Thanks to Google Fi, my phone bill dropped $50 per month during the pandemic

Google Fi Billing Page
Google Fi Billing Page (Image credit: Android Central)

We're all dealing with some crazy circumstances right now, and the coronavirus pandemic has touched most parts of our daily lives. One of the biggest, of course, is not spending much time away from home. And it's in times like these that I see just how great Google Fi's flexible usage-based billing can be — it's saved me $50 per month, and I didn't have to do a thing.

While most people — regardless of carrier — have an unlimited data plan nowadays, Google Fi still offers a basic plan that charges $10 per gigabyte of data used in a month, down to the megabyte. I still use this plan, believe it or not, because my data usage tends to fluctuate month to month and I rarely use over 15GB, which is the level where Fi's "Bill Protection" ends. It turns out this is the perfect pandemic phone plan.

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

My billing period ending March 12, which capped off a few weeks of getting settled into a new apartment and traveling, was a heavy month for my data usage. I ended up using over 8GB, which means I hit Bill Protection at 6GB and had a total bill of $86.50. Then, I was at home. For an entire month. Sure I went to the store and on morning runs, but spent basically no time using my phone on mobile data. My usage was 654MB, or $6.54, and my total bill was just $32.91. My upcoming bill, on May 12, will be even less; I've only used 300MB of data this month — my total bill will be under $30.

This has always been the joy of Google Fi for me. When you don't use any data, you don't pay for any data. Whether it's by choice or not, low-data months automatically turn to low-cost months. Yes the "set and forget" system of an unlimited plan that's the same exact amount every month is nice from a consistency standpoint. But in those months when you're not using much data, you just overpaid — sometimes by a lot. So even if you've been inside for the entirety of April, you paid Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile the same amount you did in March.

Whether you plan it or not, using less mobile data directly leads to a cheaper bill.

Google Fi has an unlimited plan of its own if you want to use it. But the best thing is even if you went into this having previously switched to an unlimited plan, as so many people did once it was introduced, you can switch back to a pay-per-gigabyte plan at any point with just a few clicks on the website. No fuss. And when we're all spending more time outside again (hopefully soon!), you can go right back to your unlimited plan that you prefer.

Look, I don't expect anyone to switch to Google Fi because of the ongoing stay-at-home orders right now. And if you're really trying to save money in these tough economic times you're probably going to go all the way to a true budget offering like Mint Mobile (opens in new tab). But going through this experience of spending so much time inside and on Wi-Fi has shown me just how useful it can be to use a carrier like Google Fi that charges based on data usage, rather than ringing me for the same exact amount every month no matter what I use.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • Yeah. If you are regularly overpaying for your service it's nice to have a break every now and again.
  • Similar story. I have not yet had a need to switch to the unlimited plan. We have three of us on the usage-based plan, mom, dad, and college-based son. We typically spend about $110 each month, based on our usage. With good WiFi at home, work, and all around the college campus, the usage is very consistent. This past month, our bill fell just below $70 for all three of us. That's $50 for the base plan, plus $7 in data, and the rest is taxes and fees. Having been on both AT&T and Sprint in the past, I can honestly say recommend Google Fi to anyone. The support is great, the pricing is great, and the service is what I expect.
  • Looks pretty expensive, in the UK you can get unlimited minutes and texts and 10gb of data on a 30 day rolling contract for £10 a month, which can't be more than $13. Contracts must be much more expensive in the US.
  • > Contracts must be much more expensive in the US. They are, but, normally, not as expensive as Google Fi -- you can have unlimited text/minutes and 8GB data with no contract for $35 (less than that, if you want to buy into 12-month commitment). If you do not need unlimited texts/minutes or if you have family to share your data pool with you can do better than that. But you are absolutely right -- it is hard to beat UK where I pay £10 for 4GB and unlimited text/minutes with no contract, and, if I need more data, I just buy another 4GB for another £10. I guess, there weren't that many news to write about today :).
  • I know hey! For 15 i have 100gb with unlined calls and texts
  • The U.S. is well known for having some of the most expensive mobile phone plans in the world, yes. But that really only holds up when you look at postpaid plans from the big names. You can get very inexpensive prepaid plans with plenty of data that are on the same pricing levels of Europe.
  • Fi is good if you are at home/on wifi all the time. If you use a good bit of data it is no cheaper than the big 3. 
  • If you are using more than 1GB of data, Google Fi is more expensive than most MVNOs out there.
  • "While most people …. have an unlimited data plan nowadays" Really? Like to see a poll on that. 4 options. In US with unlimited plan, In US with limited plan, and Not in US with those options.
  • With Red Pocket MVNO I get 3GB for only $15.54. That's for data only.
  • I'm gonna go even further - I temporarily parked my number on NumberBarn, $6 a month, calls get sent to voicemail and recorded, texts are emailed.
  • I pay $30 a month on Visible for unlimited everything. I use between 70 and 90G a month of data at all times of the day and night. No problems and no slowdown. Of course the biggest draw back is not every phone works on it. But asking with Google and Samsung they have added OnePlus and LG. I use a OnePlus 7T.
  • AT&T military discount of 15% - unlimited everything INCLUDING unlimited Hot-Spot. I dropped my cable internet and use my phones plan for all internet access as well as talk, texts, and data on the phone. $72.xx per month. So, with a "normal" unlimited plan, plus cable internet, would be around $110.00 per month. So I am saving about $38.00 per month. Can't complain.
  • Trust me on this, US cell phone plan rates are expensive as compared to the rest of the world. Most of the world. Some countries give better service and tons of data in cents only. Its the corporate greed, super expensive copyrights, lobbying, unions etc that raise the prices and general public pays for it.
  • I have cricket. 3 lines unlimited $90/month. Very happy with the service