About Hum by Verizon

By Derek Lakin
HighYa Staff Updated on: Oct 24, 2017

Smartphones. Tablets. TVs. Watches. Home automation.

Today, we’re more connected than ever to the world around us. But despite the fact that we spend an average of 4.3 years behind the wheel over our lifetime, most of us aren’t very “connected” to our cars.

But Hum by Verizon is out to change the situation. Promoted as a smart upgrade, it simply plugs into your car’s OBD-II port and turns it into a safer, more connected car. How?

Mainly, by providing vehicle diagnostics (i.e., preventing breakdowns) and giving you access to faster roadside and emergency assistance. The upgraded HumX model can even act as a Wi-Fi hotspot. And all of this happens through Hum’s Android and iOS apps.

Pretty cool, right? Now, just about anyone can drive smarter and safer. But the big questions are: How much value will Verizon’s Hum provide? Is it worth the money? Are there better options out there?

Here, we’ll provide a brief overview and walk you through some important considerations to keep in mind. Ultimately, everyone’s needs are different, so we’ll lay out the information and leave the final decision up to you.

First up: Just what is a “smart” device, anyway?

What Makes a “Smart” Vehicle?

When it comes to electronics, the word “smart” might make you think about some kind of artificial intelligence or futuristic technology. But the reality is a “smart” device is just “an electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols such as Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, 3G, etc., that can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously.”

This means that many products you use every day are considered smart; obviously your phone and computer, but also home automation (lighting, heating and cooling, security, etc.), TVs, home appliances, and even cookware. And now, with devices like Hum, Verizon advertises that you can make your car smart, too.

But exactly how do Hum's smart features work? And more importantly, how do they benefit you and your family? Let’s take a look.

A Brief Rundown of Hum’s Key Features

Verizon’s Hum system is comprised of three main parts:

  • OBD-II Reader – This small device plugs into your car’s OBD-II (Onboard Diagnostic) port, which is what most mechanics use to run diagnostics on your car. Most vehicles 1996 and newer will work with Hum’s OBD reader, but make sure to double check compatibility before placing your order.
  • Speaker – Hum’s Bluetooth speaker clips directly to your visor and communicates between the OBD-II reader and your app. The speaker also allows you to talk hands-free when driving, and provides one-button access to help in the event of an emergency.
  • App – Available for Android and iOS devices, the Hum app provides access to diagnostics, reminders, and more.

Taken together, what benefits will all of Hum’s technology provide? As we mentioned above, most of it relates to diagnostics and emergency assistance:

Vehicle Health & Maintenance Reminders

Verizon equipped Hum with easy-to-understand diagnostic updates, such as when a light appears on your dashboard, which are sent to your account on the Hum website. You can also receive diagnostic information via text, email, or on the Hum app.

According to the company, these “easy-to-understand alerts for hundreds of car issues” can “help you save money and avoid serious breakdowns.”

And if you learn that your car needs work, you can use Hum’s Mechanics Hotline to obtain personalized, unbiased advice and repair estimates from certified, independent mechanics.

In addition, Hum’s maintenance reminders can help you remember important events, like oil changes and tire rotation, via text or email.

Roadside & Emergency Assistance

Using GPS, Hum gives you access to pinpoint roadside assistance provided by Signature Motor Club, Inc., who can quickly reach you in the event of an emergency.

Speaking of which, Hum will automatically call for emergency assistance if you’ve been involved in a collision. Or, you can simply press the button on your visor speaker for quick access to emergency services.

Important note: According to the Hum website, roadside service is limited to up to four “events” per year. For clarification, we contacted customer service and learned that this is per vehicle, not per account. Also, there are some important restrictions that might differ from your current roadside service provider (for example, they won’t change a flat tire for you).

In addition to diagnostics and roadside assistance, Hum also can send your car’s location to local law enforcement if it’s stolen, as well as locate your parked car and send reminders to pay the parking meter. And the Safety Score can help you identify potentially risky habits related to factors like acceleration, speed, braking, and cornering.

