The Google Fi packaging.

Google already has a successful line of phones and more smart home products than you can ask for. Why not trust the mobile giant with your mobile service too? Google Fi is unique among MVNOs and 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 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 help get you started. 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, by invitation only with the Nexus 6 in April 2015. Google 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, but the network has fully rolled into 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:

 FlexibleUnlimited
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 & TextUnlimitedUnlimited
Data$10 per GB usedUnlimited up to 22GB
HotspotFull-speed at $10 per GB rateFull-speed included
InternationalCalls starting at $0.01 per minute
Free texts
Data at $10 per GB rate
Free calls to over 50 countries
Free texts
Free data
ExtrasData free after per-month limitGoogle One membership

Flexible

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 restrictions, Fi is the plan to beat. You get free texts, international calls from just one cent per minute, and data at the standard rate.

Highlights:

  • Low price for monthly service
  • Pay $10 per GB used
  • Go abroad with cheap text, data, and free texting

Best for:

  • Users who need talk and text but have flexible data usage

Unlimited

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 mobile hotspot connection and video streams at DVD quality (480p). To make things even better, the Unlimited plan includes a Google One membership with 100GB of cloud storage for free.

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.

Highlights:

  • 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

Best for:

  • Users who want it all and plan to spend ample time abroad

Which plan is right for you?

google fi welcome

It’s pretty easy to determine which plan is right for you — just ask yourself how much data you plan to use. If it’s more than around four or five gigs per line, opt for the freedom of the Unlimited plan. 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

A Samsung Galaxy S9 on some grass with the Visible logo on the display.

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 MoreVisibleMint MobileGoogle 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
Host OperatorAT&TVerizonT-MobileT-Mobile
Sprint
US Cellular
Talk and TextUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
DataUnlimited 4G LTEUnlimited 4G LTEUnlimitedUnlimited
ExtrasStandard Definition streaming
15GB Mobile hotspot
Mobile HotspotNoneFull-speed hotspot
Google One membership
InternationalMexico and Canada usage up to 50%
Texting to 37 countries
NoneInternational calls to Mexico and Canada
International texting
Free calls to over 50 countries
Free texts and data abroad

Mint Mobile

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 12GB of 4G LTE or 5G access for just $45 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 to any of three sizes. The lack of bonus perks and streaming options is a bummer, but Mint makes for a great affordable option on the T-Mobile network.

Highlights:

  • Up to unlimited 4G LTE or 5G data per month
  • Calling included to Mexico and Canada

Visible

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 other three. Also, Visible will let you tap into hotspot access, but steer clear if you want international options.

Highlights:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Pay as little as $25 per month with Party Pay

Cricket Wireless

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.

Highlights:

  • 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?

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra back at angle

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

Google Fi has recently stepped things up in terms of its available phones. You can now get most new Samsung Galaxy phones on the network, including the S20 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. 

See also: Best Android phones | Best cheap Android phones

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:

FrequencyBandNetwork Supported
1900MHz1
2
25
3G
4G LTE
1700/2100MHz44G LTE
700MHz124G LTE
850MHz264G LTE
2500MHz414G LTE
800MHz104G LTE