Google Fi Cancelled Me! What Now?

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.) None the less, I loved Google Fi for my USA and international travel, and referred Google Fi all the time.

So many choices for how to be happy with your phone and data! We sort them out.

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.

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 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.

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 replacement strategies, I had just ignored them because Google Fi had been good for so many years. But in my new lifestyle of full-time traveling, nomad living where I have no plans to return to the US, I had to come up with a new solution.

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, 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:

  1. I wanted to keep my US phone number and make calls with my US phone number.
  2. I wanted a data plan that was affordable and easily moved from country to country without having to worry about it expiring.
  3. I wanted easy access to make changes to my data plan if necessary.
  4. I didn’t want to have to chase down SIM cards, country by country.
  5. 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 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.

Reasons I Didn’t Want to Do the Local SIM Card Route

Getting a local SIM card may be the solution for some people, but not for me. These limitations were:

  1. Hunting for a SIM card and hoping the airport sold one where it’d probably be more expensive.
  2. The instructions for local SIM cards are often in the local language.
  3. Tech support, if it exists, is often in the local language.
  4. You have to get off the plane, get to somewhere, and 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.

Google Voice for My Phone Line and How

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:

  1. I directed the app to ring my current Pixel if a call came in.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. I added money to my Google Voice account. When I make a US call, 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.
  5. If I need to make an international call, Google Voice charges me pennies on the minute. Most international calls have been 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. At first, I was a bit shocked by their 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 code to get 100M of free data.

  1. They had an esim that I could activate right away.
  2. Their individual country plans go on sale often too.
  3. Once you buy a plan, you must activate it within 90 days.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Saving Money on My Cell Phone Service

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?

22 Comments

  1. Allan Brown

    Just discovered you guys today and you answered so many questions. We’re retired and travel a lot. I recently learned about eSIMS and that seems to easily and cheaply take care of the data. I presently use a VOIP service at home in the US for a home # called OOMA and used to use Vonage. Both have apps for my cell phone (Iphone 12) that allows me to call a US number from overseas for free and pay a nominal fee to make an international call (a restaurant across the street if I’m in Rome for example). I also have What’s App. The only thing I need to make these calls is Wi-Fi. I’ve made calls from my hotel room or in restaurants with wi-fi. Will this eSIM data give me the ability to make and receive calls anywhere in Europe? My ultimate goal is that my Iphone will work in Eupope or Asia, etc just like it does here in the US.

    Reply
    • EatWalkLearn

      So glad to see you getting out and traveling! As for iphones, I don’t know, as I use Android. Having said that, with the solution I offer above, I’m able to make and receive calls all over Europe and worldwide with no problems. Google Voice uses esim data from Flexiroam when wifi isn’t available.

      Reply
  2. Mike

    Hi! We’re following what you did, and it’s working great. We’ve run into one issue, and that is sending texts to international numbers while we’re traveling. Google Voice only allows us to texts to the US and Canada. What do you use to text international numbers – like restaurants, etc? I really need something that doesn’t require the other people to have a specific app installed on their phones. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
    • EatWalkLearn

      I use WhatsApp. Everywhere in the world seems to have it.

      Reply
  3. Carolina

    SUPER helpful post! My Google FI was just turned off while in Bali and I have been looking for a solution that’s better than just using a local SIM. Because I also need to receive texts for two factor authentication from my US accounts. I had a friend activate my Google FI eSIM on a phone in the US hoping it would reset (and I removed my eSIM on my phone here in Bali) I can see from this blog now but that won’t work. I love the approach with thinking about the needs of the phone versus the data needs, and the solution that you found. Going to work on setting this up as I will be traveling internationally for the rest of the year. Thanks so much for sharing this information!

    Reply
    • EatWalkLearn

      So glad this was helpful for you. Plan a lot of time to get it all working…it just seems to take longer than you want. But the combo does work. Be prepared to have a chat with tech support once or twice. Once you get it going, though, you’ll be all set.

      Reply
  4. Katie

    Thank you for this! Exactly the hybrid I’ve been researching and thinking about, I’m glad it has been working well for you! So you’re using Google Voice exclusively as your phone service, right? And you’re able to keep your WhatsApp number no problem? I need my number for business but still don’t use the phone SUPER often so I am hoping this can be a solution for me as well.

    Reply
  5. Abbie K

    Excellent article on brave new carrier-free world, thank you! I want to follow in your Google Voice/esim footsteps, but have a couple fast questions:

    1. were you physically in the USA when you ported your USA cell# to Google Voice and tossed GoogleFi? When I read the GV fine print, it sounds like you need to actually be in the USA to initiate porting (but maybe I’ve read it wrong?) Although I’d love to port to GV & ditch GoogleFi now, I’m not in USA until November. In the meantime, I’ve made the leap to esims for data, but GoogleFi is still my carrier (although they suspended my data) — just so I can get 2 Factor Authentication texts from financial institutions & receive calls occasionally.

    2. Am also wondering if/how you receive 2 Factor Authentication texts from financial institutions in your GV/esim configuration?

