Karma Go Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Review

If you’re the kind of user who only needs a portable hotspot on occasion, buying one from your wireless carrier costs too much. It’s not worth it to add even $20-$40/month as we only use it a few times a year or for a few hundred megabits a month. The pay-as-you-go Karma plan steps in to solve these sorts of issues, connecting a computer or tablet to the Internet without draining the phone’s battery.

karma go personal hotspot

Karma also will give you a monthly plan, if your wireless carrier’s devices don’t appeal to you.

Karma Go Hotspot

To start, a customer will buy the tiny white Karma Go Hotspot for $150 direct from the company’s website. It’s small and light. The white box has rounded corners. The package comes with a micro-USB charging cable, a nice carrying case and the hotspot.

karma go carrying case

The power button turns the Karma Go on/off. An indicator light notifies the user when it’s powered on. Four other lights show the signal strength from one light to four lights, showing a minimal connection to a full-speed connection.

karma go signal strength indicators

The Karma Go hotspot weighs next to nothing at only 2.3 ounces. It measures 2.9-inches by 2.9-inches and only .47-inch thick.

The 1500mAh  battery lasts for 22 hours on standby on a single charge. I never depleted it even after just under five hours of continuous use.

Users can network with the devices connected to the 802.11 b/g/n network. The speeds top out at 54Mbps for local networking.

karma go power button and indicator

Karma Go Speed Tests

I tested the Karma Go hotspot comparing it to T-Mobile and a public Wi-Fi hotspot I frequent. This gives potential buyers an idea of how fast it runs works for both wireless data online and local networking between computers.

Karma Go vs T Mobile Speed Test

The two speed tests above came on an iPhone 6s Plus. The left test taken while connected to the Karma Go saw a download speed of 3.39 Mbps and 1.71 up. The test returned similar results multiple times. On the right we see the speeds over LTE using a T-Mobile connection. Notice that the speeds show a connection nearly three times as fast. Upload speeds returned similar results.

speedtest on surface pro 4Notice a similar speed in the above test run on a Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

As the above tests show, the Karma Go offers pedestrian speeds. Slower LTE speeds with T-Mobile (when compared to AT&T and Verizon in my area) are still three times faster than the Karma Go hotspot. Karma runs on Sprint’s network, which is pretty slow in my semi-rural area. I’ve run speed tests in a nearby metropolitan area where the speeds hit closer to 5Mbps on average, but that’s still much slower than my T-Mobile phones.

I use the Refuel plan which is explained below. It promises speeds from 6-8Gbps to 25Gbps. As with almost every Internet company in the world, advertised speeds are seldom realized in reality.

Karma Go Data Plans

karma go plans

Karma offers two plans. The most interesting plan, Refuel, works like a prepaid data plan, which makes more sense than the monthly plan. A monthly contract makes more sense as an add-on to your already existing wireless carrier contract. You’d pay less adding one to AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint than the $50/month for the monthly Karma plan.

Karma Refuel

Refuel gives users prepaid data at $14 for one GB, 5GB for $59 or 10GB for $99. Sometimes they offer deals. I picked up 20GB for the price of 10 over the holidays.

The Refuel account never expires. This makes it perfect for people who only need it on occasion for trips or work sessions with co-workers while away from a regular wireless network or outside their carrier’s network. The hotspot keeps working till the data runs out and then offers to sell the user more data.

A Refuel account lets users surf at faster speeds, 6-8Mbps on average and spiking at up to 25Mbps in some areas.

On a Refuel connection, a person can connect up to eight devices to their Karma Go hotspot but only three on the Never Stop plan.

Karma Neverstop

The traditional plan, called “Neverstop” by Karma, gives the user “unlimited data” for $50/month. In reality, it’s limited to 5Mbps speeds on the first 15GB of data. After that, it slows down the speeds to a rate only good for things like checking email and surfing text-heavy websites. You won’t want to stream video or music or download very large files since it will either eat up your data or take forever to download.

karam go hotspot

Recommendation

I’m happy with the Karma Go, but it has limited use cases. Most people won’t need such a device. It’s handy for the following situations:

  • Networking multiple devices out and about: You find yourself needing to network a group of devices while away from a regular Wi-Fi network.
  • Occasional travel: You travel outside your wireless carrier’s LTE area that’s covered by Karma’s network, but only a few times a year making the pay-as-you-go Refuel plan worthwhile. It runs on Sprint’s WiMax network.
  • Avoid phone’s hotspot: You hate using your phone’s personal hotspot feature or  your carrier doesn’t offer one.

