The Best Cell Phone Plan For International Travel

It’s no secret that connectivity is one of my top priorities when traveling. Being able to have unlimited location flexibility is pretty awesome, but that only works if I can jump on to a stable internet connection at short notice.

I’ve tried an assortment of options over the years, but recently switched my primary cell phone coverage to Google’s Project Fi, and oh my goodness — this is a game changer!

If you travel, at all, you should strongly consider Google Fi as an option.

Some background

My go-to system over the years has been to carry a portable MiFi device, along with a pre-paid SIM card. This can be a bit annoying to set up (as you have to research which provider offers the best data plan in the country you’re visiting, know where to buy or reload the card, etc.), but after six years of traveling this way I had a pretty good system and selection of SIM cards to choose from.

I tested T-Mobile’s international plan when it first debuted in 2014, and had mixed thoughts. The cell service in Chicago was lousy, and the data speeds internationally weren’t great. It was certainly better than nothing, but not a compelling enough alternative for me to switch from my tried-and-true pre-paid SIM option. I also had a generous grandfathered plan from Sprint that I’d had since I bought my first smartphone in 2007, and while Sprint is pretty horrible, the price was compelling.

And then I took a trip to Alaska in March to see the start of the Iditarod and the Northern Lights. Sprint promised coverage in Alaska (which seems reasonable, given I’ve had decent service in Hawaii and Puerto Rico), but there was nothing.

No cell service, and no data.

I would probably have written it off, but there were enough things we wanted to see that I didn’t want to be tethered to hotel wifi. So I called Sprint, and told them I was having trouble with my phone in Alaska, to which the friendly representative responded:

“Sure, let me transfer you to our international department.”

As someone who has made a career of talking to poorly trained phone agents, not much fazes me, but…

“Sorry, I’m in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. The 49th state? Which is in the US?”
“Mmmmmm, it says here that Alaska is international.”

And that’s when I decided to leave Sprint, because my life is complicated enough without having to deal with a phone company that’s stuck in 1958.

But I wasn’t sure which phone provider to switch to.

Enter Google Project Fi

A few days later I was having dinner with Zach from TPG, who suggested Google’s Project Fi as an option. I’m married to an engineer, so I’d had an invite to Google’s new service sitting in my inbox for a year, but hadn’t really looked into the program.

Turns out Google Fi is an awesome option for folks who travel internationally with any frequency.

It’s probably a solid option for everyone else as well, but the other domestic US carriers aren’t as horrible for people who don’t travel, so Fi is less of a no-brainer.

Pricing

For this Millennial, Project Fi’s pricing is so delightfully obvious as to make every other cell phone provider obnoxious.

There are four components that make up your Google Fi plan:

  • $20 for Fi Basics (domestic calls, domestic and international texts, with no limits)
  • $10 per GB of data used in the U.S.
  • $10 per GB of data used in 120 supported countries
  • $0.20 per minute for cell phone calls when traveling internationally

So you always pay $20/month for the basics, and then the amount you pay for data flexes based upon your needs.

There aren’t any complicated packages or need to track your minutes. Project Fi actively seeks out WiFi connections as well, so you won’t use as much data as you think — the average Fi user is using 1.6 GB of data each month.

Your international data comes out of a separate bucket (though it really doesn’t matter, because it’s all $10 per GB, it’s just tracked differently).

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So when I was in Mexico I used 0.624 GB at $10.00/GB:

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And the best thing — the very best thing — is that you only pay for what you use.

So if you use .5 GB of data one month you’ll pay your $20 basics and then $5 more. If you use 5 GB you’ll still pay your $20 basics, and then $50 for the data. You don’t have to decide in advance, and you’ll either be billed or refunded based on where you set your defaults.

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I love this! There have been so many months where I’ve been abroad for three or more weeks, using a foreign SIM card for all my mobile data needs, but have diligently paid $100+ to my US cell phone provider to maintain my service. With Google Fi, that isn’t an issue, and if there are days where I’m on WiFi the entire time, I’m not incurring data charges.

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If you have a fabulous bundled family plan and don’t travel internationally very frequently, you may still come out ahead with a traditional carrier. For singles, and even most couples, you can probably save a significant amount of money with Project Fi — especially if you travel.

In our house, we were spending ~$135 a month for our joint Sprint plan, plus the costs of whatever pre-paid SIM cards we were picking up on our international travels. With Google Fi, it’s been between $60 and $90 for both of us. We’ll save at least $800 this year with this switch.

Signing Up For Google Fi

This process was so simple, and infinitely less annoying than schlepping to a strip mall to watch teenagers wait on hold.

The sign up process was linked to my google account, and it took just a few moments to select options.

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Shipping was free, and quick. I had previously linked my Sprint number to my Google Voice account, so there were a few extra steps I had to do to get everything sorted out, but in general it only took about ten minutes to activate everything and port my number over.

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My one complaint with the initial process is that both Nexus phones arrived at our house with the batteries completely dead.

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It’s annoying to have to wait for the phone to charge to activate the new service, and this is definitely something that can be improved.

Otherwise everything was easy though, down to Project Fi including a branded paperclip to open the phone with ease.

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Hotspots & Tethering

I have been tethering my phone to my laptop for years (thanks, Sprint super-unlimited data plan!), and that’s something I really didn’t want to give up.

I make good use of the 30+ minutes between boarding and door closing, so didn’t want to lose that productive time, and there are just some things you still need a computer for versus a phone.

Google Fi supports using your phone as a hotspot without any additional subscriptions — just enable the service on your phone, set up your network, and voila! Any data used comes out of your standard data bucket. So easy!

You can’t use your phone as a hotspot internationally at this point, but most Android users probably know a few ways around that. 😉

Extra SIM cards

In addition to the SIM card needed to make your phone work on the Project Fi network, Google will send you up to 8 data-only SIMs, which can be used in a variety of devices. These are designed for tablets and things, and use your same bucket of data.

Extra SIMs are also a great option for international travel — you can either share them with other people in the group that have unlocked international phones, or put one in a MiFi that the group can then access.

If you’re traveling internationally, any data used will come out of your international data bucket.

But how is the international coverage?

So far, great. Really, really great.

International data speeds are the main reason I chose Project Fi over T-Mobile. T-Mobile only promises 2G, and advertises “standard speeds as approximately 128 Kbps.” That’s better than a poke in the eye, but isn’t exactly speedy.

Project Fi allows speeds up to 256kbps, which is still not going to be amazing for heavy uploads and downloads, but is totally fine for what most of us use our phones for. And it’s twice as fast as what T-Mobile offers.

Changing countries is simple as well — walking across the border from San Diego to Tijuana (trip report on that coming soon), my phone switched automatically, which was impressive. Otherwise, Project Fi has always found the right network when I’ve turned off airplane mode in a new country.

