Google’s Project Fi Introduces Family Plans and Discounts on Nexus 6P and 5X

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. Instead, it is about one of my other interests: saving money while simultaneously obtaining better products and/or services.

I have written several times about Google’s Project Fi cell phone service. Click here, here, here, and here to see my past articles. I have been using Project Fi for about a year and love it. It is a service that uses rather expensive cell phones and then provides high-quality but extremely low-cost cell phone service. The end result is that my total cell phone expenses have been cut dramatically over a one-year period.

Specifically, I previously paid AT&T about $1,260 a year for cell phone service with a cell phone included in that price. I had a two-year contractual minimum. If I canceled early, I would be charged major cancellation fees. Instead, I waited and purchased my new Project Fi service the same week as my old contract expired.

With Project Fi, I paid $600 for a new cell phone plus $30 a month ($360 for the first year of service), a total of $960. That obviously is a $300 savings. However, in the next year I will not need to purchase a new phone, so the second year’s expense should be only $360 for the monthly service, an annual savings of $900 per year from my old cell phone service.

Best of all, the new Project Fi service works in about 140 different countries with almost no roaming fees. I have already used it in the US, Canada, England, Ireland, Mexico, the Bahamas, New Zealand, and Singapore. (I have done a lot of traveling this year!) My highest roaming fee was $2.40 after using it for 8 days in New Zealand. My cheapest roaming fee was two cents for 6 days in Singapore. I have no idea why the Singapore cellular company charged two cents, but I am not going to take the time to find out why!

Also, if your house has limited or no cell phone coverage, you need a Google Project Fi cell phone. Assuming you have broadband Internet service with a wi-fi network installed in your home, the Project Fi cell phones will place and receive calls over your wi-fi connection when you are at home, then automatically switch to a cellular network like any other cell phone when not in range of a wi-fi network. With my previous cell phone service from AT&T, cell phone coverage in my home was intermittent and never worked from the basement. With my new Project Fi phone and the wi-fi network I already had at home, I now get crystal clear connections on all incoming and outgoing calls while I am at home.

I eventually disconnected my old home telephone service and now use the Project Fi cell phone as my only telephone. That results in an ever greater savings.

One drawback was that Project Fi did not offer family plans—until today. In the past, if two people in the family wanted Project Fi phones, they had to establish two accounts, purchase two phones, and pay two monthly bills. That has now changed. Even better, the new Family Plan saves even more money.

Now up to six people in one household can be on one plan, which will certainly make it easier for families and groups of friends to pay their bills, track their data usage and manage settings. Adding new members to your Fi account is rather easy (and pretty cheap, too).

Best of all is the Family Plan is even cheaper than the single plan when calculated on a cost-per-line basis. The previous single plan cost $20 for one phone per month with unlimited talk minutes and text messages. The new Family Plan costs just $15/month per line for Project Fi Basics (with the same unlimited talk and text), and, just like with individual plans, each gigabyte of data will cost $10. Of course, you’ll still get refunded for your unused data, so you’ll never pay for what you don’t use.

There are no contracts or long-term commitments, either; so members can easily join and leave plans as they please without worrying about cancellation fees.

For the new Family Plan, you’ll only pay one bill, and it is still billed automatically to a credit or debit card. Google does send you a monthly statement that details all the charges. You’ll only pay one bill, regardless of how many family members are on the account.

Some people may be disappointed that Project Fi only works with a few cell phones, and all of them are expensive. You will save money over the next year or two, but it does require a significant financial commitment up front. (Time payments are available.) However, if you decide to later switch from Google Project Fi to another cell phone service (which I doubt you will do), the phones can be switched to any of the other leading US cellular services. You won’t lose your investment in the new phone.

Google’s new Pixel and Pixel XL cell phones are compatible with the network, and the company will continue to sell the older Nexus 6P and 5X through the Project Fi site. (I am using a Nexus 6P.) What’s more, Google is now offering $100 off the Nexus 6P and $150 off the Nexus 5X when you buy and activate through Project Fi. That puts the 6P at just $399 or $16.63/month, and the 5X at only $199 or $8.29/month. Not bad!

