Google Fi Cancelled My International Data Plan! What Now?
Google Fi cancelled me for my international coverage because I stayed too long outside of the USA. I had been a loyal Google Fi customer for years. I even have the number one post that recommends Google Fi, garnering several hundred referrals that Google never paid (I exceeded referral credits.) Nonetheless, I loved Google Fi for my USA and international travel, and referred Google Fi all the time. When Google Fi cancelled my international coverage, I had to scramble to come up with a way to use my cell phone with my US phone number around the world and to find an international data plan that would cover me as easily as Google Fi had covered me.
I had heard rumors that Google Fi would drop my data plan if I used it for more than six months outside of the US. I thought to myself, no way! I’m a great influencer, and I even have a long chat message from Google that said they don’t have any policy that says they’ll drop users. But they did. They dropped me after being out of the USA for six months.
If you’d rather watch a video of this information, watch this video.
But then, I got the dreaded email. Google Fi told me they would drop my data plan in 30 days if I didn’t return to the US. Aggghh! I was in Mexico for another 35 days and wouldn’t get back in time to come up with a new plan. So I called them. I shared the chat that I had saved. I talked to a manager. I talked to another supervisor. I shared my influencer analytics. I begged. I cajoled.
And they fired me.
I couldn’t believe that google fi international data got suspended. I learned, also, that returning to the US for a day or two to try and “reset my clock” wouldn’t work. It’d just pause the six-month time line, and when I hit six months outside of the US while using Google Fi data, I’d still get cut off.
So what’s it mean that they cut me off? Although I could still use my phone number and phone plan that comes with Google Fi, I couldn’t use any of the data that comes with Google Fi international. This meant that I had a phone that could make and receive calls, but I couldn’t use any of the apps that required data. I could only use the apps when I was on wifi.
How long can you use Google Fi internationally? 3-6 months.
Understanding My Phone Line and Data Plan
I had 28 more days to come up with a replacement for my data plan and/or my entire Google Fi relationship. Frankly, although many of my friends had gone down the local SIM card and esim replacement strategies, I had just ignored them because Google Fi had been good for so many years. With Google Fi, I had a phone number and a data plan and I didn’t need a sim or esim card to get data. Google Fi’s data plan covered me around the world. But in my new lifestyle of full-time traveling nomad where I have no plans to return to the US, I had to come up with a new solution.
Phone Numbers and Data Plans
First, though, I had to understand what I had. Here’s Cell Phone Basics 101 from a Google Fi point of view.
With Google Fi like with other American-based phone providers such as AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile, I had a phone line and a data plan. The phone line cost about $15 a month and the data plan cost $10/G. I don’t think I really understood that those were two different things until I had to figure out how to replace them. When I realized I had a phone line and a data plan, I determined my criteria for each part of my cell phone needs.
Watch the video of this blog post right here.
Criteria for Phone Service and Data Plan
Here were my criteria for the type of phone service and data plan I wanted to have:
- I wanted to keep my US phone number and make and receive calls with my US phone number.
- I wanted a data plan that was affordable and easily moved from country to country without having to worry about it expiring or having to change settings in each country.
- I wanted easy access to make changes to my data plan if necessary.
- I didn’t want to have to chase down SIM cards or eSIMS, country by country.
- I wanted immediate access to data once I landed on a tarmac ANYWHERE in the world.
Many people will arrive to a new location and get a local sim card or download an eSIM to have data and local phone cell service. This might be the cheapest way to ensure phone and data, but there are limitations to this I wasn’t willing to give up. I had gotten spoiled with Google Fi’s flexibility and seamless ease of use.
Reasons I Didn’t Want to Do the Local SIM Card or eSIM Route
Getting a local SIM card or downloading an eSIM may be the solution for some people, but not for me. These limitations were:
- Hunting for a SIM card or eSIM provider and hoping the airport sold one where it’d probably be more expensive.
- The instructions for local SIM cards or eSIMs are often in the local language.
- Tech support, if it exists, is often in the local language.
- When you get off the plane, you need to get to somewhere, to find the SIM card. And what do you generally use to do this type of task? Google. And if you don’t have internet (or have to rely on the airport’s), you have to ask people. See number 2.
I discovered that my phone, a Pixel 4 with 5G, had an e-sim! Ah-ha, this meant that I didn’t actually have to insert a SIM card, but I’d have to find a provider who had an e-sim that worked for my phone and a plan I liked.
Typical Data Plans Sell Time, Data, and Location
So, I wanted a data plan that I could buy with a long expiration date, plenty of replenishable data, and multiple countries of coverage.
Most of the data plans out there are sold with three variables; the amount of data, the amount of time, and the location So, for example, you can buy 3G for 14 days for use in Italy. Or, you can buy 10G for 30 days for use in Europe. The problem with these plans in my life is that I’m frequently moving countries, and I often don’t know how long I’ll be in a particular country. So buying 5G for 10 days in Spain doesn’t work for me. What if I pop over to France for the day? Would I have to buy a one-day plan and constantly switch back and forth?