I’ve made a few phone calls overseas as well, which has been easy. This isn’t a big perk for me, honestly, as I have a pretty solid system with Skype and Hangouts, but it’s nice to have the option.

Can I use any phone?

Technically, and if you want to maximize your coverage in the U.S., you have to use one of the Nexus phones.

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They have the dual-band technology that you need to switch between T-Mobile and Sprint. Coming from a lifetime of HTC phones, the base-model Nexus feels like it might be manufactured by PlaySkool. The other Nexus phone is gigantic, so neither are really ideal. The phones themselves are probably the biggest drawback to Project Fi right now.

In practice… as long as your phone is unlocked you should be able to access the T-Mobile network domestically, and the international coverage uses the T-Mobile band anyways. I know people who are using iPhones or other Android products with no issue, but YMMV with the phone itself working.

You can (officially) use the data-only SIM cards in a variety of products, so data shouldn’t be a problem regardless. You do have to keep a Nexus phone activated and linked to the account though.

How do I maximize points with Project Fi?

Hopefully everyone is charging their cell phone bill to an Ink card for 5x points, and the 8000+ Ultimate Rewards points I was earning off my cell phone bill each year certainly took some of the sting out of my Sprint plan.

Google Fi doesn’t seem to code as a cellular provider, sadly.

  • American Express lists it as “Business Services – Internet Services” (I was hoping for advertising, so I could earn 3x points on my BRG)
  • Visa codes it as “Business / Professional Services,” so I don’t think there are many opportunities for bonus points here

Bottom line

Google Fi is a game-changer. I love the service, the pricing model, and the general flexibility. The international coverage has been great, and I can’t imagine going back to a traditional phone plan. Yay for market disruption!

If you have a generous family plan with another carrier, or don’t travel much, this might not be as lucrative for you, but it’s certainly worth doing the math.

Has anyone else tried Project Fi? What was your experience?

For a limited time, you can get a $20 statement credit when you join Project Fi.

Comments

  1. Thanks, Tiffany. This always interested me.

    But, are you personally paying for two phones, one domestic and one international?

    I’d like to keep my Verizon service in the U.S. (and I don’t want to loose my unlimited data) so I’d hate to have to pay for Verizon every month plus $20 for Google Fi even if I’m not traveling abroad. Is there any way around paying the $20/month when not traveling?

  2. @ Daniel — Nope, we switched everything over to Google Fi, including our domestic service. That meant giving up the unlimited plan we’d had with Sprint, but when we looked at how much data we were actually using we were definitely overpaying.

    I think that many of those with grandfathered plans are probably in the same boat. Our Sprint plan was purchased in 2007, and was thus a *steal* in 2011, but wasn’t really competitive now anyway.

  3. Mentioned this before but Google Voice phone number, Hangouts VoIP dialer, and local SIM have worked amazing for me. GV is free and means my phone number never changes no matter what carrier I use. Hangouts uses my GV number to make and receive calls. Local SIM cards are almost always cheap and fast (Usually LTE, but even fast 3G well over 256kbps). Also I can receive and reply to text messages on my computer via Hangouts which is way easier. It also works with any (at the very least Android) phone. Though I do love most of the Nexus line. One problem Project Fi could run into, and this happened to me, is if you break your phone mid trip. If you can’t get access to another Nexus device you may be out of luck. I broke my phone before boarding a flight for a 2 month trip where I was jumping around constantly. I bought a cheap Android phone at my next stop and was fine.

  4. @Daniel – you can pause service for a few months (90 days?) with a single click on the website. If you somehow don’t end up traveling within 90 days, pay for a day of service, then pause again.

    You do need a Nexus phone to activate service, but 6X is sold below-market to new customers. So you can resell it after activating for approximately break-even price.

  5. Somehow, maybe due to the topic or writing style, after a couple lines I realised this must be written by Tiffany, not Lucky! (don’t usually pay attention to the author)

  6. Other potentially useful tidbits – while service is paused, corresponding google voice number won’t work. So don’t use a number your care about if you intend to just use it as international service and paused when you’re within US.

    Also, you’ll have to configure APN manually (h2g2) once using the sim on your phone (I just swam my primary sim out on my main [unlocked] phone when traveling). Of course not a big deal.

  7. @ Andrew — For sure, and that’s the combo I’ve been using for years. Worked great, but I think this is even easier.

    The Fi SIM does work in other phones for data (at least), so you could always throw it in another phone if your Nexus broke. Good thing to mention!

  8. @ oleg — Are you sure you can resell after activating? I’m pretty sure you have to keep a Nexus phone linked to your Fi account.

  9. I switched to Fi a couple of months ago and love it. I just got back from Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen and had service the whole time. This even included a drive from Oslo to Stockholm through the countryside with unmarked roads. The total “international” cost for my 10 day trip was $7.46, which is about what I would have paid if I were home during that time.

  10. @Tiffany – There’s nothing linking the phone to your account other than a purchase receipt. From a perspective of cell phone service, the only link is your sim card.

    If you do use this as your primary service, sure, ability to use both Sprint and Tmobile is potentially worthwhile. For me, it’s a secondary line for international travel, and I like my iPhone. Effectively a dollar/day for international data in 100 countries is a pretty nice deal.

  11. Personally, I think the T Mobile plan is a game changer as well. I don’t know what their network was like back in 2014, but now it’s really good. I’m in Sitka, Alaska right now and I have a have a great signal for both phone and data. I’ve used it in Hungary, Austria, Germany, Argentina, Spain, Turkey, the Czech Republic and it’s worked great in all. And all FREE! And no switching out sim cards, I just turn on my phone and use it. I’ve always wondered why all travelers don’t use T Mobile.

  12. Have you given Skyroam a shot? It’s just 8 bucks a day for umlimited data at 3G and 4G (but not LTE) speeds in like over 100 countries. It uses “virtual sim” technology so you never have to change the SIM card or buy a SIM card for the country you’re visiting (it just emulates whatever carrier’s sim). I’ve used this for the last year and it works really well. The device is only around 100 bucks and it comes with 5 free days loaded, and it’s yours to keep. It’s not really great for making phone calls (even wifi calls were hit/miss with this thing) but great for messages, uber, google maps, facebook, etc. Definitely the most cost effective mifi/data option out there.

  13. I think this is a great solution but if you have an iPhone (like I do) you are stuck with t-mobile. for me the best plan is the net talk wireless plan (https://www.nettalkconnect.com/wireless) is 40 a month (after the $25 per month 7 month intro price) and it gives you the t-mobile businesses plan. includes 10 gigs with binge on and unlimited phone and text for use in the USA, Mexico and Canada (already used it in Tijuana and it’s pretty good).
    free data (128 kbs) and free text in 120 countries and 20 cents per minute. since i’m a data junkie when i’m on the US, this plan is great option, but i didn’t use that much data and didn’t had an Iphone, I would definitely consider project fi.

