Skip to main content

How to get a smartwatch or fitness tracker for free

Apple Watch Series 7
(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

If you're trying to get healthier in 2022, buying a fitness tracker or smartwatch is a huge step in the right direction. But for some, spending hundreds on a proper fitness or health tracker isn't financially feasible. For others, buying one isn't enough to get you out the door. In either case, you might want to try getting a free fitness smartwatch from your health care provider. You'll avoid a healthy price tag and have strict incentives from your insurer to get moving and "pay off" your free tracker. Here's where to start.

UnitedHealthcare Motion

The UnitedHealthcare Motion app (opens in new tab) lets you and a spouse "earn annual financial rewards for things like copays, prescriptions, and deductibles" based on completing "FIT" goals like completing 10,000 steps a day. This comes out to around $3-4 per day, which adds up if you remain active. Plus, depending on your membership, you could receive a free Fitbit Charge 5 or Apple Watch, with a new device "every two plan years" and possibly a free paid membership like Apple Fitness+ as well.

Attain by Aetna

If your employer uses Aetna insurance, then the Attain by Aetna (opens in new tab) app will be your new best friend — assuming you're an Apple user. Through the app, you'll pay taxes and an activation fee to receive a free Apple Watch through the mail. Then, you'll have to pay off your watch by completing daily and weekly goals based on your weight, sex, and personal health history. You can also complete "healthy actions" like getting vaccinations that help pay off the watch. If you don't complete your goals, you will have to send in monthly payments, so it incentivizes working out.

John Hancock Vitality Plus

With this plan, you'll receive an Amazon Halo and three years of Halo fitness membership for free. You'll earn Vitality points for various completed workouts and meditations, with extra points for completing more steps. Even achieving a good Halo sleep score can net you points that'll earn you money back on your insurance. Unfortunately, you won't get the newer Amazon Halo View, and you have to turn over your health data in exchange for the discount. If you don't mind that, it's a great deal.

You can also receive an Apple Watch for a small fee instead, though like the Attain by Aetna plan, you'll have to complete enough Vitality goals to avoid paying a monthly fee for it.

Active&Fit

Some health insurance companies like Kaiser partner with Active&Fit (opens in new tab) to send "Stay Fit Kits" to eligible members that include a promotional code for a free Fitbit or Garmin tracker, along with other fitness accessories like dumbbells, resistance bands, and yoga mats. You will have to pay an annual fee upfront for access to eligible gym locations but you'll earn your money back by working out 45 days per year for 30 minutes each. 

Check your insurer for discounts

If you have insurance that doesn't participate in a free smartwatch or free fitness tracker program, you'll unfortunately have to pay for your fitness tracker. But depending on the insurer, it may offer them at a discount. For example, Kaiser and Blue Cross Blue Shield both offer 20% off most of the best Fitbit trackers available, while Cigna Healthy rewards offer Garmin smartwatch discounts.

Your other option is to look out for health insurance programs that reimburse you for tracked workouts. You can buy a smartwatch at a discount, then earn cash back or insurance credits over time until it's "free."

Keep an eye out for bundled deals and giveaways

Last year, Samsung gave away the Galaxy Watch 4 if you preordered the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Occasionally, we've seen carriers give away smartwatches as part of a bundled deal on a new smartphone. You can't call these "free" deals because you're likely spending quite a bit, but if you're planning on buying a new smartphone anyway, it can't hurt to grab a free watch in the bargain.

Otherwise, you'll have to accept spending at least some money on your fitness device. Among the best fitness trackers available today, you can find some for as little as $50 like the Xiaomi Mi Band 6 that'll jumpstart your fitness training and health tracking. For some people, buying a cheap, reliable tracker will be much less burdensome than jumping through hoops for your insurance company for the next two years.

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.