This post contains referral links associated with Project Fi. Signing up through these links costs you nothing but will provide compensation to both you and I in the form of a $20 bill credit.
There are lots of ways to save money, but nothing really gives me the same satisfaction as being able to cancel cable or phone service. I paid out the ear for AT&T’s service for a decade before giving some of the other networks a try in an effort to lower my phone bill. I have to admit that for many years I thought the cheaper options must be inferior because every successful person has an expensive phone bill from AT&T or Verizon, right? So, is Project Fi worth it to switch?
As you can see from the catchy title, I’m saving about 50% on my phone bill as compared to AT&T. My cell service is awesome, the coverage is excellent, and I’m really enjoying the whole experience so far! Honestly, if you’re on the fence about giving a network that’s not one of the major providers a chance then I highly recommend you give it a shot. You can always switch back because there is absolutely no contract!
For reference, here are my actual statement pages from both Project Fi and AT&T. The dates don’t line up exactly because I actually had a brief foray with Republic Wireless (I’ll talk about this one later!) before I picked up the new Pixel XL and joined Project Fi. It also took a little longer than I thought to convince my wife to switch over to Cricket Wireless and finally close out the account!
Is Project Fi Worth it?
As you can see here, my AT&T bills hovered around the $200 mark most of the time. If you take out the money we were spending on my wife’s financed iPhone and split the bill in half, then we are looking at about $82.46 for my portion. This included Unlimited Talk and text with 15 Gb of data shared between both phones. Service was never an issue for the decade that I had phone service with them, but I sure did pay for the privilege!
Is Project Fi Worth it?
Aside from a couple of weird bills in the beginning (new subscriber credit and partial month’s billing), you’ll see that I pay right at about $40 per month for my service with Project Fi. Not a bad average cell phone bill for one person! If I was a little more careful with my data, I could easily get it down closer to $30, or even $20! What do I mean by that? Well, Project Fi handles their talk and data plans a little differently than most service providers.
Pricing: Project Fi’s Service Plan is Dead Simple (and Cheap!)
Project Fi, at its core, is really about simplifying the whole phone network experience. They offer their Basic Plan for $20 which includes unlimited domestic calls, texts, and tech support. From there, you’ll pay $10/GB for data, and you’ll be credited for data that you don’t use, and there are never any overage fees.
Is Project Fi Worth it?
I remember when I was with AT&T there were tons of options and add-ons when I set up the plan and I always signed up for more data than I needed because I knew that if I went over, I’d be slapped with a fee and charged for the data. This just added dollars to my already expensive bill! Although you aren’t likely to find free cell phone service, this is about as cheap as you can get!
Pay Only for the Data You Use (Really!)
Just in case it didn’t click while reading above, you will only be paying for the data that you actually use. You don’t have to select a data plan it just adds up over the course of the month, and then you get billed.
Now, it should be mentioned that if you are used to an unlimited plan, then you will be in for a reality check with Project Fi. To keep your bill as low as possible, you will need to…use less data! If you aren’t able to do that for some reason, then this plan might not be for you. In my case, I am interested in a phone bill that is as cheap as possible while I am paying down debt, so I am willing to make small compromises with my phone use. If you really want a lower phone bill, data will often be the point that you need to compromise.
Think about all the ways you use the data on your phone:
- Streaming Music
- Web surfing
In my case, I mostly only listen to podcasts and occasionally music on my phone. To prevent massive streaming data usage, I simply download the podcasts and music that I want to hear to ahead of time on my home WiFi.
After an initial period of getting used to it, I have to say that I enjoy doing it this way. It forces me to actually pay attention to what I am interested in and plan ahead a little. Of course, I can always stream if I have to!
How Does Their Service…Work?
You probably haven’t seen Google out and about building cell phone towers, and that’s because their service is known as an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). This just means that it doesn’t actually own its own network, but rather it buys the rights to use other providers. If you’ve never heard of a WiFi cell phone service, then I’ll explain!