  14. Unless they make this available to iPhone users I don’t have any interest to switch. There are close to 75MM iPhone users in the US so Google has to decide if they want to grab those or try to convert them to Android.

  15. @ Santastico — To clarify, it’s not officially available with iPhones, but plenty of people are using iPhones. You just don’t get the option to switch between Sprint and T-Mobile, and are always on the latter in the U.S.

  16. I agree with Aaron. I am seldom a fan of any cell provider. However, T-mobile’s current Int’l plan is awesome. My wife and I share it. Best part = data is unlimited (although there is a 5GB cap on 4G LTE, but streaming music and videos are excluded from that cap). I travel internallationally for work frequently so in the past I had phones with dual sims. Now, I just charge the cost of our subscription to my monthly work expenditure and don’t have to worry about connectivity where-ever we travel, including AK!

  17. @ Santastico we use the data only SIMs with our iPhones and have been doing it all over since they came out. Sure, you don’t get voice calls through the regular app but I was always using Hangouts or my pbx app anyway. Really can’t beat it for the sinplicity or the price!

  18. @Santastico 66% of smartphones users in the USA are on an Android phone, compared to 28% on an iOS device. So according to your 75MM iPhone user data, theres over 175MM users on Android.

    Furthermore, you can have an unlocked phone for $200 when joining Project Fi. The cheapest iOS device from Apple starts at $400.

    There isnt a clear winner for iOS vs Android. Almost anything you can do on one phone can be done on another. It boils down to personal preference. Personally, nothing in Apple & iOS’s ecosystem are compelling enough to be worth the premium

  19. + 1 @Aaron

    I travel extensively in Asia and Australia, and use t-mobile as well – While t-mobile advertises 128k data, I haven’t been to any country that has provided less than 3G speeds in Asia.

  20. Personally I’ve been using T-Mobile’s international plan for over 2 years. While I don’t travel nearly as much as Tiffany or Ben, I’ve tested out the data speeds in many countries in Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America. In every country besides China my data speeds were 4G (per the phone) and not noticeably slower than they are at home in LA. My phone always connects quickly and chooses the best network for the area I’m in. Even when on a boarder (like in Iguazu Falls) the phone will pick up either Brazil’s or Argentina’s network, whichever is stronger. In China I mainly only got 2G speeds, but overall don’t feel the need to switch to Fi. True, you pay for data even if you don’t use it, but the family plan we have makes the total cost for service actually cheaper than Fi would be if I only paid for data I actually used. Maybe Mexico is also slow? I guess we’ll have to drive down and see.

  21. @David: Well, I already have a fully paid iPhone so not paying an extra $200 to get a Nexus.

  22. One more note on T Mobile. They do indeed advertise somewhat slow international speeds, as you say, but in actual practice I recently experienced service in Paris that felt as though it was closer to normal 3G speeds.

    The T&Cs also say that you’re not supposed to tether internationally. With the ubiquity of hotel wi-fi these days, I don’t really think that’s much of a drawback.

  23. @Charlie: Can you get just a data SIM without having to buy a phone? I am looking for an alternative to use on my upcoming summer vacation in Europe. I have ATT and not going to pay their international plan. I will not need voice while abroad but data only.

  24. @Santastico – No, data only SIMs are in addition to voice SIM(s). But you can resell the 6X for same $200 or so it costs to buy it, after you activate service. You can then pause/unpause service on the website and request as many data only SIMs as you like (or use the initial main sim).

    Unlike ATT, Google charges for service before rather than after. So assuming you pause service on day 1, your month 1 bill will be $30+tax and your month 2 bill will be -($30+tax). (e.g. my first month I paid $33, second month I received a $20 credit with some usage). Presumably your iPhone is already unlocked.

  25. TMobile seems like a good idea for intl data, especially if one is using it mostly for messages, Facebook messenger, etc. where data speeds are not an issue. Good way to keep in touch with travel companions.

    I noticed on Verizon’s website, they have a new product TravelPass. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like you can use your home plan while away, using your normal allotment of talk minutes, texts, data for a daily surcharge. $2 per 24-hour period (only when you use it) in Mexico/Canada, and $10 per 24-hour period (only when you use it) in many other countries. For the short, occasional trip it might be a good option.

    http://www.verizonwireless.com/landingpages/international-travel/

    Seems like a good plan for Verizon customers who travel occasionally. I haven’t really explored it yet, soif other readers find something incorrect with my report, please advise.

  26. My Iphone 6 is a CDMA/GSM model. Does it mean that if I sign up for Project FI, it could switch TMO/Sprint.

    Also, I currently have TMO prepaid plan ($30 for 100min/5GB of 4G) and hesitate to switch.

  27. I’ve had awesome experience with Sprint in Latin America. You get 1GB at real 3G speeds (I clocked 2mbps HSDPA speeds in Costa Rica and Panama) included with your normal plan, and then it’s $30 per 1GB billed by the kilobyte after that.

    And in Japan, NO ONE will beat Sprint’s $5/month completely unlimited talk, text and 3G data add-on. I also experienced 2mpbs there as well, but sometimes as slow as 700k (much better than Google Fi’s 256k speed). No problems (and no worries) to do Periscope.

    I still don’t understand why AT&T and Verizon haven’t come up with more competitive international plans.

  28. Just one more supporter for T-mobile as option for frequent travelers, the speeds when traveling have been much better than promised very frequently with 3G speeds. The coverage in the US has improved significantly in the last 2 years. In my area, as I have tested using speedtest.net my download speeds using T-mobile LTE regularly exceed 35Mbps. The performance, costs, flexibility of phone and features of T-mobile really make it a great value.

  29. @Tiffany, Thank you so much! By far the best contributor on OMAAT.

    iPhone fanboy here. Just to clarify the people you say are using iPhones on Google’s Fi network have to be either T-Mobile or Sprint iPhones?

    Also which nexus phone do you have and how do you like it compared to other phones you have had?

  30. I actually really like Verizon’s International Plan. It’s $10/day but only when you use it. You get the same plan usage benefits of your at-home plan (Minutes, Data, text, etc), and you get to use your own cell number.

    You could easily turn off cellular, and just make Wifi calls and/or do your internet based activities. Then, if you suddenly need cellular, just turn it on and make your call.

    For $10/day, I don’t need to worry about minutes or usage other than my Verizon plan’s data plan. Not bad.

  31. @Tiffany not sure if you saw/heard it but Marketplace on NPR did a pretty good roundup of staying connected travel options a few weeks ago including a breakdown of roaming fees for the major carriers and Google Fi.

