Google already boasts a successful line of phones and more smart home products than you can fit into one house. Why not trust the tech giant with your mobile service too? Google Fi is a unique option among MVNOs, and it supports a jaw-dropping list of phones. If you want an alternative to the Big Three that emphasizes freedom, it just might be the way to go.
Google Fi’s plans fall into two basic categories, so we’ll cover them both in our breakdown. We’ll also touch on the long list of devices you can bring to the network to get you connected. Although Google Fi is an MVNO already, we’ll touch on a few of its top competitors to give you a bigger picture. Ready to try the carrier made by Google? Let’s get to it.
Google Fi at a glance
Google launched its MVNO, then known as Project Fi, in April 2015 by invitation only alongside the Nexus 6. Project Fi expanded to the rest of the public in 2016, though it’s tricky to track down an accurate number of subscribers. Project Fi rebranded to Google Fi in 2018 and has grown to support more devices, including iPhones, in the years since.
The carrier does not have its own Better Business Bureau page — instead, it falls under the Google umbrella. As a whole, Google carries an A-minus rating and a one-star customer average. It’s closed 4,239 complaints in the last three years and is not a BBB-accredited organization.
We’ve mentioned that Google Fi is unique among MVNOs, but here’s why — it combines T-Mobile’s and US Cellular’s networks for coverage. Sprint is in there too, but its network is fully controlled by T-Mobile now. The combination of networks means that Fi switches automatically to provide the best service wherever you go.
Thanks to its relationship with T-Mobile, Google Fi devices can tap into nationwide 5G. Of course, you’ll have to make sure that your phone is 5G-capable, but there are no extra hoops to jump through.
You can check out the coverage map for yourself right here.
The best Google Fi plans
There are just two simple Google Fi plans — one with unlimited data and another where you pay as you go. Each has its own perks, but it’s up to you to decide which fits your needs. Both plans work for up to six lines, so it’s a great option for larger families. Check out the table below for more specifics:
|Cost||$20 for one line|
$18 for two lines
$17 for three lines
$17 for four lines
|$70 for one line|
$60 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$45 for four lines
|Talk & Text||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Data||$10 per GB used||Unlimited up to 22GB|
|Hotspot||Full-speed at $10 per GB rate||Full-speed included|
|International||Calls starting at $0.01 per minute|
Data at $10 per GB rate
|Free calls to over 50 countries|
|Extras||Data free after per-month limit||Google One membership|
The best way to save some money with Google Fi is to opt for the Flexible plan. You’ll pay a monthly rate for service — no more than $20 per month — and then pay per gig of data you use. Data access becomes totally free after you reach a certain threshold each month which is just 6GB for a single line. After that, you can still use high-speed data up to 12GB without further fees. It basically works as a cap for your bill, so you never pay more than a certain price. What you do with that data is up to you; full-speed hotspot access is included.
If you plan to go abroad following the current COVID-19 pandemic, Fi is the plan to beat. You get free texts, international calls from just one cent per minute, and data at the standard rate.
- Low price for monthly service
- Pay $10 per GB used
- Go abroad with cheap text, data, and free texting
- Users who need talk and text but have flexible data usage
If you’ve got it, flaunt it — at least that’s the idea behind the Google Fi Unlimited plan. Built for users who know they need a lot of data, the all-in price grants you up to 22GB of high-speed data per month. Starting at $70 per person, you can take full advantage of a mobile hotspot connection and video streams at DVD quality (480p). The Unlimited plan includes a Google One membership with 100GB of cloud storage for free to make things even better.
Google Fi Unlimited is the better international option, too, as data usage is free along with texting. You’ll still pay for calling, but more than 50 countries are included in your monthly rate.
- Use as much data as you want, up to 22GB
- Google One membership included
- Go abroad with free texts and data as well as low calling rates
- Users who want it all and plan to spend ample time abroad
Which plan is right for you?
It’s pretty easy to determine which plan is right for you — ask yourself how much data you plan to use. If it’s more than around four or five gigs per line, opt for the Unlimited plan’s freedom. However, if you spend almost all day on Wi-Fi and you only use a little bit of mobile data per month, grab the Flexible plan.
