Image representing the idea of paths diverging

Cheaper Alternatives To Google Fi

My last post about Google Fi has been getting a lot of traffic. Two sentences from the post provoked a lot of disagreement:

Despite all Fi’s great aspects, I don’t usually recommend it. For most users, it’s just too expensive.

I’m going to double down on that statement, but I want to clarify a few points. I’m not saying no one should use Fi. I’m also not saying Google Fi is one of the worst possible options for most people. A lot of comments disagreeing with me stated a version of the following:

What a dumb post! My wife and I were on T-Mobile paying $150 per month. We switched to Fi. Now we only pay $90 per month!
When I say that Fi is too expensive to recommend it to most people, I don’t mean that no one could save money by switching to Fi. Instead, I mean that most people who could save money switching to Google Fi could save even more money switching to another carrier.

Who should use Fi?

Before diving into alternatives to Google Fi, I want to make it clear that Fi may be a good match for some cell phone users. For example:

  • Extremely light data users who value reliability
  • Frequent international travelers who value the convenience of Fi’s roaming policies
  • People who want to take advantage of Fi’s free data-only SIMs on several low-use devices

Alternatives to Google Fi

The best alternative to Google Fi will depend on a number of factors. For example:

  • Is service being purchased for a single line or multiple lines?
  • How much data will be used each month?
  • How does the subscriber want to make trade-offs between the cost of cell service and the service’s performance?

Below I’ll run through a couple of my preferred alternatives to Google Fi. More details about these carriers can be found within my list of recommended wireless carriers.


As a heads up, I’m affiliated with most of these carriers. If you click a link on my website then purchase service from a carrier I’m affiliated with, I’ll likely get a commission. If you’d prefer I don’t receive a commission, just navigate directly to the carriers’ websites. Details about arrangements I have with carriers can be found on my transparency page. Prices I mention below generally do not include taxes and fees. Headings below link to each carrier’s website.


Tello


Tello offers rock-bottom prices for service over Sprint’s network. Prices are especially good on plans with limited data allotments. For example, $10 per month buys a plan with unlimited texts, unlimited minutes, and 1GB of data.

The downside of Tello is that it runs over Sprint’s network, which has less-extensive coverage than the other nationwide wireless networks.

Mint Mobile


Mint Mobile offers excellent prices for plans with decent data allotments and service over T-Mobile’s network. A plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited talk, and 8GB of data is only $20 per month.

T-Mobile’s network has a more extensive coverage profile than Sprint’s network, but nationwide coverage will still be inferior to service with AT&T, Google Fi (with a Fi-enabled device)[1], or Verizon.

Verizon Prepaid


Verizon’s prepaid plans will generally be more expensive than Tello’s plans or Mint Mobile’s plans. However, Verizon’s network offers more extensive nationwide coverage. Verizon has several different plan options with different data allotments. As one example, a single-line plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 16GB of data is available for $45 per month.[2]

Total Wireless

Total Wireless Logo


Total Wireless operates over Verizon’s extensive network and has especially good prices on family plans with large allotments of shared data. For example, a plan with four lines, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 100GB of shared data is available for $100 per month ($95 per month with automatic payments).

US Mobile


As I mentioned earlier, Google Fi might be a good option for those who don’t use their phone much. However, it’s not the only good option. US Mobile offers service over Verizon’s extensive network at great prices for plans with limited resource allotments.[3] US Mobile has a highly-customizable plan structure that allows customers to pick and choose the allotments of minutes, texts, and data that they’d like.

Footnotes

  1. Without a Fi-enabled device, service with Fi will use T-Mobile’s network.
  2. The $45 per month rate is only available with automatic payment. Without automatic payments, the plan will be slightly more expensive.
  3. US Mobile also offers service over T-Mobile’s network. I don’t think the service over T-Mobile’s network is all that competitive with the prices offered by other MVNOs that offer service over T-Mobile’s network.

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