You can learn more about Google’s Project Fi cell phone service at https://fi.google.com/about/ as well as in my previous articles at here, here, here, and here .

NOTE: I am not compensated in any way for writing and publishing this article. I am simply a very satisfied customer who is now saving $900 per year compared to my old cell phone service and am receiving better cell phone coverage as well.

21 Comments

How does this compare with Republic Wireless? I have had their service for nearly two years, at your recommendation. I want a larger phone, so going to Google would be easy. Thank you.

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    —> How does this compare with Republic Wireless?

    Similar but different.

    Both Republic Wireless and Google Project Fi offer low-cost monthly plans and both will route the calls over wi-fi when possible, saving lots of money. Both offer no-contract plans that you can cancel at any time.

    However, Republic Wireless uses cheaper phones so that is a good thing. On the downside, Republic Wireless does not work outside the United States (not even in Canada) and doesn’t offer worldwide calling. Project Fi works in about 140 countries with no roaming fees. (That is important for me but not for everyone else.) Republic Wireless won’t work on the cellular networks at all in other countries, not even establishing a connection.

    Republic Wireless phones will work on wi-fi anywhere, of course. When I had a Republic Wireless phone, I made calls via wi-fi from Canada, England, and Scotland over hotel wi-fi systems but it didn’t work on cellular networks outside the US.

    Republic Wireless works only on the Sprint cellular network which doesn’t have the best coverage while Google Fi works on Sprint plus T-Mobile plus U.S. Cellular networks, automatically switching amongst them to whatever cell tower has the best signal at the moment. As a result, Project Fi has better coverage.

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    I had republic wireless for about three years. It worked pretty well. But project Fi is better. It has 3 carriers tmobile, us cellular and sprint. Republic has sprint. Republic now has more phones but Nexus and pixel devices work on Fi.

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Dick, I would love it if Google were to offer this service in the UK. It would certainly shake up the mobile market here. Currently dominated by four providers which could end up as only three if Spain’s Telefonica were to manage to sell the O2 service to one of the remaining three companies.

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Just a correction: you don’t need an expensive cell phone. You can use a project FI sim in any unlocked phone. Plus i only paid I think $200 for my Nexus 5x.

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    —> You can use a project FI sim

    It is more complicated than that. First, to use the SIM card in another phone, it must be a GSM phone. Therefore, it won’t work in the older phones that were sold for Verizon or Sprint networks. Next, it must be an unlocked phone. Finally, it won’t switch amongst the different networks being used by Google Project Fi. The Project Fi web site at https://fi.google.com/about/faq/#supported-devices-3 states that it only works with Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6, and Pixel devices.

    I did plug my Project Fi SIM card into my older unlocked iPhone 6 and was able to establish a data connection that worked well on T-Mobile. However, I was never able to make a voice call. Also, it never switched networks but simply stayed on T-Mobile all the time.

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I have had an iPhone with Virgin for several years. Works fine, no data charges at all, and all this for 30 dollars a months. I had to buy the phone upfront, but it was from Virgin and I got a discount on that as well.

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Roy Achter
roy.achter@gmail.com

Good to see my choice validated. Got a great phone (6p) and phenomenal savings, averaging about $33/mo. Customer service is completely different – personable, understanding, effective. I’ve not traveled widely but have had service anywhere I did go. Project Fi is great!

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Hmmm, very interesting information. I was not aware of this option. I would’ve been very wary since it is from Google so I really appreciate you being a guinea pig for us! You’ve obviously had good cell service which is the biggest concern I have with the various companies. Thanks!

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Francisco J Fleites October 12, 2016 at 9:41 am

I have a Verizon family plan. 3 people. My main concern is will the service be on par with Verizon? I ask because I work in a hospital and with all the extra buff and fireproofing done to the walls, I need signal 24/7. My parents, no so much.
Also… My hospital actually has Verizon pipes and service all through the buildings if that makes a difference.

