Project Fi, a mobile service from Google that puts Wi-Fi first, is intriguing for its simplicity and reasonable rates. Customers pay only for the data they use, regardless of it that data is used in Nebraska or Nicaragua.
At a glance
- Plans start at $20 per month
- Notables: Pay only for the data you use, at a flat rate; good international roaming rates; limited phone selection
Project Fi cell phone plans
For $20 a month on Project Fi, you get unlimited talk and text, including unlimited international texting. Data is a flat $10 per gigabyte, even when roaming internationally.
You can add five more lines to your plan, each for $15 per month. Everyone’s data is still charged at $10 per gigabyte.
That could get dangerous for data fiends, but Project Fi’s “bill protection” feature ensures you won’t end up with a whopper of a bill. Instead of racking up data charges, your usage is free after you hit a certain threshold — 6GB for one line, 10GB for two lines, 12GB for three lines. And, yes, your data is still high-speed.
Project Fi’s network
Project Fi has partnered with Sprint, T-Mobile and now U.S. Cellular for its network coverage. It prioritizes Wi-Fi calling using publicly accessible networks, switching over to the cellular networks only as a backup.
You can transition between Wi-Fi and different networks seamlessly, but the technology required to manage that handoff is why Project Fi’s phone selection is so thin.
How Project Fi compares on prices
Project Fi holds up well against traditional unlimited plans offered by the big national carriers, thanks to its bill protection feature. The most one line would pay for unlimited data is $80 per month, plus taxes and fees.
It is less competitive when stacked up against prepaid providers (see the chart below). But those carriers can’t touch Project Fi’s international roaming.
And unlike other providers that claim you only pay for what you use, Project Fi actually delivers on that promise. If you use 1.3GB of data, you pay for 1.3GB of data, not 2GB.
|1GB or less||2-4GB||5-7GB||8-10GB||Unlimited|
|*Project Fi customers pay $20 for unlimited talk and text. Data is billed at a rate of $10 per gigabyte.
**Republic Wireless customers pay $15 for unlimited talk and text. Data is billed at a rate of $5 per gigabyte.
|AT&T GoPhone||$35 (1GB)||$50 (8GB)||$65|
|Boost Mobile||$35 (3GB)||$50|
|Cricket Wireless||$25 (talk and text only)||$30 (2GB)||$40 (5GB)||$55|
|MetroPCS||$30 (2GB)||$40 (10GB)||$50|
|Project Fi*||$20 (talk, text and Wi-Fi)|
|Republic Wireless**||$15 (talk, text and Wi-Fi)|
|Sprint prepaid||$45 (4GB)||$65|
|Straight Talk Wireless||$30 (1,500 minutes, unlimited texts and 100MB data)||$35 (2GB)||$45 (10GB)||$55|
|T-Mobile prepaid||$45 (4GB)||$50 (10GB)||$60|
|Verizon prepaid||$30 (500MB)||$40 (3GB)||$50 (8GB)||$70|
|Virgin Mobile||$35 (5GB)||$45 (10GB)||$60|
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Stephen Layton is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.