This guide was first published on Globalization Guide.
Google Fi is by far the best cell phone plan for digital nomads, perpetual travelers and global citizens. In this article we will tell you what makes it great, and how to get it.
- Global: supports more than 200+ countries
- Cheap: get 15GB data for 80$
- Universal: supports iOS & Android
How to sign up for Google Fi if you don’t live in the USA
Google Fi Basics
In the past, international travelers had two choices. Either pay skyhigh roaming fees on their national phone plans, or go through the process of buying local sim cards at every new destination.
Google Fi supports more than 200+ countries. Here is a list of all countries currently supported: https://fi.google.com/about/international-rates/
It’s a great feeling to touch down at a new location, bring your phone out of airplane mode, and have instant reception in whatever country you just arrived.
Below we will show you the obvious as well as the less obvious reasons, why you could benefit from switching over.
Easy to Understand Cost Structure
Google Fi has a simple and straightforward cost structure. Especially compared to other international phone plans it wins in terms of usability and total costs.
You pay a monthly fee of 20$ for the Fi basics, which include a US phone number and cellular coverage in all supported countries.
If you are not using it, you can pause your contract for up to three months at a time and pay nothing.
Costs of phone calls and text messages
Receiving and sending text messages is free, worldwide.
How much a phone call costs depends on whether or not you are in the US, and if that phone call uses wifi/data or the cellular network.
Inside the US all incoming phone calls are free. You can also call any number in the US, Canada and Mexico for free.
Outside of the US we have to separate between calls that use the local cellular network or that use wifi/data. Incoming and outgoing calls using the cellular network costs 20c/min, in all supported countries. Not super expensive, but not very cheap either.
Incoming calls using wifi or cellular data are free.
Outgoing calls using wifi or data over 3G/LTE vary in their cost. For example to call a cell phone in Germany costs only 1c/min. You can see the complete list here.
Cost for mobile data & bill protection
This is where Google Fi really shines.
You pay 10$ per GB of data. That cost stays the same in all 200+ supported countries. No more expensive roaming fees or local sim cards, any time you change the country.
Early 2018 Google introduced “bill protection”. This drastically lowered the cost for heavy data users.
The first 6 GB are priced at the regular 10$/GB. After that the bill is capped, and you can use additional 9 GB of data without any extra cost. After a total usage of 15GB you can still use data, only at a lower speed.
If you need higher speeds, you can activate it again at the regular price of 10$/GB.
In case there are multiple lines activated on the Fi plan, the overall cost per user drops even further.
Example 1: 2 GB of Data Usage
Fi Basics: 20$
2 GB Data: 20$
Total = 40$ + tax
Example 2: 15 GB of Data Usage
Fi Basics: 20$
First 6GB Data: 60$
GB 6-15: free
Total = 80$ + tax
Multiple Lines and SIM cards
You can add multiple numbers to your Fi plan. You could get your wife, girlfriend, children, employees their number.
All given prices are without taxes. How much additional tax will be added depends on the state the address you used to sign-up is based in. In Miami the tax sum up to around 5$ on an 80$ bill.
Reasons to switch to Fi
Currently there is no comparable phone plan for international travelers like Google Fi. If you’re just looking for cheap data there are some countries where you could save money buying a local sim card. But nothing beats the convenience of arriving in a new country and being able to use your phone right after landing.
Better connection through multicarrier access
Depending on the country you will often be able to choose between several cellular networks. You no longer have to choose a specific local provider and then hope for good reception at the places you are staying. Fi will generally give you access to several or all of the local cellular networks.
Verification-Tool: Receive SMS without cellular connection
SMS has become a very important tool for personal and 2-factor-authentification. If you can’t receive SMS, you often can’t log into your online banking, cryptocurrency exchange, or similar services. With Fi you can always receive text messages, as long as you have either cellular or wifi connection.
Still make calls or receive sms if your phone gets lost or stolen
This is another huge beneficial feature for Global Citizens. What happens if you lose your phone or it gets stolen when using a regular sim card? You are temporarily, possibly egen permanently, not able to receive any text messages or make phone calls using that number.
Not so with Fi. Using the Hangouts app you can log into your account on any phone or computer, and receive text messages or make phone calls using your Google Fi number, while you wait for the replacement sim card to reach you.
Customer support provided by Google
The average carriers are among the companies most dispised by consumers, because they tend to have absolutely horrible customer support, Who hasn’t spend hours with their carrier in the past trying to resolve some minor issues.
Now your customer support is being provided by Google. The few times I had to use it, service was absolutely amazing. Quick and very helpful.
The US number can trigger FACTA regulations
In one case the fact that Google Fi is based in the United States can be a downside. Banks and financial institutions can take this as a indicator that you may be a tax resident of the United States and trigger FACTA procedures. That can mean having to fill out US tax forms. Or in some cases it’s not even possible to use your Fi number to sign up for a certain service. These cases are exceptions however. Most of the time there are no issues.
How to sign up for Google Fi as a non-resident
Officially Google Fi is only marketed to US residents. But if you follow our step by step guide, you can get it even if you don’t ever go to the US.
This is what you will need.
- US Google account
- Supported shipping address
- Supported US credit card
If you don’t have any of that right now, don’t worry, we will tell you exactly what to do.