Finally, you can use GPS to identify where your car is parked, as well as its last location; driving history (average miles traveled, idle time, average miles per gallon, speed, etc.), which can be filtered by day, week, month or year; and customizable speed and boundary alerts.

HumX vs. Hum: What’s the Main Benefit?

Compared to the standard system, HumX’s silver speaker also acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot, which allows you to connect up to 10 devices at any one time and provides access to streaming music, movies, and so forth.

Regardless of device type, anyone in the vehicle can connect to your hotspot, as long as they have your network name/SSID and the password.

How Does Hum by Verizon Stack Up?

Let’s take a closer look at some of Hum’s closest competitors.

OnStar & RemoteLink

What it is: The granddaddy of vehicle connectivity, OnStar has been around since 1996 and is built directly into many General Motors vehicles (i.e., it’s permanent hardware that can’t be removed).

How it compares: Perhaps the biggest distinction is that OnStar’s hardware is permanent, while the Hum system is removable. So if you don’t have a GM vehicle, or if you do, but it doesn’t feature OnStar connectivity, you’re out of luck.

From a services standpoint, OnStar offers roadside and emergency assistance, security, mobile connectivity, an interactive app, and diagnostics. Like Hum, OnStar also provides turn-by-turn navigation, and can even work as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Although OnStar’s security features seem to be more robust, including remote ignition block and stolen vehicle slowdown.

What it costs: As far as price, OnStar customers will generally pay a lot more than with Hum (we’ll talk specifically about Hum’s cost in the next section), depending on the package you choose. And if you want Wi-Fi access, you’ll have to pay even more for a data plan.

Automatic App & Adapter

What it is: From a hardware perspective, the Automatic Adapter is similar to Hum’s OBD-II’s connectivity, which gathers information about driving habits and can provide insightful diagnostics. This information is sent via Bluetooth to your phone, and can also be viewed on your online dashboard.

How it compares: As with Hum, Automatic can diagnose minor problems, such as a check engine light, locate your parked car, provide emergency assistance, and connect to your phone via an Android or iOS app.

However, Automatic’s emergency services are only provided in the event of a collision, so there’s no formal roadside assistance. You also won’t gain access to a mechanics hotline, and because there’s no speaker (it’s an ODB-II device only), this means there’s also no hands-free talking.

But you will get real-time feedback that can help you improve your driving habits and save gas, a web dashboard with other data such as trips and trends, and access to many other third-party apps outside of Automatic that can further expand the possibilities.

What it costs: Automatic customers will pay only a one-time fee of $99 for the dongle and app, but there are no ongoing costs after that.

Vinli Connected Car System

What it is: By acting as a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Vinli is an OBD-II dongle that provides access to thousands of third-party apps that can improve your driving, help you maintain your vehicle, keep you safe, and even keep you entertained. Vinli is another newcomer to the car connectivity marketplace, as their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign ended in August 2015.

How it compares: Instead of featuring built-in services like OnStar and Automatic, Vinli offers access to specialized apps (many more than Automatic), which then provide benefits. Unfortunately, Vinli doesn’t offer any information about these apps on their website, without first opening an account.

On the upside, though, if any third-party developer can create an app for Vinli, the possibilities might seem endless. This alone could keep Vinli useful for a long time to come.

What it costs: How much you’ll pay for each Vinli device depends on the number you buy (one, two, or four), although there are no monthly fees. As with OnStar though, you will need to sign up for a data plan in order to gain internet access.

Other OBD-II Dongles

Although the above products are arguably Hum’s biggest competition, they’re by no means your only options.

To see what we mean, type the term “OBD-II dongle” into your favorite search engine, and you'll be met with thousands of results. These devices are even so common that you'll probably find a couple of options at local automotive stores.

Granted, most of these are for diagnostics only, and rarely feature apps, Bluetooth connectivity, or Wi-Fi access. But on the flip side, many can be purchased for $30 or less.

