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How to Get Free WiFi in Your Car (Complete Guide)

Having free WiFi in your car is one of the best ways to stay connected with your friends and family members. It will no longer be necessary to wait until you’re at home to connect to the internet.

Wi-Fi in the car can keep your kids and other passengers occupied and make you a better driver through functionalities such as GPS. You can access traffic updates, weather forecasts, satellite radio, and emergency services on the road.

But how do you ensure that your car has free Wi-Fi? While car Wi-Fi is mostly paid for, it is possible to get an internet connection for free. This article examines that in greater detail to help you stay connected on the go.

Key Takeaways

  • Getting free Wi-Fi in your car may involve connecting to a free hotspot wherever you go.
  • Mobile hotspots, smartphones, and modem/router combo can provide reliable paid-for Wi-Fi in any car.
  • Telecommunication companies like AT&T and T-Mobile have specialized data plans targeting those who need Wi-Fi in their cars.

How to Get Free WiFi in Your Car by Parking in Public Places

Free WiFi in Your Car

One of the best ways to get free WiFi in your car is by parking in a public place. All you need is to have the login credentials for the respective public Wi-Fi. There are many places in America with free Wi-Fi, including the following:

1. Coffee Shops

Most coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi to attract more customers. You only need to buy a coffee to use the Wi-Fi. Therefore, after buying coffee, you may request for the Wi-Fi password and retreat to your car to connect to the internet.

2. Libraries

Public libraries also offer free Wi-Fi to those who patronize them. The good thing is that Wi-Fi from a public library doesn’t require password. You can park your car outside a public library and access free Wi-Fi.

3. Hotel Public Areas

Most mid-level hotels offer free Wi-Fi to their clients. You only need to get to the lobby to get free Wi-Fi. If you join the hotel’s loyalty program, you can enjoy free Wi-Fi even when you aren’t a guest. Therefore, you can park your car at the hotel and access the internet.

4. Grocery and Department Stores

Some grocery stores offer free Wi-Fi to shoppers to attract more customers. The Wi-Fi is accessible to those entering the store to shop. However, once you have shopped and obtained the Wi-Fi password, nothing prevents you from using it in the parking lot.

5. Fast Food Chains

Your favorite fast-food restaurant could be the go-to place if you want free Wi-Fi. For most of these restaurants, you there is a 30-minute restriction to prevent customers from overstaying. But that doesn’t prevent you from using the Wi-Fi in your car.

How to Get Free WiFi in Your Car Using Apps

Besides the hotspots in public places, you may use specially-designed apps to find Wi-Fi near you. Besides identifying the hotspot name, the Wi-Fi finder apps provide information such as signal strength and security. You may pick any of the open hotspots and use them in your car.

The following are examples of the Wi-Fi finder apps you could install on your phone and use to get free internet:

1. Avast Wi-Fi Finder

You can install Avast Wi-Fi finder on your phone and use it to identify Wi-Fi hotspots near you. For the United States, it provides a Wi-Fi map with more than 220,000 hotspots. Besides identifying the hotspots, it describes whether or not Wi-Fi is available for free. It also helps you to automatically connect to the internet once you get into an area with free Wi-Fi.

2. Wi-Fi Map

The app has an interactive map that displays all the available hotspots in a particular city. It has a network of over 120 million Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide and at least 100 million users. The app lists available Wi-Fi hotspots and their respective passwords to help you connect to them. Once you get the login details, you will be able to use free Wi-Fi in your car.

3. Wiman

Wiman has a list of more than 60 million hotspots worldwide. Its interactive map reveals all the Wi-Fi hotspots available in a location. You may use it either in offline or online mode. Besides the hotspot’s login credentials, you may also view the internet speed involved.

4. Instabridge

On Instabridge you’ll find fewer hotspots than the ones on the applications discussed above. The good thing is that you can install the app on both iOS and Android devices. Once installed, Instabridge can help you to get free Wi-Fi in your car on the go. Interestingly, it only displays the hotspots that work and not those that don’t.

5. Wiffinity

Wiffinity is a community-based application that makes it possible for people to share Wi-Fi hotspots with others. It works both in online and offline modes. So, you don’t have to be connected to the internet to use it. When driving to a new place, you’ll find the application useful in helping you get free Wi-Fi in your car.

6. WeFi

With WeFi, you can get a large pool of free Wi-Fi hotspots from across the world. It sifts through the available hotspots and only connects you to the most reliable ones. The application doesn’t require connecting to it every time you need to use it. Rather, you can leave it running in the background to connect you to the best Wi-Fi hotspot wherever you go.

7. NetSpot

NetSpot is a free application that makes it possible for you to find and optimize Wi-Fi networks on the go. It analyzes Wi-Fi hotspots and compares them for signal strength before choosing the best. NetSpot is easy to use and doesn’t require you to have any specialized knowledge.

How to Get WiFi in Your Car Via a Service Provider

You may fail to get free WiFi in your car, especially when driving off-road or away from cities. In that case, you need an alternative in the form of paid-for Wi-Fi via a service provider. That means you have to acquire equipment and sign up for a dedicated data plan. The following is how to get non-free Wi-Fi in your car:

1. Get Wi-Fi in Your Car Using a Smartphone Hotspot

Are you looking for an easier and cheaper may to get Wi-Fi in your car? Why don’t use your smartphone to create a hotspot? This option has no hardware cost unless you do not already have a smartphone.