First and foremost, Project Fi is a WiFi carrier and their phones will always attempt to connect to an open WiFi network for calls and to save data. As far as their network partners, their FAQ says that they use T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular to provide their network service outside of WiFi coverage.
Oh yeah, they also offer service in 135+ countries with NO EXTRA COST. This is great if you are a frequent traveler for business or visiting family!
I should point out here that because of the special way that Project Fi handles cell service, it requires you to have a phone on Google’s list of compatible devices. I’ll talk more about that below!
Multiple Networks, One Phone
I was not very impressed with those three names on an individual basis when I first read about the service, but it is important to remember that Google is using some new tech when it comes to service switching. Their special SIM cards and phone hardware allow the phones to switch seamlessly between all three networks depending on which one is stronger at the moment. If you add them all up, there is a pretty good coverage area.
Is Project Fi Worth it?
As per usual, they have a tool on their website to help you determine the coverage in your specific area and they will let you know how likely you are to have a good experience. Most urban areas and highways, with the exception of some of the Midwest, are pretty well covered.
I can personally say that I haven’t noticed any difference between Project Fi and my old AT&T network. I had heard that there would be some issues when switching between WiFi and cell tower service but I haven’t noticed any of those on my Pixel XL. It’s possible that this was an early problem that has since been corrected. I have been more than pleased with my service experience.
Their Website Experience
In typical Google fashion, the user UI is streamlined and fast. I log in with my Google account and I’m right on the main dashboard that shows exactly how much data I’ve used and how much it will cost me, any credits I’ve earned, and a brief overview of my plan. I can check my voicemail message, blocked numbers, and a few other options. A tab or two over and I can see detailed billing and support.
Is Project Fi Worth it?
Compared to the bloated and slow-loading AT&T website it’s a refreshing change, to say the least. It used to take me several minutes to log in, navigate to the wireless account, click through to view or pay the bill, etc. On Google’s interface, everything is clear, concise, and transparent.
Switching to Project Fi
It’s pretty easy to switch to Project Fi provided that you either already have a compatible device or plan on buying one with your service activation. In my case, I bought the Pixel XL through Google and received the SIM card and phone together. Minutes later I was up and running.
I should point out that while many networks will offer to pay off your contract, buy your phone, etc., you won’t find any of these perks with Project Fi.
If you sign up through my Project Fi referral link, however, we’ll both get a $20 credit on our bills! That credit will help go towards our debt repayment!
You can port (switch) your number over to the service in most cases and transfers usually happen quickly. In my case, my number switched over without me even realizing it while I was playing with the new phone! If you decide to switch back to another carrier down the road, you’ll be able to take it back with you as well.
In most cases, porting a number to another service will automatically cancel your old service, but it’s still a good idea to call them to confirm so that you don’t keep getting billed. If you’re on a family plan be extra certain that everything is cool before and after the transfer!
So this is probably the biggest hangup that most people will have with Google’s service. Because of its special network, only Google-made or partnered phones will work on the service for now. Like I said, I got the service when I purchased the Pixel XL. Here are the supported phones:
- Pixel XL
- Nexus 6
- Nexus 6P
- Nexus 5X
You don’t have to buy this phone through Google and all of these phones should be factory unlocked if you buy them secondhand (but check first!) so you can purchase a used phone on the cheap on craigslist or eBay to join the network and enjoy the cheap service!
It’s almost certain that any phone Google releases in the future will be compatible with Project Fi and it’s possible that other manufacturers will add support as well but there is no way to tell at this point.
So, is Project Fi Worth it?
Once I switched and saw that I could get an amazingly cheap plan that works great I was hooked. I’ll have to admit that I was hesitant to take the jump from my tried-and-true AT&T service, but I haven’t looked back so far.
If you have a compatible device or have been thinking of picking up one of Google’s phones then it will be a great match for your hardware.
If you have the service, leave a comment with your experience and if you are interested in checking it out then I’ll drop my Project Fi referral link one more time!