you can go up to and over your free data limit, and then your credit balance will be used to pay for more data. When your credit balance is less than $2 or is inactive, then when you get within 100mb of your free data limit (the auto-top-up trigger), your data will be turned off and your account will be suspended until the next cycle. Most importantly, if you turn auto-top-up OFF, you won't be automatically charged for additional data credits.


 TO DISABLE AUTOMATIC TOP-UP (optional, costs $5)
 > Go to "Billing > Billing Settings". You will see that Automatic Top-up is ENABLED.
 > Click on EDIT. When you uncheck the box, you will get the following message: "Because actual data usage may be delayed by up to 3 hours, to protect ourselves from fraud and leakage, you must have at least $5.00 in credits to turn off Auto-top up."
 > If you click "OK" to disable the Automatic Top-Up, you will be charged $5 and you will get a $5 credit on your account. Now if you hit your monthly free data limit, your $5 credit will pay for some additional data, but when the credit is used up (or becomes inactive), your account will suspended until the start of your next billing period.

I recommend setting a data limit on your phone, and for peace of mind, I think it's good to pay the $5 credit to disable the Automatic Top Up feature.

UPDATE 2/17/17: Avoiding Data Overage Charges, Explained Again:
From what I've read elsewhere, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding on what happens if and when you come close to and/or hit your free monthly data limit, so I thought I'd re-summarize my information from above. I hope this helps explain things better, as this subject can be confusing!
1. By default, when you get within 100mb of your data limit (i.e. at 600mb if your data limit is 700mb), your card will be charged $15 to put a $15 credit on your account. You can then keep using data and go over your free limit (i.e. 700mb), and your credit balance will be used to pay $.02/mb for the data overages (for example, 50mb would be $1). If you keep using data, when your credit balance drops to $2, you will be charged $15 again, and the process repeats. This can happen up to 7 times per account billing cycle. This process is called the "Auto Top Up" feature, which is turned on by default.
2. The easiest way to avoid triggering the auto-top-up $15 credit charge is to set a DATA LIMIT ON YOUR PHONE, as I described above. When you set up the sim card on your phone, also set a data limit, and set the data cycle to match your FreedomPop account. If you've added at least ten FreedomPop friends, your free monthly data limit should be 700mb and the auto-top-up $15 credit charge would be triggered at 600mb, so set a data limit on your phone of 500mb or 575mb for example.
3. You can turn OFF the "Auto-Top-Up" feature. If you do this, FreedomPop will charge you $5 and will put a $5 credit balance on your account.
4. Your credit balance can be active or inactive. If you don't use any of your credit balance for 30 days, your credit balance becomes inactive. You can reactivate it by loggin into your FreedomPop account and clicking a link. Supposedly you have 90 days to reactivate the credit or it expires, but I've seen reports of people reactivating credits long after 90 days, so I'm not sure if they ever really expire.
5. Once you turn off Auto-Top-Up, it remains turned off forever, regardless of whether your credit balance is active, inactive, or expired.
6. If Auto-Top-Up is OFF and you have an active credit balance of at least $2, you can go up to and over your free data limit. You can continue to use data (and pay for it from your credit balance at a rate of $.02/mb until your balance drops to $2. When your credit balance is $2 or less, your account is suspended until the next monthly cycle, when it automatically renews.
7. If Auto-Top-Up is OFF and you have less than $2 in credit or your credit balance is inactive, then when your get within 100mb of your free data limit, your data is suspended until the next monthly cycle, when it automatically renews.
8. So if you turn Auto-Top-Up OFF and keep your $5 credit balance active, your can use your full free data limit, but after that your data won't be stopped and if you continue to use data you'll use up your credit until it drops to $2, when your account would then be suspended until the next monthly cycle.
9. So if you turn Auto-Top-Up OFF and allow your credit balance to become inactive (happens after 30 days if no credit use activity), then you can use up to 100mb less than your free data limit, and then your account should be suspended until the next monthly cycle.
10. Even with auto-top-up turned OFF, you could still incur (probably small) data overage charges. This is because there is a delay in reporting data (up to 3 hours or more). FreedomPop doesn't turn off your data and suspend your account until they find out you have hit the trigger point. But in the meantime, because of the delay in data reporting, if you were still continuing to use more data, the additional data would still get reported after FreedomPop disables your data and account, and you would still be liable for the additional data used which is over your free monthly amount. I doubt this happens very often, but I think its important that people are aware of this and understand it. If this does happen, my guess is the amount of data used and the charge should be small, unless your kid unfortunately decided to start streaming youtube videos just as you approach your data limit. The best way to avoid this issue is to set your own data limit on your phone to turn off your phone's data when you want it turned off.
11. An example: Lets say you have 700mb of free data on your sim, and you've paid $5 to turn off auto-top-up...
 > If your $5 credit is active: when you hit 700mb, your data stays on and you keep going, and start paying $.02 per mb. When you hit 850mb, you've used up $3 and have $2 left. Now (at 850mb) your data gets cut off because your active credit is down to $2. But lets say because of the (up to 3 hour) delay in data reporting, another 30mb of data comes in and gets reported after the cutoff. That 30mb costs $.60 and your credit is reduced to $1.40. In the future, because you now have $2 or less of credit, your data will get cut off when you get with 100mb of your limit.
 > If your credit is inactive or below $2. When you get to 600mb, your data gets cut off. Again, lets assume because of the delay in data reporting, another 30mb of data comes in and gets reported after the cutoff. No problem. Your total use is 630mb, which is below your 700mb free data limit. As long as you aren't using a lot of data at the moment your data is disabled so that less than 100mb of delayed data gets reported, you'll stay below the 700mb limit. But note that it is theoretically possible to go over the limit because of the delay in data reporting, which could result in a small data usage charge.
12. I have probably made this topic seem more complicated than it needs to be, but it really isn't that complicated, or at least shouldn't be. Buy the LTE sim. Get at least 10 FreedomPop friends so you get the 500mb bonus and you'll have 700mb of monthly data (600mb usable). Set a data limit on your phone for 500mb. Consider paying $5 bucks to turn off auto-top-up for peace of mind, in case your kid disables your phone's data limit to watch youtube.