Turning your smartphone into a hotspot is easy. All you have to do is go to settings and turn the button on. You may also have to install a special application. Your phone will act as both a router and modem. The cost ranges from $0 to $600, based on the provider.

A smartphone hotspot can provide Wi-Fi to your car for other devices like tablets, Wi-Fi-enabled head units, and MP3 players. You may use it for functionalities such as GPS in your car. Besides, your passengers can use it to browse the internet.

If you choose this option, you should be ready to expend your monthly data allotment within a short time. Depending on the provider, speeds of smartphone Wi-Fi could be reduced by a great deal. Therefore, be sure to read the fine print before using it.

2. Get Wi-Fi in Your Car Using a Mobile Hotspot

Instead of tethering data from a smartphone, it is always good to use a dedicated mobile hotspot. Mobile hotspot devices can create Wi-Fi networks the same way as a phone. However, they don’t serve any of the other smartphone functions.

You can get the device from any of the regular cellular companies, enabling you to add it to your regular plan. These devices are of two types – self-contained devices and dongles.

Self-contained mobile hotspots are portable and more expensive than dongles. They have built-in rechargeable batteries that need regular charging. You may plug it in to your car’s 12-volt accessory socket or any other power source.

On the other hand, a cellular dongle is a USB device that plugs in to a laptop or computer to provide internet. It can also create a Wi-Fi hotspot for use in the car or elsewhere. You may plug it in to a USB power source, including those in your car.

Some mobile hotspots may afford you some free WiFi in your car. A good example is the one from FreedomPop, which allocates some free data. However, mainstream network carriers charge premium prices for the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

3. Get Wi-Fi in Your Car Using an OBD-II Device

An OBD device is less portable than a dedicated mobile hotspot or smartphone. However, its mobility is better than that of a built-in router. You can plug it into your car’s OBD-II port, which is the same one used for computer diagnostics.

Therefore, it can create local Wi-Fi in your car and supply other devices with cellular data. Plus, you can hook it up to a smartphone to get your vehicle’s diagnostic information. Plus, you can track your car in real-time for historic data on its movements.

4. Get Wi-Fi in Your Car Using a Modem and Router Set

A modem and router combo might be expensive, but it is the most reliable way to get Wi-Fi in your car. Unlike the mobile hotspot or dongle, this option may require setting up. In fast, cars with built-in Wi-Fi already have these devices.

While most routers are permanently fixed in a car, others are somewhat portable with only the cradle being wired into the vehicle. That makes it possible to connect it to another cradle in a different car.

With the modem and router setup, the radio signal is more powerful, leading to a stronger Wi-Fi signal. Therefore, it is more reliable than a mobile hotspot. Plus, when permanently installed, it can provide ethernet and USB ports for hooking up other devices to the internet.

The Wi-Fi network is stronger and allows you to hook up devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. Plus, devices with USB or ethernet ports can be connected to the network through dedicated cables.

How to Get Wi-Fi in Your Car with a Built-In Hotspot

Most modern cars have built-in Wi-Fi modules that do not require the installation of additional equipment. You should check if your car already has Wi-Fi capabilities before investing in equipment. If your car has Built-in Wi-Fi, you may get internet by hooking up with any of the following specialized plans:

1. AT&T Toyota Wi-Fi Connect

You can only get this particular service if you’re a Toyota user. It is available to both AT&T and non-AT&T customers. The plan has different pricing tiers ranging from $20 to $200. You can use it to connect up to five supported devices inside your car.

2. T-Mobile SyncUP Drive

The T-Mobile SyncUP Drive is a device that can make your car smarter by enabling the Wi-Fi hotspot in your vehicle capable of supporting 3G, 4G, and 4G LTE connectivity. You can use it to connect up to five devices. It costs $96 to get connected, even though that’s subject to change. It is available to several car brands.

3. OnStar

OnStar is a service that makes it possible for your car to have Wi-Fi connectivity. It utilizes mobile data, making it possible for you to stay connected on the go. You can use it to create a Wi-Fi network for your smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It supports Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and General Motors.

Why Do You Need Free Wi-Fi In Your Car

People give different reasons for wanting free Wi-Fi in their cars. Here is why having an internet connection in your car is absolutely a must:

  • Remote Work: Do you work remotely? If so, then you need free Wi-Fi on the road. You could be a freelancer or a company employee working away from the office. With free Wi-Fi, you can stop and complete your work virtually anywhere.
  • Social Connection: The need to maintain social connections is the number one reason why some people want free Wi-Fi in their cars. You can keep in touch with your friends and family members and follow up om the happenings in your social circles. Plus, you can keep your connections posted as you drive around.
  • Lifestyle: For some people, having free Wi-Fi in the car is a lifestyle choice. They crave the freedom to go anywhere, whenever they want without losing touch with their friends and family members.
  • Geek Culture: Some people have no reason to have Wi-Fi in their cars other than the need to be part of the geek culture. They want to be seen like they belong to something novel or hip. So, they would do anything to install Wi-Fi in their cars.

The Bottom Line

Your can get free Wi-Fi in your car in two main ways – connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot or using a specialized app to search for hotspots near you. However, free Wi-Fi isn’t available everywhere. That’s why you must consider turning your smartphone into a hotspot, acquiring a mobile hotspot, or getting a modem and router combo.

Paid-for car Wi-Fi has varying costs, depending on the data plans you choose. In some situations, you may include your car Wi-Fi to your existing data plan to save money. With that, you would have reliable Wi-Fi to use wherever you go.

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