You can also use international access as your deciding factor. Google Fi is only available to US-based users, but if you plan to spend a lot of time abroad, you may want to pick the Unlimited plan. If you only travel here and there, the Flexible plan should offer enough access.
Google Fi vs the competition
The best way to choose your next carrier is to stack all of your options in a head-to-head showdown. Of course, it’s only fair to compare Google Fi to some of the other top MVNOs on the market. We’ve grabbed our favorite options from the Big Three — one each on Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. You can learn more about our top picks over on the Best prepaid and no-contract plans in the US.
|Cricket More||Visible||Mint Mobile||Google Fi|
|Cost||$60 for one line|
$90 for two lines
$110 for three lines
$130 for four lines
|$40 per month||$45 per month||$70 for one line|
$60 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$45 for four lines
|Talk and Text||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Data||Unlimited 4G LTE||Unlimited 4G LTE||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Extras||Standard Definition streaming|
15GB Mobile hotspot
|Mobile Hotspot||None||Full-speed hotspot|
Google One membership
|International||Mexico and Canada usage up to 50%|
Texting to 37 countries
|None||International calls to Mexico and Canada|
|Free calls to over 50 countries|
Free texts and data abroad
Up first is Mint Mobile, the only option on today’s list not owned by a larger carrier. Instead, it’s owned by Deadpool himself — Ryan Reynolds. Mint now offers a new unlimited plan, or you can get 15GB of 4G LTE or 5G access from just $35 per month, and your phone will automatically jump to whichever service is stronger. International calling to Mexico and Canada is baked in, and you can use as much of your cap for hotspot as you wish.
See also: The best Mint Mobile plans
Instead of snagging an extra fee for your SIM card, Mint will send you a universal option that you can punch into any of three sizes. The lack of bonus perks and streaming options is a bummer, but Mint makes a great affordable option on the T-Mobile network.
- Up to unlimited 4G LTE or 5G data per month
- Calling included to Mexico and Canada
Visible is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Verizon, which means you get a great nationwide network without the costs often associated with Big Red. It keeps your plan options even easier than Google Fi does because there’s only one. You’ll get unlimited talk, text, and data for $40 per month, which you can drop to $25 per month thanks to Party Pay.
See also: The best Visible deals
Party Pay involves teaming up with as many as three other friends on the Visible network. You’ll save $5 for each user you add, but all of you will pay separately. That means one late payer won’t drag down the others. Every time you refer a friend to the network, Visible will reward you with a month of service for just $5. Also, Visible will let you tap into hotspot access, and it’s finally added genuine international coverage for both Canada and Mexico.
- Unlimited talk, text, and data
- Pay as little as $25 per month with Party Pay
The last competitor, Cricket Wireless, relies on AT&T as an owned MVNO. Although it’s part of the AT&T umbrella, Cricket acts like its own network, offering a variety of plans and add-ons to make the most of your service. The best — and most expensive — plan you can get goes by the name Cricket More, and it serves as the high-end unlimited option. For your money, you’ll get unlimited talk, text, and data, and 15GB of hotspot included.
See also: Here are the best Cricket Wireless plans
Sticking to the More idea, you can use your plan in Canada and Mexico, but only if it’s less than half of your service. Cricket also allows you to add on even more hotspot access or add calling to individual international countries for a fee.
- Usage in Canada and Mexico up to 50%
- 15GB mobile hotspot included; add more for a fee
What phones can you use on Google Fi?
Google Fi recently stepped things up in terms of its available phones. You can now get most new Samsung Galaxy phones on the network, including the S21 family and the Note 20 line. Of course, the Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5 are available too since it’s Google’s carrier after all. Better yet, your options are almost limitless if you’re planning to bring your own phone. Google Fi offers support for so many options that we’ve had to put them in their own list, which you can read here. Keep in mind many of these phones won’t support switching to US Cellular, but this probably isn’t a big deal unless you happen to live in a major US Cellular region.
The list is fairly all-inclusive, and it’s important to realize that just about any phone from T-Mobile or US Cellular should work without issue on Google Fi. As always, band support is an essential part of bringing your own device. Check out the bands that Google Fi relies on using the table below: