Google Fi is by far the best cell phone plan for digital nomads, perpetual travelers and global citizens. In this article we will tell you what makes it great, and how to get it.
✅ Global: supports more than 200+ countries
✅ Cheap: get 22GB data for 70$
✅ Universal: supports iOS & Android
Google Fi Basics
In the past, international travelers had two choices. Either pay sky-high roaming fees on their national phone plans or go through the process of buying local sim cards at every new destination.
Google Fi supports more than 200+ countries. Here is a list of all countries currently supported: https://fi.google.com/about/international-rates/
It’s a great feeling to touch down at a new location, bring your phone out of airplane mode, and have instant reception in whatever country you just arrived.
Below we will show you the obvious as well as the less obvious reasons, why you could benefit from switching over.
Easy to Understand Cost Structure
Google Fi has a simple and straightforward cost structure. Especially compared to other international phone plans it wins in terms of usability and total costs.
You pay a monthly fee of 20$ for the Fi basics, which include a US phone number and cellular coverage in all supported countries.
If you are not using it, you can pause your contract for up to three months at a time and pay nothing.
Costs of phone calls and text messages
Receiving and sending text messages is free, worldwide.
How much a phone call costs depends on whether or not you are in the US, and if that phone call uses wifi/data or the cellular network.
Inside the US all incoming phone calls are free. You can also call any number in the US, Canada and Mexico for free.
Outside of the US we have to separate between calls that use the local cellular network or that use wifi/data. Incoming and outgoing calls using the cellular network costs 20c/min, in all supported countries. Not super expensive, but not very cheap either.
Incoming calls using wifi or cellular data are free.
Outgoing calls using wifi or data over 3G/LTE vary in their cost. For example to call a cell phone in Germany costs only 1c/min. You can see the complete list here.
Cost for mobile data & bill protection
This is where Google Fi really shines.
You pay 10$ per GB of data. That cost stays the same in all 200+ supported countries. No more expensive roaming fees or local sim cards, any time you change the country.
Early 2018 Google introduced “bill protection”. This drastically lowered the cost for heavy data users.
The first 6 GB are priced at the regular 10$/GB. After that the bill is capped, and you can use additional 9 GB of data without any extra cost. After a total usage of 15GB you can still use data, only at a lower speed.
If you need higher speeds, you can activate it again at the regular price of 10$/GB.
In case there are multiple lines activated on the Fi plan, the overall cost per user drops even further.
Example 1: 2 GB of Data Usage
Fi Basics: 20$
2 GB Data: 20$
Total = 40$ + tax
Example 2: 15 GB of Data Usage
Fi Basics: 20$
First 6GB Data: 60$
GB 6-15: free
Total = 80$ + tax
Multiple Lines and SIM cards
You can add multiple numbers to your Fi plan. You could get your wife, girlfriend, children, employees their number.
All given prices are without taxes. How much additional tax will be added depends on the state the address you used to sign-up is based in. In Miami the tax sum up to around 5$ on an 80$ bill.
Google Fi Unlimited Plan
In September 2019 Google introduced a new option: Google Fi Unlimited.
This plans works more like a traditional Unlimited Plan.
For 70 USD, paid in advance, you now receive 22 GB of highspeed data volume. They also added free calls into 50+ countries and territories if you’re calling from inside the US.
For serious data users, Fi just became even better.
Reasons to switch to Fi
Fi offers several features that are hard to beat and almost impossible to find anywhere else. There is currently no comparable phone plan for international travelers. If you’re just looking for cheap data, there are countries where you can save a lot of money per GB by buying local sim cards.
But nothing beats the convenience of arriving in a new country and being able to use your phone right after landing. You also won’t have to think about topping up.
Better coverage through multicarrier access
Depending on the country you will often be able to choose between several cellular networks. You no longer have to choose a specific local provider and then hope for good reception at the places you are staying. Fi will generally give you access to several or all of the local cellular networks.
Calls and text messages without cellular connection or your phone
This is another huge hack for Global Citizens. With Google Fi, don’t have to be logged into the cellular network to make and receive calls, or to receive and send text messages, with your official number.
This is especially relevant today, where 2-factor-authentification via text messages has become a defacto standard in online security. If you can’t receive text messages, you often won’t be able to log into online banking, cryptocurrency exchanges, and many other services. If you lose your phone or don’t have cellular coverage (for example on flights), you are locked out of those accounts.
Through the Google Hangouts app you have access to your number, and all of the features, that is completely separated from cellular coverage. You can make calls
This is another huge beneficial feature for Global Citizens. What happens if you lose your phone or it gets stolen when using a regular sim card? You are temporarily, possibly egen permanently, not able to receive any text messages or make phone calls using that number.
Not so with Fi. Using the Hangouts app you can log into your account on any phone or computer, and receive text messages or make phone calls using your Google Fi number, while you wait for the replacement sim card to reach you.
Customer support provided by Google
The average carriers are among the companies most dispised by consumers, because they tend to have absolutely horrible customer support, Who hasn’t spend hours with their carrier in the past trying to resolve some minor issues.
Now your customer support is being provided by Google. The few times I had to use it, service was absolutely amazing. Quick and very helpful.
The US number can trigger FACTA regulations
In one case the fact that Google Fi is based in the United States can be a downside. Banks and financial institutions can take this as a indicator that you may be a tax resident of the United States and trigger FACTA procedures. That can mean having to fill out US tax forms. Or in some cases it’s not even possible to use your Fi number to sign up for a certain service. These cases are exceptions however. Most of the time there are no issues.
How to Sign Up for Google Fi as a Non-Resident
Officially Google Fi is only marketed to US residents. But if you follow our step by step guide, you can get it even if you don’t ever go to the US.
This is what you will need.
⭐️US Google account
⭐️Supported shipping address
⭐️Supported US credit card
If you don’t have any of that right now, don’t worry, we will tell you exactly what to do.
Fi kicking out long-term traveler
Around November 2019 there have been a number of reports of people being warned that their Fi service will get terminated. The reason is that those users have been out of the USA for a considerable time (usually upwards of five months).
They are being warned, that if they do not return to the continental US soon, their data would get completely cut off. As the terms of service for Google Fi state, that it needs to be used predominately in the US.
I have seen those emails from close friends, so I know they are true and exist.
While Fi may stop being interesting for some of you, for other it may still be an excellent option.
Frequently Asked Question
Does Google Fi work on the Philippines?
Yes, Google Fi absolutely does work in the Philippines!