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Project Fi is an interesting new carrier choice with some great features, like access to two mobile networks and Wifi calling, but perhaps its greatest draw is the way it bills you for service. It's not unlike many prepaid carriers in that it charges you up front for service that you use in the month, but the way Fi refunds you for unused data, doesn't charge extra for overages, and gives you a clear and concise bill is intriguing.

We've used Project Fi for over a month now, and finally have two full bills to look at and see just how easy the billing process is. This is how it goes down when its time to pay Google for phone service.

Billing basics

Billing in Project Fi is first and foremost about clarity and accessibility. When you start service you pay a flat rate of $20 per month to get unlimited calls, texts and 24/7 support — you then select how much data you expect to use, to the tune of $10 per gigabyte no matter how much you want. The service begins, and you get your first bill right then and there — no tricky stuff or fine print. You'll pay the flat rate for the "basics" and how much data you want, plus required federal and state taxes (came out to about $5.50 for us).

You get a little more payment flexibility than most prepaid carriers, but it's still a basic system.

Here's where things are a little different than your standard prepaid carrier — Project Fi doesn't immediately collect on the bill it just gave you. There's actually a 10 day period from when the "prepaid" bill is finalized and you're charged automatically (there's no manual payment option), during which time you can still change which card you're using to pay via Google Wallet. If your payment fails for whatever reason at that time, your service is suspended after three days. That means you get a little more leeway in payment, but nothing approaching how long you have to pay a standard postpaid bill from another carrier.

Unlike some prepaid carriers that give you 30 days of service no matter how many days the current month has, Project Fi always starts and ends on the same day of the month. For example our first bill on Fi is from June 12, which was the day we started service, and the second bill is right on time at July 12. The next bill date is already set at August 12. No guessing.

Refunds, plan changes and savings

Project Fi differentiates itself in billing primarily with data refunds and no extra overage charges. As we mentioned before, when you prepay for your month of service you're paying for how much data you expect to use in one gigabyte increments. We say "expect" because Project Fi will refund you on your next bill for any data you paid for but didn't use in the month. It even refunds you down to the cent for each megabyte you didn't use.

Choose how much data you want, get refunds if you don't use it, and don't fear overages.

For example if you paid $30 for 3GB of data in a month, but only used 2.27GB, you'll be refunded $7.30 for the 730MB you had paid for and not used. That $7.30 comes up as a direct credit on your next bill as the top line item. If instead you paid for just 1GB of data and ended up using 3.35GB, you'll simply have an extra charge of $23.50 on your next bill for the 2.35GB you used but didn't anticipate when you paid your first bill. There's no penalty either way — you just pay for what you expect to use, and then get the difference settled on the next bill.

If you find yourself buying too little or too much data frequently, you can choose to change how much data is included in your plan at any time. Whether in the Project Fi app or website, you can add or remove gigabytes of data to take effect on your next bill. Nothing is set in stone until the first day of your next month of service.

You have all of the power here to decide how much you pay and use, and Project Fi makes it simple to follow your monthly usage. You can view past bills to see how much you used before, and for the current month you can view your daily usage — split between "your device" and "tethered devices" for clarity — in the Fi app or website.

With this information at your fingertips and incredibly flexible billing, there's not much you'd be left wanting when it comes to billing from Project Fi.

