My new cheap cell phone plan by Google Fi

By | December 14, 2015

This is another post in my series – “List of Items I Don’t Spend Money on That You Probably Do That Are Draining Your Net Worth!” I really need to find a better name for this series. Today’s post looks at cell phone plans. You may want to consider switching to Google’s new Project Fi.

I also yell at those damn kids on my lawn.

I also yell at those damn kids on my lawn.

Let me say first that I’m certainly not a techie by any definition of that word. Some people hop on the technology bandwagon; I limp after it, shaking my fist in the air and complaining about my bad knee. Some people wait in line for hours to upgrade their Apple 12.06 to Apple 12.07; I used my gifted Palm phone long after the company went out of business. Some people revel in knowing about the latest and coolest apps; my Blackberry struggled with the very concept of apps.

All of which to say that my personal cell phone needs are fairly simple and so I recognize that this phone and plan might not be for everyone. But I am seriously madly truly deeply in love with Google’s Project Fi. It’s a relatively new deal from my favorite company with some seriously reasonable prices. I paid $317.69 for a Nexus 5X phone, but that’s where the extravagance ends. I’ve never understood why people pay such ridiculous sums for their cell phone plans. For $20/month I get:

$20/month base:

  • Unlimited phone calls in the United States
  • Unlimited text messages in the United States and internationally*
  • Unlimited data usage over wi-fi domestically and internationally*


  • Data usage over 4G LTE cellular network (Sprint or T-Mobile, whichever is stronger) domestically in the United States for $10 per gigabyte and you only pay for what you use
  • Data usage over local cellular network internationally* for $10 per gigabyte and you only pay for what you use
  • Phone calls to the United States over cellular networks internationally* for $0.20 per minute

I use my phone primarily for calling, texting, taking pictures and the occasional map when I’m lost. I’m not a data fiend and prefer people-watching to playing on my phone when I’m out in the world. I’m almost always close to wi-fi. I also do a ton of international traveling and wanted a plan that let me wander the planet. Project Fi perfectly suits my penchant for thrift and fits my phone needs like a glove.

But let me reiterate that I am a technology idiot. This deal will not be for everybody. Here are some reasons you might want to pass on this great new service.

List of reasons to ignore this post and stick with your current phone and plan

  1. You thirst for data and regularly use many gigabytes whilst out and about.
  2. You are not near wi-fi very often.
  3. You are an Apple loyalist and you envision some unscrupulous undertakers prying your iPhone from your cold, dead hands.
  4. You need a plan that gives you a discount for multiple devices – a family plan or the like.
  5. You live in an area where T-Mobile and Sprint coverage stinks.
  6. You don’t want to give Google more power over your life than what it currently has.
  7. You’re a customer of Republic Wireless and are happy with your $10/month plan and don’t travel abroad very often.

If you’re still on the fence, here’s my list of reasons I would marry Google if it ever asked:

Why Google Fi Rocks My World

  1. I purchased my phone on November 17, 2015 for $402.69. A couple of weeks later, I noticed that Google was having a Black Friday sale on the phone! I cursed my timing, but continued on with my life. I then checked my credit card statement as I’m wont to do and noticed an $85 credit  – Google retroactively and unilaterally gave me the sale price that I never asked for!
  2. Great, fast, friendly, 24/7 customer service!
  3. The Nexus 5X has swipe technology. I cannot even believe how fast I can text and type on this baby!
  4. The phone tells me how much time left until it charges to 100% and it charges so much faster than my old Blackberry.
  5. The back of the phone has a nifty fingerprint reader that unlocks the device swiftly and is intuitively placed.

    Fun with Legos

    Fun with Legos

  6. If I unlock the phone and then say “OK Google”, it will listen to my commands. It’s like having a friend living inside my phone. I’ve named this friend Hester.
  7. Hester transcribes my voicemails so I can read them instead of listening to them.
  8. Google sent me an unexpected holiday present – a box of Legos and instructions on how to build my own phone stand.
  9. Google gave me a $25 credit for the inconvenience of replacing my sim card. I never noticed any problems and it took approximately four seconds.
  10. There’s no contract, so if another startup comes along that offers an even better deal, I can switch with no fuss. Except maybe a little guilt for abandoning Hester. I know she just wants me to be happy though.

I’m doing quite a bit of traveling in the new year and will update you all with how well the service works abroad.

*internationally means 120+ supported countries.

16 thoughts on “My new cheap cell phone plan by Google Fi

  1. Kelli

    Good to know! I’ve got my techy kid researching Google Project Fi now. It sounds great for our family, too, if only the coverage is decent. Coverage is sometimes spotty in WV, and I sleep better knowing that the family can call in case of car trouble or other problems. Thanks for the info!

  2. Daniel

    Kelli, I think the general feeling about Project Fi when it comes to having a family use it is that there are better services to be used. Something like Cricket Wireless (AT&T’s prepaid network) has a way to have a primary line, and have additional lines cost less. I’ve a friend who’s found success with his family on T-Mobile’s network.