Thus, I figured out that I needed to solve both the phone line problem and the data plan problem. Since a data plan alone doesn’t provide phone service, and I wanted a US phone line, I went back to my old friend, Google Voice.
The Difference Between Google Fi and Google Voice
Google Fi is a cell phone provider service where you have a phone line/text messages and a data plan. You pay for both the phone line and the data plan. Google Fi is synonymous with and a competitor to Verizon, AT&&T, T-Mobile, Mint, etc.
Google Voice is a software app on both your phone and computer that simulates a phone line where you can make and receive calls and texts and process voicemail and text messages. There is no data plan. It is free. If you want a data plan, you have to buy it separately and use a SIM or eSIM to run your data plan. It is VOiP.
Google Voice for My Phone Line and How to Use Google Voice
Google Voice is a product offered by Google that allows you to direct your US-based phone number to multiple devices. For example, you may have an office phone number that you want to ring your cell phone when you leave the office. Google Voice can handle that. Google Voice will also allow you to send text messages, and it will convert your voice mail to either email or texts. It’s a fun little tool. What’s important about Google Voice is that there’s an app. This app is how I use my phone. Let me explain.
With Google Voice, I installed the Google Voice app on my phone. I then changed the following settings:
- I directed the app to ring my current cell phone (a Pixel) if a call came in.
- I directed the text messages to also come through the Google Voice app. This ensures I get the two-factor authentication texts that go to my US number without a problem.
- I replaced the default phone dialer that came on my phone with the Google Voice app, and I go there to make calls and send texts.
- I added money to my Google Voice account. When I call a US phone number, even if I’m sitting in Italy, Google Voice thinks I’m making a US to US call (because I’m calling from my US phone number), and the calls are free.
- If I need to make an international call, Google Voice charges me pennies on the minute. So far most international calls on Google Voice cost about $.01 a minute. So, if I’m in Italy and I need to call the local pharmacy, I open the Google Voice app, dial the Italian number using the + sign and the country code. Google tells me how much the call will cost and places it. The receiver of the call sees I’m calling from a US number.
(If you need help, please reach out to Google Voice tech support via chat/phone (not me :-).)
Just a note, you can transfer any US-based number to Google Voice. It doesn’t have to previously have been with Fi. Verizon, T-Mobile, ATT, etc, can all be transferred to Google Voice, but there is a transfer fee paid to Google.
FlexiRoam for My Data Plan
Next, I tackled how to replace my data plan. Using the criteria above for a data plan where I needed an eSIM, multiple country options and appropriate time lines, I found Flexiroam. I reviewed Airalo vs Flexiroam as well, but I dismissed Airalo because their data plans have short expiration dates. At first, I was a bit shocked by Flexiroam’s rates, but then I found out that their Global data plan is almost always on sale for 80% off, making a global data plan super affordable. I paid $65 for 13G for 300 days. Google Flexiroam coupons and you’ll find the coupon codes. I picked Flexiroam for the following reasons. Click here to use my Flexiroam code to get 100M of free data.
- They had an eSIM that I could activate right away.
- Their individual country plans go on sale often too.
- Once you buy a plan, you must activate it within 90 days.
- If you have multiple plans purchased because you took advantage of a sale, the Flexiroam app is smart enough to pick the right plan at the right time due to your geography.
- Tech support is via WhatsApp, a huge benefit for international scenarios.
When I set up my Flexiroam eSim and app, I have to admit it was a bit difficult. I spent some time with tech support, and ultimately realized that the remnants of Google Fi were making it difficult. Once I cancelled my Google Fi, turned off the Google Fi SIM card, and fixed my APN settings, things worked much more smoothly. Now my plan is to continue making calls through Google Voice, using the Flexiroam Global plan as my main data plan and occasionally buying local plans through the Flexiroam app where it makes sense (I’m in Italy for a month, so it makes sense to buy a month’s plan at a cheaper rate than Global), and staying connected through family, friends and some businesses through WhatsApp when I’m on WiFi or roam.
By the way, outside of the USA, it seems everyone uses WhatsApp to make calls and send messages. So the need to use my phone line to connect with people is lessened greatly.
Google Voice with Flexiroam Cheaper than Google Fi
My total costs have actually gone down from Google Fi. My monthly cell phone bill is now around $30 rather than almost double at Fi. But, honestly, it’s not the money that’s driving my decisions here. I was able to hit ALL of my criteria above and stay under budget. Granted, I could do this cell phone solution cheaper by getting local SIM cards, but at the cost benefit of lots of convenience and frustration. No thanks.
Good luck with life after GoogleFi. What solution did you come up with?