Compared to all these other options, how much will you pay for Hum?

Hum by Verizon: Upfront & Subscription Costs

If you agree to a two-year contract, Hum’s standard model will cost you a one-time equipment fee of $29.99, a one-time activation fee ranging between $20, and $40, as well as a $10 monthly subscription (plus taxes and fees).

Along with your subscription, the website indicates you’ll gain access to “hundreds of local coupons and discounts for retailers, auto service providers, restaurants and much more. Plus, an online booking tool to help you save on hotels, flights, and cruises.”

The HumX system is priced slightly higher, with a $150 retail equipment price ($99 with a two-year subscription, or $6.25 per month). You’ll also have a $20-$40 activation fee, a $15 subscription fee, plus taxes and other fees.

As far as data usage for the HumX model, the website FAQ reports that you can add Hum to your existing data plan, which will draw from your monthly allowance. If you don’t want to sign up for a plan, your initial purchase will include 1GB of data, with additional gigabytes available for purchase as needed at $10 each.

Per FAQ: Hum comes with a limited lifetime equipment replacement warranty for as long as you continuously have a subscription to the service.

Per FAQ: If you purchased your Hum System from hum.com, a Verizon Wireless retail location or verizonwireless.com, you can return Hum at any time within 14 days of purchase and receive a full refund. If you choose to return Hum after the 14-day return period, you may be subject to an Early Termination Fee (ETF).

According to Hum’s Terms of Service (TOS), you’ll have 14 days from the date of purchase to decide whether or not it’s right for you, although you’ll need to return your equipment within 30 days of requesting cancellation. Note: The FAQ indicates that if you purchase and return your equipment in-store, you could be assessed a $35 restocking fee.

Outside of the first 14 days, you could be subject to an early termination fee of up to $120. Here’s how the Terms explains it:

"If you cancel Service after the 14 day cancellation period, or we cancel it in accordance with this Agreement, during your Subscription Commitment, you will have to pay an ETF. The ETF for a two-year Subscription Commitment equals $120 and will be reduced by $0.1664 for each day of the Subscription Commitment that you fulfill (i.e., a reduction of approximately $5 per month).”

If you’d like to request a return or have questions, Hum’s customer service department can be reached at (800) 711-5800.

Now, what’s everyone saying about Hum? Are they happy with the services? Do they think the monthly cost is worth it?

Hum by Verizon User Reviews

PC Magazine received a hands-on demonstration of Hum’s capabilities back in August 2015, although this only related to its diagnostic feature.

The author mentioned that from an aesthetics standpoint, Hum’s visor-mounted speaker was very similar to the OnStar system, but noted that it “is much more focused on maintenance and roadside assistance, with very little emphasis on general information or entertainment arrangements, like OnStar's concierge service.”

Ultimately, they concluded, "It's not as feature-filled as OnStar, but it doesn't try to be, and it could be an economical alternative to the more prominent service for users who simply want assistance, maintenance, and security without the extra convenience features."

Similarly (although it doesn’t appear that they tested an actual unit), Digital Trends noted:

“The hardware is free, but Verizon requires those interested to pony up $15 each month. That’ll add up to $180 per year, which can’t currently be part of an existing Verizon plan. Sure, you’ll have a top-notch call center to reach out to, but how often would they need to be contacted for customers to justify the price?”

Remember this, because we’ll come back around to it in a second.

Outside of these, most of the other reviews we encountered during our research parroted Verizon’s press release from August, but didn’t provide any additional insight.

But what about Hum’s emergency services? This is provided by a third-party company named Signature Motor Club, Inc., which is the same one that provides roadside assistance to AARP members.

Signature’s online customer reputation seemed mixed, with dozens of complaints on Consumer Affairs, most of which seemed to reference poor service. Granted, this could be considered relatively low based on the number of customers enrolled in Signature’s services.

We’ve covered a lot of ground about Verizon’s Hum dongle, including its features, pricing, competition, and customer reputation. Now, let’s bring it home and help you decide if it’s right for you.