    I love Google Fi and in fact, I lent one of my data only SIM cards to a friend recently for their international trip and it worked great. Big thumbs up for Google Fi for international although I’ll stick with $45/month for straight talk since AT&T has much better coverage in my area and 5GB of data would cost me $75/month with Google Fi.

    Here’s the Martetplace radio interview and article…

    http://www.marketplace.org/2016/04/27/world/staying-online-while-go

  32. @askmrlee $30 is a lot of money for 1GB if you go over. And Sprint’s intl service footprint is much smaller than Tmobiles so it may not work. Sprint’s US network is still lagging behind VZ/ATT/TMO somewhat.

    I dont think ATT & VZ will come up with more competitive intl plans – I dont think a large enough percentage of end users are picking providers based on this factor alone. ATT& VZ each have over 120MM subscribers whereas TMO and Sprint have around 60MM. Sprint had some agressive promotions but they havent increased subscribers significantly. TMO has been working on their Uncarrier marketing for a while and they are gaining subscribers faster than Sprint. But they also have quite a bit of people leaving them because of their domestic service network.

    Personally, I’ve been fine with the international TMO data. By adding family and friends to my plan, I’m basically paying around $22 a month per line, before factoring in any phone purchases. Many decent phones are reasonably priced these days that I find it hard to justify an S7 or an iPhone for $650 and up. I am considering a 2nd personal line via Google Fi though, especially if extra sims are included for data. That’s a fantastic included service.

  33. @oleg: I’m sorry, but when it comes to Nexus devices being tied to your Project Fi account, your advice is just plain wrong.
    The nexus device you activate your Fi account with *IS* tied to your Fi account, until you activate another approved device using the Fi app. If you don’t believe me, try activating two Fi SIMs with one Nexus device; it will fail on the second one. I know, because I tried.
    A Project Fi employee explained over the phone that the device I was using had already been used to activate another account, and read me the IMEI and the account information out of their system. So clearly, they know.
    This being a call-back-and-try-again crowd, you’ll be pleased to hear that a second phone call with a second representative had the same results.
    You can put any other SIM into the Nexus once you’ve activated Fi on it (maybe use it as a backup, or give it to a family member) but I wouldn’t recommend reselling it since at that point it is tied to your Project Fi account.

  34. @JJ-NA: Technically, any unlocked GSM-capable device should work, as you would be swapping in an activated Fi SIM as if it were a SIM from any other carrier.

    If you have a friend who has a SIM card from a different carrier, you could try putting their SIM in your phone. If it registers on their network, then it should also work when you insert a Fi SIM.

    Typically “unlocked” GSM phones from AT&T or T-Mobile work fine, but “unlocked” CDMA phones from Verizon or Sprint can be hit-or-miss.

  35. I want to add my very positive experience with T-Mobile overseas for the last 18 months. I had 3G (if not 4G) service EVERYWHERE I’ve gone:

    Asia: Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, India
    Mid-East: Egypt, UAE
    Europe: France, UK, Spain, Netherlands
    North America: Canada, Mexico, US

    Their partners tend to be the major provider in that country and that means I received good coverage even in the middle of the stix.

    (And no, I don’t work for Tmo)

  36. It’s worth reiterating that Google Fi uses the same overseas network as T-Mobile overseas, so the connection would be at least as good as what others are reporting. Living in the future is really delightful.

  37. I have Sprint and went to Anchorage two years…. No service problems, whatsoever–even an hour and a half outside of Anchorage when using Data.

    Maybe it’s device specific?

  38. “Twice as fast as T-Mobile” using those deceptive “up to” estimates is not hugely exciting. Who cares whether it is 3G or 2G? The world is on 4G now, and any plan of interest would have to default to 4G with fallback to 3G.

    I do spend a certain amount of time abroad, but I can’t do my work on 3G. (Admittedly, full 3G speed is quite fast, and I’ve heard that you can get high speeds in some Latam countries. But I haven’t seen it elsewhere.)

  39. @ Chuck Lesker — Well, I’ve had full 3G or 4G/LTE everywhere I’ve tried to use Fi so far. I still wouldn’t rely on it for heavy uploads, but I wouldn’t use my phone for that stuff domestically either.

  40. “You can’t use your phone as a hotspot internationally at this point, but most Android users probably know a few ways around that.” There are no really good ways around that—the provider can always detect tethering if they want to, based on usage patterns and such. But at 256kbps, a laptop is unusable, so who cares.

  41. @Tiffany – FYI Project Fi uses T-Mo USA for their back-end data provider. Wherever you go internationally, the data tunnels back to T-Mo who hands it off to the internet or voice network. This actually gets really interesting, and as I pointed out to Gary from VFTW, it means Fi data should work in China despite the Great Firewall. That’s a huge boon for those of us with our lives tied up in US online services like Gmail/Hangouts/Voice/WhatsApp/Facebook.

    Project Fi really stands on the shoulders of the hard IT and business work of T-Mobile internationally. I assume Google is just willing to pay more than T-Mo is for international data.

    Also worth noting that T-Mo has an official (though perhaps unpublished and/or unenforced) policy of kicking off users with more than 45 days of international data in a 90 day period. I’ve not heard of anything similar from Project Fi. What I have experienced is really, really crappy connectivity specifically in Hong Kong and India with Fi. As in, I can only get a data connection in certain places in each area. Not sure if that’s a problem with my Nexus 5X or just ridiculously crowded RF spectrum, but my friend with a OnePlus Two on T-Mo had significantly fewer such issues. :/

  42. Just a small tidbit, WHY would anyone sign up for 5GB of data and get refunded every month, vs just signing up for 1GB of data and be charged the additional every month???

    It would be one thing if 5GB prepaid was $30 and then refunded based on $6 per GB not used, but if you and I both use 2.5GB of data in a month I get billed $30+15 while you get billed $70-25.. While they both equal out to $45 you are giving Google $25 additional dollars of your money for 30 days, while I keep that money for 30 days.

    Not a big deal, but there is absolutely NO incentive to prepay for more than 1GB of data with Project Fi.

  43. @ Scott — Absolutely no reason I can think of, I just wanted to be able to share a visual of what happens if you use more/less data 🙂

  44. These plans are meant for traveling not expat use, so if you need more or faster data, go local.

    @David W – yes $30/GB sounds like a lot if it was charged like Verizon where one KB into the overage would be charged a flat $30. But considering they charge a very consumer friendly overage by the kilobyte for 3G speed (not the free 2G speed like Sprint’s other plan or Tmo’s Simple Choice plan), meaning a few cents per kb, I think it’s pretty fair. Plus that first GB is already included.

