The 5 Best Portable Wi-Fi Hotspots to Keep You Connected Anywhere

Before deciding which portable Wi-Fi hotspots are the best, you may have two far more important questions: What exactly is a portable Wi-Fi hotspot and do I really need one? To answer the first question, a portable Wi-Fi hotspot is like packing a private and dependable internet connection. To answer the second question, heck yes you need one if you want secure and speedy internet wherever you travel. Free public Wi-Fi is becoming more common everywhere from airports to beaches to public parks, but the shared nature of public Wi-Fi is a major downside. Security risks are serious (under no circumstances should you check bank info on a shared network) and slow download speeds are a frustrating given. Tethering your phone as a hotspot is another on-the-go internet solution, but it’s a huge drain on data and battery life. If you’re on the road more than a few times a year, a portable Wi-Fi hotspot can make getting on the internet a breeze, wherever you travel.

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Best Pay As You Go

The GlocalMe mobile hotspot is shaped like a thick mobile phone, making it easy to pack alongside your other digital devices or tuck in a coat pocket or purse. This version is ideal for those who don’t want to sign up for a hotspot data plan with their mobile carrier (which you’ll have to do to connect to a signal with most portable hotspots). The first GB of data is included with the purchase price, and then you can either pay per MB to surf the web and download videos (at 0.05 euros per MB with a maximum charge of 10 euros per day within any country), or purchase a daily plan, which start as low as 1.50 euros depending on the country you’re visiting. The device operates on a 4G network and can connect up to five devices to the internet. The battery lasts for 15 hours and can be used as a bank to recharge other devices. 

$164.99 at Amazon

Best Style

If you’re disappointed in the internet data plans from your carrier, or perhaps simply fear commitment, the Skyroam Solis is another excellent pay as you go option: $9 per day or $99 per month, for unlimited data in any of the 130+ countries that are covered by the Skyroam network. Batteries last for about 16 hours and five devices can log on through the Solis at one time. Note that after 500 MB of data per day, the service is reduced to slower 2 or 3 G networks, depending on the country. If you plan on doing lots of video streaming, those slower speeds are a big downside of the Solis. But for checking email, directions, and social media feeds, this is more than enough data and speed. And unlike its competitors, the Skyroam Solis is cute. The vibrant orange hue and circular shape are pleasant to look at, a bonus in a world of tech gear that usually favors function over style. 

$149.99 at Amazon

Best Bargain

Alcatel’s GLOBAL Link arrives from the manufacturer unlocked, which means you can easily insert the SIM card of your choice without any fuss (or outcry from Verizon and AT&T). This device also works with T-Mobile. You’ll still need to buy a SIM card with a plan through either your own carrier or a local one in the country you’re visiting. SIM cards are widely available at airports and tourist shops in most destinations. While the device is lightweight, it can handle up to 15 devices and is chargeable with a car charger or via an electronic outlet. 

$89.99 at Amazon

Best Overall

It’s hard to find fault with the Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router, compatible with AT&T plans. The LCD display provides all the info you need: data usage, battery life, and number of connected devices—it can handle up to 20 of them. The battery life is one of the longest of any routers, at near 20 hours, and with a USB port, you can use some of that power to recharge other devices as needed. AT&T is also the first US carrier to roll out 5G service, which is scheduled to be available in 19 cities by early 2019.


Best for Verizon Customers

The Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot is the top choice if you’re looking for a Verizon-compatible option. The compact device—it measures 4.3 x 2.7 x 0.8 inches—fits easily into a laptop bag. Its battery life is impressive, it can run for a full 24 hours without recharging and be connected to up to 15 devices (hello 14 new best friends). The Jetpack will let you connect to the internet in more than 200 countries. Note that Verizon rolled out a 5G network in early 2019 and will likely be upgrading this hotspot for even faster speeds.  

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