If any of the above describes your situation and you don’t mind the $150 up front and the somewhat expensive data, the Karma Go can meet your needs. Also, Karma lets users earn free data by recommending the service to friends or family.

Karma Go speeds won’t impress very many people, but it’s adequate given the use cases described above. It will never be the best option in my area. If you can borrow a friend’s Sprint phone or go to a nearby Sprint store and test speeds there, you’ll get a better idea of what speeds the Karma Go will deliver for you.

The hardware works well and the network on the Refuel plan works dependably enough to make it useful. It’s been a good investment for me and I recommend it to users with the needs listed above.

33 Comments

  1. Marjoriejorourke

    01/23/2016 at 5:24 pm

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    Reply

  2. Joe Walker

    01/23/2016 at 5:37 pm

    Karma is a ripoff. In November, they were offering unlimited Internet access and now they are offering only 15GB of usable data before throttling you to unbelievably slow speeds.

    Reply

  3. Robert Latterman

    01/23/2016 at 7:10 pm

    Karma’s unlimited plan now give you 15GB at up to 5mbps then plummets to a staggeringly slow 100kbps. This is NOT ‘unlimited’ useful data. Beware of this if you are thinking of buying into this product. Hopefully someday they will increase the speed to something actually useful but in the meantime it’s very dissapointing what they have done to this product.

    Reply

  4. Doug Arnold

    01/23/2016 at 7:35 pm

    It’s been a very disappointing experience, I bought it Dec. 10 and it arrives Dec. 23 and in early Jan. they start slowing the speed and then last week they tell everyone that the limit is 15 gb so this is not good business practice and it is false advertising. Because if you advertised 15gb you wouldn’t have any business so they have defrauded the pubic and you can’t call anyone and it take days to get a response by email, this whole ordeal has been a nightmare. And now they what to refund everyone but all the people want is what you promised, and I have been hearing about a class action suit in the works, so I would stay away from this product until they can show a good business practice.

    Reply

  5. Edward L Meeker

    01/23/2016 at 11:50 pm

    I am returning my karma go today. I orginally bought it about a month ago because the ads made it sound like just what I needed. Then the cute (and childish) messages started to arrive. There was whining about people actually using the product as it was advertised. For a while the original speeds were cut down to 1.6 Mps. Then a message arrived that the original unlimited was going to change to a 15 gig limit and then your speed would be reduced. At first the speed reduction was not defined. It was when I went over the limit, on my unlimited, that it reduced to 100 kps, WTF. I expected a reduction to say 1.5 as before, not a trickle. My advice. Don’t get it. With the way their going they will likely be out of business in another couple of months. They simply offered what they couldn’t deliver and in addition, they sounded like whiney kids complaining that they were being taken advantage of. I’m out to find better deals.

    Reply

  6. Karma No

    01/24/2016 at 4:48 am

    Screw this company. Bad business, bad product, bad support. Bait and switched thousands of new customers. Buyer beware!

    Reply

  7. Karma Sucks

    01/24/2016 at 12:30 pm

    This company has completely messed up their trust in their customers and potential customer I understand that you may enjoy your karma from your own experience but please do not think that there arent thousands of us that beg to differ with your article. it was good UNTIL they pulled the plug on an unlimited plan for 50$. screw karma and I hope karma finds them!

    Reply

  8. Pete

    01/24/2016 at 2:17 pm

    Bad experience! Not only, do constantly change their offers, they dont even finish month you paid for. They just reduce your speeds or your “unlimited internet” to 15GB with no offer of refund or prorate for what they originally charged you for.

