Get a Free Internet Connection

Wi-Fi can be expensive, but luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid paying those fees. You can always try connecting to a neighbor's Wi-Fi or using the internet at a cafe or library. Keep in mind, however, that some of these methods come with risks, such as probation or stolen identity.


Around Your Home

  1. Go wardriving. It's a little less exciting than it sounds, unfortunately. Grab your vehicle (you'll look a bit suspicious on a bicycle, but more power to you), your mobile device, and start scanning the skies. You probably have an unsuspecting neighbor or two that hasn't yet bothered to put up a password on their network. But be warned, connecting to a wireless network, open or closed, without permission is technically against the law, and can result in anywhere from probation, to 5 years in prison depending on the severity.
    • Use a hotspot database. WiFi has a huge list of over 100 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world, including rural areas you might not expect. They've also got apps for iPhone and Android, so you're never without a search engine to find yourself a connection.
      • If your device still isn't cutting it, there is software you can download (for free!) to enhance your network-finding capabilities. Even the hidden networks will turn up. For Windows, NetStumbler, InSSIDer or Ekahau Heat Mapper are good bets. For Macs, iStumbler or KisMac; for Linux, Kismet or SWScanner.[1]
      • Just don't do any banking or online purchases on this connection; you're going through an unencrypted connection. Please note that this may be illegal in some areas.
  2. Tether your phone. It's not the most ideal situation (your data will get used, the battery will drain faster, the connection won't be super fast), but it gets the job done. That's really all that matters.
    • If you're on an iPhone, you can make use of the Personal Hotspot feature, located in Settings.
    • On Android? Then it's Settings - Wireless & Networks - Portable Wi-Fi hotspot; and make sure it's checked on.
  3. Get a connection through your cable company. You're in for a big surprise: If you have internet through your cable company, you may have access to tens of thousands of hotspots you don't even know about. Check your provider's web site for a map of nearby hotspots, or if they have one, download their mobile app from your app store of choice and find them that way.
    • Even better, cable companies are starting to get friendly: There are five major providers that allow each other's customers to use their hot spots for no extra charge and those are Bright House Networks, Cox, Optimum, Time Warner and Xfinity. You'll have access to over 100,000 free hot spots nationwide. This CableWiFi project, as it's called, could solve your WiFi woes.[2] If you were thinking about changing cable companies, now's the time!
  4. Share an ISP account or Internet connection with a neighbor, friends, or family. In exchange for this service, offer to routinely do yard work, repairs, or take out their trash. You each may have something the other needs.
    • If that's not an option, try Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that offer free access. For example, NetZero offers a free connection, though with a lot of banner ads. You can also use AOL free for one month provided that you’ve never had an account with them before.

In Your Town

  1. Find your new favorite hang-out. Many places have to now keep up with their competition--and they do so by offering free wi-fi. And you thought Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and McDonald's were your only options. But apart from that -- places you wouldn't even expect to have wi-fi offer open networks for anyone crazy enough to need them.
    • So it's obvious that hotel lobbies and cafes have free wi-fi, how about Best Buy? Whole Foods? The Laundromat? Your yoga studio?[3] Yep, that's right. Just because they wouldn't seem to need it, doesn't mean they don't have it.
  2. Seek out the not-so-obvious areas. If the areas already covered haven't piqued your interest, the list does go on. Cities are now trying vehemently to be happening places; in doing so, they're going wi-fi free. In a manner of speaking.
    • Check out your local courthouse, library and museums. Jury duty is officially going to be a blast. And guess what? Parks are starting to have free wi-fi as well.[2] Score.
    • Ditch your car. AmTrak, Megabus and Bolt have wi-fi on several of their lines. Hey, that's greener, too!
    • Truck stops, EZ Lube, and many auto parts shops have free wi-fi to help their customers kill time.[2]
  3. Become a valued member. Walking into a hotel lobby and flaunting your VIP card may just be the trick you need to score their w-fi password without booking a room. And if you sign up for various loyalty programs, you're good to go. Just install a spam blocker to keep the ads at bay.
    • Sites like RetailMeNot offer coupon codes that, amongst other things, have deals on various hotels that have paired up with various hotspot companies, if you're not looking to pledge your allegiance to a certain chain.

For the Serious Wi-Fi Seeker

  1. Build a cantenna. Or buy one, but building things from tin cans is so much better. It works as a sort of mega-antennae that picks up signals a normal computer can't.
    • If you do opt to buy one, they range from about $30 (€23) to hundreds and hundreds. But you wanted a free internet connection, right?
  2. Start spoofing MACs. This isn't exactly legal and therefore doesn't come recommended. But if you're running out of your 30-minute free trial, it is an option to spoof some poor guys' MAC address to extend your time.
    • Download software like MAC Makeup to get started.[4] You can either spoof someone else's or spoof a brand new one.
  3. Become a hacker. Knowledge is power, but power doesn't mean you should be a jerk, or do anything illegal. Knowing how to pick a lock doesn't make you a thief. Consider this idea educational, or a proof-of-concept intellectual exercise.[5]
    • You'll need a live CD and a bit of know-how and time. If you're pressed for time, this isn't the ideal option, but it may be worth knowing if you want to protect your own network. Do some research on cracking WEP and WPA passcodes to get started. However, this is definitely illegal and should be done at your own risk.


  • In the USA, if you have a family member participating in the National School Lunch Program, Cable and DSL companies will give you full-blown high-speed broadband for under $10 a month with no setup charges, free training, and even a laptop for $150. It's not free, but it's cheap. It's under a new program called Connect-to-Compete. If you live in Kansas, you can get absolutely free internet if you are financially disabled. For more information, visit this page.
  • Use the computers at your local college or school library.


  • Even if someone else's internet has vulnerable security to prevent others from using their Internet without permission, there is a possibility that they have other software that could point fingers in your direction. Take these steps at your own risk.
  • Borrowing, hacking, or cracking someone else’s internet can get you into serious trouble with the law especially if you did not receive permission from the person to borrow his/her internet. Always think twice before mooching.

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