For the last 5 years or so of living in the US, my phone plan has been a no-frills, pay as you go plan. This charged me to send and receive both calls and texts, and had no data available. This might seem terrible, but I barely used my phone and had WiFi at home, work and pretty much every where I went. Not the best, but I could live with it. However, the issue was when I travelled.
Airport WiFi isn’t always the best, and navigating in an unfamiliar city without Google Maps can be next to impossible for me. But at the same time, I didn’t want to be paying over $60 a month for an all-inclusive phone plan that I wasn’t going to be making full use of. What is a person like me to do? Enter: Google Fi.
Google Fi: An overview
If you haven’t heard of Google Fi, it is a phone carrier operated by Google that uses the services of existing mobile networks (U.S Cellular, T-mobile and Sprint). You get unlimited talk and text for $20 a month. Data is billed at $10 per GB and you only pay for what you use (so if I use 0.5GB in a month, I pay $5 for the data). And for those of you who use large amounts of data, here is the good news: any data beyond 6GB is free. This means the max you will ever pay for data using Google Fi is $60 (meaning your monthly bill is $80). However, your speed is capped once you hit 15GB, so keep an eye on that if you use a lot of data.
Google Fi on an iPhone
Since I already owned an unlocked iPhone 8, I didn’t want to purchase a brand new phone to be able to use Google Fi. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could get on this plan while still using my unlocked iPhone. I wouldn’t be able to get all the features that would be available if I had a phone that was designed for Fi, but I could live with it. You can check if your current phone is compatible here. A quick check of the coverage map told me that I had good coverage where I live, so I decided to take the plunge and ordered my free SIM.
Fi on the Go
Once I got the SIM card, setting it up was fairly straightforward. There are some settings that needed to be adjusted, but detailed instructions were provided in the package, and everything worked for me right away. I was even able to transfer my old phone number without any issues.
The real test came a few months later, when I went a month long trip that covered 5 different countries. One of the most attractive features of Google Fi (and the reason that made me sign up in the first place) is that it works in over 200 countries, and there is NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE for data! So you pay the same data rate abroad that you pay at home. Texting home while abroad is also included, but voice calls are $0.20 per minute, which I found to be very reasonable.
Planning a trip? Check out my travel resources here.
So how did it work? Once again to my pleasant surprise, it worked flawlessly. There was no having to manually switch carriers, subscribe to a travel plan before I left or any other faff I would normally have to go through. I landed in another country, took my phone off airplane mode and voila! Instant data connection. In fact, my husband was so impressed with it, that he has also now switched to Google Fi (adding another person to your existing line costs $15 per month).
While the pricing and flexibility of paying only for the data I use makes it a perfect choice for me, your situation might differ. So to make it easy, here is a list of pros and cons of switching to Google Fi.
- Affordable compared to some other plans
- Very flexible, only pay for what you use
- Works in a lot of countries, great for frequent travellers
- The app makes it easy to manage your plans and get immediate tech support
- If you have a designed for Fi phone, you can call using WiFi
- Only available in the US
- If you don’t have a designed for Fi phone, some features such as international data tethering or automatic switching between networks might not be available to you
- If you travel a lot to one specific country a lot, it might be cheaper to get a local SIM from that country
So, would I recommend using Google Fi? Absolutely. I only wish I had found it sooner. If you are interested in signing up, you can use my referral code here, and get $20 of Fi credit! [Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored in any way by Google Fi, I’m just a happy customer!]
Planning a trip? Be sure to check out my road trip essentials here.
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