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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80 Consumer Reviews for Hum by Verizon

Average Consumer Rating: 1.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 0 3 star: 2 2 star: 7 1 star:  66
Bottom Line: 8% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 80
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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful
    Updated review

    Note

    • Asheville, NC,
    • Aug 17, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Someone needs to start a class action suit on this.

    NOTE: I went to the Verizon store to try to resolve this and walked out screaming. I am not that type of person, but I am done being nice to the manager of the store. She refused to give my money back unless I pay $120.00 or get the new "redesigned" one, which is only the plugin and not the call box. That is useless. I came home and called and got a very nice lady who resolved my issue in 10 minutes with no charges and a text verification. They are sending a box to mail it back. They know HUM is a piece of crap, but do not care. They are also targeting seniors. Keep asking for supervisors until you get this solved.

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

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    • Aug 12, 2018

      Lee B.

      Someone needs to start a class action suit again with Verizon over HUM. I went to a store to try to disconnect my iPad because I got tired of all the questions on the phone and text. The stores cannot disconnect anything. Next, I wanted to get out of my HUM contract but the manager refused unless I pay $120.00, or I could get the "redesigned" one that did not have the call box only the under dash plugin.

      So you cannot call anyone. I walked out screaming in that store, and I am not that type of person. I just cannot be nice to them anymore. I then tried calling and got someone who helped me with both of these within 10 minutes. I was very polite and she was too. She did not charge for the $110.00 HUM and she sent me a text to verify this. They will send a box to mail it in the box. They know it is crap, but they are trying to charge people as much as they can. Keep asking for supervisors until you get one that can help you. I am going to change to AT&T anytime soon until this gets solved. I will never go into another Verizon store. They are targeting seniors.

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    • Previous review
    • Aug 11, 2018

    Cannot tell if on or how much of a charge

    I cannot tell if my Hum is on or if it is charged and how much charge it has. I usually travel on short trips and cannot leave it plugged for enough time to charge it. It has been completely worthless. I was not told of a $50 activation fee.

    (read moreread less...)

  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Do not waste your money

    • Michigan,
    • Aug 15, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased the Hum service back in early 2018. It worked for a couple of weeks and then stopped. I called technical service a few times. I also went to the Verizon store, but they could not get it going. Tech support told me that the system had a known software issue and there is no fix at this time. I asked to cancel my service, but that did not happen. My account was given to collection and so I just paid $181.19 to close it. Save your money.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Dishonest saleswoman

    • Scottsdale, AZ,
    • Aug 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I purchased a new iPhone 8 through Verizon in May of this year. They "threw" in Hum as part of the package. They did not say there was a 14-day grace period OR that it would cost $10 per month. The salesgirl at the store, who is also the manager, "implied" that it went with the purchase...along with the automatic charger that she also "threw in," but cost $49.95. She installed the Hum and sent me on my way.

    About a month later the "low battery" notice appeared on the Hum app. Then I had the car emissions for the next year, and it FAILED. It read that the computer wasn't "ready to be tested?" The test employee said it was probably a low or dead battery that caused it and asked if I had recently replaced my battery.....which I hadn't. I took the Hum out and went to the Verizon store and was told "sorry," we have never heard of this before. I wanted to quit Hum, and was informed that it would cost me $110 to cancel my contract. I paid it, reluctantly, but will NEVER buy another Verizon product. If there is something wrong with my car, will find out tomorrow, I will be back at that store with a bill.

    Bottom line is, don't buy the Hum, and BE SURE that you read your contract thoroughly before you sign/pay it!

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

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  • Setting off alarm

    • Arkansas,
    • Aug 2, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Has anyone experienced the Hum sitting off their car alarm system, the headlights flashing the horn blowing simultaneously, every ten to fifteen minutes, non-stop until you disconnect the horn relay and alarm system? If so I would love to see it here on this review page.

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

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  • Terrible service

    • Maryland,
    • Aug 1, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I tried out Hum in 2017 and when I canceled my services, I sent the unit in as instructed. I have since continued to be charged for services and have been in an endless battle to get them to stop charging me. I called them multiple time to no end. The customer service call center is pointless and cannot handle anything to address this, and to add to the frustration, they talk in circles, as well as not clear or concise.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Worthless

    • Georgia,
    • Jun 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I HATE this piece of crap and can't believe I got talked into it. The speaker sounds like you are talking through a wet sponge. NO ONE can understand me when I use it, and I can't understand anyone else so I keep asking "Can you repeat that? Sorry, I didn't get that," etc. Makes me sound very professional. Using Hum also deactivates Google Assistant so I can't send a text hands-free or have Google read a text, or place a call for me. It's just really useless and so it now resides in a bag on my closet floor. Did I say I HATE it? And by association, I'm not very pleased with Verizon either.

