A lot of us rely on Wi-Fi, whether we’re working from home or out and about. But where do you go if you need Wi-Fi and don’t want to pay extra for it?
Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar lists 19 places to find free Wi-Fi. And you probably have at least one of these places near your home.
These free Wi-Fi spots might not take the place of your home modem, but they’ll provide you with a quick Wi-Fi fix when you’re out.
Libraries, Museums and Parks
Let’s start with the truly free Wi-Fi spots; the places where you are most likely to get a connection without also having to buy something. Here’s where you should go:
- Public libraries: Your local public library will nearly always have a free Wi-Fi connection. You may be required to take out a library card to get the password or code.
- Public parks: Believe it or not, parks are starting to offer free Wi-Fi connections. Here’s a list of free Wi-Fi equipped parks by state.
- Museums: Check your local museums to see if they offer free Wi-Fi. If the museum has Wi-Fi but also charges for admission, remember you can always duck into the lobby for a quick, free email check.
- Hotels: Some hotels offer free Wi-Fi in the lobby, no doubt for busy travelers who need to check in with the office right away. Hotels change their Wi-Fi policies often, but use this list to see if there might be a free Wi-Fi spot in a hotel near you.
- Airports: If you just need to pull up a few websites, it’s much more trouble than it’s worth to go all the way to the airport for a little free Wi-Fi. However, a lot of airports have added complimentary Wi-Fi to their list of amenities. If you’re flying out of town, check this list to see if your airport’s Wi-Fi is free.
Starbucks, Target and Apple Stores
Hamm notes many businesses offer free Wi-Fi to customers.
If you’re going into a Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Panera Bread, McDonalds or Buffalo Wild Wings, be prepared to buy something. (These restaurants do not guarantee free Wi-Fi at all locations. Check before you go!)
There are also a few stores where you might be able to get away with using the Wi-Fi without making a purchase:
- Target: Target offers free Wi-Fi, so consider wandering the store for a while as you check your email. (Just avoid those impulse buys!)
- Best Buy: Another huge chain store where you can duck in and use the free Wi-Fi without buying anything.
- Apple Store: Apple Stores have free Wi-Fi, and they’re often located in shopping malls, which means you might be able to sit on a bench outside the store and pick up their signal. As Hamm explains, “I often sit outside these stores and access the wireless; they seem not to mind (or even notice) inside the store.”
The next time you’re away from home, don’t pay for Wi-Fi — use one of these spots and connect for free.
Want the full list of free Wi-Fi spots? Read Trent Hamm’s story at The Simple Dollar.
Your Turn: Where do you like to go for free Wi-Fi?
Nicole Dieker is a freelance writer focusing on personal finance and personal stories. Her work has appeared in The Billfold, The Toast, Yearbook Office, The Write Life and Boing Boing.