7. Talk & Text Considerations: Google Voice/Hangouts vs the FreedomPop App
I prefer to use my free Google Voice phone number on the Hangouts app for talking and texting, even though I'm "losing" the free FreedomPop App 200 minutes & 500 texts. I'm not knocking the FreedomPop Talk/Text app. I've tried the FreedomPop app and it works, both for talking and text. The FreedomPop app is a good choice for people who don't want to set up a Google Voice number and use Hangouts. You do get 200 free minutes and 500 free texts, but there are some limitations.
* The FreedomPop minutes/texts do not count against your data usage, but the minutes/text do get counted and used up both when you are on cellular data and when you are on wifi. I was a little surprised that texts sent on wifi still count against the 500 text limit since you aren't on cell service, but they do, and minutes used on wifi also count. Of course, if you need more minutes or texts, all of the FreedomPop paid monthly plans include unlimited talk and text.
* The free FreedomPop texts are SMS only. If you want to send and receive MMS, you need to pay for a monthly MMS plan ($1.99/mo or included in the $7.99/mo Premium Plus service).
* By default, the FreedomPop voice number will go to voice mail if you don't pick it up, and if someone leaves a message, you won't be able to listen to the message unless you pay for a monthly plan with voicemail ($2.49/mo or included in the $7.99/mo Premium Plus service). If you don't want people to be able to leave a voice mail that you can't access without paying, you can disable voicemail and then your number should just ring and ring. To disable voicemail, go to your account under account settings and find [voicemail preferences]. Although it says "disabled", you need to click "edit" and then click "save", and then you will get a message saying "voicemail disabled." You can confirm that voicemail is now actually disabled by calling your number and confirming it just keeps ringing.
* Each FreedomPop sim has it's own phone number. If you change sims, you change numbers.
* Google Voice with Hangouts includes free domestic calls, free voicemail, and free sms & mms texts. Texts (SMS) essentially use no data. When you are using Hangouts on wifi to talk, you won't use any of your cellular data. When you use the Hangouts app (with your Google Voice number) to talk on cellular data, it uses about .55mb per minute based on my testing. That means 100 minutes of talking should use about 55mb of cellular data. Most of my talking is when I'm on wifi (other than when I do a weekend walk and call my father), and I usually text instead of calling people.
* Most importantly, if you have a Google Voice phone number, you can install the Hangouts app on any or all of your phones and then send and receive calls and texts. You can set up your Google Voice number to ring on multiple phones, either by forwarding it to a phone number or by using the Hangouts app. I have my personal Google Voice number ring on both my FreedomPop (Sprint) Moto E2 with Hangouts and my ZTE Zmax2 with my FreedomPop LTE sim with Hangouts. A Google Voice phone number with the Hangouts app gives you a lot of flexibility.

