Google Fi: Their new $20/month Worldwide Phone Service

Shot on Nexus 6 - you may start noticing nicer pictures on this blog from now on.

Shot on Nexus 6 – you may start noticing nicer pictures on this blog from now on.

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I have been a fan of Republic Wireless for several years now. Sneaking onto the scene in 2012, they quietly started offering a more-or-less Unlimited Everything smartphone plan for $19 per month while most of us were still forking over $50 to $100 for our service.

I joined their beta program as soon as they would let me in and I’ve been a happy customer ever since. I wrote about it more than once and thousands of this blog’s readers have become loyal customers since then. It’s almost a badge of membership, to whip out your Republic Moto X phone at a meetup of Mustachians to show you are the real deal.

Since then, the company has been upgrading technology, bringing in new phones and recently changed their plan structure to become even cheaper for the majority of users: $10 per month base price (unlimited talk and text) / with data as needed at $1.50 per 100 megabytes with no minimum charge (see Figure 1 for an example).

Republic's rate structure as of September 2015

Fig. 1: Republic’s rate structure as of September 2015

Despite the boiling competition in the US phone market (among dozens of companies known as Mobile Network Virtual Operators), the Republic setup has been a no-brainer and no other offer has tempted me to stray from my simple plan.

Until Now.

This year, rumors started circulating that Google itself was starting a phone service called Google Fi. I’m a long-time Google Fanboy and I get great life efficiency gains from their search, email, calendar, documents, photo, and map/navigation programs among others. So I had high expectations.

Although the $20 per month base price was double that of Republic Wireless, I found the specs tantalizing because the Google Phone service works virtually worldwide with no roaming charges. That is right – in 120 countries, you get seamless voice, text and data at the same price as you do in the US:

Google Fi Pricing:

• $20 per month for unlimited talk+ text
• $10 per Gigabyte ($1 per 100MB) data In Most Developed areas of the Earth
• And it includes Wi-Fi Tethering
(Update: they have now added a referral bonus system: you can use mine, or one from any of your Fi-using friends, for a $20 credit)

This sounded useful to me, since the Mustache family spends every summer in Canada, plus I end up in Central or South America at least once a year too. Longer stays in Europe, Australia and New Zealand are coming too, as my boy grows up and becomes more comfortable with the world outside our bubble. While my Republic service continues to work worldwide whenever there is Wi-fi, I have found the lack of true international cellular access to be quite limiting when planning complex adventures on the fly. When you add in tethering (the ability to broadcast my own private Internet Cafe) to allow me to work on the blog with a laptop in foreign lands or share data with friends, the appeal became even stronger.

At this point, you would be fully right to start playing your Mocking Violin of Consumer Justifications, then ask if I’d like a Bedpan and a Catheter to go along with this serving of Worldwide Data and Wi-fi tethering. It’s totally over-the top, and if I were living my true retired pre-Mr. Money Mustache-life, I’d be traveling less, floating in fewer business expense account dollars, and probably not upgrading to Google Fi at this point. Especially when you find out how much the phone cost me.

The Overly Fancy Google Phones

Like Republic Wireless, Google Fi keeps costs down (and flexibility up) by using a hybrid calling system: if you are out in the wild, the phone selects between Sprint, T-mobile, or international carrier networks as needed. But if you’re connected to a reliable Wi-Fi network, it routes all your calls and text seamlessly through the Internet instead. You don’t have to know what is going on in the background, but it means the phone needs some special capabilities and software to let this happen. This means that both Republic and Fi only work on selected phones.

When I first wrote this post in September 2015, Google Fi service was available on only one phone, a massive but powerful “phablet” called the Nexus 6. Then the phone options greatly improved – there was the standard-sized Nexus 5x and the bigger Nexus 6P, both absolutely top-of-the-line and worth giving up an iPhone for.

Unfortunately, both of these were discontinued as Google moved on to the insanely pricey Pixel and Pixel 2 models. As of November 2017, the best option is a used Nexus 5x from eBay ($150 or less), or the new Motorola G6 or x4 from the Google store ($200 and $250 respectively as of September 2018).


