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!
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.