How Can You Decide If Hum by Verizon Is Right for You?

As with most products (but perhaps especially with electronics and other gadgets), the right ODB-II system for you depends on your specific needs. So when you’re comparing Hum (and the more recent HumX) against the competition, here are some important questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you more interested in low (or no) upfront costs, or avoiding recurring monthly fees?
  • Is Wi-Fi access important to you? If it is, remember that this will add to your monthly costs, even if the system itself doesn’t come with any recurring fees.
  • Are you OK with being limited to the company’s app, or do you want the freedom to explore other third-party apps?
  • What’s your ultimate goal? Are you more focused on entertainment, or on diagnostics and safety?
  • If you’re interested in diagnostics, will you realistically put this information to use (such as changing your driving habits to save gas, actively using the information to prevent more expensive repairs, etc.)?
  • If you’re interested in safety, how many times have you used roadside assistance in the past? If it’s rarely (or never), the lower costs associated with other roadside/emergency assistance programs might provide a better value.

Ultimately, only you can answer these questions. But based on everything we've provided here, you can now make an informed decision about whether or not Hum by Verizon is right for you. And if you need to contact the company directly for even more information, we found their staff to be pleasant and knowledgeable.

What did you think about Verizon’s Hum system? What did you purchase it for? And did it deliver? Tell us about it by leaving a review below!

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91 Consumer Reviews for Hum by Verizon

Average Consumer Rating: 1.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 0 3 star: 2 2 star: 7 1 star:  77
Bottom Line: 7% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 91
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  • Beware of Restocking Fee

    • Oakland, CA,
    • Oct 20, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    After reading the horrible reviews here and elsewhere, I decided to return the Hum before ever even installing it.

    I found out there is a $50 Restocking Fee!

    My bad for falling for a pushy salesperson and not understanding how this device REALLY works.

    Your results may vary.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Complete ripoff!

    • Texas,
    • Oct 17, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased two, one for Toyota Tacoma, the other for a Chevrolet Silverado. I have had periodic issues with the radio and climate control system in the Chevy, nothing I've noticed in Toyota, other than the GPS tracker was usually very slow, if working at all. After a year and a half, I got a check engine light in the Toyota, but no notifications from Hum. Diagnosed as a bad device, Hum said I should be able to get a replacement for free, but Verizon wanted $150 for a new device and an early termination fee of $25. I told them to turn it off, and Verizon suddenly decides they can let me upgrade early for $30 and waive early termination. Well, Verizon disconnected the wrong device, then tells me they can't reactivate after turning it off, forcing me into another device to replace the working one.

    So, two new devices, Chevy has a check engine light, and guess what? NO notifications from Hum! Hum's response is that their device only notifies certain issues, and apparently, my issue is not on that list!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Beware

    I have a 2013 Fusion. I've had this Hum plugged in it for three weeks. (Side note, I didn't even want the stupid thing. The Verizon sales people were extremely pushy and annoying.) As I was driving to work yesterday, ALL my dashboard lights went on. This is very scary, especially when you're alone. My mechanic told me to take my car to a Ford dealership. Ford found my Hum, removed it, and said it's messing with my computer. Hum is a piece of CRAP. I will be going to the Verizon store and demanding this Hum be taken off my bill IMMEDIATELY. I have the papers from the Ford dealership to back this up.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Verizon sucks

    • Vermont,
    • Oct 9, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My wife went in for a phone upgrade and was talked into getting the Hum because "it would lower our monthly bill." Well, of course, they LIED, and when I got the bill and called them to complain, it was past the 14-day "return policy" period. I agree with a previous poster that there should be a class action suit brought against Verizon for deceptive sales practices. Now we have to pay a buy-out fee of $120 if we want to get rid of this piece of crap. It only gets a "1" star because I couldn't give it a "0".

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Love the device, hate the customer service.