    I also was tricked twice by the tricksters. The first month of “Unlimited internet at 5mb/s up and down didnt last 2 weeks before they sent an email saying they were reducing speeds for their customers. After that, I was lucky to get 1mb/s up or down. Not 2 weeks later, they announce that they “heard the customer complaints” and were bringing speeds back up to their original promise but the new bait and switch was now the “unlimited LTE” was really only 15 GB. They did that one day after they just charged me for another month. They also don’t want to refund you for your plans even though they change them after they bill you

    Reply

  9. Josh

    01/25/2016 at 7:11 pm

    I am furious at Karma Go and their “Neverstop” plan.

    I feel completely ripped off.

    I had a similar “hockey puck” hotspot My-Fi device from Clearwire that was unlimited internet usage using the Wi-Max system several years ago. Of course it was slower speed then 4G LTE but there was no throttling and it cost $35 a month. Sprint purchased Clearwire and discontinued the service.

    Cut to several years later, Karma Go offered a “Truly unlimited mobile internet” plan for $50 a month and less then a month into it completely changed the offering, now capping the usage to 15gb at the 5mbs speed up and down, then throttling it down to completely unusable speeds after the cap.

    I spent $150 on the device and pre-paid for 3 months for a total of $300 for a service that I now learn I am not even getting.

    The company never informed me of this I HAD TO COME HERE TO THIS WEBSITE TO LEARN OF IT.
    I was wondering why the speed was reduced and googled it, and was taken to this article.

    Clearwire offered unlimited internet for $35 a month at Wi-Max speeds for many years, it was a portable device exactly the same size as Karma Go’s. Looks like technology has taken a leap backwards.

    Reply

  10. Charlie JP

    01/30/2016 at 2:02 pm

    I have been using my Karma Go for about three months now and I love it. Coverage is awesome. You can earn free data when other folks connect to your hotspot. The data never expires and there are no monthly fees. And even better yet, you can get $10 off if you use this link that follows. https://yourkarma.com/invite/cmjakk

    Reply

  11. CCNey

    02/03/2016 at 8:46 am

    Karma is a joke. Once you are throttled you can do NOTHING. They took our money and ran. Stay as far away from this company as possible.

    Reply

  12. Ri

    02/08/2016 at 1:19 am

    I’m still a Karma customer but like the majority of their customers, I am very upset how they changed their service from unlimited to 15 GB limit. If they don’t change this soon, they will no longer exist by the end of the year because they will have lost the majority of their customers.

    Reply

  13. BB

    02/23/2016 at 2:36 am

  14. Jason Bennett

    02/23/2016 at 11:19 am

    This is a very deceptive business outfit. I predict a class action lawsuit in their future. I waited for almost two months for the device to arrive, paid $150 for it and another $50 for the unlimited data plan upfront. Device arrives, and in THREE days, they sent me an email that I’ve capped. I replied that I have the unlimited plan, and they replied that the unlimited plan has been discontinued. Three days of usage! They didn’t tell me anything until I sent the email, and the whole thing just stopped working!! Okay, now what? I tried to change the plan to refuel so I could get on the Internet, they accepted the payment for 1 GB, but I cannot use it until next month when my current “unlimited” data plan expires. So, I’m having a device that is completely useless, over two hundred dollars just flushed down the toilet.
    Somebody needs to tell the Better Business Bureau about this. This is beyond EPIC ripoff!

    Reply

  15. Warren

    03/22/2016 at 5:00 am

    Comes in handy for me especially when traveling. don’t have to rely on slow hotel or airport connections.
    $25 with this invitation https://yourkarma.com/invite/warren4766

    Reply

  16. Big Mike

    04/03/2016 at 3:59 pm

    I sent my Karma unit back in February for a refund and haven’t seen my refund yet. Anyone else in the same boat?

    Reply

    • David Hardin

      06/01/2016 at 7:22 pm

      Sent mine back in January. At time, email said refunds take 7-10 days. June 1: still no refund. Last response more than 5 weeks ago said yes they received my return and that refunds processed in the order received. I want to sue these cheating bastards.

      Reply

  17. Eric

    04/11/2016 at 9:02 pm

    No refund yet from 2 months ago. I prepaid for a year of unlimited $650. Total rip off I am beyond furious. Bait and switch then lies about refund.

    Reply

  18. margit affrunti

    04/12/2016 at 7:51 am

    most of us here have had a very bad and same experience with this company that should tell you its time to make them pay for trying to take advantage of us….civil suit lets do it they should not even be able to use the name Karma because they are so evil.