Nexus 6 vs. Moto X v1 vs. Antique iPhone 4 for scale, all with thin protective cases. All phones are equidistant from the camera, so the Nexus is indeed way bigger. But Look how many icons and fancy things I can fit on my homescreen now! Note that my hands are on the XL side, so it might be a two-hands phone for less lanky readers.

The original Nexus 6 was my biggest reservation about adopting the service back when the Nexus 6 was the only option, because I have some manly insecurities about public displays of technology. I like my phone functional, but minimalist and tough. My phone spends most of its days walking around in a tattered pair of construction pants experiencing heat, pressure and sawdust. In the winter it might be squeezed into some snowboard pants next to a Ziploc of almonds and sliced cheese. I drop it on concrete floors occasionally. I attempt to take selfie videos while mountain biking. And I try to take incognito photos of jam bands through the cloud of Marijuana smoke that hangs over the busy crowd of fellow revelers. None of these activities seem to pair nicely with a $350 telephone that sports a massive, bright 6″ screen with 2560×1440 resolution. I was worried that cooler men would make fun of me if I whipped out a big toy like this in public.

But in real life, it’s not so bad. My initial horror at the size of the phone upon opening the box quickly faded, and I noticed that it is definitely more useful for reading long emails, books and websites. The clarity and color of the screen is somewhat astonishing, as is the quality of photos and videos the camera can produce. It has stereo speakers that are actually good enough to get a few friends dancing in your hotel room in a pinch. It also has long life battery and a multi-mode charger that can fill the big battery much more quickly than normal, ideal for a rapid boost during a day of travel.  It’s powerful enough that I will now start leaving my laptop behind for most trips. And it still fits easily in my pocket.

With a few adjustments to daily life (I stash the phone in a backpack instead of my pocket when doing a harsh day of construction), it works fine for me after all. And for those with office jobs, it is even more compatible.

But How Much Will the Data Cost Me?

The first question I had when moving away from a plan with ‘unlimited’ data, is how much the new setup will cost in typical use. The easiest way to check was to look at my data use on the Republic plan during early August, which was a time of extensive travel for me. Both Google Fi and Republic make this really easy with their respective built-in apps:


My Republic data use in August (left) vs. Google (right) data use over the past week. My peak month in the past year was about 320MB.

For those who use more, your optimum choice will vary because of the different rates of the two carriers.



Due to Google’s cheaper data rates, they break even with Republic around the 2GB/month data usage level.

How to Cut YourData Use

data-adjustIf you find you’re using much more than me, it might be due to apps stealing some of your data in the background rather than stuff you’re actually doing yourself. If you look at Settings -> Data Usage, you’ll see a breakdown of how much data each application consumed. Then you can decide to nuke or restrict any apps that you don’t think should be using data while the phone sits in your pocket.

For example, on my phone I tapped each app in the list and found that the Chrome web browser was using some foreground data as expected, but the Engage energy monitor app was also sucking up mobile data in the background, which is not acceptable to me – I don’t need information on my home’s energy consumption while the phone is sleeping in my pocket. So checked the “restrict background data” option for that app. Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Skype and other audio/video intense programs may consume a lot of data. At today’s data prices, you can afford to be sloppy, but if you are burning multiple gigs per month, it is worth optimizing.

Scary Data Epilogue: The day after typing that paragraph, I went to the grocery store and found the phone annoyingly trying to connect to the store’s network, so I disabled WiFi. Then I went home, made lunch, and watched a useful Ted talk and a pointless rap video on YouTube as I ate. Forgetting to re-enable WiFi first. This immediately burned 482 MB, which is equal two months of normal data consumption, or $4.82, or a pint of good beer at the new Wibby brewery. Oops! Just like money, data can easily fly out the window while delivering little or no life benefit.

So What is Mr. Money Mustache’s Final Choice?

For my own life as a recovering computer nerd who also maintains this fairly active blog, the greater worldwide connectivity,  and fancier phone make it worth the extra cost of switching to Google Fi. So it’s a keeper. If you need more money in your pocket more than you need data during international travel, however, Republic is probably a wiser choice, because both the phones and plans are cheaper. For ultimate frugality, you can even buy a used Republic-compatible Moto X from ebay for under $100.

Mrs. Money Mustache, however, plans to keep her Republic Wireless service as always. She can just inherit my Moto X phone as an upgrade from her Moto G. In fact, when traveling together her phone can simply use mine as a Wi-Fi hotspot so both will continue to function internationally. We may even pass the Moto G along to Junior MM for use as a music player and camera, perhaps activating it at some point so he can keep in touch with us and with his friends as he becomes more independent. At a base price of $10 per month, getting phones to allow you to keep a leash on kids no longer seems like an exorbitant thing to do.

If you’re interested in checking out Republic Wireless plans, you can do so here.

(Note: This blog is still a happy Republic affiliate and I also used Amazon affiliate links in keeping with my Affiliate Policy. )

So if you’re still paying $30+ for a phone of any type, get with the program!



Footnotes and FAQ:

“I live in Canada (or another country).. Can I just get one of these and use it instead of my own country’s inferior phone options?”

Technically it could work. You’d need a US billing/shipping address to set up the service, but once you have it established everything is done online. However you’d have a phone number that would be billed as “international” if your friends called you, and you would still have to pay international rates to make local calls (20 cents/minute for calls from Canada to Canada, for example). See traveling rates here. SMS remains free, but data speeds may be limited to lower rates as well.

Extra Data Simsin December 2015, Google added a cool “free extra data devices” feature: they will ship you extra SIMs you can pop into compatible laptops and tablets (like the Nexus 9) to share the metered $10/GB data that comes with your plan. This could be useful for sharing the affordable data love to family members in other countries. More details here.

“How’s the Reception and Sound Quality?”

Great as far as I can tell. Still got data in some pretty remote mountain valleys, plus wi-fi calling means both of these phone options are REALLY solid even inside heavy structures with metal roofs like my house, or a basement computer lab where you might not normally get a signal. The Nexus 6 in particular has some beefy voice processing hardware (and 4 microphones!) which may be helping improve call clarity.

“How is the International Service in Practice – do you actually get reception?

Update: I took this phone to Ecuador in October 2015, and found slightly flaky but still very useful performance. Landing in Quito I saw “no service”, but rebooted the phone and it reawakened with full voice and data signal.

This signal remained usable along the winding mountain highways, and in the towns of Mindo and San Miguel de Los Bancos. However there was no reception visible at my resort.. except one time when I had full voice signal (no data) and made a few phone calls. It intuitively feels to me like a software problem rather than a cell reception (analog) problem, which means Google may be able to make it reliable with future releases. I’ll update you on the Canadian situation after my next trip there. But already, it was astounding to be able to use my phone in South America, accruing a grand total of $1.70 of data charges for my 0.17GB of use.

Google Voice Users: If you have an existing Google Voice account, the Fi service will want to take that over as the real phone number for this phone, or else make you give up your old Google Voice number in favor of whatever number you choose to use with Fi. (You can port in an existing number, or generate a new one.)

I’m not sure exactly why this restriction exists, but I happily embraced the Fi as my new Google Phone, as the other features like multi-phone call forwarding continue to work. Another alternative would be to create a second Gmail account to associate with the phone and a different phone number, so it doesn’t know about your main Google Voice account.

Republic Tethering Update: In early December, Republic announced new support for tethering on all their standard “Republic Refund” plans. You simply pay for any extra data you use at their usual $15/GB rate.

“Why are you mentioning Republic again when you wrote about them last year?”

Long-time readers of the blog often feel that we’re all old-timers and thus should not repeat stories too much. But from my end the stats screens tell a different story: due to churn and growth, over half of readers are generally new within the last 6 months. The biggest things people seem to mention to me in their financial recovery stories are ditching bank-financed gas guzzlers,  starting to ride bikes, and switching to Republic. So besides sharing my excitement over Google Fi with fellow tech geeks, this post is meant to introduce the newest 50% to ten-dollar smartphone service via Republic.

Republic may be slightly bummed that I left them, but if they happen to read this I offer the following suggestions: add Wi-fi tethering to your service ASAP (now done – nice work guys!). Then start thinking about international, maybe starting with Canada and Mexico if it’s easier. Competition does not stay still and good luck!