    • Texas,
    • Oct 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I love Hum and all its cool little features, however, the sorry companies they contract with are absolutely ridiculous! A few weeks ago my tire just about fell off my car and I called Hum to get it towed home. They told me it would be about an hour before a tow truck would arrive. Two hours in the blistering heat goes by and still no tow truck. I call the company Hum gave the job to, and the man is a total douche bag. He told us he wasn't coming and then turned down the job. I was hecka pissed, and I still am. Why pay for something and not be able to use it when needed? I'm thankful I wasn't on a busy highway or dangerous neighborhood, or situation.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • Hum device

    • Nevada,
    • Oct 3, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Very non-accurate. It says trucks are where they are not, and half the time it freezes and is just not what was sold to me. And when I called to complain, I was told to give it time, and now after, I'm frustrated. I'm told I waited too long to return them to go to a different device, which is bull crap. I'm done with Verizon.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    A terrible product sold by a terrible company!

    • Las Vegas, NV,
    • Sep 25, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    In January of 2018 my wife bought a new iPhone from Verizon.

    The Hum was introduced to us as a safe way to monitor our driving habits; they alluded to the fact that we would get a reduction in our rates and that the device would run continuous diagnostics so that in the event of any failure in our cars mechanical system we would be forewarned. Wrong!

    Within a few weeks of installing the device we began to get low battery warnings. Sometimes yellow alerts, sometimes red alerts. Our car is a 2015 with less than 35,000 original miles. I took the car into AutoZone to have them check the battery, and it showed a low charge level so of course, I replaced the battery. Within a few days, we were getting the same low battery reading. We went back to AutoZone and was told the alternator may be bad. I then took the car to a trusted mechanic I know and he performed a complete inspection to determine the cause of the battery draining. He concluded that everything in my cars charging system was operating correctly.

    The Hum continued to send us low battery signals, and upon returning from vacation a couple of weeks ago, our car's battery was completely dead. I called AAA for a jump, and when I explained what was going on to the technician, he suggested disabling the Hum and seeing how that affected the problem.

    Well, it has been two weeks and no more problems with the battery draining. We tried to return the Hum to Verizon today but were informed that we had passed the 14-day return period. I explained that we hadn't even experienced the problem during that initial time period, but he was unrelenting.

    In summation, this is a terrible product thrust onto consumers by a terrible company. Do not purchase the Hum and do not do business with Verizon.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Piece of junk

    • Alabama,
    • Sep 14, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The biggest piece of junk and a waste of time there is! Please do not waste your time. It doesn't work!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Rarely works - not accurate

    • Las Vegas, NV,
    • Sep 13, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I bought Hum for the tracking service. It only works 50% of the time. Usually, it says it cannot locate vehicle, OR it shows the pin drop on the map 5-10 miles away from where the car actually is. Because it's a mandatory two-year contract, I cannot cancel. Junk!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Not useful enough and a fatal flaw

    • Maryland,
    • Sep 6, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I fell for the "free" device offer when buying a new phone. Big mistake. Oh, it works, but provided little information on my truck (use a torque or FORScan light). I have no need to track my driving. However, the real problem that caused me to put it on a shelf to die is the call buttons on the thing that call for assistance whether or not the "power" switch is off. More than once I almost smashed it to try to stop the call. It's almost impossible to handle it without doing this when taking it off or putting it on the visor. It's just badly designed and annoying. So I'm stuck with the remainder of a two-year contract, but I now take some satisfaction in getting "Hum inactivity notices."

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Hum does not support its product

    • New Mexico,
    • Aug 30, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was on a two-year contract, but the speaker stopped holding a charge shortly after one year. I have to say, Verizon was trying to make it right, but Hum was no help at all. Their solution was to "upgrade" my device, at an extra cost and extend my contract time. Uh, no... you sold me a product that quit working before my contract was up and your solution was to make me spend more money on something I no longer had confidence in...so, no thanks. I assume the upgraded versions work better (as I was one of the first on board), but I certainly wouldn't expect Hum to stand by their product if you had any issues.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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