As the end of the year rolls around, Garmin has updated its subscription plans. There has been an increase in the annual cost of the Freedom Subscription Plan in particular. Here’s an update to the Garmin InReach Subscription Plans – updated for 2021.

On the 4th of December, Garmin sent out the following note to subscribers in North America:

We are writing to inform you that, effective Jan. 4, 2021, the price of your Annual Program Fee will increase from $24.95 to $34.95. The Annual Program Fee is charged yearly upon the anniversary of your subscription activation date.

Garmin, December 2020

These increases seem to be worldwide, with different increases reported in different countries. It’s a pretty hefty increase so what does this mean for us Garmin subscribers. To recap, there are basically two types of plans.

Freedom Plan

The freedom plan allows you to run your Garmin month to month. When you don’t need your device you can turn it off, typically in the winter months. So your commitment is only 30 days. For the privilege of being on a month-to-month plan, there is an annual fee of, now, $34.95.

Annual Plan

If you want to keep your Garmin on all year round, there is a lower-cost subscription. The annual plan has a $19.95 activation fee. The main difference is you are committed to a twelve-month period. If you take the ‘Safety’ plan, this would mean your minimum commitment is around $144.

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Plan Details

Within the Freedom and Annual Subscriptions, there are 3 levels of plan, Safety, Recreation, and Expedition.

FeatureSAFETYRECREATIONEXPEDITION
SOSUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
TEXT MESSAGES*1040Unlimited
PRESET MESSAGESUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
TRACKING INTERVALS10 min+10 min+2 min+
SEND/TRACK POINTS$0.10 eaUnlimitedUnlimited
LOCATION REQUESTS$0.10 eaUnlimitedUnlimited
BASIC WEATHER1 text message ea1 text message eaUnlimited
PREMIUM WEATHER$1.00 ea$1.00 ea$1.00 ea
PREMIUM MARINE WEATHER$1.00 ea$1.00 ea$1.00 ea
MONTHLY CHARGES
ANNUAL PLANS$11.95/mo$24.95/mo$49.95/mo
FREEDOM PLANS$14.95/mo$34.95/mo$64.95/mo
OVERAGE CHARGES
MESSAGES (EACH)*$0.50$0.50N/A

For most recreational backpackers the choice is between the Safety and Recreation packages. And for most folks it seems to come down to whether they want to use their Garmin for SOS and two-way communication, then the Safety plan is good, or to continuously send tracking points, in which case the Recreation plan is better.

Summary

With the changes in pricing to the Freedom Subscription cost this year, I think Garmin is pushing people more towards their annual plans. I understand why this makes sense for Garmin, it creates a more predictable revenue stream for them. As a subscriber, it means that if you plan to use your Garmin device for more than 7 months in the year, you are better moving from Freedom Plan to the Annual Plan. Garmin confirmed that if you switch from the Freedom Plan to the Annual plan there is no activation fee to pay and with both plans, you can switch between the tiers as necessary.

I’ve used the InReach mini for a while and am quite happy with it. Here’s a quick review of how it performed on trail.

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