FreedomPop Review: The UK Network With Free Minutes, Texts & Internet

January 26th, 2017

FreedomPop is a UK mobile network promising a free mobile service with no monthly charges. Customers receive 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200MB of internet per month.

FreedomPop LogoIn the UK, FreedomPop advertises itself as a “100% free mobile phone service”. Customers using FreedomPop get 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200MB of internet per month. However, phone calls are different in that they’re made over the internet using the FreedomPop application. Basic features like usage alerts and voicemail also come with an additional monthly charge.

In this article, we’ll review the FreedomPop mobile network in the UK. We’ll look at available price plans and paid-for extras, as well as key catches that could cause you to pay more. We’ll then look at the alternatives to FreedomPop, at the level of coverage you can expect and how to keep your existing phone number.

Pricing & Tariffs

Price Plans

FreedomPop Phone

In the UK, FreedomPop advertises itself as a “100% free mobile phone service”. After an upfront payment of £7.97, customers can enrol in the service and will be sent a FreedomPop SIM card in the post.

FreedomPop’s basic tariff comes with 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200MB of mobile internet (with phone calls and text messages being made over the internet through the FreedomPop application).

For customers requiring larger monthly allowances, FreedomPop also has a selection of paid-for plans:

Network Minutes* Texts* Internet Monthly
Cost
FreedomPop 200 200 200MB £0.00
& £7.97 upfront
FreedomPop 500 1,000 500MB £4.99
& £7.97 upfront
FreedomPop 1,000 1,000 1GB £8.99
& £7.97 upfront
FreedomPop 2,500 5,000 2GB £11.99
& £7.97 upfront
FreedomPop 2,500 5,000 4GB £19.99
& £7.97 upfront

* On FreedomPop, phone calls and text messages are made over the internet using VoIP technology. It’s therefore necessary to use the FreedomPop smartphone application which works in a very similar way to Skype and WhatsApp. Some of FreedomPop’s tariffs are advertised as having “unlimited minutes” and “unlimited texts”. On these tariffs, there is a fair usage policy of 2,500 minutes and 5,000 texts per month.
† The £4.99/month and £19.99/month tariffs can not be selected when initially ordering your FreedomPop SIM card. You’ll need to change to these tariffs later on through the FreedomPop website.

Occasionally, some time-limited introductory deals are also offered by FreedomPop (e.g. the first month free, or additional data for the first three months). When these introductory deals end, you’ll be moved to the regular tariff as shown in the table above.

You’ll be charged 1.5p/MB when you use up your inclusive data allowance (or 1p/MB if you’re on a paid-for plan). Your account will be topped up automatically when required and you will not receive an alert unless you subscribe to the Usage Alerts service (99p/month). There are no out-of-allowances charges for calling and texting (your only option is to upgrade to a higher plan).

The upfront fee of £7.97 to get your FreedomPop SIM card breaks down as a £4.99 fee for the FreedomPop SIM card, £1.99 for postage & packaging and a 99p activation fee. Your card details will be taken for this upfront fee. You’ll also give FreedomPop the authority to save your card details and to take payments from you in the future (e.g. for paid-for services and automatic top-ups).

FreedomPop’s Premium Voice add-on allows you to make regular phone calls for an additional £1.99/month.

A major part of FreedomPop’s business model is their attempt to sell you additional paid-for services. Some of the services you can pay for on FreedomPop include:

  • Premium Voice (£1.99/month on the free tariff; free on the paid-for tariffs). A major limitation of the FreedomPop service is that calls are made using voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology. This works in a very similar way to when you make phone calls on Skype, meaning you’ll need a sufficiently fast internet connection to maintain the phone call. If you have poor coverage or poor data speeds, the phone call is likely to break up or can suffer from delays. You’ll also need a data allowance to make and receive phone calls. The Premium Voice add-on allows you to side-step this problem by making it possible to call over the normal mobile network. You’ll use your normal allowance of minutes (with a fair usage policy of 1000 minutes per month).
  • Usage Alerts (99p/month). By default, you will not be told when your data allowance is running low on FreedomPop. This means you can inadvertently activate the automatic top-up feature on FreedomPop. For an extra 99p/month, you can receive a notification when your data allowance drops below 50MB.
  • Voicemail (99p/month). By default, voicemail is not offered on the FreedomPop service. It costs 99p/month to add voicemail to your service.
  • Data Rollover (£1.49/month). For an extra £1.49/month, you can roll over up to 500MB of unused data to the following month. You’ll be able to accumulate a maximum of 20GB of data.
  • Data Rollover Plus (£2.99/month). This is a more expensive version of the Data Rollover add-on. It allows you to roll over up to 1GB per month, and to accumulate a maximum of 40GB data.

