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Google Fi Cell Phone Plans Review
One simple plan that will be revolutionary for some but may be too restrictive for others.
Much like when I visit the in-laws for the holidays, Google Fi desperately tries to be flexible. Also like me when I visit the in-laws, it largely succeeds up until a certain breaking point. For me, it’s usually when we start to talk politics—but for Google Fi, it happens right around 3 GB of data.
Google Fi plans include unlimited calling and texting, but the data charges can rack up quickly. If you’re a heavy data user, Google Fi can end up costing more than you’d pay for an unlimited plan with a different provider.
But if you can keep your data use in check, Google Fi offers a solid national network, great international coverage, and easy sign-up.
Google Fi data plans
- Flexible data
- International coverage
- Data throttling after 15 GB
What we like
Google Fi is all about flexibility, so your plan can be a month-to-month unlimited plan when you need it and a pay-per-gig plan when you don’t. To get the most out of the service, here’s three main components you’ll want to understand.
- You pay a flat rate of $20 per line for unlimited talk and text.
- You pay $10 per GB only for the data you use (calculated to the nearest 0.1 GB).
- You have “bill protection,” which means you’ll never pay more than $70 for data, no matter how much you use.
Let’s say you ended up using 2 GB of data in a month. This is what your bill would look like:
Single line unlimited talk and text
2 GB of data
Of course, you may not use the full 2 GB of data, in which case your total will be less. You only pay for what you use, which makes a lot of sense if you are a low-data user.
But if you do use the full amount, or more, that bill protection from earlier has your back.
By our estimation, the average smartphone owner uses between 2 GB and 5 GB of wireless data every month. Let’s put those numbers in context: an hour of streaming Netflix in HD will cost you about 3 GB. Do your best to stream strictly on Wi-Fi, and your data will last much longer.
Google Fi International coverage
Going on vacation in Mexico (que te diviertas!) or on a business trip in Denmark (held og lykke)? With Google Fi, you’ll automatically be covered in those countries and about 200 others.
There’s a bit of a catch, though. You’ll still get unlimited texts in Google Fi’s international coverage areas, but there is an extra 20¢ per minute charge for voice calls. The data rates stay exactly the same.
That’s still a pretty good deal as long as you don’t narrate every step of your vacation to Mom back home.
Overall, Google Fi is a pretty convenient deal for casual travelers. But die-hard globetrotters may find better international rates from other carriers.
What we don’t like
Data throttling after 15 GB of used data
If you’re anything like us, you sometimes find yourself in a coffee shop that has spotty Wi-Fi, and that is not okay. You’ll feel tempted to create your own wireless hotspot, but before you go streaming the new season of The Mandalorian, know that Google Fi will start throttling your connection after you’ve used 15 GB.
Once you’ve used a certain amount of data, your speeds could slow down dramatically. In the case of Google Fi, once you pass 15 GB of data in a month, your data speed will become glacial.
Each Google Fi phone plan has a different limit before speeds start slowing down. The Flexible plan throttles data after 15GB while the Simply Unlimited plan slows after 35 GB and the Unlimited Plus plan slows after 50GB.
If 15 GB isn’t a high enough data cap for you, you’ll want to check out other carriers. For example, Verizon lets you have up to 50 GB of unthrottled data, and T-Mobile gives you 100GB—yes, 100!—of unthrottled data.
Comparing Google Fi’s data plans
Things start to look bleak for Google Fi when you compare its unlimited data option with other providers. Just take a look for yourself:
Long story short, we strongly recommend not going with an unlimited plan with Google Fi, considering you can find cheaper alternatives that are just as good or even better.
Okay, but what about non-unlimited data plans? Let’s say you wanted a cell phone plan with 2 GB of data a month. Let’s see how Google Fi compares to the competition:
All of a sudden, Google Fi looks a lot better when you trim down the data. Remember, you only pay for what you use with Google Fi data, so do your best to reduce data usage by using as much Wi-Fi as possible and you’ll end up with a much better deal.
Google Fi family plans
- Easy to add extra lines
- High data costs
What we like
I have a confession to make: I’m still on my family plan from a decade ago. (Dad, I’ll Venmo you money for the bill soon, I promise.) And I’m certainly not the only one who finds it cheaper and easier to be on a family plan.
Currently, you’d pay $70 a month for a 2 GB family plan on Google Fi. Since it costs $40 a month for an individual plan with 2 GB of data, you’d only be paying an extra $30 for two extra lines. Translation: family plans are always cheaper per line.