  • AL October 23, 2015, 9:02 am

    Republic doesnt do unlimited plans any more. So Instead I went to Cricket and got a Moto E for $80 and unlimited text/talk + 2.5GB of fast data for $35(w/autopay) and no limits to slow data after that!

  • David November 6, 2015, 11:10 am

    I’ll keep my flip phone. Only $10 for the phone.

  • Kate November 9, 2015, 8:33 pm

    I switched to Republic from Verizon after reading the MMM blog. After nearly a year of spotty service, missed calls, and delayed/chopped-up, rearranged text messages, I crawled back to Verizon, happy to pay for cell phone service that actually works. Not all money saving measures are worthwhile. As a health care provider who is often on call, I couldn’t afford to hang with Republic. $12/month was indeed too good to be true.

    • Michelle A November 15, 2015, 6:20 pm

      I’ve been on Republic for 1.5 months. The only problem I have is that they don’t have a way to denote a certain wifi to never be used for calls, so I have to turn off wifi before calling when I’m home and seem to have to call someone back if they call me when I’m on wifi at home (even if I’m able to handover the call to cellular, the connection isn’t good). It’s annoying, but receiving calls isn’t a huge requirement for me. I would likely not recommend the service for anyone who receives phone calls regularly (and who has internet service that is not conducive to wifi calling). But even in that case, I’d recommend one of the many other cheap providers that’s not Verizon.

  • Chris H. December 4, 2015, 7:42 pm

    Fellow mustachians,

    The cheapest service I found is RingPlus. They have a FREE phone plan (1500 minutes, 1500 texts, and 1500 MB’s data)! They have promotions from time to time. It is worth it to keep an eye out for promotions.

    As the saying goes, if it is too good to be true it probably is. There are a few caveats with the service. First of all, this runs on Sprint which can be an issue for those with poor Sprint coverage. Secondly, they run music, ads, news during your phone call instead of hearing a ring while calling someone. Once the other person picks up the line, it obviously stops. This service is subsidized by ads. Thirdly, you must put in your credit card for an automatic top-up. If you run out of funds, your account will automatically be refilled. Fourth, if you go over your allotment of minutes, texts, or data they charge you $0.02. Fifth, MMS is not free and costs $0.04 per message. These caveats are not important significant enough to matter for me. This is so much better than some other free phone plans out there (Freedompop). The main advantage over Freedompop is that RingPlus uses the actual voice towers instead of routing calls through VOIP which means voice coverage is actually very good.

    My wife and I are currently on Cricket Wireless with her family for $100 (5 lines). We pay for 2 lines, so it is $40. We can bring this down to $0 by switching to RingPlus. I bought a Moto E LTE Black Friday for $30. I plan to transition us out of Cricket depending on my experiment with RingPlus.

    This is honestly the most mustacian plan I could find since it will bring our yearly phone bill from $480 to $0! My main concern with this company is the sustainability in their business model, but it is worth it get the free phone service while it is there. I hope this can help someone. Here is a link to their plans if anyone is interested:


  • Em December 12, 2015, 1:21 pm

    Republic Wireless just added Wi-fi tethering on December 9, 2015, with the Republic Refund plan (as inexpensive as $17.50/mo)!

    • Michael December 13, 2015, 10:11 pm

      I was wondering if I was missing something or if this was a new feature. Just found the blog and was randomly going through old posts. Here is their document


      • Em December 14, 2015, 11:49 am

        Oh! That doc’s dated 10/20; even earlier. I think Republic must have read MMM’s blog post… I get their e-mail updates just to follow them (even though I’m with Ting now) and received the e-mail notice on 12/9.

  • Mark b December 15, 2015, 5:20 pm

    I’m beginning to really believe in the power of MMM.

    As of Six Day ago, on Dec 9, 2015, RW has declared to its prospective audience (myself included):

    “Tethering is now at Republic!

    Starting today, with the Republic Refund™ Plan, comes the option to
    to connect up to 10 other devices to the Internet1.

    Switch to our money-saving Republic Refund™ Plan
    with cell data on demand today!”

    Of course they have to sneak in the fine print that excludes their best offer of 1GB or below:

    “1 Data consumed while tethering is consumed as cellular data under your Republic Refund™ Plan (not available on Republic 1.0 plans).”

