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. 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 Martonik

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