20 Things That Used to Cost Money But Are Now Free

As the years pass and technology and consumer habits change, certain products and services that we pay for used to be free, but some that incurred a cost now have no charge. Let’s focus on the positives and discover 20 things that we no longer have to shell out for.


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Remember the days of carefully budgeting your phone minutes or facing hefty charges for exceeding the limit? The Frugal Expat says expensive phone bills are a thing of the past, with unlimited distance and call times provided by apps such as Skype and FaceTime, which even offer video, fun filters, and interactive games—all you need is an internet connection.


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Not only are today’s web-based encyclopedias free, but they are constantly updated and revised by relevant professionals. Expensive, space-hogging encyclopedia sets are now obsolete, inflexible, inconvenient, and impossible to update without buying a new set. Sites like Wikipedia do a far better job—for no charge whatsoever!


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The once-thriving news and journalism industry has faced significant challenges in the digital age, with consumers expecting up-to-date information and entertainment to be free, like almost everything else online. While subscriptions may be necessary to unlock all of a news provider’s content, there is more than enough free news to satisfy most readers.

Music Downloads

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So long as you have an internet connection and don’t mind a few advertisements, you can listen to almost any track you wish at the touch of a button. The Irish Times states that anyone who used to buy CDs or individual iTunes tracks can now enjoy a limited, free service on apps like Spotify or YouTube Music or upgrade to an ad-free, unlimited service for a minimal fee.


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Long before Google Maps exploded onto our smartphones, navigating unfamiliar roads relied on paper maps, often purchased at gas stations or bookstores, or expensive SatNav devices like TomToms. Although Shore Digital reports that Google Maps is only free up to a limit, that’s usually more than enough for most everyday users.

Greeting Cards

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Sending physical greeting cards for birthdays, holidays, or special occasions was once the only way to express well wishes, necessitating the purchase of a paper card and stamp. The digital age has brought about the rise of e-cards and social media greetings, many of which can be personalized for free with the person’s name and photos.

Movie Rentals

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Long gone are the days of visiting the local Blockbuster store to pick out a movie title and commit to returning it within 1–2 days. While streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ might not be entirely free, the cost of an entry-level account is comparatively low, yet it offers vast content libraries at the convenient click of a button—all without leaving the house.

Bank Teller Services

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Do you remember visiting a bank and paying a nominal fee to deposit a check, withdraw money, or receive a statement? This traditional banking model has been entirely replaced by online banking services and ATMs, which don’t charge fees for standard transactions and queries.

Long-Distance Relationships

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Maintaining long-distance relationships was fraught with expense before the days of internet-based connections, like messaging apps, video calling, and free long-distance calls. Modern technology means couples living apart can feel close and connected; they only need a device and an internet connection.

Airline Booking Fees

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Booking airline tickets used to involve hefty fees for phone reservations, ticket changes, and even seat selection. However, the rise of online travel booking platforms and airline websites has eliminated or significantly reduced these fees, empowering travelers to research, compare prices, and book flights directly, often at a lower cost.


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According to MoneyTalks News, past investments always incurred a fee at the time of the initial investment, typically a percentage of the amount. In recent years, such fees have all but disappeared, with many big finance companies (e.g., Fidelity and Charles Schwab) offering $0 commission trades on stocks and other financial investment products.

Phone Books

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In the past, finding phone numbers for local businesses like restaurants and home repair services required bulky, quickly outdated, printed phone directories. Today, this information has moved online, where it is easily updated and completely free to access via a Google search or a Facebook business page.

Software Licenses

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In the past, purchasing software licenses was the norm, and you typically needed a key or code to gain full access to photo editing suites, word processors, and games. Nowadays, companies like Adobe and Microsoft offer monthly or annual subscriptions that are better value, but you can obtain equivalent applications online for free—you just have to deal with a few ads.


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Remember the days of purchasing your favorite music track from a text-based service that charged your phone bill a set fee for each ringtone? Nowadays, smartphones are entirely customizable, using their own built-in utilities or downloading free ringtones and music tracks from online platforms like the Play Store.


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While the COVID-19 pandemic was a global catastrophe, it did at least pave the way to free, abundant online workouts and fitness routines. YouTube and other platforms offer a multitude of educational and inspirational videos that allow people to enjoy yoga, dance, Zumba, strength training, and more in the comfort of their own homes without charge.

Public Wi-fi

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Turning on ‘mobile data’ used to mean draining your phone credit or incurring painfully high data charges at the end of the month. No more! Wi-fi is now available in many public spaces, including supermarkets and malls. It is often free and easy to connect to, making staying connected while on the go cheaper than ever.

Classified Ads

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Before Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree opened the door to free personal advertising, classified ads incurred a fee depending on their size, location, and duration. Today, the number of people using online buying and selling sites is so huge that most sellers pay nothing to list their items and often enjoy success.


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Okay, so higher education and specialized or in-person courses aren’t free, but there are so many modern apps available nowadays that offer learning tools and exercises with zero fees. Applications like DuoLingo offer language training, whereas even YouTube has a host of educational content, from cooking videos to kids’ science shows.

Budgeting Apps

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Unless you have extremely complicated finances, free online apps like Mint or PowerWallet will be more than adequate to plan and manage your monthly spending. In the past, costly financial advisors and dedicated, paid software like Quicken were the only options, but you no longer need to spend money to manage your money!

Cloud Storage

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Digital storage options used to be big business, with physical hard drives and online storage available at a costly premium. Today, even everyday email accounts have an impressive amount of storage for your documents, photos, and videos. Not only is this more secure, but it’s also convenient, with the possibility to access your data from anywhere.

Read More: 17 of the Most Dangerous Cities in the World (6 Are in The US)

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Every city has its dangers, but it goes without saying that some places are far more dangerous than others. We’ve compiled a list of 17 of the most dangerous cities in the world in terms of violent crime and homicide rates.

17 of the Most Dangerous Cities in the World (6 Are in The US)

17 Non-Negotiables Men of Integrity Refuse to Compromise On

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A man with integrity has strong moral principles—there are just some things that he would never do. In this article, we’ll find out the top 17 things that damage a man’s integrity.

17 Non-Negotiables Men of Integrity Refuse to Compromise On

17 Things You Should Never Carry in Your Wallet

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Let’s be real — when was the last time you went through your wallet and got rid of anything unnecessary? It’s important to know if you’re carrying items with you every day that could put you at risk. Click to discover the 17 things you should never keep in your wallet, helping you minimize the risk of identity theft, financial loss, and other issues.

17 Things You Should Never Carry in Your Wallet

18 Old School Habits That Are Making a Comeback

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Old school habits are starting to make a comeback. These can be hobbies associated with the older generation, such as sewing or woodworking. It can also be old-school manners, such as writing thank-you notes and opening doors for people. Let’s look at 18 of these habits.

18 Old School Habits That Are Making a Comeback

18 American Phrases That Non-Americans Struggle to Understand

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American expressions are a vital part of its culture, reflecting the nation’s history and values. However, these sayings can sometimes puzzle people from other countries because they often carry context, colloquialisms, and historical references that can lose their intended meaning when crossing borders. Let’s look at 18 of such American sayings.

18 American Phrases That Non-Americans Struggle to Understand