How To Install The FreedomPop Voice/Text App

If you only want to use the FreedomPop LTE sim to get the free cellular data, you do NOT have to install the FreedomPop app. All you need to do is set your phone APN to "fp.com.attz" and then turn on cellular data, and it should work. But, if you want to use the FreedomPop phone number to get the 200 free minutes and 500 free texts, then you must install and use the FreedomPop voice/text app.

The FreedomPop phone number is not a traditional cellular number. It is a "virtual" (voip) phone number, and you must install and use the FreedomPop Messaging app to be able to use the phone number. Also remember that each FreedomPop sim has its own phone number, so if you switch sims, you are also switching FreedomPop phone numbers. There are several FreedomPop apps on the Google Play Store. The app you want to install to use with the LTE (or Global) sim is the "FreedomPop Messaging Phone/SIM".

 Step 1) Find the FreedomPop Messaging Phone/SIM app on Google Play Store and select INSTALL.
 Step 2) The app will need access to a bunch of things... select ACCEPT.
 Step 3) Wait for the 37.61mb app to download and install (you may want to install it when you're on wifi to save your cellular data)
 Step 4) After it install, select OPEN. The app will remind you to set your APN to "fp.com.attz" (actually, the app says fpop.com.attz, which is wrong). The app will explain that you must use it to send and receive texts with your FP number.  The app will explain how to activate voicemail (voicemail is a PAID feature, not free). The app will tell you that you can port your number to FreedomPop. The app will show you how to get self help and support. Now select DONE. The app will ask you to set Messaging as Default. You can say ok and change it later.
Now, whenever you reboot or power up your phone, the FreedomPop Messaging app will provision the phone and you'll get a message saying, "FreedomPop Setup Complete. Your phone number is ###-###-###".

After you've installed the FreedomPop MESSAGING app, to make a phone call, you can click on the Android PHONE icon or the FreedomPop MESSAGING icon.
To send a text, click on the FreedomPop MESSAGING icon.
TIP: If you want to check how much data you have used or get other account information, open the FreedomPop MESSAGING app. On the home screen, swipe from the left side, and you'll get a side menu showing your account information.
TROUBLESHOOTING TIP: If you install the app and you are able to send texts but not make calls, try this. In Android, go to [settting] > [apps] > select Messaging app. Select "Force Stop" then under Storage "Clear Data" and "Clear Cache". Exit settings, and then open the FP Messaging app and try making a call. On one of my phones, I had to do this twice to get calls working.
The FreedomPop MESSAGING Voice/Text app will use up your free minutes and texts both when you are on cellular and on wifi. You can always see how many you have left by using the tip above to swipe from the left side of the Messaging app screen to show your account information, including your FP phone number and minutes/texts/data used. 


The FreedomPop MESSAGING app allows you to send and receive 200 free minutes of voip voice calls and 500 free texts. If you swipe across from the left side, you will get a summary of your plan details, including your phone number and email address for your sim, and how much data you have left.