    However, Sprint’s Open World plan as they call it is limited to Latin America and they use MoviStar. The Japan add on is for use on SoftBank (which is the majority owner of Sprint). I had a pretty consistent 3+ bars in SJO, PTY, HND and HKD, expect for mountainous regions where I wouldn’t expect coverage period. Better overall than their US coverage, for sure.

  45. Fi and T-Mobile are very convenient for international roaming, especially if you get decent coverage domestically and will be traveling often to various countries you don’t revisit. If you’re going specifically to Europe, however, there are plenty of prepaid Europe roaming sims available http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/European_Union2 that I’d consider for faster service for not much more money (yes, even as a Fi/TMo customer, it’d be worth taking a look) as a tourist. There are several fast, cheap, and prepaid options there. USA phone plans aren’t great on price per GB when stacked against many of the European carriers. Roaming fees in Europe are also changing over the next year or two.

    Flight Deal also had an informative post on Fi, coming from T-Mobile: http://www.theflightdeal.com/2016/04/18/international-free-data-roaming-google-project-fi-vs-t-mobile/

  46. Google Fi is the best single plan available in the US, if you travel a lot, but it’s not perfect:
    1. Speed: it didn’t matter whether you see 3G/4G/LTE – your speed is capped, abroad so it’s decent but never fast
    2. Reliability – Fi advertises 120 countries, but not all countries on the list actually work. I had no coverage in Uruguay and Argentina, on and off in the Philippines… it’s a known issue and they are working on it….
    Dear despite the issue, it is the best option for travel and expats – you have one number and have internet as soon as you step of the plane , instead of having to purchase local SIM cards or use the overpriced data of the other providers…

  47. Sprint’s recent expansion of their free global service is quite good – 2G speeds and free texting at no cost good for maps, apps, and email. I used it throughout Ireland and Spain with no noticeable problem in access or speed. Hard to justify the extra cost for speed unless its critical for your specific need.

  48. After many go-arounds with Verizon’s tech support & network engineers about poor/no reception at our office (where we previously had 5 bars), I switched our office over to T-Mobile in October 2015. Verizon was gracious about it and let us switch while still under contract at no penalty, with some phones only being 2 months old. I should mention, price WAS NOT part of our decision to leave Verizon. My company is willing to pay anything or communications, but they do have to work!

    8+ months in, T-Mobile’s been great! Reception has been superior to Verizon almost at every spot. In many areas I’m seeing 20Mbps-95Mbps data speeds. I’ve actually ditched cable internet at some of my crash pads / condos and just have WiFi hotspots permanently at them now. Since I’m on the road so much it doesn’t make sense to keep cable internet at all of my locations now, and I’m seeing 75Mbps-95Mbps at those locations, much faster than my cable internet ever was. Having unlimited Netflix/Amazon streaming + unlimited music streaming is awesome. Not having to deal with Comcast & Time Warner: Tres bien.

    International coverage has been awesome and seamless on it. BTW, your Google Fi is using T-Mobile’s roaming agreements. As far as speed internationally goes, I’ve always received 3G/4G type speeds. I believe the 128kbps they quote is a minimum guaranteed level. At any rate, I’ve not seen anything that slow.

    Verizon’s daily pass thing is an insult. $10/day extra for the privilege of using the voice/data minutes/GBs I’ve already paid for? And Verizon’s phones all ship with crippled phones which struggle to work internationally (Band 4 only for LTE, vs. 10+ international frequency bands on our T-Mobile phones)?

    I’ll take my free unlimited international data + $0.20/minute while abroad (or free voice calls on WiFi Calling…or via Google Hangouts Dialer). I’m only paying ~$30/mo per line for 10GB on T-Mobile. 3 days’ worth of Verizon roaming charges is equivalent to what my company pays for an entire month of full service.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the concept of Google Fi…but it’s ultimately using T-Mobile, and for 10+GB/mo, Google Fi’s very expensive, especially since they DO charge for music & video streaming.

  49. We’re currently getting free cell service in the US through Ring Plus. We both get 1,000 minutes/texts/MBs and pay $0/month. There was a $25 account topup fee that we paid at origination, but that’s it. It runs on the Sprint network, and you have to listen to a 5 second commercial for outgoing calls, but nothing for incoming calls and it is almost identical to using Sprint proper. There’s a few ms lag time, but everything works well. Since our Sprint phone (LG G2) is already unlocked for international use we’ll just use a worldwide SIM that’s cheap anyways.

  50. I endorse T-moblie as well. No issues in Chicagoland for anyone in family. Hotspot even works well with 18 mbps.

    6 month of T-mobile use internationally in 2015 been great around world. Seems to pick up new networks with ease and speeds were good for my use, though never tested since not issue.

    3 months this year in Caribbean and South America in 2016, no issues. Surprising how those 120 countries are where you want to usually go. 35 countries in past 2 years.

    Family plan with 4 minimum is $100 plus taxes, so one person share is $25 plus tax for 2.5G data a month plus international plan. You DONT have to be same household….we have 3 households on same plan.

    No issues but annoying $0.20 charges with telemarkter calls overseas who hang up in voice mail. But when I called other issue and asked about way to avoid those charges, he just credited me $5 which more than wiped them out 🙂

  51. @Hubs – Interesting. My nexus is long resold with zero issues and I have no Nexus devices, so nothing to try. If anything, I’m enjoying Fi service perfectly fine.

    If anything this just seems like a relatively low-barrier to try to avoid offering Fi service on non-nexus devices. I’d guess this specific receipt check is aimed at making sure the entire family-plan migrates over rather than just one person starts an account. Other than arbitrary activation requirement, there is no actual service-time check about what device you use (both on personal usage and professional experience).

    The person who buys your phone can’t do anything to your account or service. They might require a phone call to activate their own nexus service, but that shouldn’t impact you.

  52. Tmobile simple choise is the best for international travel – I have been to a couple dozen countries and supported in all of them except the Bahamas (3.99/minute), and Majuro, Marshall Islands. Tmobile even worked on Easter Island. International unlimited roaming gives you 128k upload/download which is usually TOO SLOW for Uber/Google Maps/Waze. A few times I’ve clicked on the welcome text in order to upgrade my speed for my trip at a fee. I’ve wanted to drop Tmobile in favor of Project FI, but I find myself hanging on to it… Due to the support in more countries, plus unlimited 4G / LTE in Canada and Mexico.

