On The Go Internet: 6 Free (Or Cheap) Ways To Get Online Away From Home

When you're on the go, sometimes you still need to get online. Whether you're working, checking social media, or even comparing prices, an internet connection can speed things up immeasurably. But how can you access the internet without carrying your modem around with you? It's quite easy, if you keep these six ideas in mind.

1. Look into hotspots from your ISP

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the company that provides your home internet, may offer hotspots around your city that you can access for free with the user name and password that you use to access your account. Start by checking their website, as most have a map that will show you the hotspots they offer. If you don't find a map, try calling and speaking to a representative. This access is free since you already pay for your home internet.

2. Look for other local hotspots

Many coffee shops, diners, libraries, county offices and municipal buildings offer free wi-fi. Public libraries often offer their wi-fi without a user name or password, and municipal buildings and county offices can be great when you're in a hurry. Coffee shops or diners may require you to be a customer, but the purchase of a small coffee or a doughnut can be worth it if you're desperate to get online.

3. Find a national chain

Chain restaurants and stores often offer free wi-fi to draw in customers. You can often access their wi-fi from the parking lot, with no purchase necessary. Try the following chains:

• Apple Store
• Barnes & Noble
• Best Buy
• Buffalo Wild Wings
• Chick-Fil-A
• Denny's
• Dunkin' Donuts
• Jiffy Lube
• Krispy Kreme
• Macy's
• McDonald's
• Michael's
• Nordstrom
• Panera Bread
• Quizno's
• Sam's Club
• Staples
• Starbucks
• Subway
• Taco Bell
• Target
• Tim Horton's
• Wendy's
• Whole Foods

4. FreedomPop

FreedomPop is a combo service and device that offers internet on the go. It's not available everywhere, but if it is available in your area, it's easy to sign up. There is a small initial cost, depending on the device you choose, of $49.99-89.99. After that, however, you can sign up for their free plan which offers 500MB per month at no cost. If you go over the 500MB, you can purchase more at $.02/MB.

This is a great option if you need to have internet available wherever you are at any time, but also don't use a lot of internet. They do have other options, starting at $3.99 or $19.99 a month, that gives you more, up to 2GB, if you are a heavier user.

5. Netzero

Netzero is another option for having personal internet available wherever you are. As with FreedomPop, you'll need to buy a device (or bring your own). They offer two devices, a stick and a hotspot. The stick is $55, while the hotspot is $80. Also like FreedomPop, they offer a free service plan, but theirs is only 200MB per month, and they do not appear to offer an option to purchase additional MBs if you go over. The 500MB plan is the first paid plan and is $17.95 a month.

Netzero is another option if you need constant availability of internet access, but don't use much of it.

6. Your cell phone

If you have a smartphone and pay for data, you likely have the ability to use your phone as a hotspot. If you check your settings, you should see an option for turning it on as a hotspot. It will walk you through the steps of connecting it to your laptop or tablet to use it as a hotspot, including providing you with a user name and password to keep the connection secure.

Free or cheap wi-fi is available just about anywhere, if you know where to look or how to access it. With a little flexibility, you can easily find a connection to quickly get some work done and get on with your day.

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