    I don’t travel international, and tethering is not a huge deal for me, except for perhaps on long trips in the car. I wonder if signing up for the 1.5GB offer would result in a big enough refund if I only ended up using less than 1GB of data as it is?

    The fact that MMM has had this plan since 2012 has definitely sealed the deal for me, since I’m in the domestic/save more money up front crowd he referred to. And even more so now that I can find a “good enough” Moto X for $150 or less on ebay vs the $250 I’m looking at from their site.

    Sheer genius.

  • Matt R January 4, 2016, 7:09 pm

    Just put in a request foe Google Fi service. I’m not a tech person but like the idea and will this replace traditional carriers? Who knows but the price of the phones are not really anymore expensive than when I looked at AT&T and Verizon. I want or was told that 32 GB will do for me at $500 for the phone I’ll just grin and bear it. I got the funds and OOH well I’ll spend it. I like that I only pay for data I use. Considering this is my first smart phone i have no idea what 1 GB gives you in usage. MMM does everyone get an invite as long as there is service in the area? It shows dark green over me so service shouldn’t issue. Well this is a learning curve because I am NOT technical at all.

  • Mystic January 5, 2016, 9:26 am

    I pay 20$ a month for unlimited talk, text and 2.5 GB data every month on cricket wireless which is owned by Atnt. To get that rate you have to have 5 lines so i pooled with a friend with 3 people household and 2 of us. It works pretty well shaving off 50$ a month for 2 of us ( earlier paying 90$ for unlimited talk text and 1.5 GB data each). So guys i found my service better than represented in this article unless you need to use for international travel. I was in europe for 3 weeks and got a local sim which wasn’t more than $15 a month to use there.

    I have an ASUS zenfone that i bought for $200 which i rate 3.5 on 5. I got a Nexus 6 for $279 on amazaon deal of the day that has great specs but its pretty big so i need to decide if i should keep it or sell it on ebay for decent 60$ profit.

  • AmyP January 6, 2016, 4:03 pm

    UGH I have read through everything and still don’t know what to do. Right now we each have a perfectly good iphone 5s. We are on verizon. I think done with contract (he pays these bills) and we pay something crazy like 120-130 a month. I can’t stand it. It also feels bad to buy new phones to get on RW or Google Fi. I’m working right now to figure out our usage but we are almost always on wifi. What is the mustachy thing to do here? I also just read all the complaints about RW. I am in boulder/superior CO and moving to Seattle in the summer. Dunno about service. Thoughts?

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 7, 2016, 9:06 am

      Hey Amy,

      You could either sell the iPhones for a great chunk on eBay and use that money for two Moto Xs with Republic (low-cost option) two Nexus 5xs with Google Fi (fancy option). Or take the iPhones over to Straight Talk Wireless, which has verizon-compatible plans for a fraction of what you are burning right now. Good luck!

      • AmyP January 7, 2016, 9:28 am

        Any thoughts on the RW complaints going on here? I work in Boulder, live right by Jeffco airport. Never talk on the phone except on way home from work to my parents for fun. Wifi all day at work. I like to use maps while in the car once in a while. I use FB and Insta and some $$$ apps. I was all gung ho for RW – now gun shy.

        • Eric January 7, 2016, 10:40 am

          I have a no-data plan with RW and I am very happy. There are occasional glitches, but these may be innate to mobile phones in general. I have purposefully refused a data plan, even though my company would reimburse me for the cost, to help minimize my reliance on data. There is always the option to turn on data temporarily if I really needed it, but I haven’t done so in the 2 years I have been on RW. Since I am around Wi-Fi all day, lack of data is rarely an issue anyway. All that said, there are RW plans that allow a certain amount of data, if that is important to you.

        • Max January 7, 2016, 3:26 pm

          Amy, I think most people are happy with RW. I voiced some complaints about my 1st gen Moto X earlier in this thread (and have actually moved to Google Fi), but my wife and granddaughter are pleased with RW and remain there. I think you can exercise the 30 day satisfaction guarantee as your exit clause if you find it not to work well enough for you. With what you’re paying now, you’ll likely to at least break even if problems arise for you only further down the road.