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

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Run away fast - wait for something better from anyone other than Verizon

    • Panama City, FL,
    • Jun 5, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I don't normally review products that I purchase. Everyone who is considering a potential Hum purchase needs to review this review and this site. I have several electronic devices, and this is by-far the WORST device I have ever purchased.

    BUYER BEWARE!

    I bought this primarily to use as a Wi-Fi hotspot on May 4th. It works fine while the vehicle is running...sometimes. After struggling with the unit for two weeks, the OBD reader quit transmitting. The local store didn't have any so they mailed another one to the wrong address, and wouldn't redeliver it to the correct address. I found another one at a different store. After countless hours on the phone troubleshooting, and two more stops to the local store, we got the THIRD device working on June 1st. Count the days here.

    Verizon and Hum techs seem to be paid by the hour and not successful accomplishments of making the device work. Try this...wait, try that...wait, try this...let's see how many hoops the consumer will jump through. Everyone who "helped" changed something in my account which interfered with its operation. The extended Wi-Fi feature, which is supposed to enable Wi-Fi access for an hour after the vehicle is shut off, does not ever seem to work for a full hour.

    I wish I had found this site before I bought one. I can only wish EVERY board member of Verizon's staff had to use the Hum device for sole internet access. This could possibly ensure the system is simplified and improved for consumer use. It has the potential to be a good system, but it is unnecessarily complex requiring coordination between Hum/Verizon support staff AND Verizon staff.

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Not worth the effort

    • Durham, NC,
    • Jun 5, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    It was a MAJOR problem just listing a secondary driver, which occurred because the primary user got no feedback from the OBD reader. Multiple visits to the website and phone calls did not help.

    In one and a half years, to-date, zero results.

    A huge waste of our time and money. It even wrongly locates my vehicle by 1/2 mile.

    I purchased it for my son to aid in his travels to college but it didn't work in his car or my F150 (the best selling truck in America).

    Save your money. Get AAA.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Disappointed

    • Tennessee,
    • May 30, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The locator feature never works on the Hum, which is the main reason for getting it. I read bad reviews before I got Hum, but ignored them and wish I hadn't. Don't waste your money. I'm paying $10 a month for something that doesn't work properly.

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

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Verizon/Hum - the customer is always wrong

    • Colorado,
    • May 23, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    They get one star on this because no stars or half of one are not options.

    The biggest disappointment about this product is not that it is a piece of junk (which it is), it’s Verizon’s customer service. First I went back to the retail store where we bought a new phone and were scammed into buying the Hum (my fault for not doing more research - I trusted Verizon and that was a huge mistake). I explained to the Manager that the device did not work for us, and I gave him all the reasons why. He pretty quickly cut me off and told me he couldn’t help me. Rather, I needed to go home, call customer service, and tell them I bought a new car that was not compatible with the device. I asked him if the only way he could help me was to advise me to call his company and lie to them. He explained he was just trying to help. Geez.

    I then called customer service. Shockingly before they would proceed, they required me to provide my PIN. Really? No one requires that. And I called on their phone, which they didn’t recognize. After 45 minutes (and multiple transfers starting over each frustrating time) of patronizing scripts and trying to sell me other stuff that I don’t need, they “let” me out of my contract for half price…for a product they already know doesn’t work and makes people mad.

    I have been a Verizon customer for 10+ years. Or said differently, all in, they scammed me out of about $100. It’s not much money, but it does tell me who they are. I will fulfill my obligations with them and move on to other, better providers. Or at least I’ll give someone else a chance to disappoint. Verizon simply does not stand behind its products or care much about their customer experiences.

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

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    • Jun 13, 2018

      carmen d.

      I too wish I did my research on this piece of crap. It never showed that my truck had maintenance issue when indeed there was. This is a rip-off!

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    NO good, nothing but trouble!

    • DeMotte, IN,
    • May 23, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    When I bought Hum, I thought it would be great, especially for the medical response system because of my age (82) as I travel a lot.

    It seemed to work in my first car, which was a 2012 Kia, but when I changed to another auto (2018 Kia), it has not worked since. I have been on the phone with customer service for numerous hours (mostly on hold) with no resolution. They just keep saying a couple more days, etc., etc. and it looks like I'm stuck in a two-year contract with Verizon or pay up!

    I am very dissatisfied with customer service and Verizon (a longtime customer).

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

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