How Do I Get Wi-Fi in My Car?

You can get Wi-Fi in your car with a built-in hotspot, a mobile hotspot device, or a public hotspot from a nearby cafe or library.

Having car Wi-Fi keeps you connected and entertained on long drives and road trips, letting you stream movies and play games. Car Wi-Fi also gives you much-needed access to live traffic updates, satellite radio, weather forecasts, and emergency services while you’re driving.

Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to get that sweet connection while on the road—including a vehicle’s own Wi-Fi system.

Pro tip:

The handiest way to get internet in your car (and in a lot of other places too) is by using a mobile hotspot. Learn how hotspots work and how much they cost.

How do you get Wi-Fi in your car?

There are four main ways you can get Wi-Fi in your car.

  • Use your car’s built-in hotspot.
  • Use your phone’s hotspot.
  • Use a mobile hotspot device.
  • Use a public Wi-Fi hotspot in the parking lot of a restaurant, library, or school.

Many newer vehicles have built-in hotspots available as part of their entertainment and navigation systems. Along with features like remote start, Bluetooth pairing, and video and audio streaming, a car’s hotspot will let you connect to multiple devices over a 3G or 4G LTE connection (with speeds topping out at around 30 Mbps).

Of course, a built-in hotspot isn’t going to be available on an older vehicle, but don’t worry. You can easily get Wi-Fi on the go in an older car with your phone’s hotspot, which gives you internet access through your phone plan. Or, if you need a stronger connection, use a standalone mobile hotspot to connect more devices and get faster speeds and a better range.

Pro tip:

You’ll need a data plan to make your hotspot work. Take a look at the best hotspot data plans to learn about pricing and data caps.

If none of those options work for you, well, you can always park your wheels outside of a restaurant, library, or school and drink up the free Wi-Fi spilling out of the building. This isn’t the most ideal option, but it gives you a handy resource for free internet in a pinch.

Which cars have built-in Wi-Fi hotspots?

Chrysler, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, and many other car manufacturers provide built-in hotspots in some models.

Generally you can expect a luxury sedan, SUV, or truck built in 2014 or later will come with 4G Wi-Fi and hotspot connectivity.2 But that’s not always the case. If you’re considering buying a new vehicle with built-in Wi-Fi, check with your dealership or look up the car maker online to see if it’s an option.

Depending on the kind of car you have, its hotspot will run over a 3G or 4G LTE connection, providing high-speed internet access to five to 10 devices. You’ll need to buy a separate data plan to make the car hotspot work, but prices are reasonable (about $10–$50 per month).

Car manufacturers that offer built-in Wi-Fi hotspots

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Chevrolet
  • Chrysler
  • Dodge
  • FIAT
  • Ford
  • General Motors
  • Honda
  • Jeep
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Ram
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen

Do Tesla models have Wi-Fi hotspots?

Teslas have a Wi-Fi system that manages the car features, but they do not have Wi-Fi hotspots built into the car.

Teslas have a lot of features included as part of its Wi-Fi system, including remote start, streaming, Bluetooth capabilities, and navigational controls. However, according to multiple sources (including someone on our staff who owns a Tesla), Teslas don’t have built-in hotspots.1, 3 That sets Tesla behind other luxury car brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which do have hotspot capabilities.

How much does it cost to get Wi-Fi in your car?

Expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $50 per month to get Wi-Fi in your car through a built-in hotspot.

Wi-Fi systemCar brandsHotspot priceMax connected devicesDataGet it
UconnectChrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, FIAT$10.00–$25.00/mo.10250 MB/day and unlimited monthly plans availableView Plans
OnStarChevrolet, Cadillac, GM, Buick$14.99–$49.99/mo.7Unlimited data plans availableView Plans
Toyota Wi-Fi ConnectToyota$10.00–$25.00/mo. or $200.00/yr.52 GB/mo. and unlimited monthly plans availableView Plans
FordPass ConnectFord$10.00–$25.00/mo. or $200.00/yr.102 GB/mo. and unlimited monthly plans availableView Plans
Volkswagen Car-NetVolkswagen$20.00/mo.4UnlimitedView Plans
T-Mobile SyncUP DRIVEAvailable on numerous brands; check compatibility with T-Mobile$96.00 plus data plan5Depends on data planView Device

Many Wi-Fi hotspots in cars require a Connected Car data plan from AT&T, with prices and features varying based on the specific make and model of your vehicle. Some cars—namely Volkswagens and vehicles that can get Wi-Fi through T-Mobile’s SyncUP DRIVE system—let you get data through Verizon or T-Mobile.

Depending on the car you have and its hotspot features, you can connect five to 10 devices.

Can you get unlimited car Wi-Fi?

You can get unlimited data for your car’s Wi-Fi hotspot if you have the right model. AT&T’s Connected Car data plan offers unlimited packages for a variety of cars, including multiple models of Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Chevrolet. Volkswagen’s Car-Net system also has unlimited plans available.