        • Bridget January 7, 2016, 5:33 pm

          Hi AmyP,

          I’m guessing that going with Republic is a bit hit or miss. Personally, I was very excited about it when I first signed up . . . but now I call them “banana republic” and can’t wait to ditch them. In my experience (and my boyfriend’s too, on two different phones), they’re completely unreliable. Calls don’t always go through, texts don’t always send/receive, audio drops out in the middle of the call (just happened to me today, and happens quite frequently), and more. If you’re okay with risking all of these things, the savings really are quite good . . . but I’m personally fed up with it. Just haven’t chosen who to switch to next. With the thousands of loyal RW customers, I can’t imagine this problem is universal, but I know I stopped recommending them a few months after I switched — long enough to see how truly frustrating it is to have service that just flat out doesn’t work like it should on a regular basis. (I was quite relived that my parents *didn’t* take my advice and switch when I did – I would be embarrassed to have recommended such unreliable service.)

          Good luck to you in whatever you decide!

  • Hawthorn February 6, 2016, 3:40 pm

    Check out PureTalk, an MVNO using the AT&T network with full LTE speed, no additional taxes or fees, good customer service, and very hassle free. I currently pay $29 per month for unlimited talk and text with 1GB of data, which is more than enough for me. They also have a very good limited plan for $15 per month giving you 600 minutes of talk (texts count as 1/3 minute), and I think 100mb of data. If you are a senior the minutes go up each month for six months until you eventually get 900 minutes for $15. It is the easiest and least hassle of any phone service I have ever used, and I have tried a bunch of MVNOs. The one disadvantage for many people is their higher data-limit plans are not as competitive.

  • jon March 4, 2016, 12:40 am

    I use freedompop w/ 500MB of free data every month combined with google hangouts I don’t spend any money on my phone every month. Just the $50 for the phone. It’s not perfect. But I’m not complaining, it’s free after all.

  • stephen March 10, 2016, 5:36 pm

    Nexus 5X is $199 now with Google Fi sign up! Good until April 7th I believe. I’m now officially in.

  • Jeff March 18, 2016, 12:06 pm

    Just found your website today, I will be trolling it for a while!! There is no Google Fi in Canada yet but we have a recent upstart called sugar mobile and it works the same way for $19 a month. I am now looking forward to an 85% reduction for two phones currently with Virgin Canada. The difference in the cell bill is going straight into tax free saving account thank you very much. I would not have found them if I hadnt found your website, thank you MMM.

  • Random_Comments May 19, 2016, 8:33 am

    I wanted to try Republic, but just couldn’t get there. My frequent traveling makes tethering a necessity; I really like Motorola phones, but want to receive OS and security updates when they become available, and Republic phones only work on their (virtual) network. I signed up for Google Fi when the Nexus 5X went on sale. Verizon prepaid actually has cheaper add on GB’s, but you lose what you don’t use and the phones only work on their network (and only domestically).

  • Jules June 27, 2016, 8:45 am

    Are you running antivirus on any of your Republic or Google phones? I just looked at my Republic data usage and antivirus is eating a lot of data. Any recommendations? Thanks!

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 2, 2016, 8:47 am

      No! Antivirus software is the worst virus of all. I have tried it in the past just to see if it was valid, but never kept it on any computer I’ve owned, dating back to 1983.

      • Pierce July 3, 2016, 12:45 pm

        It might be along the general aims of this blog to mention using Linux on a desktop or laptop as an alternative to paying a premium for Apple products or buying antivirus software. You’ll almost never get a virus with Linux, it never has to be rebooted, and there are plenty of versions that continue receiving security updates and run really well on old computers. Some people complain that some programs they want to use aren’t available on Linux, but my experience is that you can get a lot of things running on it and that there are a lot of satisfactory free alternatives for most software. At least worth considering instead of shelling out for antivirus software or buying a laptop bloated with trial software to advertise to you.

