Google Fi is just about everywhere you want to go, and it’s cheap too…
Google Fi is the phone service you may have heard of, but likely have questions about. To me, It’s the service that makes you feel like James Bond when you land in over 200 countries and counting, and your phone immediately works, without the stress of insane data charges abroad.
Unlike most plans, it’s not widely marketed, and you probably haven’t seen it on any television commercials either, but after two years paying and using the service, it’s the not-so-secret phone plan we just can’t live without, especially when we travel. And no, sadly we don’t get it for free. Here’s everything you need to know, before you consider taking the plunge and switching over to Project Fi.
Google Fi is shockingly reasonable. The plan costs $20 a month for unlimited call and texts, and $15 for each additional user and is limited to travelers with U.S. residency, but the service works seamlessly in over 200 destinations.
Data costs $10 per gigabyte, but you’ll never pay for more than 6 gigabytes. If you go over, Google gives you up to 15 more, for no additional charge. Now what’s cool and innovative about your data usage, is that each month you only pay for what you use.
If you use .9 gigabytes, you’ll pay $9, instead of $10. If you use 1.5 gigs, you’ll pay $15, rather than 20. It’s calculated down to the last .1, which can save lots of money versus other plans. The kicker here? Wherever you travel, nothing changes with your data charges.
I love landing in Doha, Singapore or Mexico City and knowing i’ll pay for data just the same as if I was at home.
The Google Fi Plan
There’s no long term contract behind Google Fi, which makes it very attractive for people who are prone to indecision! No judgement here! But the real talking point of this service is how useful it is for traveler, which is why we got it. Google Project Fi allows unlimited text and $10 per gig data in over 200 countries.
There are no daily fees while you’re abroad, so other than phone calls, you just use your phone as if you’re at home, since it costs exactly the same. You’ll get a message each time you land, saying “you’re covered here”. In addition to your phone, you can grab a SIM card for your tablet or other devices, which allows you to use data at the same rate of $10 per gig on other devices.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of Google Fi, is that it seamlessly switches between partner networks, depending on whichever has the strongest signal. This is a unique differentiator to competitors which only utilize their own towers and won’t put you onto a better network. We’ve had numerous times where others did not have coverage, yet our phones did.
Of course, it can go the other way too. Here’s the map to check your coverage.
In *theory*, the Google Fi service should only work on approved Android devices. But like many things in the world, there’s usually a way around that.
With that said, there are many data points that it can work with other phones. Many of the best phone cameras in the world work on the Google Fi service, so it’s an excellent choice for anyone keen to ditch the “big camera” and go mobile only for their travel snaps.
I believe the only downside to using a non approved Google Fi phone is that many phones don’t have the automatic network switching, which makes the service so effective.
Google offers truly unlimited cloud photo storage for free, which is an additional money saver, considering Apple charges a small fortune for the privilege of saving photos on the web. We’ve used the Google Pixel and find it to be highly reliable, though many people are partial to Samsung Galaxy and Huawei P20. It’d be great to see Google Fi officially include both Galaxy and Huawei phones, even if they technically work anyway.
One fun aspect of Google Fi is that rather than spend money on marketing, the service allows users to save money on their bills by doing the marketing for them.
If you refer a friend to Project Fi, they receive $20 off their service, and you do too. You can receive an unlimited amount of referrals, which can make an already fantastic service price even better. If you’d like to use our code, 4AY5E8 will take $20 off your bill, and we’ll of course enjoy our savings too. Thanks : ) This is a great way to bring fellow travel friends along for the ride.
The most popular question: can I bring my number? Yes. You can easily transfer your mobile number from virtually any phone service over to Google Fi, and if you cancel, you can bring it back with you to another company, or the same one you just left!
The next most popular Google Fi question: do they have family plans? Yes, you can create Group Plans. The first person is charged $20, and every other person in the group is $15. Everyone uses the same $10 per gig data, and for a group of two, you’re never charged for more than $100 for data (10 gigs), even if you use more.
All photos taken using Google Pixel phone.
I used the fi data card while in Thailand, worked perfect, even was able to order stuff with a online that would not work with foreign sim card.