8. How To Get More Data
Each LTE sim can get a maximum of 700mb of free data a month, of which about 600mb is useable unless you disable the Auto-Top-Up feature, which requires paying for a $5 credit. If you do disable Auto-Top-Up and keep your $5 credit active, then you can use the full 700mb. The free way to get more monthly data is to have additional sims, and swap them in your phone when they run out of data. Of course, this is a bit more work, but it is free. If you are switching sims, note that each sim has its own FreedomPop phone number, so your FreedomPop phone number will change every time you change your sim.
A simpler solution is to consider one of the FreedomPop paid plans. They have monthly plans, as well as plans where you pay for 6 months at a time (at the beginning of the period) and you save about 50%. The free option with a single sim works great for me because I'm usually on wifi and really don't need very much cellular data, but the paid plans are an option for people who want more data without bothering with swapping sims all the time.

9. FAQs, Tips, & Observations, and the Latest News and Updates
FAQ#1: How is the cellular data coverage? Is is reliable, and what sort of data speeds do you get?

A: I've been using the LTE sim since January, and have been very impressed with the coverage and reliability.  Around town and when traveling, I've almost always had coverage, as I would expect because it is AT&T service. The data speeds are great, and are more than sufficient for what I do (talking via Hangouts, texting, checking emails, watching youtube, etc.) The one weakness of the service is that it uses the old Jasper network on AT&T, which seems to sometimes have higher latencies (ping times) than the newer AT&T server/network. This means that sometimes when you are using the data to talk to someone (i.e. on hangouts), there may be a slight delay of about a second when you talk back and forth with someone that isn't present on a landline or wifi connect, but I don't mind it because the service is free. Suffice it to say, you are getting AT&T cellular data (with slightly higher pings) for FREE. I'll also mention that I'm pretty sure that I almost always have an LTE connection, but if not it falls back to 4G or 3G.


Sample FreedomPop LTE sim SpeedTest results from when I received my first LTE sim in January 2017, and again on two different phones in October 2017. I am in Santa Barbara, California. The download speeds are blazing fast and range from 76Mbps to 87Mbps. The pings range from 76ms to 87ms.

FAQ#2: How long does shipping take? When will I get my new FreedomPop sim card?
A: FreedomPop used to ship sim kits from Indiana via FedEX SmartPost, but now sends them via regular US First Class mail from California. I just ordered another LTE sim in September (2017) on a Tuesday and received my sim two days later on Thursday (I'm in California). I would expect most people will receive their sim kits in 2-4 business days, and they will come in the mail in a regular size white envelope with a shipping label/address on the envelope. The FreedomPop website still generates a message when the sim ships and provides a tracking number, but the tracking number does not work. Again, the sim ships via the US Postal Service in the first class mail with NO tracking. Also remember that your 30 day free trial period starts the day your order ships, not when you get it.

FAQ#3: I got something during my order that said, "PURCHASE CONFIRMATION - YOUR FREE GIFT WITH TODAY'S PURCHASE. One-time activation only $0.01" What the heck is this?
A: Although it can be confusing, this is an offer for SECOND pre-activated sim card for a penny ($0.01). You can skip it if you want, but it's legit, and it's a good deal. If you accept it, you should be able to pick a second phone number for it, and you'll get a second sim card. The second sim card will have it's own "free trials" and you'll need to downgrade it just like your first sim card (plan and service). The great thing is that if you add at least 10 friends to your email account, both your first sim card and this second penny sim card will both get the 500mb bonus, so you'll have two sim cards, each with 700mb of data. Note: the second sim will probably not show the 500mb Friends bonus until the second billing cycle starts. Read the next FAQ to see what can go wrong and why you might not get the second penny sim card...


This is an offer to get a SECOND sim for a penny.

FAQ#4: I thought I ordered the second $.01 sim card, but I never got it. What happened?
A: I have heard that if you have a pop-up blocker (especially on Chrome) it can cause the second offer to not work, so I'd recommend turning off any pop-up blockers before ordering.

FAQ#5: If I get the second sim, is there anything I need to do?
A: If you get the second sim, the only thing you need to make sure you do is understand that it will have its own free trials (plan and service), and you'll need to downgrade both. To access the settings for your second sim (or multiple sims or devices on your account), log into your account on the FreedomPop website. Then click on your name in the upper right hand corner, and you should get a drop down menu with your devices (sim #1 and sim #2) listed. You can select either on and downgrade the plan and service. You can also monitor your data usage.

FAQ#6: I downgraded my second $.01 "penny" sim and it only has 200mb? Why didn't it get the 500mb Friends bonus?
A: The second $.01 sim will often not get the 500mb Friends bonus until it starts the second cycle. So if you only see 200mb, don't panic. Just wait until the start of the second cycle and you'll get the 500mb bonus data on it.

FAQ#7: My sim just started the second cycle, and it shows 1.17GB (or 900mb) instead of 700mb? Why do I have the extra data? Will I get charged?
A: If you have extra data at the start of your second cycle, it is because your initial free trial of Premium Service included data rollover, and you got the benefit of data rollover on the first cycle. This has happened to me multiple times. For example, one of my sims came with a 1GB bonus at the beginning. Thus when it started the second cycle, I got 200mb+500mb friends bonus+500mb rollover =1200mb, and 1200mb/1024=1.17GB. This also happened to my second $.01 sim above which got 900mb (200mb+500mb friends+200mb rollover=900mb). If you have cancelled the Premium service (which most of us have), at the start of the third cycle, no data will roll over, and you'll get the expected 700mb (assuming you have 10 friends).

FAQ#8:. What kind of phone do I need for this LTE sim?
A: You will need an unlocked GSM-capable smartphone running Android 4.0 or higher or an Apple iPhone running OS 7.0 or higher. The phone must be GSM-capable. GSM is what AT&T and T-Mobile use, or you can buy a generic unlocked GSM smartphone. If you have an AT&T or T-Mobile phone, it will need to have been unlocked, although I've seen some reports that this LTE sim works on AT&T phones that are still locked to AT&T. I don't have a locked AT&T phone to verify this. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA instead of GSM, and this sim will not work in their CDMA phones, though some newer Sprint and Verizon phones have GSM capability, and work. If you have a Sprint or Verizon phone, you will need to determine if it has GSM capability and if it is unlocked. This sim will not work in a flip phone, it has to be in a smartphone.

FAQ#9: Do I need an "LTE" phone? Does the LTE sim also have 3G?
A: You can use a 3G phone with the LTE sim. You don't have to have an LTE phone, but you will need an LTE-capable phone if you want to get LTE data speeds. This LTE sim also supports 3G and 4G data. I verified this by settting my phone to only use 3G data, and the sim still worked. So if you have a 3G phone, this sim will work, you just won't get the faster LTE data speed.

FAQ#10: How long can a sim be dormant or inactive? How often do I have to use it? Are there inactivity fees?
A: You don't have to use the LTE sim, but you do want to make sure you downgrade to the free plan and cancel the service trial after you order, or you will be charged for the plan and/or service after the 30 day free trial ends. There are no dormancy charges, but starting earlier this year (2017) FreedomPop started occasionally charging inactive accounts a $0.01 "maintenance fee" to confirm the account still has a valid payment form on file. This penny charge could be as often as once a month, but I have several FreedomPop accounts that I don't use, and I've only occasionally been charged the penny charge. 

FAQ#11: Can I only use this sim in one phone? What if I want to switch it to a different phone?
A: You can use this LTE sim in as many different (GSM) phones as you want, but of course, only in one phone at a time. The great thing about GSM sims is that they are not tied to a phone (unlike CDMA sims). With the LTE GSM sim, you can switch it between phones, or if your phone runs out of data, you can switch to a different LTE sim that still has some data on it. Just remember that the FreedomPop number is attached to the sim, so if you switch sims, you will also switch FreedomPop phone numbers (which is why I use a Google Voice phone number with Hangouts).

FAQ#12: Can I use the FreedomPop LTE sim for tethering and/or to make my phone a hotspot?
A: Maybe. If you pay, FreedomPop offers a $10.99 Premium monthly service that includes tethering, but I have not tried it. On the free plan, tethering is not supposed to work, but tethering does work on some of my phones. Note that if your smartphone is an AT&T branded phone, even if it is unlocked, the AT&T software may block tethering (because you aren't subscribing to a paid AT&T tethering plan). My experience with tethering the FreedomPop LTE sim on the free plan is as follows:
 * My Amazon Prime BLU R1 HD dual sim phone (works easily) - I am able to easily turn either LTE sim (#1 or #2) into a hotspot using the stock Android Marshmallow hotspot function (settings > wireless & networks > more > tethering & portable hotspot > wi-fi hotspot). I just enable the hotspot function and it works.
 * My unlocked AT&T ZTE ZMax2 GoPhone (works with 3rd party app) - the stock Android hotspot does not to work (settings > Mobile hotspot). When I try to turn it on, I get an error message saying "There is a temporary network problem that prevents the enablement of the Mobile hotspot function. Please retry later." However, I downloaded and installed an app called "Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot" and the app works for tethering and make the ZMax2 phone a hotspot.
 * My refurbished Moto G4 (works but only with a lot of effort using a slightly unorthodox "hack") - the stock Android Marshmallow hotspot does not work. When I try to turn it on, I get a message saying "Checking subscription status. Please Wait...", and then eventually an error saying "Network connection error. Your phone cannot currently connect to AT&T's server. Please try again later." I tried the Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot app, but it did not work either. I did discover an interesting way to make the stock hotspot function work, but it's not easy. If you remove the sim card (you have to take off the phone back), then turn on the hotspot and almost immediately slide the sim card back in, the phone will skip the subscription status check and the hotspot function will turn on and work. Removing the back cover and temporarily removing the sim card is obviously a bit of a pain, so I can only see using this method in an emergency if you really need tethering. It is a cool "hack" though, and is worth try once just to see if it works for you.
 * I also want to thank reader Rick for providing the following information about his own experience with tethering the FreedomPop LTE sim. He reported that tethering is working for him with the FreedomPop LTE sim on the free plan on four BLU R1 HD phones, a Nexus 5, a Nexus 6, and a Moto G4.  Rick also has an unlocked AT&T S5, unlocked AT&T S6, and unlocked AT&T S6 Edge+, and tethering did NOT work on those phones, but it did work on an international-version S5. Rick said that he didn't do anything special to get tethering working on his phones. He just set up and enabled the phone's hotspot function. But he also reported that tethering did NOT work on his AT&T-version phones, though he probably didn't try the 3rd party hotspot app I found or the hack of removing and sliding back in the sim card. If you have any tips or other information on tethering with the FreedomPop LTE sim, please leave a comment below!

 FAQ#13: My phone needs a nano size sim. Can I use the FreedomPop LTE sim?
A: Yes. The great thing about the FreedomPop LTE sim is that it is a 3-in-1 sim, and can be used as a regular size sim, a micro size sim, or a nano size sim. If you look closely at my picture above where I show how to remove the sim from the sim card, you'll see that it has three different sized perforated shapes for the nano size, the micro size, and the regular size. You just decide what size sim you need, and then pop the correct size sim out of the card.

 FAQ#14: FreedomPop LTE Sim Activation: How do I activate my sim? When is it activated? Do I need to activate my sim?
A: The FreedomPop sim is activated on the day it is shipped to you, so it will already be activated when you receive it. You do not need to activate it. It is already activated. You also don't have to use it right away, or use it to activate it. You can let it sit in a drawer for several months before you use it. Whenever you're ready to start using it, the sim is ready to use. All you have to do is put the sim in your phone and set the APN to "fp.com.attz" and your cellular data should work. If you want the free talk & text, you need to install the FP app. Remember that your 30 day free trials start on the day the sim ships, so you need to downgrade your plan and service within 30 days of the ship date, whether or not you ever open the sim kit and/or use it.

 FAQ#15: What if I get a wrong charge on my credit card? How do I contact billing?
A: Some people recommend contacting FreedomPop through their Twitter or Facebook accounts, but I think it's easier to just call them. Call 888-743-8107 and then press 4 for billing. I called to verify the number worked, and got a real person within less than a minute. If you are on the free plan and call from your FreedomPop phone number, you may get a message that you need to contact support through their website. The simple solution to this is to just call from a non-FreedomPop number and then it's easy to get through to billing. If you downgrade your plan and service (and check your account overview page to make sure you're downgraded), you shouldn't need to contact billing, but if for any reason you do, it's not that hard. A reader named Nick who got hit by the second version of the "service downgrade bug" (which has since been fixed) told me that when he called FreedomPop to get it fixed (he called 888-743-8107 and pressed 4 for billing), he got a representative right away and got the problem fixed in 3 or 4 minutes. From what I have read, every person who has ever contacted them about an incorrect charge has always received a refund. In fact, Brad wrote this in a comment on my original LTE sim review:

[Brad on Monday, March 13, 2017] "I forgot to mention how good FreedomPop's customer service is. When I ordered the global sim's a few months ago, I meant to downgrade them, but forgot ( I hadn't started using the cards at the time). When I saw the credit card charge, I called FreedomPop's customer service, explained the situation, and received a full refund on both sims! I don't know if they commonly do something like this, but needless to say I was very impressed."

 FAQ#16: What is the new "account maintenance" charge? Why did I get a $0.01 charge on my credit card?
A: In March 2017, FreedomPop updated their terms of service, and now they may charge inactive accounts $.01 to verify they still have a valid payment form on file.

[source freedompop.com/service_plan_terms.htm, last updated on 3/1/2017] "Notwithstanding anything else in these Terms to the contrary, if you choose the Free Monthly Broadband Plan or the Free Monthly Phone Plan and (a) do not make a payment for excess usage, Value Added Services, or Other Services in any particular month and (b) use less than 5mb or make fewer then five (5) calls in any given month, FreedomPop reserves the right to charge you a $0.01 maintenance fee ("Maintenance Fee") to keep your FreedomPop Account active."

I have multiple FreedomPop accounts (several LTE sim accounts, several Global sim accounts, and a Sprint-based Moto E2 account). Some of my accounts that I don't use have gotten a few of these $0.01 "penny" charges, but not every month. They seem to happen at random, and honestly, not very often. I think all of the penny charges so far add up to less that ten cents. Just know that if you aren't actively using an account, it may occasionally be charged $0.01. So why is FreedomPop doing this? I think because of credit card processing fees, it actually costs FreedomPop much more than a penny to charge the penny charge, so ironically FreedomPop probably loses money when they charge the penny. I think there are two reasons they are doing this. First, they really do want to make sure people have a valid form of payment of file for the account, so that if the person uses a lot of data all of a sudden and runs well over their limit before FreedomPop knows to cut them off, FreedomPop doesn't want to get stuck with an unpaid bill. Second, I think FreedomPop would actually like people to close their unused accounts since the unused accounts still cost FreedomPop money, and thus the random penny charges are meant to annoy people and get them to close their inactive accounts. In any event, while it is a little annoying, I've decided that I don't mind the penny charges very much, because even if I pay a few pennies a year or even a few pennies a month, this service is still an incredible deal (at least for me).


FreedomPop has updated their terms to include a new $.01 "Account Maintenance" fee. You may occasionally be charged $.01 on inactive FreedomPop accounts to verify they still have a valid form of payment on file.

 

FreedomPop Nationwide (AT&T) LTE GSM Sim Special Offers

Order the LTE Sim Kit for $0.99 (with free shipping)

 

10. Comments / Questions / Feedback:

 

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