    I’ve also had Project Fi since its inception (as a beta tester). It DOES NOT WORK in all the countries that Tmobile does due to less roaming agreements. It works in the mainstream ones MOST of the time. And it gives you 256k upload/download which is (barely) fast enough for Google Maps, Waze, and Uber. When I was in Johannesburg South Africa recently, my Project Fi had no coverage, even with a call to support, for 1.5 days. It worked flawlessly on my earlier (and later) trip there. It didn’t work at all in Frankfurt one trip then it worked again. Rebooting and using the secret dialer codes sometimes helps.. BUT when driving around, with a tmobile and project Fi phone next to each other, the coverage is unquestionably better, by a mile, on Tmobile.

    my next phone won’t really be a phone either. It will be a Satellite bluetooth tethering box similar to a mifi, allowing me to use upto 5 phones with it for calls and (very slow) data.

  53. One of the great benefits of Project Fi with a Nexus phone is that there is no drop-off, even mid-call, between a Wi-Fi enabled or cellphone signal. Since the Wi-Fi calls do not count against data use, savings are magnified. I also like use of Google Hangouts as the SMS service.

    My Project Fi and other Google services do earn 5x with Ink.

  54. T-Mobile’s network is amazing now in the USA. They have made remarkable gains as evidenced by numerous articles about the company in the press.
    Internationally, their plan is just as good or even better. You get to keep your number and calls are 0.20 cents per minute, data is 2g/3g and free as is texting.
    I’ve been with every cell provider and this is the only one that makes me happy to use them. They even had engineers adjust signals on nearby towers in NYC to help with my signal.

  55. I thought PFi was great the moment I heard about it, months ago. But I can’t get past the fact there is “no” service for my zip code. Too bad. Could use this everywhere, and we travel to Europe at least once a year. Darn.

  56. I had found an amazing deal with a french carrier. instead of the 19euros a month i got it for 2.99 euros a month for the first year. this included unlimited talk, text, data in france as well as calls to 100+ countries around the globe. But the great thing about that plan is their free roaming. You get up to 35 days per country in every calendar year in select countries. This includes free data, calls and texts to the country you are in or back to france.
    Works for all of europe, USA, canada, israel, and several other countries coming soon..

  57. Has anyone had any success with using a Verizon iPhone for Google Fi? I think Verizons international plan is $10 a day but you are limited on the data you can use. Or does anyone have a comparison with Verizon vs Fi domestically/internationally? Thanks!!

  58. I am very happy with ATT. The international coverage is great. Yes expensive but it works well and I don’t have to run around looking for a local SIM card.

  59. I have used Project Fi on my Nexus 6p for 6 months, traveling to England, Japan, Poland, and Czech Republic as well as at home in Texas. Great service and no worries about a huge bill after an international trip.

  60. I switched to Project Fi for the international coverage among other reasons. In this trip, I passed through Abu Dhabi and the coverage was as good as promised. Calls were clear and I had high five bars with LTE.

    But the story is frustratingly bad in Chennai, India. Fi is able to identify local networks but cannot connect to any one of them. Failure happens at Registering to a Network. Folks at Fi seem to think it should work based on their coverage map but they couldn’t get my phone to connect to a network either.

    Blame it on my phone or call it early wrinkles of a Project; either way, I feel let down but I will survive 🙂

  61. I have to agree with everyone on the greatness of tmo for roughly the past 2years. Except for islands. Mauritius no. Maldives no. Tahiti no. Bora bora no. And i love islands. So that really sucks. Wish they’d get their roaming agreements expanded for all the missing islands.
    Interesting about Easter island, didn’t know.

  62. @Tiffany:

    “It’s worth reiterating that Google Fi uses the same overseas network as T-Mobile overseas, so the connection would be at least as good as what others are reporting.”

    Not exactly. They use the same networks, but that doesn’t mean that the negotiated contracts are the same.

  63. Going to pile on and say that I love the TMO plan. I use it constantly. Constantly. I won’t agree that its “usually available where you want to go” since I end up in countries where it doesn’t work frequently enough. Africa is pretty much a black hole in the TMO plan, which is a real bummer. Like, Africa-the-continent-with-the-most-countries-in-the-world is only covered in six countries. Morocco, for instance, seems like a reasonable place to expect it, but TMO only seems to have arranged for it in a few English-speaking countries. Then again, it might be expanding. Last year, Paraguay was not on the list and calls there were 4.95 a minute. Now its on the list.

    Anyways, I get a lot of use out of it. They’ve changed the way I travel, and increased the flippancy with which I don’t plan ahead.

  64. One more for T-mobile being awesome. I’ve never had a problem anywhere, and wouldn’t have a clue how to switch I sim card, or what one is. I used to have to enter a code that meant “using phone outside US until further notice, ” but now we don’t even do that. On Sunday I landed in Paris and got a text from T Mobile saying “welcome to Paris.”
    Speed and coverage a+.

  65. Google Fi coverage is spotty in the rural midwest of the U.S. It seems to be poor in the West outside of urban areas. I still use it since I like the simplicity and the price point, and the coverage in the U.S. is competitive with everyone except Verizon.

  66. I pay $34 per month for unlimited data, calls, texts in USA (10gb data + stash, which basically means more data if you didn’t use it all in previous months)
    International gets me FREE unlimited data at 2G speed (most countries in the world don’t have LTE) which is just fine! And for $15 I can buy 2GB of high-speed data.
    This is T-Mobile. I don’t see Google Fi being any cheaper.

  67. Just as a note, as a several month Fi user, I traveled to Thailand through Korea. Fi immediately recognized both countries, no input from me required.

    In Korea, I got LTE speeds. Was amazing. In Thailand I switched from 3g to 4g (HSPA, I think). So instead of 256, you basically get the Max you can connect at.

    Also, for some reason wifi calling was left out. If you are on wifi, and call via wifi (hangouts dialer) calling the USA is free. And it’s usually just a few cents per minute instead of $0.20. Obviously you won’t always be on wifi, but it helps a lot.

    What’s not so great? Sprint has no data and voice at the same time. So if you’re on sprint no using maps or something else. But Tmobile? Works fine. Another thing, the marketing materials make lofty claims about choosing the best network at the right time. BS. It finds a network, and stays till it’s lost. Even if that means 1 Tmobile bar when sprint has full. You can force a switch though at anytime, so it’s quite useful.

    Overall, fi is great. I pay an average of $36.50 for cell service now. What more could I ask for

  68. I have been using Republic Wireless for a few years now and have really liked their service. The WiFi calling is great and can be used abroad. The one drawback is they do not connect to international carriers.
    Google Fi has been on my radar for awhile. Good to see more travelers are using it and have mostly positive things to say about it.

  69. Thanks for publishing this post! I’m going to try the Fi and see how it works on an upcoming international trip using a secondary number I’ve kept around for a while. My only complaint is that it won’t allow an iPad (or other device using a data only sim) to tether to a laptop, so when I travel domestically, and would just have my iPad, I will now have to carry my primary phone and the secondary phone. Not a big deal, but it would be nice if Google let iPads tether….hopefully that will be an update at some point.