You’ll have to pay a higher price compared to more limited hotspot plans. Also, you’ll likely get slower speeds—especially if you connect multiple devices at once and use more data in general. But this could be a great option if you spend a lot of time each day on the road and depend heavily on your car Wi-Fi for work and entertainment.

Using your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot

You can also get Wi-Fi in your car by using your cell phone’s hotspot.

Most cell phones have built-in hotspots, which you can connect to using data from your phone plan. They’re really easy to use and give you decent speeds as long as you’re in an area with cell service. Just make sure you have hotspot access as part of your phone plan.

Pro tip?

Want to know how to turn on your phone’s hotspot? Find helpful instructions (with screenshots!) in our phone hotspot guide.

Best phone plans with hotspot data

PlanPriceHotspot dataGet it
Verizon Get More Unlimited$90.00/mo. (for 1 line)30 GBView Plan
T-Mobile Magenta Max$85.00/mo. (for 1 line)*40 GBView Plan
AT&T Unlimited Extra$75.00/mo. (for 1 line)15 GBView Plan
Visible$40.00/mo. (for 1 line)Unlimited (max 5 Mbps speeds, limited to 1 connected device at a time)View Plan

Phone hotspot data is included on most unlimited phone plans from major providers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. We think T-Mobile’s Magenta Max plan is the best because it gives you the most hotspot data, but you can pay for a cheaper plan if you use your hotspot less frequently (and thus need less data).

You can get a much cheaper option from Visible, an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that offers unlimited data on hotspots. The catch—and it’s a big one—is that you can connect only one other device, and max speeds will be 5 Mbps, which is really slow.

To set up a hotspot, contact your provider, sign up for the right data plan, and then switch on your phone’s hotspot to get it working. After you’ve turned on your hotspot, you can search for the network name on other devices that you want to connect to access the internet.

Using a mobile hotspot

If you don’t have a newer car, you can use a standalone mobile hotspot device to get Wi-Fi while you’re on the road. A standalone mobile hotspot is similar to a phone’s hotspot, but it gives you more data and a faster connection without draining your phone’s battery. It also lets you connect a lot more devices at once.

Most mobile hotspots don’t have the same features as a vehicle’s built-in Wi-Fi system, but you can still use one to stream movies, play games, or even attend Zoom meetings—just make sure you’re keeping your eyes on the road! You can also use a hotspot to access emergency services if necessary.

Best mobile hotspots

Best forProductPriceConnectivityMax devicesGet it
Best Verizon hotspotVerizon Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot$193.12*4G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac15View on Amazon
Best AT&T hotspotNighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot Router$275.92*4G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac20View on Amazon
Best T-Mobile hotspotInseego 5G MiFi M2000$336.00**5G, 4G LTE, dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz, Wi-Fi 630View on T-Mobile

Pro tip?

You’ll also need a data plan to go with your hotspot. Find the best packages in our guide to the best hotspot plans.

How do you get Wi-Fi in your car for free?

You can get Wi-Fi in your car for free by pulling up to a building that provides a free public hotspot and connecting to that. You can also get free Wi-Fi by using a public hotspot from your home internet provider.

Many public libraries, schools, government buildings, and national restaurant chains offer free Wi-Fi to the public—and sometimes their hotspots have a wide enough range to reach the parking lot. You can get the internet for sure during business hours, and you might be able to get a connection outside of business hours, too, so long as the Wi-Fi remains switched on.

Obviously, this isn’t the most convenient (or even secure) way to get Wi-Fi in your car, but it’s by far the cheapest. You’ll probably also get decent speeds, although the connection will be slower than a home broadband setup.

Another way to get free Wi-Fi is by using a public hotspot from your home internet provider. Xfinity hosts millions of Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas across the country, and you can use them if you have Xfinity internet at home. Just sign on using your home internet username and password. Spectrum and some other providers also host public hotspots which you can use in the same way.

Not sure where to find free public Wi-Fi? You can start with any of the businesses listed below.

Popular restaurant chains with free Wi-Fi: 

  • Starbucks
  • McDonald’s
  • Burger King
  • KFC
  • Taco Bell
  • Subway
  • Target
  • Best Buy
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement
  • Dunkin’ (formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts)
  • Peet’s Coffee
  • Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
  • Tim Hortons
  • Panera Bread
  • Arby’s
  • Wendy’s

Pro tip?

Take a look at our guide to public Wi-Fi for tips on finding the best free hotspots in your area—and for keeping your connection safe while logging on.

Sources

  1. Tesletter, “How to Connect a Tesla to the Wi-Fi,” September 24, 2020. Accessed August 4, 2021.
  2. NBC News, “Connectivity Cars: A New Generation with Built-in WiFi Hot-Spots,” May 13, 2014. Accessed August 25, 2021.
  3. EVGeeks, “Do Teslas Have Wi-Fi?” undated. Accessed August 4, 2021.

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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