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!

Read 146 Hum by Verizon Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 1.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 6 4 star: 0 3 star: 3 2 star: 10 1 star:  127
Bottom Line: 5% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 146
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  • 18 out 22 people found this review helpful

    Actually like it a lot!

    • By Joe Marotz ,
    • Cedar Rapids, Iowa,
    • Apr 6, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I own 2 vehicles, A 2011 GMC Acadia and a 2008 Mazda 6i. I currently am subscribed to OnStar with the Acadia. I bought Hum for the Mazda as I needed to be able to read the codes, if any, were to pop up. I like how the app works and how much info it provides. For $10 a month I feel as though I am actually getting my money's worth. I called OnStar and found out I was paying $35 a month for similar service. I don't need WiFi for my vehicle nor do I need calling time. My Acadia offers hands free calling without OnStar. So I don't need that either. I will be canceling my OnStar and getting the HUM for my Acadia. For the price it is offering everything I need/want and for less. There are things that could be improved on such as sensitive buttons and a poor speaker. For the lower price, I can live with it. It's not OnStar nor does it try to be. For me it is the best alternative. I have recommended this device to many people.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 15 people found this review helpful

    HUM was extremely helpful!

    • By Kayla,
    • Luray, VA,
    • Jul 3, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Long story short: I was in an accident that sent me into a median making my car have to drift through the median without flipping. Once I gained control of my car and got out of the median I realized my phone was dead. I had zero ways of calling for help or anything in that circumstance. All of a sudden I hear a mans voice come from the hum speaker that clips to my visor and he helped locate my vehicle, send a police officer to my assistance, and calmed me down until the PO got there.

    Also, I love being able to track how many miles I drive within a week versus how many gallons of gas I use. It has made myself drive more efficiently and has helped me plan out my finances towards my vehicle easier.

    I have read the reviews from previous users and I understand their frustrations, but I love this product, HUM.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 7 out 19 people found this review helpful

    Hum is amazing

    • By Jay,
    • Florida,
    • Jul 15, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Hum is amazing, for what you would pay with OnStar, you get much more comparatively. Yes it is a two year deal, but why would that even matter? it's 10 bucks a month. I have a Hum and it does what it's supposed to. It runs in the background and keeps me safe and has some useful tips. Highly recommended!

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

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  • 3 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Paid for itself a dozen times over!

    • By Liz Robinson,
    • Washington,
    • Aug 27, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have a 2001 Dodge Durango, and within three months of having the Hum, we got an error code alerting us to a bad sensor (don't remember which one). My husband was able to get instructions on how to replace it on YouTube, bought the part for $30, and it was done. Repair estimate was almost $300.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Excellent! Hands-free driving, roadside assistance, emergency medical, police and more.

    • By Kelly Stutts,
    • North Carolina,
    • Jan 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I love my Hum unit. My car didn't have built-in hands free driving and I hate Bluetooth earpieces. The Hum resolves that and more for a $10 a month service fee. It also includes vehicle diagnostics warnings, no charge mechanical and emergency roadside assistance, boundaries warnings and vehicle location if the teen goes outside the normal expected area where they should be. Also, has maintenance reminders, stolen car assistance, excess speed overage that can be set from your phone app, and sends you a text warning plus keeps a driving log by month with average speed, distance, idle time, and more.

    Excellent for me, but is a must-have on your teen's vehicle. Can be set up for different drivers on the same vehicle as well. No problems, great service. Love it!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Best investment I have ever made

    • By Jaime F.,
    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • Oct 30, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Very often people that have great experiences with a product don't make the time to share what a great experience they had with a product. It's only the negative experiences that get voiced because often times we want someone to hear and solve the issue.

    In my case, Hum has been an incredible tool for my family and I. Hum was an affordable way to keep myself and loved ones safe on the road and for only $10 a month, it's a no-brainer. Not only does Hum send help your way in the event of an accident, but my teen can get roadside assistance without having to pay anything extra for it. I can monitor his speed and be notified of any issues with his vehicle. This tool is a night are for mechanics because we have all the information at the palm of our hands.

    If you have loved ones on the road and are looking for an affordable way to equip them with the ability to receive help, I absolutely recommend this to everyone. As a four-family member we own this, and we have had a wonderful experience. Don't let all the chatter keep you from making an excellent purchase.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 13 out 22 people found this review helpful

    People expecting too much out of Hum.

    I am really having a hard time believing my eyes and ears on the Hum reviews! Really, for what is charged for the Hum service what should one expect? Yes, it is expected to work as far as connection and it is expected to get any and all the services they advertise but, what was one thing that was attractive to you when you were offered the Hum unit? Sure, the price was in range so come on, give the thing a chance and stop expecting it to work miracles that it never advertised.

    I have had the device for about 6 months now and no it hasn't JUMP started my vehicle or preformed miracles but it was a great thing to have when I locked my keys in the car and it does a great job in locating my vehicle. It also has provided me with great information on the driving history and it is accurate. For what Verizon charges and for the service Hum provides I have been pleased. I never expected the car to turn into a Michael Knight and talk to me or to do miraculous things. So, I can say, Yes I have been pleased with the service. Thank you Verizon.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Not perfect but I didn't expect it to be.

    • By Brian P.,
    • California,
    • Aug 29, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    We got a Hum for our kid's first car. We wanted to know where he is. The GPS function and boundary alerts alone were worth it. The diagnostics are a tool. If something pops up, we send him to our mechanic to check out. We get a discount on our insurance for the vehicle location service for law enforcement. That offsets the 10 bucks per month.

    We do occasionally get false alerts. Nothing more than a little annoying though. I can see why it's not for everyone. It's not a necessity for sure, which is why I only gave three stars.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Not good for GPS

    • By Marie B.,
    • Pennsylvania,
    • Oct 22, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have had the device for about 4 months. I like it most of the time. When monitoring my driving habits, it has that I was on the phone for 82 minutes. This was because I used the navigation for directions on my trip. This affected my safety score. Otherwise, I have improved my safety score, but it plummets when I use the phone as a GPS. This needs to be changed. I have not been able to get the GPS audibility when driving. I tried to pair it and couldn't. It is real general in locating my car when in a parking lot.

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

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  • 21 out 35 people found this review helpful

    What it doesn't do

    • By James Carpenter,
    • Williamsport, PA,
    • Jan 26, 2016

    It would be nice if engineers and managers would make a practical device. I would like to see a log of my vehicle, the last oil change and the associated cost. An alarm when the next oil change is due as well as lubrication, transmission, coolant. When I got gas, my average MPG. Each trip's mileage, date, GPS stop duration. The app could have destination added. All of this is needed for IRS log.

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

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  • 19 out 23 people found this review helpful

    Cannot undo a call to Emergency

    I have repeatedly and accidentally called Emergency when I was only trying to reposition the HUM on my visor. Once the Emergency button is pressed, you cannot undo the call. Even when the device is turned off, the Emergency button is active. The design of this device creates false calls to Emergency and I don't like that. When I talked to customer service rep at Verizon yesterday, he told me I had to return it within 14 days to avoid the $115 deactivation charge.

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

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