    3. When you’re in the USA, do you still have a primary carrier or are you beyond that now with GV? Am only wondering having read esims are supposed to be used in addition to a traditional primary carrier, not exactly sure why though.

    4. Now that you’re farther down this road, any other unintended consequences and/or benefits, or anything you’d do differently?

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, experience & expertise, you’re def ahead of the curve!

    Reply
    • EatWalkLearn

      Thanks for the great questions.
      1. I’m sorry to give you a vague answer here, but I’ll tell you what happened. I already had a GV account that was active, but I hadn’t used it in three years when I moved from Fi to GV. I was in Mexico. So, I’m not sure if the fact that I already had GV overrode the US-based requirement or what…so I am sorry, I can’t help you there.
      2. Yes, I’ve had no problems with 2 Factor.
      3. I do not have a traditional carrier, nor do I plan to be in the US anytime soon. If I do, I’ll add a US data plan to my Flexiroam account and use GV to call (together with Whatsapp)
      4. Great question. I’m finding that adding contacts to my google contacts takes a bit of finagling to get them into WhatsApp. But I just learned that if you refresh in WA, it seems to make pulling in the contacts easier. Also, I didn’t really realize I needed to add money to GV for international calls. I kept getting a message saying that GV couldn’t make the call. When I added money, everything worked smoothly. I’m also buying country specific plans along the way that are cheaper than the global Flexiroam plan, but not by that much. Like, for example, I’m in France for a couple of days, and I’m not bothering to buy a French plan. I’m just letting the Global plan do the work. When I get to Spain for a month, I’ll buy a Spanish plan and let the Global chill for a while. I didn’t anticipate that Flexiroam would handle the multiple plans so well; otherwise, I might not have purchased a global plan at all for the time I’m in Europe.

      Reply
    • Tom Chase

      Allow me to jump in to answer one question. We created our google voice accounts and ported our google fi phone numbers while in Mexico in February. (We are Americans). So no, you don’t need to be in the US to do this. Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • EatWalkLearn

        Thanks. Same here. Good clarification!

        Reply
      • Carolina

        Very helpful! Thanks!

        Reply
  6. Paula Kiger

    I learned a lot from this post. You’re pretty resourceful!!

    Reply
  7. Ryan

    THANK YOU for such an amazing and detailed post – and if Google would cancel your Fi account then nobody is ‘safe!’ Just curious – were you using a moderate to high amount of data that may have triggered their algorithms to flag your account or do you think it was just a hard 6 months out of the US? Were there any other providers that you looked at besides FlexiRoam, and any issues with calling and texting persons on legacy carriers using Google Voice? We will be forever traveling soon and this post was invaluable..!!

    Reply
    • EatWalkLearn

      Great questions. I had a two-line plan with my husband, and together we used about 5-6G a month, so I don’t think that was necessarily a lot of data. I really hoped that my one-day stay in the US when I had been 3 months out would trigger a new 6 month timeline, but it didn’t. It appears a LOT of people got all kicked off at the same–almost as if Google “woke up” and decided to fire a bunch of people at once. A year ago, as I was planning to leave for a long period, I had an extensive chat with Google and asked them several different ways and times about this 6 month policy. They swore up and down that they didn’t fire people. It doesn’t make business sense to you and me, does it? Anyhow, I don’t know if the policy changed or what, but Google seems to have decided to drop dead weight, it appears. Anyhow, I looked mostly at Airalo, but I didn’t like their time lines on data and they seemed more expensive. I do have a few friends using them, and they are happy. I think in this space of trying to find a flexible plan that works, it’s not about the money anymore. Granted, we’re not all made of money, but chasing the cheapest data plan is not the option that works for me (I’m willing to pay for convenience as I expressed in the blog.) I have not had any legacy issues. Good luck! Be sure to follow us on social (@eatwalklearn) and let us know where you go!

      Reply
      • Ryan

        Do the two of you share that one Flexiroam data account and each have your own phones with your own Google Voice numbers, too..?? Orrrrr does one need x2 FlexiRoam accounts for x2 separate Google Voice lines.. and thanks again!

        Reply
        • EatWalkLearn

          Great question. We each have our own phones, US phone numbers, and Flexiroam plan. Flexiroam does have a feature that you can share you data with others, but we haven’t used that yet.

          Reply
  8. Bob Rippee

    Sounds like a good option to me. I haven’t started the nomad life yet, but will one day, and had already thought I’d use Google Fi for the obvious convenience. Now that is gone so you have given me an option to consider, with detailed steps, instead of the local SIM card deal too. Thanks!

    Reply
    • EatWalkLearn

      If you can use Google Fi because you’re not out of the US for six months, I’d recommend it for sure. Bon voyage! AS you get ready to go, you might find my new book helpful in your planning. https://amzn.to/3EdyIyW

      Reply

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Chris and Steve, the empty-nesting nomads, travel the world, one month at a time, housesitting and Airbnbing along the way. We uncover urban walks, great hikes, and vegan/vegetarian eats that other guide books miss. And we throw in a bit about Forex trading along the way.

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