    For now, it’d seem like Project Fi is more suitable for a single user. (I’d like to throw in that Thriftygal’s post was the last write-up I needed to read to finally decide to go all in with Project Fi. I was on what would now be considered cheap unlimited everything plan that I held onto for dear life, but I figured new year, new me, time to try something potential uncomfortable, and new. I love technology, and I love being on my phone to read and check out new things, but I’m going to shift my usage, and make this work!)

  3. Inaya

    Hi Thriftygal! I found you via MMM, and I love what I see so far. This post in particular caught my attention because I’m currently paying Sprint $170/mo for a 2-line family plan with shoddy service. I see it’s been several months since you started with Project Fi, so I was wondering if you could give us an update on how you’ve liked the service. Do calls get dropped? Do you receive all calls? Do incoming texts appear hours after they were sent? Is the 4G consistently pretty speedy? (Bet you can’t guess what my Sprint issues are.)

    Looking forward to reading more into your blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I have a longer post in the works, but in a nutshell, I love it. I’ve used my phone as I normally would and I’ve had no problems whatsoever. While traveling around S. America, it’s been wonderful having Internet and texting and it’s so cheap! I don’t make calls through it when I’m abroad as the $0.20/minute quickly adds up, but everything else is great.

  4. GingerThrift

    Stumbled upon your blog through MMM. Love it so far. 🙂
    My husband just got project fi! It is incredible and saving us a ton of money (compared to his old Verizon plan) in addition to being super rad. We’re traveling around SE Asia and it’s so nice getting off the train or bus and having access to internet/phone immediately. I don’t have project fi and am using my $200 unlocked smart phone to purchase sim cards in each country.
    For consistency and convenience, project fi is rad. However, I was able to get a sim card and 3 GBs of data plus calling for under $15 a month while in Thailand. Definitely a cheaper route and something to consider for those who are looking to get the plan for traveling purposes.

  5. David Robarts

    You can also get a base of $20/mo with $10/GB for data on AT&T’s network with the EasyGo plan from H2O Wireless. (Base plan even includes your first 100MB/mo). Depending on your location AT&T’s network may be better (Google Fi has advantages for international travelers) and you aren’t limited in phone selection to a flagship smartphone from a specific manufacturer – any unlocked phone that works on AT&T’s frequencies can be used.

  6. Susan

    HI, I was interested in your information about Google FI. Sounds great. However … I live in the great frozen North (e.g. frozen out of many tech options) … Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Google Fi doesn’t appear to recognize Canadian postal codes. Sigh. 🙁

  7. Vince

    #7 for ignoring this post is why I am “ignoring” this post. We learned about Republic Wireless through MMM blog and except for a bit of growing pains getting used to a “smart” phone (previous phone was a Nokia flip phone), the Republic plan has been a great money saver. I don’t need the internet when I am away from wifi as I am most likely driving that other money waster and it is not safe to surf and drive at the same time.

  8. Berkeley656

    Great post! I pay about $75 for my comcast phone and internet. How about you? Any insights appreciated! Thanks!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      @Berkeley – Internet is the bane of my existence. I don’t know of a good, cheap way to get good Internet. It’s a necessity! I’m traveling, so I don’t have to worry about it now, but it is a problem.

  9. David Rio

    Hello all and congrats on your blog Thriftygal. Keep up the good work.

    I switched to GFi a couple of months ago. I’d like to share my experiences so far.

    Before the switch, I had ATT for 10 years. I had discount thanks to my employer
    (yes those exists) so I paid around 72/75$ for unlimited data and unlimited voice (I’d say that’s a decent price for ATT). I believe I had 1k sms. My device of choice was an iPhone.

    The first thing that caught my attention when looking for a change was the monthly payments. Moving
    from 75$ to 20$ is a big deal. The quality of the voice calls are great and the Internet speed is very good overall, even in other countries (I travel to Spain often).

    One thing that I also love is being able to tether (sharing your phone’s Internet with your laptop).
    On ATT you would have to pay extra (20$ I believe) for that.

    One thing I don’t like about the switch is the battery life on the new phone (nexus 5x). That thing sucks power like crazy. On my previous iPhone I could go for days without charging. With this phone I have to recharge every day and I have be careful what I do during the day. That is my only complain. Android has improved a lot and I don’t miss iOS that much. Thriftygal, do you have the same problem?

    Stay present!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I’ve not had a problem with my battery life, but I don’t use my phone all that much. I like to stay present. 🙂

  10. Anita

    Thanks for the great post. I plan on trying Google Fi when my current iPhone dies or the contract is up. I’m curious what kind of laptop you have? I currently have a 9 year old Macbook which is on its last legs and not sure whether I should go back to windows just so I can spend a few hundred dollars less than I would for a macbook.

    1. Thom

      Check out the new Win10 tablets. Lots of good options for 1/2 to a 1/3 of the price for a MacBoook plus touchscreens are now standard on almost all Win10 devices. Things have changed a lot from the Windows XP days.

      1. Thriftygal Post author

        I’ve heard good things about tablets. When my precious laptop dies, I’ll look into that. Thanks for the tip.


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