Is there a monthly fee or recurring fee to use Garmin devices, especially the smartwatches? The question seems logical because a few smartwatch companies offer premium services as part of the subscription model cost structure. For example, Fitbit launched a ‘Fitbit Premium’ subscription plan for Versa 3 and Sense smartwatches. The premium plan costs a monthly recurring fee and offers additional services and features to the subscribers. So, does buying a Garmin smartwatch entail a recurring cost to make use of the advertised features.
The quick answer to this question is NO. Garmin smartwatches will work seamlessly in offering the advertised features and services without any incremental costs or monthly recurring fees. The core features of the Garmin smartwatches come without any monthly fees. However, Garmin users need to be aware of a few features that cost money. These features go over and above the core set of features, and provide additional functionality. For example, Garmin’s topo maps cost additional money for offering you trail maps for your region.
We look at a few services or features of Garmin smartwatches that require additional money to be spent to avail these on the watch. Most costs are one-time fixed costs. The recurring costs are specified in case there are monthly recurring fees for such a set of features or functions.
Garmin inReach Mini
inReach Mini is a very useful feature for hikers and trail runners. It makes use of the Iridium satellite network for establishing communication with your Garmin device. Out in the wild, inReach Mini could be the key factor in getting help during emergency situations. It allows you to send and receive messages through the satellite network. And, you can contact the emergency rescue team if you are lost in the wild or when you have met with an accident.
inReach Mini is a monthly subscription service offered by Garmin. There is a monthly commitment and you could choose to take one of the three subscription plans as an individual.
- Basic inReach Mini plan or the Safety plan costs $14.95 a month. Annual commitment brings the Basic plan cost down to $11.95 a month. The basic plan allows unlimited SOS messages and location requests can be sent for a per request charge of .10 ea. You can send up to 10 messages through the satellite network in a month.
- The Recreation plan improves the allocated features, and allows unlimited SOS messages, up to 40 text messages and unlimited location requests. It costs $34.95 or $24.95 per month, depending on monthly or annual commitments.
- The Expedition plan is the most advanced plan with unlimited SOS messages, unlimited text messages and unlimited location requests. It costs $64.95 or $49.95 depending on monthly or annual commitments.
If you are a hiker or a trail runner, inReach Mini is a must-have feature for your Garmin watch.
For professionals, the inReach Mini comes in different plans:
- Basic plan costs $19.95 a month. It has unlimited SOS messages, up to 20 text messages and location requests that costs 0.10 ea per request. The tracking interval is 10 minutes.
- The advanced plan costs $34.95 a month. It has It has unlimited SOS messages, up to 40 text messages and unlimited location requests. The tracking interval is 10 minutes.
- The unlimited plan costs $64.95 a month. It has It has unlimited SOS messages, unlimited text messages and unlimited location requests. The tracking interval is 2 minutes.
inReach Mini is the most under-rated feature available on the Garmin devices. There are multiple reasons for inReach Mini’s exclusivity:
- inReach Mini helps to provide communication and location details when the cell or mobile signal is unavailable.
- inReach Mini can help you in making realtime SOS requests to the rescue team.
- inReach Mini can also help you in communicating with your partner through text messages on the satellite network.
- The two way messaging between you and your partner or between you and your rescue team is reassuring.
The plan details shared above are for the contract plans. You could choose to take Freedom plan that requires an Annual program fee to maintain your inReach services and data. The Annual program fee for inReach is over and above the monthly or annual subscription costs.
Garmin Smartwatch Subscription Plan
The Smartwatch subscription plan allows you to connect your smartwatch with a LTE service provider. It is basically a bridge functionality on the Garmin Connect app. You can use your smartwatch with LTE connectivity to connect to a telco provider right through the watch. The big thing with this subscription is that you do not need to carry your mobile phone. Your Garmin smartwatch with LTE capability should be the only device needed on your hiking or trail runs.
Since LTE feature is only available on the Garmin Forerunner 945, the Smartwatch Subscription plan is only useful for the Forerunner 945 users. It costs $6.99 a month or $5.99 a month, depending on monthly or annual commitments.
The Smartwatch subscription plan will come in handy in situations of incident detection to seek help for you. You can check the network coverage and full details of the subscription through the Garmin Connect app on your smartphone.
Garmin Golf Subscription
Garmin offers Golf app on eligible smartwatches. The Golf app is free and offers basic golf tracking and tournament recording for your game of Golf. Aside from the free plan, Garmin also offers a Gold membership plan that costs $9.99 a month or $99.9 on annual term. The membership plan has the following additional features:
- Green Contours
- Home Tee Hero virtual rounds
- Video clips of shots copied to cloud and viewable across multiple devices
Garmin Maps comes free on smartwatch for the region you are in. If you need additional maps for different regions, you can buy maps for the geographic region from Garmin. These maps offer insights and help you in trail runs or hiking trips. Learn from the experience of other hikers and runners as you embark on an expedition trip through the wild.
Garmin maps do not have any monthly recurring costs. You buy these for a one time cost that varies with the region you want to focus on.
Garmin does not cost monthly recurring fees for the core features that come on the smartwatches. You buy the watch, and you are done. However, when it comes to offering LTE connectivity on the 945 Forerunner or offering satellite connectivity, it does charge recurring fee. This recurring fee is consistent with Garmin’s customer friendliness. They do not try to make revenues off the incremental costs or monthly costs for special featues.
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Rajesh Dhawan is a technology professional who loves to blog about smart wearables, Cloud computing and Microsoft technologies. He loves to break complex problems into manageable chunks of meaningful information.