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

38 Comments
  • Looks simple but the most frustrating thing is the invite request. I submitted my request the first day. Then I get an email that Google would get all invites out by mid-Summer. Last week I get a status update and it says 12 weeks.. That's more like mid-Fall!! Like the "Nexus inventory" fiasco this is another occasion that Google was ill prepared. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nexuses being short on stock and Project Fi requiring invites are two different "problems". Not having enough stock of a phone is a manufacturing, inventory and logistical problem. Project Fi requiring invites is a self-imposed restriction to make sure that they scale up their carrier, support and billing with just the number of people they want so it all goes smoothly and they can test as it grows.
  • With all the people that are online like yourself mention project fi, the common thing seems to be that those that got in on the first invite request were those that didn't have a nexus 6 yet. Those that had one were put on wait. My guess is that it was a carriers request that it be done that way in order to keep people from leaving their current accounts. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Seems like a pretty rough conspiracy. Our forums have dozens of folks who have had Project Fi for some time and used either their current Nexus 6 or bought one elsewhere and just got the SIM delivered. The carriers had nothing to say in this respect. T-Mo and Sprint are just selling wholesale service for Google to resell. They do the same for dozens of other prepaid MVNOs (and have for years) with no such restriction on who can and can't use the service. They're not afraid of losing customers — if they were, they wouldn't make the deals to sell wholesale service in the first place.
  • I'm just going by what I heard on the multiple podcasts that I've heard. They didn't report the theory other than when requesting project fi they were made to wait because they already owned the phone (again it was just a thought by these guys) I would quote them but there's no reason to. Just as much as it was a thought they had I also had my own. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have a Nexus 6 and requested an invite on the first day and I still don't have one.
  • I signed up about 3 weeks ago and live in a area with Sprint Coverage...just checked my status and Google has not given me a expected date...am I doing something wrong here?
  • I got the same 12 week status from Google. The interesting thing is a friend of mine applied around the same time and got a 2-3 week status.
  • It's great, but what really sucks is being locked to one device... I'd love to bring an unlocked Note 4/5 on. Whenever that's allowed, i'll definitely look into it. I already have my invite code.
  • I have my invite too. I'm waiting to see if more phones become available (like the rumoured LG Nexus.) Does anyone know how long the invite stays active? If I need to, I'll sign up now and see if I can swap the phone later. That brings up another question, if you're financing the Nexus 6 through project fi and cancel, do you have to send the phone back or immediately pay the balance? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Invites don't expire.
  • From the requirement you provide a zip code to sign up, I presume that they are spreading the invitations around geographically through their service areas. I signed up somewhat late, but live in a very remote urban area (Honolulu) and was given a date in mid- to late-August.
  • A bit strange to see "Taxes &regulation fees" (~ 17% = 5.57/(40-6.78)) for a "prepaid" plan. On my T-Mobile prepaid plan, there is no taxes and fees added. $30 / month, is just that. So, maybe, this is not really a "prepaid" plan as I thought. It's a "postpaid" plan with no contract and unused refund.
  • Every prepaid service is charging fees one way or another. You can get around things like sales tax by buying prepaid refills, but if they don't charge you an additional set of state/federal taxes on the prepaid bill itself, it's simply baked into the cost of the service and rounded up so you get a flat number every time. At some level any time they offer you phone service there have to be fees, it just depends on how they surface them (or not). I should also note that $3.12 of the $5.67 in taxes on that bill are state taxes — those can vary widely across the country.
  • Those taxes and fees are part of that $30 a month plan. If you turn the bill over and read the fine print and you will see that the state and federal regulatory taxes are included in that $30 if you really want a breakdown of how it all is at it up you can go over to T Mobile's website and request a billing exclamation at all broke down for you bro what you getting at 30 bucks and how much of it taxed. No different than buying gasoline for your car as prepaid right there so much in the tank go so far did another sign on the pump that says X amount of dollars and sense of your prepaid gasoline goes for road work in freeway and highway maintenance but those taxes are included.