One thing that’s worth watching out for is that many of these services will be offered on a one-month free trial. You’ll need to cancel the service if you don’t want to be automatically charged for it in future months.

Make sure you deselect the paid-for services if you don’t want to be automatically charged for them after one month.

FreedomPop Premium

When you order your SIM card from FreedomPop, you’ll be offered a one-month free trial of FreedomPop Premium. This gives you a number of additional features such as support for tethering, Premium Voice, MMS, data rollover, voicemail and usage alerts. You’ll also get 50% off additional data charges outside of your allowance. Customers with an Android smartphone can also take advantage of data compression, VPN and ad-blocking in the FreedomPop browser.

If you don’t want to be charged automatically for FreedomPop Premium, you should click the option reading “I don’t want free stuff” when ordering your SIM card from their website (highlighted in the screenshot below).

You’ll be offered a one-month free trial of FreedomPop Premium. You should choose the “I don’t want free stuff” option if you want to avoid paying the £3.99/month fee after one month.

Automatic Top-Up

By default, your account will be topped up automatically with £5 of credit when your data allowance drops to 20MB or less. If you’d like to receive a notification before this happens, you should subscribe to the Usage Alerts service (99p/month).

It’s possible to turn off the automatic top-up feature in your FreedomPop online account. If you do this, you’ll need to manually top-up when your allowances run out. Please be aware that it may not be possible to make and receive phone calls when your data allowance has run out (as phone calls and text messages on FreedomPop use the internet connection).

Pay As You Go Credit Expiry

On FreedomPop, your Pay As You Go credit will expire 30 days after the date of the relevant top-up. This means, for instance, if you were to top-up on January 1st, any unused credit from that top-up will expire on January 31st.

Thankfully, FreedomPop does provide the ability for you to re-activate expired credit. This requires logging in to your online account and clicking on the relevant link to re-activate your credit.

In the UK, most other Pay As You Go mobile networks will not expire your credit automatically (typically, you just need to use your phone at least once 180 days).

Surveys & Offers

For customers not wanting to add extra money to their account, FreedomPop also provides the ability for you to earn extra credit through partner offers and surveys. For instance, you might earn some additional data by providing your information to other companies and signing up to their services. Caution is advised when taking advantage of these offers, as some negative feedback has been given on the offers in the past.

You can also earn 10MB of additional data for each person you recommend FreedomPop to (up to a maximum of 50MB additional data each month).

Comparison to Alternatives

Mobile Mast

Lack of coverage, especially for voice, is a major problem on the FreedomPop service.

At present, we’d recommend against choosing the FreedomPop service. There are four main reasons for this:

  • Coverage is limited especially for phone calls. The main downside of using FreedomPop is very limited coverage, especially for making and receiving phone calls. As phone calls are made over the internet using the FreedomPop application, you’ll need not only good mobile coverage but also good mobile internet speeds. If your internet connection isn’t sufficiently fast, expect poor sound quality, delays on the phone call or the phone call dropping entirely.
  • It’s too easy to run up unexpected charges. When signing up for the FreedomPop service, you’ll give them authority to automatically take money from your credit card in the future. With the number of time-limited trials you need to opt-out from and with features like automatic top-up, it’s incredibly easy to run up unexpected charges.
  • Even basic services come with an additional monthly fee. For instance, it costs 99p/month if you want to receive an alert when your data allowance is low (this is worth having if you want to avoid unexpected automatic top-ups).
  • 200MB is actually very little data. FreedomPop’s free tariff only includes 200MB of data per month. The average smartphone user uses significantly more than this.
5 Pound Note

Just £5/month would get you a tariff on more established mobile networks such as ASDA and giffgaff.

FreedomPop also has some poor reviews online.

