5 Ways to Get Free Internet

How to get free Wi-Fi at home or on the go

Wi-fi area

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With a bit of searching and planning, you can reduce your internet cost to zero. There are several ways to get free internet in public and even at home.

Instructions in this article apply to all computers and mobile devices capable of connecting to a wireless network.

Get Internet Anywhere: Freedom Pop Mobile Hotspot

Mobile hotspot hardware

Dave & Margie Hill / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

What We Like

  • Get 500 MB of free monthly data on a 4G network.

  • Access the internet from almost anywhere.

What We Don't Like

  • There's a one-time fee for the hotspot/router.

  • Fees are automatically charged to your account at $0.02 per MB after you hit 500 MB.

FreedomPop offers a number of internet access plans that make use of a mobile hotspot to connect to their cellular data network. Plans range from free to around $75.00 per month. All of the plans make use of FreedomPop's 4G/LTE network and have various monthly data caps associated with them.

FreedomPop Basic 500 works well for those who just need to check their email or do a bit of basic web browsing. If you're going to routinely go over the 500 MB limit, one of FreedomPop's alternate plans, such as the 2 GB plan for $19.99, may be a better fit for your needs. Since the data network is supplied by Sprint, there's a good chance you can make a connection wherever you are.

FreedomPop comes with a free month of the 2 GB data plan, so be sure to change your data plan to the Basic 500 at the end of the first month if you want to keep free internet access.

Get Wi-Fi on the Go: ISP-Provided Wi-Fi Hotspots

Xfinity WiFi sign

Mike Mozart / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

What We Like

  • No special hardware or software required.

  • Most ISP hotspots don't impose data caps or count the amount of data used against your monthly limit.

What We Don't Like

  • Unavailable in locations not serviced by your ISP.

  • Requires a residential internet plan.

If you already have an internet service provider at home, it likely offers access to company-owned or affiliated Wi-Fi hotspots around the country. These types of Wi-Fi hotspots service businesses, public locations, and even entire communities.

Using one of these hotspots is best for those traveling for work or pleasure. The free access is a much better deal than what some hotels charge, and the connection speed is usually much higher, so you can stream music and movies, play games, browse the web, or check your email without interruption.

The following ISP-providers have websites that list all of their Wi-Fi hotspots:

Get Wi-Fi in Public: Municipal Wi-Fi Hotspots

Minneapolis free Wi-Fi sign

Ed Kohler / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

What We Like

  • Available around popular public attractions and transportation centers.

  • 100 percent free.

What We Don't Like

  • Slow speeds due to a high number of users.

  • Limited availability outside of big cities.

Many cities and communities are building publicly available Wi-Fi networks that offer free access to both residents and visitors. All that's needed to access the internet is a device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop that has built-in Wi-Fi support. Most municipality-supplied Wi-Fi networks have limited bandwidth, but they tend to work well for checking email and browsing the web.

Using public Wi-Fi can open up your computer to outside attacks. Learn about the security risks of using an unsecured network.

Get Wi-Fi Where You Shop: Business Wi-Fi Hotspots

free wifi internet sign at cafe

jaminwell / Getty Images 

What We Like

  • Widely available.

  • In-house technical support.

What We Don't Like

  • Restrictions on internet use.

  • You're expected to buy something.

Many businesses that serve the public offer access to the internet over a local Wi-Fi network. McDonald's, Starbucks, and Walmart are examples of companies that provide free Wi-Fi. Many hotels, medical offices, hospitals, campgrounds, and even roadside rest stops offer free Wi-Fi.

Speed of service and bandwidth can vary widely, and some businesses place data caps or time limits on internet use. You may also be required to set up an account or make use of a guest login system. In most cases, this process is automated; once you select the Wi-Fi service in the network settings, a web page will open with instructions on how to complete the connection.

Access the Internet Without a Computer: Public Libraries

People helping senior man use computer in library

kali9 / Getty Images 

What We Like

  • No computer needed.

  • Guaranteed peace and quiet.

  • Staff provides technical support.

What We Don't Like

  • Not ideal for making video calls or streaming videos.

  • Limited hours.

Libraries offer more than just a free internet connection; they also provide you with a computer to use and a comfy chair to sit in. Libraries also generally offer free Wi-Fi connectivity for all of their visitors. The New York Public Library will even lend you a mobile hotspot to use at home to connect to the city's free Wi-Fi network.