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    It should be as good as or better than Verizon. Obviously, in any one location the coverage may be better or worse depending on the locations of the nearest cell towers. However, given that Project Fi automatically switches amongst the towers of three different companies PLUS Wi-Fi, in most places Project Fi coverage is equal to or better than other companies. Plus it is cheaper than Verizon or AT&T.

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BUNNIE MICHELLE MEYER October 12, 2016 at 10:02 am

The 5x has been $200 for a long time so there is no discount on that. There is a $100 discount on the 6p. The first account is $20 an extra counts AR-15 so its not $30 a month for two accounts. $400 for the 6p is a reasonable price but they are gouging you like crazy on the pixel phones.

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I would love to switch from Verizon Pre-Paid to Fi but, where I live, coverage is an issue.
I just compared Verizon to Fi using their coverage maps. I used GIMP to overlay and compare their coverage maps, as best as I could. I scaled the maps until they were very close. If I were to switch to Fi most of my data coverage outside of the nearest town would be 3G with a goodly portion at 2G or no-service. Basically, everywhere that I have Verizon coverage has 4G data while much of Fi’s coverage in my area is 3G, 2G or nothing. Only towns, cities and major roads have Fi 4G. Verizon, in general, has more data coverage – for example significant portions of rural roads where I travel have 4G Verizon coverage while Fi has no coverage at all.

The Fi phones are nice and the service is a bargain – BUT – at what usage cost? I think that I am going to have to stick with Verizon. I’d rather have coverage. Fi is for you folks that live in more populated places.

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You only use 1Gb of data a month? My shared data usage varies considerably every month. Going from 2Gb to 12Gb. I’m on ATT’s shared plan that offers 7Gb + 5Gb bonus and rollover. I compared how much I paid during the last year vs how much I would’ve paid on Project FI taking into consideration how much data I consumed each month, and I actually saved $300 by being on ATT.

Liked by 1 person

    —> You only use 1Gb of data a month?

    Yes, that is about average. Of course, that is one gigabyte over the cellular networks. I actually consume much, much more than that but most of it is via wi-fi which is always free of charge. I travel a lot so I use wi-fi all the time in hotels, coffee shops, airports, and many other places. The roughly one gigabyte that I pay for is for the remaining data that is NOT sent over wi-fi.

    If I was using AT&T (without wi-fi capabilities), my cellular bill would probably be $100 to $150 a month, instead of the $30 a month I now pay with Project Fi.

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Don’t think this would work for me as I’m so rural, US Cellular is the only one that has reception at my house. I gave up land lines maybe 9 or 10 years ago. I bought a phone for $100 from them and I prepay $45 a month for unlimited everything. My Wi-Fi at home is $70 a month and I would hate to see the costs if my calls went over WiFi.

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    —> My Wi-Fi at home is $70 a month and I would hate to see the costs if my calls went over WiFi.

    Switching to Google Fi would save you money, not cost more. You NEED Google’s Project Fi!

    Since you already have US Cellular, Project Fi will work for you. Project Fi uses four networks: wi-fi, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular and automatically switches to the one with the strongest signal at the moment.

    In addition, all calls to US numbers are FREE of charge. You could talk for thousands of minutes every month over your Wi-Fi network at no extra charge. Calls over wi-fi are always FREE to US phone numbers.

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If you are in an area with good Sprint coverage, you can’t beat RingPlus for price with many plans free or nearly free and other plans a lot cheaper than Google Fi.

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I have plan and phone for a few months and just saw the new pixel come out can I trade in my 6p for the new pixel?

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Had Fi for just under a year now and loving only paying about $23/month (very low data user). Haven’t had signal issues a single time. I do hope they plan to drop the price on data though because $10/gig is pretty pricey compared to other services (especially for the heavy data users). I would imagine T-mobile is looking real attractive for them with their new unlimited stuff. Even with my old t-mobile plan I was paying $40 w/3gig of data… It’d be $50 with Fi…

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Recently converted to Fi with some Nexus 5X phones. Couldn’t be happier, my full write up is here if you’re interested: https://lookinto.com/tech/48880/is-google-project-fi-right-for-you-tech

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