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Google FI plan (Cell Phone Service Plan)

Jeranimo

New Member
Past OR future Camino
1440
I'm planning on starting the Camino de Santiago (Camino Frances) on August 20th from SJPP. Has anyone had any experience using the Google FI phone plan on the Camino de Santiago? Your input and feedback is much appreciated!
 
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Past OR future Camino
Planning on the pilgrimage 2015
I'm planning on starting the Camino de Santiago (Camino Frances) on August 20th from SJPP. Has anyone had any experience using the Google FI phone plan on the Camino de Santiago? Your input and feedback is much appreciated!
I used Google fi in 2019 while vacationing in Madrid Italy and Croatia. Found the coverage superb. Cost was very good and generally felt very Confident using my phone. Enjoy
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
How do you sign up?
Google Fi is available to US residents here
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Past OR future Camino
Too many to count!
Do users of Google FI just add it to their existing phone plan, then discontinue it upon arriving home? No need for a change in SIM card? I cannot get Google FI where I live in rural Colorado, USA, so I would be very very interested in the logistics of this. Verizon, my USA plan is prohibitively expensive in Europe.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Do users of Google FI just add it to their existing phone plan, then discontinue it upon arriving home? No need for a change in SIM card? I cannot get Google FI where I live in rural Colorado, USA, so I would be very very interested in the logistics of this. Verizon, my USA plan is prohibitively expensive in Europe.
Google Fi is a cellular provider, so it would take the place of Verizon.

It works off of the T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular networks, so if you don't have good coverage on any of those networks where you live it probably wouldn't be a good choice for you.

I use T-Mobile, and their Unlimited plan works somewhat similarly when I'm abroad as Google Fi does - I don't pay extra for unlimited data roaming, and texting to/from US numbers is also unlimited.

Google Fi FAQs here:

 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Do users of Google FI just add it to their existing phone plan, then discontinue it upon arriving home? No need for a change in SIM card? I cannot get Google FI where I live in rural Colorado, USA, so I would be very very interested in the logistics of this. Verizon, my USA plan is prohibitively expensive in Europe.
Are you sure that you can't get it there?

 
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Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Past OR future Camino
Too many to count!
Are you sure that you can't get it there?

I am sure 😥. I just looked it up again. We live on a hill in the middle of the mountains in southern Colorado. I am researching now if I can switch plans, then cancel when I get back home. Most likely it would be too much hassle. But getting a SIM card is a hassle too, and reloading it after a month a bigger hassle.
 

Xylango

veni vidi ate cheese
Past OR future Camino
2019
We've had it since 2019. Works perfectly at home and abroad. Seamless on our 2019 Camino and on our Norte this summer. Love the Pixel phones, too!
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Past OR future Camino
Too many to count!
After lots of geek research, in order for me to keep my Verizon plan AND get Google Fi overseas, I would have to have a phone that has an eSIM card. This is an embedded SIM card that does not have an actual physical SIM card. This would allow two plans with two numbers to operate simultaneously. I could suspend the Verizon for minimal billing per month while using the Google plan when overseas. Since I don't have a current phone with an eSIM this is not an option for me.

Or, on my current phone, I could always cancel Verizon before my trip, start the Google plan, then restart Verizon after I get back home. One can "port" the same number it seems to avoid having to change numbers when switching from plan to plan.

Or I could certainly use this as an excuse to upgrade my 4 y.o. Samsung to a new Pixel @Xylango! Then I could always have an overseas number at my fingertips, wherever I go!
 

Theresa Brandon

Artist, photographer, dreamer
Past OR future Camino
Camino Inglés (2018), Camino Ingles (from La Coruña, 2019), Camino Portugues (2020)
I use Google Fi as it is my everyday phone service. It works flawlessly on the Camino but I don't know if it is possible to just sign up for a month. Before I used Google Fi I purchased a SIM card from Mobal World phones, and would re-activate for a month of travel use, and install it whenever I got to Europe.
 
