Will Google Fi Save You Money on Your Cellphone Bill?
Tired of getting hit with data overage charges, or paying a step price for an unlimited plan? Google's Project Fi promises to solve your cellphone woes, but is it the right solution for you? Here's the information you need to decide.
What Is Project Fi?
Project Fi is a cellphone plan offered by Google. Since Google doesn't have it's own cellphone network, they've partnered with Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular.
Your phone will automatically connect to the network with the best signal for your location, so you get reliable service. No other plan allows you to tap into the network of three out of the four leading cellphone carriers.
But Project Fi's big claim to fame is its promise of cheap data. If you make the switch, you'll pay $20 a month for unlimited domestic calls and texts and $10/GB for the first 6 GB of data that you use. Everything after that is free! This means you'll never pay more than $60 a month for data. If you want to add additional family members or friends to your plan, they'll pay $15 a month for unlimited domestic calls and texts, and the same $10/GB data rate. It should be noted, however, that the data cap is higher on group plans. For example, you'll need to pay for the first 10GB of data on a two-person plan, before the free data kicks in. But really, if you take a look at this table, you'll see that the data actually becomes cheaper as you add more people to your plan.
Number of People
Max You'll Pay for Data
Data You Have to Pay for Before It Becomes Free
Now that you know what Project Fi is, and how much it costs, let's look at some of the pros and cons of this cellphone plan.
Pros of Project Fi
- You'll only pay for the data you use. So, if you use 1.4 GB of data, they'll charge you $14—not $20 for 2GB.
- There are no annual contracts and no termination fees, so if you decide the service isn't for you, you can leave at any time.
- You can transfer your existing phone number to Project Fi.
- It allows you to use your phone as a wi-fi hot spot (and there are no extra charges for doing so). Just pay for the data you use.
- The same data rates apply when you're travelling internationally. Pay $10/GB in over 170 countries.
- Unlimited international texting is available in more than 170 countries.
Cons of Project Fi
- It only works with phones that support the Google Fi SIM card. That's currently limited to Pixel, Moto X4, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P or Nexus 5X. If you already own one of these phones, they'll send you a free SIM card for it. Otherwise, you'll need to buy a compatible phone to use Project Fi. Two-year financing is available, and phones come unlocked, so you can always switch them to another network, if you decide Fi isn't for you. Best Places to Sell Your Old Cellphone.
- While it's a 4G LTE network, 4G service may not available in your area. Check coverage here.
- It doesn't include the Verizon network, which is currently rated as the most reliable.
- Since Google doesn't own the network, service is likely to be delivered at throttled speeds. So, while you may be using Sprint, T-Mobile or U.S. Cellular's towers, your data probably isn't going to load and stream as fast as it does for their customers.
- Once you exceed 15GB of data, your data will be delivered at a slower speed. If you don't want this to happen, you can pay $10/GB to keep things moving at high speed.
Project Fi May Be a Good Deal For You If...
- You travel internationally frequently, and will be able to take advantage of the unlimited texting and affordable data rates.
- You use very little data, or your data usage varies widely from month to month. This plan will ensure that you never pay overage charges or get stuck paying for more than you need.
Project Fi May Not Be a Good Deal For You If...
- You live in a rural area. Since this plan doesn't include the top network, you may not be able to get service in your area, or the service may be spotty.
- You use more than 2GB of data each month. The top carriers offer unlimited data plans starting at around $40 a month, so you'll probably find it's cheaper to go with one of them. This is especially true, if you have landline or cable/satellite service that you can bundle to get a better deal.