Easy to add extra lines
Fortunately, adding extra lines on Google Fi isn’t difficult. You’ll pay a flat $15 per month for each line you add. And each line gets the same goodies—unlimited talk and text, per-GB rate for data, and international coverage.
Bill protection will cap your bill after a certain point (depending on how many lines you add), but keep an eye on it, because everyone on your plan shares from the same data pool.
What we don't like
High data costs
Because everyone shares the same data pool, and Google Fi will just keep charging you the more data you use (up until the bill protection threshold), things could start adding up quickly.
We would not recommend using Google Fi with any data hogs. Seriously, your teenager (or anybody really) could rack up tons of data before you know it and push your monthly charge up to $110 a month for three lines. At that point, you’d be better off getting a wireless family plan with a different carrier. Speaking of which . . .
Google Fi family plan comparison
Google Fi leads the pack with affordable family plans. Friendly reminder that you share your data pool with everyone in your family plan. So, the price may be low, but it comes at the cost of having less data to go around.
Google Fi’s plan is a month-to-month plan, meaning you don’t have to sign a contract. But you won’t have the convenience of paying up front, like with a prepaid plan. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out these prepaid plans.
Google Fi cell phones and devices
When Project Fi first launched, it had one gaping problem: it worked only with the Nexus 6 phone. Thankfully, those days are over.
After Project Fi rebranded as Google Fi, the company opened up its service to almost all phones, including Android devices and iPhones (if you bring your own).
Sadly, Google Fi is behind the times with most of its compatible devices. Most of the latest Apple devices mentioned on Google Fi’s website are only available as a beta test.
Google Fi is most certainly playing favorites with its own devices and allows all the latest Google Pixel devices without any sort of “beta” baggage.
So if you're going to go Google Fi, we don't recommend going with an Apple device—look at Pixels instead.
How good is Google Fi’s coverage?
As mentioned earlier, Google Fi has a preference for certain phones (which just happen to be the ones Google makes). If you’re using those preferred phones, you can tap into several carrier networks and seamlessly transition between them.
But if you don’t have a “designed for Fi” phone, then you’re stuck on T-Mobile’s network. It’s not bad, but those in the midwestern and western states will definitely lose out.
If you want to see how Google Fi's coverage looks in your area, use their coverage map tool here.
Overall, Google Fi’s coverage is decent, but it’s not among the best coverage. Even with all three of its networks combined, Google Fi’s coverage can’t beat Verizon’s, which is first in our ranking of mobile coverage.
And for those who love fast data, phones with 5G capability can access Google Fi's 5G coverage and speed.
Google Fi’s customer service
It’s almost like the CEOs of all the major phone companies got together and made a bet that whoever could provide the worst customer service would get a trophy. Seriously.
Unfortunately, Google Fi doesn’t buck the trend when it comes to poor customer service. You can find a slew of complaints online, especially about payment issues, long waiting times, and inconsistent answers.
But Google Fi is a young company, so there’s still time for it to turn around and establish a positive reputation.
Recap: Is Google Fi good?
Google Fi’s plan is definitely unique, but is it revolutionary? The short answer: yes—for people who only want to pay for the data they use. But for others, Google Fi can easily end up being more expensive than it should be.
- Google Fi’s single plan gives you unlimited talk and text for a flat fee of $20 a month, plus $10 per GB of data you use in a month, which caps at $60 a month.
- Since Google Fi piggybacks on the T-Mobile network, your coverage should feel reliable in most areas.
- If you’re a low-data user or your data use fluctuates from month to month, then Google Fi’s plan may be just what you need. Others may find its “unlimited” option too expensive and its phone selection too restrictive.
Does Google Fi have overage charges or hidden fees?
No. Thanks to the company’s bill protection policy, there are no data overage charges. There are also no activation or cancellation fees.
Does Google Fi charge an activation fee?
Should I get a warranty or insurance for my Google Fi phone?
Do you have a habit of dropping your phone into puddles, toilet bowls, scenic lakes, raging rivers, and other bodies of water? Then you might want to get Google Fi’s device protection plan.
Does Google Fi let you bring your own phone?
It sure does. But as we mentioned, some devices (like iPhones) will have restricted service.
Can I keep my phone number?
Abso-freakin’-lutely. Google Fi lets you transfer your number as long as your current carrier approves it.
What’s Google Fi’s return policy?
All devices purchased from Google Fi are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
Does Google Fi have an early termination fee?
Short answer? No. Check out Google Fi’s FAQ page for more information.
Does Google Fi have a military discount?
No, Google Fi does not have a military discount.
Does Google Fi have a student discount?
Sorry, my scholastic friends, no student discounts with Google Fi.