  70. We have now used Project Fi in northwestern Mexico for 7 months. T-Mobile has contract language that would preclude use by snowbirds. I found no such stipulations in Google’s Terms and Conditions.

    We do not use much cellular data – as we are in WiFi a lot. Cellular data is kept OFF until specifically wanted. My data bill is almost always less than $0.25 per month.

    My one wish is that Project Fi would add Canada and Mexico for unmetered voice calls, or, at least allow perhaps 100 minutes per month before billing extra.

    In Mexico it always connects via TelCel – which is very good. In British Columbia Canada, it connects to Rogers and Bell. In Seattle area it switches between Sprint and T-Mobile. In eastern Washington State (Methow Valley) it even connected to Verizon if neither T-Mobile nor Sprint were available – although the data service was super slow through Verizon.

    In Mexico the cellular data is plenty fast enough for Google Maps to navigate, email, Google search, and WordReference. Same for me in Canada.

    If you are in WiFi coverage a lot and don’t stream video or music while on cellular data – Google Project Fi is likely a very good price performer. We used to swap SIM cards crossing between the USA and Mexico. Now we just stay on Project Fi.

    Motorola Nexus 6.

  71. Here’s something most people don’t know about the T-Mobile plan.

    They will give you, for free, a wifi-calling optimized router for your house.

    What this means is that if you have a good internet connection in your house and a cell phone that features wifi calling then you effectively have a cell “tower” in your house. The phone will all calls via the router, transparently to you. This solves the problem of poor in-home cell reception. The router is also excellent, much better than the one I replaced.

    Technically, you’re supposed to pay a deposit but when I called to get the router they said (without prompting) “Of course, we’ll waive the deposit and shipping fee”.

  72. Tiffany:

    Great article. Thanks. I’m switching over from Republic Wireless which has no international capabilities. I also have a T-MOBILE data SIM for my iPad which has been pretty good. I’ll run some comparison tests when I get my Fi up and running.

    Question: how did you get the extra data SIMs frown Google Fi? I just finished ordering the 5X and there was no option to get extra data SIMs. Please let me know how you did it?

    Thanks

  73. @ Preston Vorlicek — Ah, I don’t know if you can do it in the initial order, but once you’re all activated the option to order more (with free shipping) should show up in your Fi account.

  74. I looked at Google Fi and T mobile last Fall, and instead opted for Republic Wireless. I’ve been using it since December and I’ve cut our mobile phone costs for our family of 4 from $230/month (AT&T) To~$50/month. I even used it in China to call to US via wifi, no sweat, no extra cost. The phones in their plan are considerably cheaper than what you need for Google, so overall terrific cost savings.

    https://republicwireless.com

  75. Tiffany:

    After reading your post, I signed up for Project FI as I have a 10 day trip to Asia coming up next month and want to test out the international coverage. For now I am keeping 2 phones and 2 phone numbers, but since they are both android devices I hope to consolidate by transferring my main number to the Project FI phone when I get back.

    To that end I have been slowly setting up the Nexus 5 and have discovered that Android Pay does not accept the American Airlines Citi Cards, but does accept most other Citi Cards. As Lucky might say, this is beyond bizarre to me. Anyway, I signed up for the Citi Prestige via your link, which I had been considering for a while anyway, this and some upcoming 4 night paid stays combined to convince me.

    Thank you for your posts, which are consistently the best written and most helpful (at least for me).

  76. I need some advice. I cannot change my primary (work) cell, which is with one of the carriers which charges for an international plan. My iPad is with Tmobile and I have been pleased with its data coverage outside of the US, except for Mexico, where I had a bunch of problems. I also really like that I can turn the iPad into a hotspot when traveling with my laptop.

    I ordered Fi after reading Tiffany’s post because i have upcoming trips to europe and india. (I was going to port over an old landline number that is currently on a friends and family plan sitting dormant). I’m starting to think that this might not have been my best move because of the india coverage. I also haven’t ever used android, although I’d imagine it isn’t that hard to figure out.

    I’m currently paying $10 month to keep the old landline number and $40 month for the tmobile data for the iPad.

    Should I set up FI? Should I return the Fi phone and go with something else like buying a used iPhone and data sim for europe and india? Should I add a number to the Tmobile data plan (this seems like the most expensive option).

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

  77. Thanks Tiffany – nice article and had me sold sufficiently to research the Fi site for another hour before finally finding the catch – it is available only to US residents. Annoying that this message isn’t more upfront, at least in the Fi marketing campaign if not in your article, as Google does consider itself a global player with (how many million) global customers. An hour I could have used much more effectively elsewhere.

  78. So let me get this straight: I can get google fi, use the SIM card on a non nexus phone (iphone, Galaxy) and have basically a jacquTmobile account for cheaper than Tmobile?

  79. Sorry about the typo. Let me clarify my question a bit more: a single line with 2 gb of data costs $50 at Tmobile, getting a project fi SIM card and sticking it into an iPhone (yes after validating it with a nexus phone, and then selling said phone) and then you have an iPhone on the Tmobile network for all intents and purposes for $30 ($20 for regular fi service plus another $10 for the extra gb)?
    And that’s not even counting the better data overseas.
    What am I missing?

  80. In Europe now with Google Fi – the speeds are AMAZINGLY fast. Per the speedtest app, I got 55mb speed in Greece, 6mb in Turkey, and 5mb in Malta so far. Not sure why Google says 256k. When I’m getting 5000k. Will test Italy, France, and Spain in the coming week. Have screenshots of the speedtest app results as proof!

  81. This is for those looking for reasonably priced Int’l data options while traveling..

    I eagerly read Tiffany’s article and her conclusions are accurate.

    I just returned from 30+ days in Europe (Italy). I bought a Nexus 5X from google (199.00 on special) and signed up for Google Fi after reading this article.

    While I probably won’t keep the service, it is definitely worth checking out.

    Back ground: I am a iPhone user with a grandfather ATT unlimited domestic data.

    Getting used to Android is a whole other subject, but I enjoyed it.

    My goal was to use Tethering while traveling abroad so my wife and I could connect without paying ATT’s terrible international data prices. In short: I was going to be carrying it as a second phone.

    Quick Bullet Points:

    GoogleFi — Ordering was dead simple. I chose FedEx 2 day. Set up and billing is very simple and straight forward.

    The phone worked immediately here in US.

    I landed for layover in Switzerland it worked immediately. Only got 256kbps speeds.

    Landed in France and worked immediately. Only got 256kbps speeds.

    Drove into Italy and it connected to local network easily. Only got 256kbps speeds.

    I never experienced anything faster.