  • Joy December 28, 2016, 7:29 am

    Mr MM I noticed Google Fi started a referral program so you might be able to add it here. Both you and the new customer get $20 when signing on. I noticed it in the Fi app. They are also giving you $10 in the app if you click on the snowflake and play the games. Thanks to you I switched from an iPhone and a bloated data plan and cut my cell phone bill in half. Also now that I pay per data unit I am much more mindful of how much time I spend on my phone (no more FB checkins at random times).

  • Nice joy December 30, 2016, 4:05 am

    Republic don’t offer refund for unused data anymore . [ for new plans]

  • Michael Osterbuhr January 6, 2017, 9:30 am

    Thanks for the helpful discussions, seem that we “average” consumers need a multivar. analysis/ regression table to compare all the variables.
    I’m a long time TracFone user and have yet to find a better option. $10 per Gb of data (I use 2 – 3 per mo.) and I haven’t added any voice or txt in 3.5 month. Google supplies the data.
    Using an LG Rebel phone and everything works well. I don’t think life gets any better.

  • kristin January 14, 2017, 10:11 am

    This post has lit a fire under my butt to change my plan! Here’s my dilemma (maybe someone can help me out?):
    -My husband and I don’t have smart phones, and we don’t want them (don’t want the distraction/temptation, don’t want the radiation around our young kids, my hubs is in IT and gets more than enough tech at work). We have done well without them, so we’re not wanting to add them to our lives.
    -However, for our super ghetto dumb phones, we’re paying verizon 70.00 a month!! I’ve always felt this was too much, but this post confirms it.
    -Also, I’m worried we’d have to change our phone numbers if we switch?
    -I’m wondering if there is a way to HAVE a smart phone (nice camera on the phone and the ability to use a cheap worldwide plan would rock) but to have it function like a dumb phone? LIke, can I turn off the internet capability and just use it for phone calls and texts like I am currently?
    -If not , is there some kind of cheap worldwide service for dumb phones?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts! It’s my new years res to lower our bills as much as possible. Cheers!

  • Tony March 18, 2017, 1:52 pm

    Have you looked at ATT go or cricket wireless? The attgo is 6gb for $40. No internati Nap though which stinks, but for those who are looking to get the most data for the money it looks better than both services. Republic is hard to beat though for a low or no data user. If looks good for international travel. We plan to put one phone which we have for our girls to Republic and then transfer to Fi if we are traveling. Maybe that is not as easy as I am thinking though

  • Raegan March 23, 2017, 4:02 pm

    Google FI doesn’t work where I live. I vote for Straighttalk because it is cheaper for me. I did check out cricket as a result of these posts. It is cheaper if you need less data. However, I don’t have internet at home though (at $45/mo I decided it was a luxury I could do without [I use the library 1 mile away and the internet at work] , so I need the unlimited data, $45/month is a great value for me.

  • Jacquelyn March 24, 2017, 6:55 am

    “Another alternative would be to create a second Gmail account to associate with the phone and a different phone number, so it doesn’t know about your main Google Voice account.”

    I have a Google Voice I use as my personal & my phones phone # for business. I like keeping the two separate. If I port the business line in under a 2nd dummy Gmail account (to keep the #), does anybody know if I can then “forward” my original Google Voice personal line to this new Google Voice (original business line) account? Essentially forwarding from one voice account to another? Follow?

    Is really like to keep them separate, but may consider giving up the business # & just issue my original Voice account for all calls. Thoughts?

  • KKel April 5, 2017, 7:51 am

    I just switched to Google Fi! For those wondering about international sound quality, my manager (who also has Fi) called me from Uganda and the sound was perfectly clear even though he was in a less developed part of the world. I was previously a Verizon customer and so far I haven’t noticed any difference in call quality in the US. The Nexus 5x is awesome and way cheaper ($250) than the other phones offered for Fi.

  • Baby-face Jones April 18, 2017, 8:57 am

    New-ish here! (Hence the name)

    Does anyone have any tips for switching carriers? I would like to save monthly by switching from AT&T to Republic or Google Fi, but I don’t have the money to simultaneously pay off the two phones on my plan and buy two Moto X’s for both my wife and myself.

    Also concerned about the service for Republic and Fi, I’ve had issues with T-mobile in my area about 3 years back.

    Anyway, really enjoy the content here!

