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How does Google Fi international roaming work, and is it worth it?
International roaming used to be something only offered by the big three postpaid carriers. Thankfully more prepaid carriers have embraced international calling in recent years. Chief among these options is Google Fi Wireless. In this guide, we explain how Google Fi international roaming works. We’ll also discuss the costs, if it’s worth it, and if there are any worthwhile alternatives.
Google Fi International rates
Google Fi is known for its exceptional international access. The exact benefits will vary depending on what plan you get. Fi Wireless Unlimited Plus has the best international perks out of all the plans. It includes unlimited talking, text, and data in the US, Mexico, Canada, and over 200 other countries.
You can see a full breakdown below:
|Simply Unlimited||Unlimited Plus||Flexible|
$50 a month
$65 a month
$20 a month for talk and text, $10 per gig
Calling and Texting outside the US, Canada, and Mexico
Free calls in 50 destinations
$.20 per minute for call for all other regions
$.20 per minute for call, free texts
Data in the US, Canada, and Mexico
Unlimited talk and text, $10 per GB for data
Data traveling outside of US/Canada/Mexico
Free in over 200 destinations
$10 per gig in over 200 destinations
While the basic Unlimited option doesn’t include any kind of roaming, it’s interesting to note that the Flexible plan does. You can get data at $10 per gig even when traveling, as long as you are in one of over 200 supported countries.
Is Fi Wireless International roaming a good deal?
Google Fi is absolutely the best-prepaid carrier for international data, hands-down. US Mobile is a close second with up to 10GB of international data on its highest plan level. The rest of the prepaid carriers either offer nothing or extremely limited international options. For example, Mint Mobile has an extremely expensive UpRoam program.
Does Google Fi offer better international data options than postpaid carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile? Honestly, yes, it does. Here’s a quick look at how AT&, Verizon, and T-Mobile international features stack up:
- All Verizon plans offer unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada. If you use more than 2GB of 4G/5G in a day, speeds will reduce to unlimited 3G. Verizon also includes unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada from within the US and unlimited texting from the US to over 200 other countries. If you want more? Verizon sells international data packages, but they can get very pricey. For example, a Monthly International Plan adds 250 minutes of talking and unlimited data and texts for $100 a month per line.
- T-Mobile offers its best perks with Go5G Plus. Go5G Plus has the most perks, including in-flight connections where available, $.25 a minute call rates in 215+ countries, unlimited text, and 15GB of high-speed data in 215+ countries with 256Kbps unlimited speeds after that. Even the most basic plan, Essentials, still includes some roaming benefits such as $.25/minute call rates and unlimited texting in 215+ countries, and unlimited talk, text, and 128Kbps data in Canada and Mexico.
- AT&T offers unlimited talk, text, and data in Canada, Mexico, and 19 Latin American countries on its Unlimited Premium plan. In addition, AT&T offers an international day pass for most of its plans. For $10 a day, you’ll get full access to your plan in over 210+ destinations. If you have unlimited talk, text, and data, that would mean you’d get all those features remotely too.
Overall all postpaid carriers offer international options, but Google Fi does it better. Fi Wireless doesn’t charge you extra beyond its initial costs for the Unlimited Plus plan. Those with the Flexible plan also have the same access to data at $10 per gig they’d get stateside. If you really do a lot of international traveling, Fi Wireless is truly hard to beat.
Should you use Google Fi international rates or go with a local SIM card?
Are Google Fi international rates better than local SIM card rates? The answer to this is going to vary depending on where you are visiting. In many cases, getting a local SIM will still be cheaper, unless we’re talking about places like Canada that are known for horribly expensive phone rates (just like the US.) Still, the convenience can’t be overstated enough.
During work trips in the past, I’ve loved getting off the plane and immediately being able to use my phone, regardless of whether I was in Spain, Germany, or even Taiwan. I didn’t have to research local SIM card providers ahead of time or rush around the airport to buy one from a vending machine. It’s also worth mentioning you can pause Google Fi service at any time. For frequent travelers, it might be worth keeping a paused Fi card around just for travel. In fact, some international users have attempted to use Fi locally for similar purposes, though it usually ends in a suspension of data eventually.
One challenge to the convenience of Google Fi Wireless international rates is the rise of e-SIM support among prepaid carriers. This means that you can easily switch carriers without getting a SIM card in countries that support the technology. Still, that requires some extra research and hoops that might not be worth it to you.