Have been using Fi since the month it was launched and a few months ago even converted my wife from Straight Talk (AT&T) to Fi. The only place it has no coverage is in the mighty state of Alaska. We were in Anchorage last year and had to rely on my wife’s AT&T backbone. This year, we were in Juneau and used are backup phone and loaded it with Cricket (again AT backbone). No problems in Dubai, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Singapore.
The voting system on mobile is terrible. I accidentally voted several times at a low percent while I was trying to figure out how it worked. I wanted to leave a 99% bit instead several very low scores were recorded.
Anyway…I would have rated fi at 99% for all the reasons you mentioned. I’ve actually moved internationally and been using it as my primary line and overall it still works great and the price is decent too.
Also all international calls are (nearly) free if made over WiFi (turn on airplane mode, turn on WiFi and make the call through hangouts dialer)
It is great. I am using a dual SIM phone that supports T-Mobile. When I arrive, I have phone service. I can contact Uber, revise hotel reservations upon arrival.
If I am staying awhile, I pick up a local SIM, which is often cheaper than $10/gig. The best of all worlds!
Have used it in New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Spain, Morocco, Switzerland, Austria and Germany most recently. It does not work in French Polynesia. I use it in my iPhone for data only, when traveling.
It’s also worth mentioning ‘three’ UK’s feel at home plans for the UK readers
So as someone that has used fi in so many countries for 2.5yrs, including Japan, Germany, France, UK, Spain, Korea.
The service works better outside the US than in it. Because it roams across t mobile, sprint and us cellular in the US signal and phone calls are terrible.
What I would recommend is having fi for travelling, then have Verizon in the US.
The plural of FAQ is FAQs!
That’s your only takeaway?
$10 per gig of data sounds expensive. In the UK on three I’m paying roughly $21 for 12 gig of data and feel at home when you roam, unlimited calls and texts.
If I only want to switch to Fi when I’ go overseas is this easy? I have an iPhone X and would, if needed, buy some android based phone. Then when I would leave the country I would convert my iPhone use to the Android Fi service. When I got home I want to switch back to my Att iPhone X. Thoughts?
I love Fi as well, since 2016 have used voice and data successfully in Hong Kong, Taipei, Frankfurt, Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sydney, Seoul. Our family plan is consistently around $120-160/month For four depending on travel (we don’t stream and itilize wifi where free)
The free data sims allow u to enable 9 extra devicea like phones, tablets for use. I have an extra 5x and line I give to out of country visitors and activate/pause as I please. My retiree parents traveling around the globe can arrive ready to get on the internet rather than spend valuble time shopping for a local sim
What is the speed overseas? I have the T-Mobile 55-Plus plan, but the speed in every foreign country I’ve visited seems slower than dial-up (2K). When I contacted T-Mobile, I was told that I could upgrade the speed — at nearly twice my current rate. You also state: “In *theory*, the Project Fi service should only work on approved Android devices. With that said, there are many data points that it can work with other phones.” It’s a SIM card. I’ve never heard of one that only works with Android phones or one that only works with iPhones. Please explain. Also, does the service permit tethering in all countries?
What about it being available bin the UK ?
When my wife and I started traveling internationally on a more frequent basis, I switched us over to Google Fi from AT&T to save on our costs. It has worked really well for us. We’ve used it in Paris, Amsterdam, Mauritius (limited), Egypt, and Amman without any issues. I’m looking forward to saying the same for our experiences in Japan, Hong Kong, Spain, and Italy later this year.
We ended up just getting the Pixel 2 so we could have SIMless setup and the device is absolutely incredible. It takes fabulous photos and it is ridiculously fast. I would highly recommend it.
Thanks for the referral. Love it now supports iOS.
I tried to use Google Fi with my Samsung phone and could not make a call because it uses only the T-mobile network, which doesn’t work for me. The only way they can provide seamless use of three networks is with one of their phones still
You have to be careful of the “coverage” they claim. For example on a recent trip through Europe, the phone calls worked in Ukraine but nothing else. When I called into L2 Google support they said “oh, sorry, we only do voice coverage in Ukraine, not data.” Misleading advertising IMO.
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