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 21, 2017, 4:00 pm

      Jones! If you are THAT close to financial disaster that the price of gadgets is larger than your entire cash reserves, I hope you go back to the beginning of this blog and start reading from there.

      You’ll want to get your Moto X phones from Ebay for $100 each.

      This will be funded by selling your car, canceling TV, halting all purchases and switching to an all-potato diet for now, and about a hundred other steps until you get out of this apparently exploding-volcano financial emergency!

      The reception is perfect on both carriers.

  • Nelson April 25, 2017, 6:53 pm

    Heads up for all the Nexus 5x Google Fi users… the new software is prone to causing your phone to go into a neverending boot loop. As in, your phone will suddenly restart itself and then continue to restart endlessly without ever starting up. If this happens… you have two options:

    A) If you bought your phone from Google Fi (which anyone buying a new phone after the March 2016 price drop should have done) then all you need to do is call Google Fi, explain the issue, and they will send you a replacement device. They’ll put a hold on your credit card for $250 which they will remove when you send the failed device back to them.

    B) If you bought your phone elsewhere… like I did because I bought right before the mid-March 2016 price drop (literally days before they dropped the price) you’re just kind of screwed. You can send the device back to LG, but they may or may not cover it under the warranty. If they do, it will be 2 weeks before you get a repaired device. If they don’t, say hello to a very expensive paperweight!

    The lesson I learned from this experience is that while I saved $100 on the price of my phone initially by buying it from Amazon… a year later I am spending far more than $100 to replace the device. Next time I buy a NEW phone I will make sure to buy it from the cellular provider, since I’m not a person who wants to be out a phone for any extended period of time.

  • Mr. Frugal May 19, 2017, 10:02 am

    Hey MMM! I’m checking out Republic Wireless but am a little late to the party. It’s been several years since this post was written and unfortunately it appears that RW has changed their pricing. It looks like their cheapest plan is now $15/month and it’s not clear to me from their website that you can simply be charged for only the cell data you use each month. $20 will get you 1 GB – but what if you need less than that? Do you have any updated insights into their new plans and pricing?

  • Liz C November 1, 2017, 2:51 pm

    My son (last kid at home) and I are happy with our combined Ting bill of $22 a month, including all taxes and fees.

    Neither one of us is a heavy phone user, so Ting’s $6 per device plus usage works well for us. They even comp us the 0.01MB data my so’s phone leaks. [I could turn off his data, but he might need GPS some time if he gets lost on his bike.]

    We could choose from tons of phones … I even was able to bring my 2011 vintage tiny Droid over from Virgin. [It’s the smallest fully functional smart phone I’ve seen. I really dislike large phones.]

    There are so many low cost phone plans out there, anyone who is still on an expen$ive contract needs a face punch!

  • Bob Newman November 29, 2017, 12:35 pm

    T Mobile now has a promotion for those who are 55 years or older.
    Two(2) unlimited talk, text and data lines for $60/mo. Taxes and fees included.
    They say that they may throttle you if you use over 50 GB/mo/line.
    You can tether your phone via wifi hotspot or USB for no extra charge, but the tether speed is limited to 512 KBS.
    I ditched my Comcast internet connection and use my cellphone connections instead.
    T Mobile works very well in my area, check out the performance in your area before committing.
    T Mobile bought 600 MHz spectrum in a recent auction that is 31 MHz deep, so their coverage is on track to improve over the coming years.

  • skyguy April 24, 2018, 4:24 pm

    Hey MMM!
    For those who are looking for pretty good data packages at Republic Wireless or Google Fi prices, Mintsim.com offers 10gb/month + unlimited talk and text for $25/month in a bulk deal (think Costco but for phone service). The service uses the T-mobile network without all the Nickle and diming and contract trickiness that otherwise might come with it. I have not used it since I have a corporate phone… but once I hit FI I’ll probably head their way if they’re still around.

  • Mark Schreiner September 14, 2021, 3:18 pm

    Today in 2021, MintMobile offers 4GB data and unlimited talk and text on Android phones (so probably no need to buy a new phone) for $15/month when you pre-pay for 12 months. Seems as better then Google FI at $20/month in 2015 (and needing to buy a specific phone), except Google FI also has international roaming.


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