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Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I know that there are several members here who use Google Fi. A quick search brings up @Rick of Rick and Peg and @Theresa Brandon. Hopefully one of them will chime in.
I'm a day late but here I am. I have been using Google FI for about five years. I am happy with it but that is because I do not use much of its expensive cellular data. I've only used it on Google phones. Although I used it in NZ in 2016 I knew what was going on much better in Spain in 2019. There I used it with Orange as a physical sim and FI in an esim. Essentially I wanted a local number and cheap data during the day when walking. At 8 PM I would switch to FI and use the albergue's wifi and call Peg at 2 PM her time. Spain to the US over cellular voice cost 20 cents a minute (or so as I recall). Over wifi Google FI would just charge a few cents a minute. Put your phone into airplane mode and then turn on wifi only to get the cheap rate. I would leave FI on to be able to get calls from home with my FI number if any came. They would be free to the caller but 20 cents per minute to me until I hung up and called back over wifi. In the morning I would switch the sim to Orange.

In the US FI actually uses T-Mobile, Sprint or US Cellular, whichever has the strongest signal, if you have certain phones and T-Mobile only for iPhones and others. US Cellular service is mainly in the mid-west. Maybe that will work for Elle. In Spain I think it can connect to any provider. International calling has additional charges but texts and data overseas is at the same rate as in the US. There is free VPN (but you will use about 10% more data over cellular). With the basic plan they say you pay $10 per GB but really they charge 1 cent per MB. Over 6 GB there is no further charge but look at their site, it starts getting weird.

Ask questions and I'll try to answer tomorrow. My brain is starting to shut down now.

If you want to sign up for FI send me a PM. I should be able to save each of us $20.

Edit: I don't remember seeing anything about signing up for just a month. Since it can be done online I don't think they care. You can get either an esim or a sim card.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I don't remember seeing anything about signing up for just a month. Since it can be done online I don't think they care.
I think that they do care however about people who solely use it when traveling abroad, and never us it in the US - their terms of service state that it must be used predominantly in the US.
 

Joe C

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés (2019)
My daughter and I used it on the Camino Frances in 2019, and it worked fine. I would only caution you that if you ever have an unusual circumstance requiring customer service, you had better strap in for a terrible experience. Everything is baked into the "machine," and customer service representatives have approximately zero discretion to address problems. I won't bore you with the details, but -- suffice it to say -- quirks in the way that Google Fi does business have cost me hundreds of dollars that I never banked on.

Caveat emptor on the low-end, Moto Fi-enabled phones. They are fine for the price, but performance and battery life degrade fairly quickly. I also find myself often needing to turn off Wi-Fi when making calls, even through a feature of Fi-enabled phones is supposed to be automatic switchover to Wi-Fi calling.

No matter what carrier you use, make sure to install WhatsApp. You will find that this is the way that most people seem to communicate in Europe and beyond. The app supports texting and Wi-Fi voice calling.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
My daughter and I used it on the Camino Frances in 2019, and it worked fine. I would only caution you that if you ever have an unusual circumstance requiring customer service, you had better strap in for a terrible experience. Everything is baked into the "machine," and customer service representatives have approximately zero discretion to address problems. I won't bore you with the details, but -- suffice it to say -- quirks in the way that Google Fi does business have cost me hundreds of dollars that I never banked on.
I'm going to guess that the extra expense came because you made long calls that you thought were being made over wifi but were done over cellular. Google says they will switch the method of calls to get the best service. In the US this doesn't amount to much as you don't pay for the call. It does matter for international calls though. They don't choose the method based on what will be cheapest.

I got billed extra for this myself and made a complaint call. I asked for a certain amount of credit that I figured I should have saved if the calls were made only over wifi. I was put on hold for a bit but they came back saying they would give me more. No arguing. I did have to call a few more times because I wasn't getting the full amount of credit when expected but I was always treated right. I took it as them messing up handling an unusual case rather than trying to cheat me.

If you want your call to definitely only go over wifi turn on airplane mode, turn on wifi, dial your call and talk and then, when done, turn airplane mode off again.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
[Asked a lot of things. Quoting like this will send her a notification.]
Elle, in your current situation I don't think going to FI is really worth it for a month +/-. You mentioned maybe putting FI along Verizon on a dual sim phone. This means paying for two services each month and one you can't use.

I suggest the following. Get yourself a Google Voice account (it's free). