The 8 Best Ways to Get Free and Legal Internet at Home Without Paying

Out of money but need the internet? Try these options

If you need internet access for work or school but it's too expensive for your household to manage, one or more of these free options may be open to you. Likewise, affordable internet access and programs that help pay your internet service provider (ISP) bill are also available to households that qualify. Here's how to get free internet at home.

During events that have widespread economic impact, internet service providers sometimes provide discounts, free internet access, several months of free access for new customers, or commitments to keep service connected even if you can't pay. Contact the internet service providers in your area for specific information.

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Free Broadband Wireless Wi-Fi: FreedomPop

A screenshot showing free FreedomPop internet.
What We Like
  • Totally free option.

  • High-speed data.

  • Wireless hotspot or phone provides a lot of utility.

  • Bring your own device.

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive buy-in if you don't already have a device.

  • Doesn't work if AT&T wireless isn't in your area.

  • Subject to congestion.

FreedomPop is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that provides low-cost and free internet access, cellular service, and voice over internet protocol (VOiP) calling. You may be able to use your existing phone or hotspot if it's compatible.

FreedomPop's free wireless plan (dubbed Freemium) provides 25 MB data per month. Although that's not much, it's in addition to:

  • Unlimited Wi-Fi calling
  • 10 cellular voice minutes
  • Unlimited iMessages and RCS text messages (WiFi only)
  • 10 cellular text messages

If you exceed the free 25 MB data monthly allotment, the company upgrades your account to 500MB of LTE data (good for 30 days from the date of upgrade) for $8. You can add more LTE data in increments starting at $4.

FreedomPop offers other low-cost plans, too, and sometimes runs special offers.

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Free Public Wi-Fi Networks: Wi-Fi Free Spot

A screenshot of the Wi-Fi Free Spot directory.
What We Like
  • Completely free if one is available.

What We Don't Like
  • Extremely limited utility, as most people don't live close enough to one to use it.

  • May deliver slow speeds due to congestion.

This option is of limited utility if you're looking for free home internet, but you mayjust get lucky. Wi-Fi Free Spot is a directory of businesses, organizations, and other entities that offer free Wi-Fi access.

Load up the Wi-Fi Free Spot directory page for your state, and check for participating locations close to your house. If you're fortunate, all you may have to do is move your laptop from one side of the house to the other to tap into a nearby free Wi-Fi network.

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Free Internet for Seniors: Lifeline

A screenshot of the Lifeline website.
What We Like
  • Excellent low-cost and free options for seniors and other qualifying people.

  • Choose your provider to find the best price and service.

What We Don't Like
  • Not available to everyone.

This federal program is aimed at seniors, but you may also qualify if your income is limited, if you use SNAP or Medicaid, or if your child or dependent qualifies.

This program doesn't offer internet access directly. Instead, it provides a monthly stipend that you can use to pay a phone or internet bill. If you qualify and choose an inexpensive internet plan, the Lifeline stipend may be enough to cover the entire bill.

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Free Internet for Low-Income Families:

A screenshot of the EveryoneOn website.
What We Like
  • Helps you find free or low-cost internet if you qualify.

  • Can also help you find computer hardware.

  • Pairs well with grant programs.

What We Don't Like
  • Not available to everyone.

Available only to low-income families, this option offers resources to help you find inexpensive or free home internet access. It also can help you get your hands on affordable computer hardware if you don't already have a computer at home.

If doesn't have any totally free options for you, check if you qualify for a grant from Lifeline or similar program. A grant could pay for a low-cost internet service provider found through in its entirety.

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Hidden Prices and Deals: Check With Local Internet Service Providers

A man holding blocks that spell 'support.'
What We Like
  • Some internet service providers run unadvertised deals.

  • You may be able to combine a good deal with assistance from another program.

What We Don't Like
  • Not available from every service provider.

  • Typically not totally free.

Most of the best internet service providers offer significantly cheaper plans than advertised, just for the asking. If you're willing to compromise on speed and potentially deal with a fairly low data cap, the options may surprise you.

Discounts can drive down the cost of internet service, too. Pay attention to the length of the discount period, however; you might end up paying a lot more than you want to when it runs out.

If you already have cable and phone service and can't afford to add internet service, call to see what options your service provider offers. They may be able to bundle an inexpensive internet package with your existing service at no extra cost, especially if you suggest that you're thinking about looking elsewhere for television and phone service.

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Free Local Wi-Fi: Ask Your Neighbors

Two neighbors talking in their windows.
What We Like
  • Completely free if your neighbors are generous.

  • May provide good speed if your neighbors are close.

What We Don't Like
  • Asking for access might be uncomfortable.

  • Subject to loss of service if your neighbor moves their router or shuts off their guest network.

  • Lack of security.

If your neighbors have a Wi-Fi network that your devices can reach from inside your house, consider asking them to share it. They may even be able to activate a guest network on their router so that they can shut off access or throttle speed if bandwidth ever becomes an issue.

Consider paying a little either in cash or your time in exchange, especially if you use a lot of bandwidth. If they prefer to keep their network private for security concerns, that's a perfectly acceptable response—but it doesn't hurt to ask.

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Free Citywide Wi-Fi: Municipal Wireless Networks

People waiting in a train station using laptop computers.

 @south_nostalghia via Twenty20

What We Like
  • May be totally free if available.

What We Don't Like
  • Not available in most locations.

  • Network might be congested due to heavy use.

Municipal wireless networks are large Wi-Fi networks designed to serve an entire municipality. When a local government installs a municipal wireless network, citizens who live within the coverage area get free or low-cost internet access via Wi-Fi.

Although municipal wireless networks aren't yet widespread, checking if your city has one is worth the effort.

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Free Internet for Students: Check With Your School District

A college student using internet in his dorm room.

 @eddie_rios via Twenty20

What We Like
  • Free hardware may be available to students.

  • Students could receive a free data plan.

What We Don't Like
  • Not available from every school district.

  • May provide low-cost but not free access.

If you're enrolled in school or have a school-aged child, check if your school district has any resources that could help you get free wireless data or connections to free or low-cost internet service. Even if not, they may be able to help out with hardware, such as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

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