  • $30 T-Mobile, Walmart Special FTW!
  • That plan's a great deal. Have used it on multiple different spells.
  • 10 dollars for 1 gig of data is a bit expensive. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's not if you calculate the refunds of unused portions. It's 1 cent per Megabyte - over the long run you'll probably save money by not being overcharged for what you don't use (and consequently not getting gauged if you're over). Only grandfathered Unlimited Plans are better for super heavy data users. For the average customer signing up for today's plans, it's likely a savings.
  • The real problem hear is not $10 per gb,but what do you do when neither WiFi,T-Mobile or Sprint are not available? What are the roaming charges for Data? Text and calling? Mine are -0- on my old Sprint everything plan. Our Son uses about 10gb per month,3-4 gb roaming! And our bill is about $65 per line with all taxes and fees included. Even the newer Sprint unlimited plans are better than fi if you use more than 3gb per month. Does anyone know what fi does about roaming? Posted via the Android Central App, HTC Evo 4g LTE ,on Sprint
  • There are no roaming charges; in fact, data roaming is also mostly free internationally. The "roaming" switch in settings is inactive. (The usual Google Voice pay-per-minute for voice calls tends to apply to real voice calls over data.)
  • I tried to get on Project Fi but they've continued to have a shortage of sim's. I'm waiting on a replacement Nexus 6 right now, but in all honestly I can't see a good reason to leave Cricket for it - yet anyway. No taxes/fees (well, they're built in I guess). Two lines, 2.5gb per line, flat $70 per month. No I don't get a refund if we're at 2gb instead of 2.5. But the extra coverage is well worth it. I can only see Project Fi being really beneficial to those who use very little data each month.
  • Any plan that offers discounts for multiple lines will be a vastly better deal than using Project Fi, indeed.
  • Good point. though it would be a flat $35/month on a single line with Cricket as well. But they do get cheaper the more lines you add beyond 2.
  • Sure, Cricket offers a pretty good deal. They also limit data speeds to 8mbps. Not a big deal for most people, but it is noticeable if you want to tether your phone or just know that you get the highest possible speeds. Cricket also doesn't offer seamless international coverage or Wifi calling. Cricket is $35 for 2.5GB vs $45 for 2.5GB on Fi. Is that worth the small difference in cost? Each person can make up their mind there.
  • I wonder how good is their coverage. Anyone know? I would love to consider this but worry about coverage.
  • It should be Sprint + Tmobile right? So, better than one alone, but still not great?
  • Sprint + T-mobile. They have a coverage map at fi.google.com/coverage.
  • I like this set up where the customers retains so much control and is actually refunded for unused data. I'll certainly buy the next non-phablet Nexus if it's Fi compatible.
  • Great article! Thanks for keeping us in the loop Posted via the Android Central App
  • Andrew - I'm really glad you're keeping us apprised on Project Fi... your articles are great. One thought about the pricing and billing: If I understand it correctly, there would be no reason to signup for, say, three gb of data every month. It would make more sense to keep the coins in my pocket, sign up for 1gb, and if I go over, there's no penalty for under buying data.
  • Yep, it makes no difference how much data you sign up for. The only reason to choose a specific level is to even out your bill from month to month. And the fact that you can change your data allotment every month means you can always adjust for what you expect your usage to be.
  • Can anyone comment on data speed caps? Are there any while on Sprint or Tmobile? Speedtest anyone? Thanks.
  • You get the full speed of the network you're currently connected to.
  • It's too bad that this don't work with Verizon too... it doesn't matter how good the pricing is if you don't have good service with it in your area and Verizon is the by far the best in my area. Verizon is definitely more expensive anything else but to me it's worth it to get the service I expect.
  • I signed up for the service Day 1 and I received my invitation last week. Looks like the issues are sporadic and I hope everyone waiting gets their invite soon. So far I am loving the experience. My port in happened instantly and I love the additional package including the battery, headphones, and case (great move by Google). In my area, Sprint and T-Mobile have great coverage overall, but there are some patches where one compensates for the other. I appreciate the updates in regards to Project Fi on AC and I hope they continue.
  • For as much data as use this would have me pay an extra $375 just in data use only, so for now I'm sticking with my unlimited plan from my carrier
  • Does anyone know if picture messages are free or does Project Fi consider them to use data? My picture messages on att are free, part of unlimited texting. Posted via the Android Central App