    Reply

  19. BB

    04/28/2016 at 3:25 am

    $25 off Karma Go with this link!
    https://yourkarma.com/invite/warren4766

    Reply

  20. Charles Dougherty

    05/09/2016 at 11:56 am

    I have been waiting for my refund now for 6 weeks. I am disputing with PayPal right now. I am not waiting months more to get my money back. If you are reading this and you still use this lousy ripoff company than you deserve whatever happens to you.

    Reply

  21. Love KarmaGo (@lovekarmago)

    05/15/2016 at 7:11 pm

    $40 off right now with this link through 05/26/2016 – free 100mb with refuel option
    https://yourkarma.com/invite/jason62573

    Reply

  22. Lion

    05/15/2016 at 9:11 pm

    Weird that someone is trying to advertise this junk when I’m afraid to return the one I have (which is useless) because those who returned theirs never get a refund.

    Reply

  23. BAD KARMA!

    05/16/2016 at 1:53 pm

    Karma is BAD! First they do a Bait and Switch, then they do not respond to any emails, then no response to letters from my states Attorney General in regards to where my refund is. I bought this on Christmas Eve 2015. As of today I have no product, I got less than 15GB of data for my $599 purchase of a year of unlimited internet and a hotspot device. Karma is a scam! Sign me up for the lawsuit!

    Reply

  24. sydney

    05/26/2016 at 7:18 am

    I sent my karma back in January and haven’t received a refund. Every response e-mail says it is being processed. If anyone knows of an active lawsuit against them, or wants to file one, please let me know. Bait and switch……not expecting the crooks to refund my money now.

    Reply

  25. sydney

    05/26/2016 at 9:05 am

    Update:: Just approached several law firms about the karma scam. I will update with responses. If anyone is interested in joining in on a lawsuit please e-mail me at [email protected].

    Reply

  26. Steve

    06/07/2016 at 2:36 pm

    Karma Go now only $89 thru June 14, 2016 (regularly $149). That’s a huge $60 saving, in case you don’t want to do the math. Perfect for Father’s Day. Use this discount code – https://yourkarma.com/invite/steve34386. Coverage has been surprisingly excellent on Long Island, New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Springfield (MO). YMMV depending on the coverage in your area. I’ve had none of the issues others have reported with Karma, but I’ve always been on their Refuel plan, which hasn’t changed its pricing model and still offers unthrottled data that never expires.

    Reply

    • anonymous

      09/20/2016 at 6:33 pm

      You probably work for them – cause everyone else knows they are a lying POS rip-you-right-off type of company.

      Reply

  27. James Scott

    07/08/2016 at 1:52 pm

    sent mine back 3 months ago an last email from them was 4 days ago telling me it would be another 8 to 12 weeks

    Reply

  28. charity jene moore

    07/10/2016 at 7:33 am

    No refund here yet as well. Sounds like a generuc response is being sent out because we are all veing told basically the same thing. I have confirmation that device was receieved by then on march 25th and yet 3 1/2 months later, still no refund. My last response stated they thought things should be cleared up by the end of the month so I gave them through July 1st before attempting to contact them again but havent done so yet. I am with the lawsuit thing. They have my $150 and are keeping me from buying another plan from someone else because I need the money back to do so. My 14 year old daughter is doing some high school classes online now and I need more gigs than what I am currently getting through my cell service. GRRRR I am so frustrated!

    Reply

  29. anonymous

    09/20/2016 at 6:28 pm

    WORST COMPANY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO NOT BUY ANY PRODUCTS FROM KARMA – THEY ARE SPREADING THEIR BAD KARMA EVERYWHERE!

    Reply

  30. BRIAN HAMPTON

    05/15/2017 at 7:17 am

    Now they are changing the refuel plan from never expire to require $2.95 monthly fee. Bad business. They don’t live up to their promises.

    Reply

  31. Waste of money

    05/15/2017 at 1:06 pm

    This company is a joke. Been waiting for my GUARANTEED refund if not satisfied and hotspot was sent back for a YEAR now. The company received their modem back but I have yet to receive my $150. Just keep getting told they are processing claims as fast as they can……hogwash. what a rip off this company is.

    Reply

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