    Customer Service is very good. You can get someone on the phone quickly. They are knowledgable. The 3 times I wanted to talk to someone the ‘call-me-back’ feature works quickly. It appears as if their call center is in Nevada.

    Biggest negative: I could NOT use tethering while traveling. Cust support never really had an answer.

    My guess is speeds were too slow. ** So the biggest reason for my ordering this was dead on arrival.**

    I do like the GoogleFi pricing. Web browsing and call quality is great in the US. In fact, if they offered iPhone support I would probably walk away from my ATT unlimited plan.

    My advice to those seeking a reasonably priced Data Plan while traveling for any length of time in a western european (specifically Italy) country:

    Buy a data only SIM card from a local cell phone store. Ensure the carrier offers tethering (if that’s important to you). Example: In Italy Vodafone does not, whereas WIND does.

    I purchased Data Only SIMs from WIND. Cost was 19.00 Euro + 10.00 set up for 12 (twelve) GB of data.. 4G speeds.

    *****So for 29.00 Euro you can have more than 12 x the amount of data that ATT International passport top tier plan of 120.00 for 800megabytes allows. *****

    I slipped the data sim in an old unlocked iPhone and used it for tethering.

  82. Hey Rick. If you root the phone you can tether on any plan, it doesn’t have to specifically state that tethering is allowed. It’s a function of the phone usually, not the provider. You just fire up the tethering app and share your data connection. I’ve been doing it on different Android phones for years on plans that don’t allow tethering or don’t specify, but in any case I have never paid for tethering.

  83. Thanks for the awesome review Tiffany.

    I have just received my Fi sim card. I have a nexus and an iphone but will be using it my iPhone. From one of the comments above, someone mentioned ‘calling’ doesn’t work with the iphone. Is that just wifi calling, or cellular calling too?

    Thanks!

  84. I’ve wanted to do a lot of international travel, but a flexible phone carrier is something that I’ve been looking for for a while. Thank you for sharing!

  85. Tiffany, thanks for the helpful article! I’m using Project Fi right now as I travel in China and it’s working great. I’m wondering though: do you remember if the people you texted while you were abroad were charged international texting rates from their phone companies? I’ve been receiving a lot of texts from friends and family back home and I don’t want them to have “surprises” on their phone bills. I spoke with someone from Project Fi and asked the same question but she had no idea.

  86. Another little known solution to these needs is Truphone – they offer 66 country bundles (US, Canada, China, Europe, etc.) of voice, text and data, equally good for calls anywhere within these 66 countries. Data speeds – somewhere LTE, somewhere 3G. Plans are pricey, though they are more for someone who spends 1/3 of their time on the go (at that point T-Mobile and Fi would bounce you off for excessive roaming).

  87. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about T-Mobile’s international data roaming plan. Research how to use that along with Google Voice and Google Hangouts to have 0 additional charges during your trip abroad. Not to mention the free in-flight texting and free hour of Wi-Fi while on the plane traveling to your destination!

  88. HI – I really this might be cart after the horse – but I need some advice. Arrived in Paris yesterday for a 3 month business trip (and will be traveling throughout Europe while here). I had assumed I would pick up a phone here but have now read about Google Fi & the new T-Mobile International plan.

    Here’s the scoop. I am with AT&T. Am tied to the plan for at least a year due to phone & tablet purchase (I know, i know!). So – can I keep that AT&T number & plan (which I want to keep the number as I have had it for 20 years) – but pick up one of the other plans and then transfer all my calls that come in on AT&T to the new service/number while I am in Europe?

    I’d not event publish new number to friends and customers unless it would make sense to get a European number for the new service that customers could call in direct.

    Any advice and INSTRUCTIONS greatly appreciated!

  89. Thanks for the great post. I have the new Google Pixel phone which is by far the best mobile phone I have ever had (I previously had iPhones and Samsung). I have been with AT&T for 15+ years and am generally pleased. I only travel international 4 or 5 times a year but have decided to give Google Fi a shot. Wish me luck!

  90. Hi – we are traveling to Italy this summer and will spend 14 days there.
    We have 5 in our family with a various mix of phones – Google Pixel, Iphones, Samsung Android.
    Verizon is our carrier and their international plan is very expensive so we are looking for alternatives to use as a family.
    Many of the above ideas seem to work for individual travelers and/or but not much for families who travel abroad infrequently from what I have seen. We do not plan to go overseas again for quite some time.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    John

  91. @ John — I think Google Fi would work quite well for a family. You can add up to nine “data only” SIMs. I have a handful, so put one in a hotspot, give one to each of our parents for their iPads, etc. It works quite well.

    But, if you’re only there for 14 days, I would pick up a MiFi hotspot, and get a Vodafone SIM when you arrive in Italy. You’ll all be able to connect to the hotspot, so you’ll just have one thing to manage/charge.

  92. I have had Project Fi a little over 2 months now.

    Pros:
    1. My monthly bill is about half of what it was with ATT. The Project Fi rates are really low, especially for international travel.
    2. With the exception of Maldives where Project Fi did not have coverage, international data service has been amazing. I have used it in India, Qatar and UK. Very impressed with service outside the US.
    3. Google customer service is great. Probably the best I have ever had from a cell phone company.

    Cons:
    1. Sadly, service inside the US is terrible when compared to AT&T and Verizon. Frequent dropped calls, strange noises during calls, consistent quality issues when driving. I have used the service in MO, AZ, TX, IL, PA and CA.

    I travel outside the US 4 or 5 times a year. While I like love Project Fi internationally, I am seriously considering going back to ATT or Verizon since I am domestic most of the time. I really want to keep Project Fi, but the US service is hard to look past.

  93. Just a shout out for a few products I recently used for for a trip to England and Europe.

    1. A prepaid SIM Card from myuksimcard.com. Basically I ordered it here and it was shipped to my home in New York. It was around $50 for 30 days and gave about 10GB of LTE data, lots of calling minutes and texts. Put it in my iPhone on touchdown at Heathrow Airport and my iPhone was connected straight away. We also travelled to Paris, and Berlin, and it kept working.

    2. A wi-fi pass from btwifi.co.uk as they are roaming partners in almost all paid wi-fi places eg cafes etc. It was around $50 for 30 days. Although there is a lot of free wi-fi, there’s a lot of paid wi-fi too which is where the BT pass came in handy.

    3. A monthly wi-fi pass from usmobile.com because it cost $10 and gave me unlimited wi-fi on my American Airlines flight to and from the United Kingdom (versus around $20 each flight buying it on-board).

  94. Hi Tiffany, we are moving to Japan in a week and am entertaining the idea of getting a US phone and using it in Japan. The reason for this is easier call capability when we go home for visits and easier for our family and friends to get a hold of us. Do you think this is a good option?

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