In our opinion, you’d be much better off choosing a traditional paid-for service without the above limitations. For instance, both ASDA Mobile and giffgaff offer Pay As You Go bundles from £5/month. There’s much better coverage, especially for calling (ASDA uses the EE network and giffgaff uses O2). There’s also better control over your spending, better customer service and a more established brand name behind the service.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA Mobile1002,0002.1GB£5.00
EE50250150MB£5.00
giffgaff150500100MB£5.00
ASDA Mobile2002,000-£5.00
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited2.5GB£7.00
giffgaff250Unlimited750MB£7.50

For around £10/month, the major networks also have a Pay As You Go tariff without the disadvantages of the FreedomPop service:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited3.5GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited2GB£10.00
EE1001,0001GB£10.00
O21001001GB£10.00
O22501,000500MB£10.00
EE150Unlimited500MB£10.00
Vodafone150Unlimited500MB£10.00

For more information, please see our guide to the best value Pay As You Go SIM cards.

If you’re looking for a mobile broadband SIM card (e.g. for your tablet), Three’s Data Reward SIM card will give you 200MB of free data each month.

Using FreedomPop

FreedomPop SIM CardIf you choose to try the FreedomPop service, you’ll need to have an unlocked smartphone. The smartphone will need to be compatible with the FreedomPop application for iPhone or Android. This is because phone calls and text messages need to be made through the FreedomPop application.

If you don’t have a FreedomPop-compatible smartphone, a number of handsets are currently available to buy from their website:

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505 (£269)
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (£169)
  • FreedomPop MXG 408 (£39.99)
FreedomPop Application

On FreedomPop, phone calls and text messages are made through the FreedomPop application (available on iPhone or Android devices).

Network & Coverage

97% Mobile Internet Coverage

Three Coverage

FreedomPop uses the Three UK network for 97% mobile internet coverage.

FreedomPop is a virtual network operator that uses Three as its network coverage provider. At the time of writing, there’s about 97% population coverage for 3G and 4G internet.

Before ordering a SIM card from FreedomPop, we strongly recommend checking the coverage in your area. The easiest way to do this is by entering your postcode in the FreedomPop coverage checker:

Check FreedomPop Coverage (uk.freedompop.com) »

Limited Coverage For Calling & Texting

Unlike all other mobile networks in the UK, FreedomPop provides a voice-over-IP service. This means phone calls are routed over the internet using the FreedomPop application (in a similar way to how phone calls on Skype work).

If your data connection isn’t fast enough to support the FreedomPop phone call, expect poor sound quality, lag or dropped calls.

Customers with the £1.99 Premium Voice add-on can somewhat side-step this by making calls over the normal mobile network (this gives 97% population coverage for outgoing phone calls).

International Roaming

International roaming is only available on FreedomPop’s WhatsApp SIM card.

It’s not possible to use your FreedomPop SIM card when travelling abroad in other countries. The only exception to this is if you’re using the FreedomPop WhatsApp SIM Card. This gives you a 1GB monthly allowance for use in 25 countries through the WhatsApp application only. You’ll also get 100 minutes and and 200 texts through the FreedomPop application.

Tethering

Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. your laptop or tablet).

On FreedomPop, it’s only possible to tether if you buy the FreedomPop Premier add-on for £3.99/month. In contrast, many other mobile networks allow you to tether at no additional charge. For more information, please see our in-depth guide to tethering on UK mobile networks.

Keeping Your Phone Number

FreedomPop WebsiteIf you’d like to keep your existing mobile phone number, it’s possible to transfer it from your current mobile network to FreedomPop. There’s a charge of £4.99 for bringing your phone number to FreedomPop.

If you’d like to do this, you should start by asking your old mobile network to provide you with a PAC Code. A PAC Code is nine digits long and authorises the transfer of your phone number to FreedomPop. It’s a legal requirement for all UK mobile networks to issue you with a PAC Code, and they’ll do this free of charge within 2 hours of your request.

Once you have a PAC Code from your old mobile network, you can order your new SIM card from the FreedomPop website.

Once the SIM card has arrived and once you’ve set up your account, we recommend spending a bit of time to try out the FreedomPop service (particularly so, given the vast difference in how it works compared to other mobile networks). Your PAC Code will be valid for 30 days so you can try out the FreedomPop service in that time before transferring your phone number over.

To complete the transfer of your phone number, log in to your FreedomPop online account and go to My Account > Phone Number > Transfer Existing Number. You’ll need to pay your £4.99 fee and you’ll need to provide a valid PAC Code to complete the transfer of your phone number.

For a step-by-step guide on transferring your phone number to FreedomPop, please select your current mobile network from the drop-down menu below:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to FreedomPop

Your current network provider:

  More Options

More Information

For more information, please see the FreedomPop UK website.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 15 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. john said:

    Actually, incoming calls are via the mobile network now. Just out going are voip. So it is a improvement from when they launched.

  2. Stave said:

    Freedompop is great for a light user especially if you are have access to a decent WiFi connection. I usually make calls on WiFi at home and have a MiFi device when out so I don’t have to worry about running out of data on the basic free plan. On my iPhone I turn “mobile data” off for all apps except Freedompop. Not sure what the equivalent settings are on Android. I also have a extra SIM in case I run out of talk minutes and have disabled auto top up for data.

    One problem I have is that when I am in my car I can receive calls via my iphone on my car’s bluetooth handsfree (Ford SYNC) but when I try to dial out I get the message “your service does not allow access to this number”. This seems to be because the car is using the native IOS dialer which dials voice calls on the SIM (3 network) and not through the Freedompop app which uses a data connection.

  3. Paul said:

    I came across your site a few weeks back when googling reviews of Freedompop, and saw a comment (now gone) by a visitor to UK from Australasia who, like me, wants to safeguard their UK mobile number permenantly so it is available on their next visit. I am away for typ 18 months at a time. On this visit to the UK I found the Giffgaff service using 4GB/£15 pcm roughly matches my usage (most of the time my phone is just used as a 3G modem to connect my laptop or Pc, hence the high data usage), except voice use of normal celular service is less than 5-50% of the goodybag allowance. I mention this, because the ‘FREE’ Freedompop account appears not intended for those needing 4 to 6GB data pcm.

    I gather to keep my SIM alive with Giffgaff, I need to leave SIM with a friend in UK and add £5 credit avery 6 months, i.e will cost me £20 if away for 2 years.

    It was my search for a cheaper reliable method of safeguarding my UK phone number when overseas that perked my interest in a so-called FREE phone (for light users). However, I dont like Freedompop marketing as it seems misleading, and I get annoyed if deceived. What with that, £7 upfront cost for their SIMcard, and from your review, complications in making/receiving clear voice calls, it seems doubtful whether migrating my Giffgaff number to Freedompop is any better than paying £10 PA to keep Giffgaff SIM alive.

    Ken, do you know a simpler, reliable, and cheaper way of safeguarding a UK phone number for say 2 years unused ?

    I depart UK in 2 weeks, so little time to organise something.

    1. Ken replied:

      Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. I agree, and I don’t think FreedomPop will be a very good way for you to keep your phone number active. I’ve got an article here about Pay As You Go inactivity which you might find of interest, but in short: most mobile networks will simply require you to either top-up or use your phone once every 6 months.
      In your case, seeing as you already have a giffgaff SIM card, you’re probably best off just sticking with the giffgaff SIM. The easiest & cheapest thing to do would be to send a text message from the SIM card once every 6 months (this would cost 5p each time, so it would only cost 20p to keep your SIM card active for 2 years). Alternatively, like you say, you could also top-up the account once every 6 months. In this case, it’s worth noting that giffgaff has a minimum top-up of £10 each time. However, the good thing is your credit doesn’t expire providing your SIM card remains active (so the next time you come back, you’ll still have all of that credit remaining on the account for you to use).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

    2. salvador replied:

      Hello Paul,
      My problem is similar in many ways.
      I live in France, but go to London about four or five days every month.

      Some years ago, I got a Lebara prepaid SIM, which I use mainly so my friends and family can call me while I am in the UK without incurring extra charges.
      The Lebara T & C state that there must be a billable event every 84 days.
      Incoming calls while in France now incur a roaming charge of 1p per minute. So I just have someone call me (or call from my Freedompop account) for a minute or two every couple of months. Result: the number stays alive at a cost of less than 10p a year!
      Previously, Lebara used to charge 5p for sending a text message while roaming in France (compared to 15 p while in the UK), so I just used to send a text message every couple of months, so keeping the number alive for around 30p a year. Lebara have now changed their policy and it costs much more (I forget how much, maybe 19p) to send a text from France.

      Freedompop would suit my usage pattern fine, as I am constantly on wifi while at home and my usage to UK mobiles is well under 3hours 20 min a month. Unfortunately, the sound quality is not up to scratch. The 200 MB monthly data allowance is fine, as most of the time I am in wifi coverage. I use it mainly to check bus arrival times or log on to Uber.

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