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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100 Consumer Reviews for Hum by Verizon

Average Consumer Rating: 1.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 6 4 star: 0 3 star: 3 2 star: 8 1 star:  83
Bottom Line: 7% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 100
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  • Used to love it, now...

    • Wisconsin,
    • Nov 20, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    We got the Hum in April of 2016 and have used the towing service multiple times. Last night my daughter (who has pneumonia) and I blew out a tire on the side of the road. In November. In Wisconsin. In a car with no heat. No big deal though, right? I've got the Hum, we'll be fine. Minor inconvenience. Nope.

    When I called roadside assistance, they claimed that we'd never had their service, our names weren't in their system, and there was nothing they could do. So we sat there on the side of the road for hours. Both phones eventually died. We got home sometime around 4 am, and I may need to bring daughter back to the hospital.

    I understand that glitches and errors can happen, but this was a dire situation and they just couldn't have cared less. The guy on the phone couldn't be bothered to pay attention to what was going on. He kept asking me to repeat details I'd already given him and repeating them back to me wrong. I will be getting rid of the Hum devices at our earliest opportunity and, since Verizon costs an arm and a leg but I paid it for the roadside assistance, we will probably be switching cell phone providers too.

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

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  • Horrible product

    • Illinois,
    • Nov 17, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was not told this would be a monthly charge, which granted, I should have expected, but I was told it would be $5, not the $10 a month I was billed. We signed up only for the coupons offered at local restaurants. Of the dozens of coupons offered, none of the three I checked with are valid, including Hardee's, Quizno's and a local cafe. We were allowed to cancel the contract - only after hours of haggling. DO NOT sign up for this! It is fraudulent. I'm surprised a class-action suit has not been brought. It doesn't deserve even a one-star rating, and I am surprised Verizon hasn't canceled this option.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Do not buy!

    • Houston, TX,
    • Nov 4, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Verizon really knows how to sell a product. As the Verizon salesman was giving me and my sister the spiel of how great and amazing Hum is, we were both soon convinced. However, the second we purchased, the devices the trouble started. I wish I had just said we changed our minds, but it just sounded like such a good way to avoid a mechanic who might overcharge us or fix something unnecessarily we didn't want to pass it up. We bought two devices, one for her car and one for mine, and for some reason, both devices got associated with her information instead of both of ours. We were at Verizon trying to solve the issue for at least an hour before we threw our hands in the air and decided to fix it later as we had somewhere to be.

    Since everything was with her information, my sister called Hum and they gave her the runaround, saying it was Verizon's issue and so she called Verizon and was put on a never-ending hold, only to be told she had to call Hum and talk to them. I then took it upon myself to go to a Verizon store and see what they could do for me, and they said I had to call Hum. I told them we had already done that and Hum told us to go to Verizon.

    Well, I didn't want to deal with it anymore as my time is more valuable to me than that and I asked if I could just return them, seeing as how no one was willing to help get them set up for us and they weren't really working. Verizon told me I would have to pay a $45 restocking fee for their faulty equipment that didn't work and they weren't willing to help us fix. Needless to say, I left and called Hum and they were at least able to switch the information to mine so I could try to figure out the issue. However, the joke was on us, they apparently were working fine they just don't do very much.

    You could go to an auto parts store and have them hook your car up to their computer and have them tell you the same information Hum does. The only thing Hum even does is say there's an issue, it's basically the equivalent of the engine light in your car. Plus if you have roadside assistance with your insurance, you don't need two, which is another feature of Hum. DON'T waste your money! If Verizon didn't have the best service, you can guarantee I would have switched providers after the incident with their unhelpful employees.

    DO NOT buy this product, it is a waste of money! Verizon also doesn't tell you about the $40 activation fee per device.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Don't get this!

    If you are considering getting this for your car - please DON'T. If you are standing in the Verizon store and this sounds like a good deal, hand it back to the salesperson and say "NO THANK YOU." This awful device cost me so much more than the $10 monthly charge. My car was diagnosed with a parasitic power drain which cost me so much - 2 batteries, an alternator, and multiple car rentals and Ubers...the towing was covered by AAA. The Hum app kept showing my car's health was good and no problems with the battery or alternator for months after it killed my battery and ruined my alternator.

    Verizon refuses to take this back and insists I must continue to pay on it even though it cannot be used...it is garbage. It never worked for phone calls, and I used it once for emergency assistance. I am glad I had AAA because it was not much good for that either.

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

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    • Nov 3, 2018

      Karen B.

      I agree with this review 100%! It cost us a new battery, a trip to the mechanic to check the battery, and the alternator, and then, we had to call AAA as the battery was dead! We didn't have any problem until after the 14-day return policy per Verizon. We unplugged it and are now stuck paying the monthly $10 until the contract period is up. Do NOT get this for your vehicle!

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Best investment I have ever made

    • 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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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Gives false readings of accidents

    • California,
    • Oct 30, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Verizon suggested getting this device for my daughter since she was a new driver. The device was able to detect accidents and location, which I thought it would be a great idea. The location is a little spotty, and at times it would say no location found, but for the most part, the location works okay.

    After about a year in, I get a call at 11:00 at night from the local police department saying the Hum devise on her car alerted Hum that the vehicle had gotten into an accident and they could not get a hold of the driver in the car, my heart stopped. So the local PD was heading out to the last known location of the car, I immediately called my daughter's cell phone, and she answered with "Hey mom, what's up?" I ask her if she's okay and she said she was at a friend's hanging out. I told her I got a call from the PD and they were on the way to her location because they detected an accident with the car. I asked her to go outside and look at her car, maybe someone hit her car while it was parked...nope, nothing.

    I called the PD back and they said unless Hum told them not to go out there they would still go out to the scene. I contacted Hum, asked them to call off the PD and let them do their real jobs. Then I asked them why they would get an alert for an accident if there wasn't one, I cannot describe how I felt getting that phone call, "your 17-year-old daughter got in an accident, and no one is able to get a hold of her." Talk about a HEART ATTACK! Their explanation was, maybe there was loud music that set off the alert...are you kidding me? Unacceptable.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Garbage

    • Great River, NY,
    • Oct 29, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    From tech support to what it can do, it’s a waste of time and money. It stopped working and I couldn’t get help to fix it. I was on phone for hours. You can’t cancel without a fee. Reckon support from Verizon and Hum didn’t know what to do. All I can do is keep contacting Hum in hopes of getting a tech that knows how to fix or replace. I don’t have the time to waste on a terrible device.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Shame on you Verizon!

    • Parker, CO,
    • Oct 25, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I fell for the pushy salesperson, who swore that all insurance companies will give you a discount on your monthly premium if you get this. THEY DO NOT! And what is worse is that the Verizon sales reps know it. I have State Farm (which the rep says he has also), he says he gets $11.00 discount...Ummm no you don't, liar. All State Farms are governed by underwriting, and they DO NOT give discounts for this! Then you charge me $48.62 to restock the stupid thing!

    Buyer beware. Verizon will rob you blind both coming and going. AND I have been a Verizon customer for 13 years! Ughh, too bad zero stars was not a choice!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Not good for GPS

    • 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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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    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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  • 4 out 4 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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