The largest change to Google Fi this year is that you can no longer use any overseas data, texts, or calls with the Simply Unlimited plan. That overseas component was Google Fi’s main appeal and a differentiator among other low-cost cellular plans. The change is not enough to warn somebody off Google Fi entirely, since we recommend the Flexible plan that retains included overseas data, as well as unlimited free texts and calls (like Unlimited Plus), but a routine traveler should avoid the Simply Unlimited plan specifically. Calls on the two good plans are a flat 20 cents per minute from outside the US.
The lower Simply Unlimited plan limits hot spot tethering to 5 GB, while the higher Unlimited Plus has no limit on tethering. The Flexible plan’s tethering is covered by its $10 per GB à la carte setup. While the Flexible and Unlimited Plus plans include shareable data to use with tablets and other devices, Simply Unlimited does not.
Google Fi uses the 4G LTE and 5G networks of T-Mobile and US Cellular. It’ll throttle (slow) your data after you pass a certain monthly threshold: 15 GB for the base tier and 35 and 50 GB for the unlimited plans. Data after 6 GB is free on plans for a single phone line, so you won’t get a surprise bill if you lose track of your data use. That data threshold increases the more lines you have on your plan.
It works with all kinds of phones, including those from Samsung, OnePlus, Google, and Motorola. Unlocked iPhones work too, though it’s still in beta, and 5G isn’t supported on Apple devices. Fi switches between US Cellular and T-Mobile for the best quality, but this network switching is only available on select phones (iPhones not included). You can check whether your device is fully compatible here.
Google Fi offers a plan for $20 per line + $10 per GB of data and unlimited plans for $50 and $65. If you have five or more lines, the standard plan is reduced to $16 per line (plus $10 per GB), and if you have four or more lines, the unlimited plans go down to $20 and $40 per line, respectively.
Phone compatibility: Most phones will work just fine with Fi, but only a handful fully support its unique network-switching feature.
Best if You Hardly Use Any Data
Ting revamped its data plans not long ago from the most à la carte method imaginable—in which you paid on a sliding scale for every single aspect of a phone plan—to a more typical tiered system. All plans include 5G and 4G LTE network access, unlimited talk and text, and a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot. The $10 Flex plan comes without any data, and you pay $5 per gigabyte of data you use. If you hardly use data, this is the best plan on the market. You have the core features of fast network access and limitless talk and text without the high price of paying for data you won’t use.
The $25 plan includes 5 gigabytes of data, all of which you can use over a hot spot, but the $35 plan lets you use only 8 gigabytes of its 12-gigabyte allotment over a hot spot. Both are solid deals, but they are outclassed a bit by the competition. There are two unlimited plans for $45 and $55 per month, but competitors offer better options, when you consider Ting’s high prices and, well, its definitely limited data: 22 and 35 GB of data, respectively, before 2G kicks in.