Do you need to Pay Monthly for a GPS?

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Last Updated Nov 15, 2023

Since GPS by itself is a free service, you do not need to pay monthly to take advantage of it.

However, there are many ways to use a GPS, some are free some are not.

GPS for an RV or Car

If you are using a GPS for car or RV navigation, then there may be a small monthly subscription in order to get live traffic updates or weather.

For example, your phone has a built in GPS but requires a monthly fee to get data on it, but you can still use offline google maps to navigate without using data or monthly fees.
See more about how a GPS does not need data to work.

There are many great car navigation and RV GPS navigation systems that don’t require subscriptions, they can even use your phone as a data link via bluetooth.

GPS for Hiking

If you are a using a GPS device for hiking, it does not need a monthly subscription because it has all the maps it needs stored inside and it uses the built-in GPS to navigate with those maps.

It can also show your speed and record your track history because that is what GPS provides.

hiking gps no monthly fee
AHRNTAL, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 22, 2014: A trekker is finding the right position in the forest via gps in a cloudy autumnal day

Here are more details on how a GPS works.

GPS for Tracking

If you are using a GPS to track something, like a car, or someone like kids, elderly, etc. That GPS tracker will most likely need a monthly subscription because even though it can get the GPS location as a free service it needs to transmit that location data over the internet using the cellular network, and all cellular companies like Verizon, AT&T, T-mobile, etc. require a subscription to use their networks.

GPS for Cycling

When it comes to cycling, a GPS can be an invaluable tool, not just for navigation but also for tracking performance metrics like speed, distance, and elevation gain. The best cycling GPS computers are specifically designed to cater to the needs of cyclists, offering features such as detailed mapping, turn-by-turn navigation, and the ability to connect with various cycling sensors.

One key advantage of using GPS devices for cycling is that they usually do not require a subscription. The GPS network is freely accessible to the public, making these devices a one-time purchase for most basic functionalities. However, for those who desire an enhanced experience, premium plans offer additional maps, more detailed performance analytics, or even integration with a Tacx subscription for an enriched indoor cycling experience.

Why is GPS Free

GPS is free because it is broadcasting its data for everyone to receive just like the old days of radio, anyone with a radio could listen to it.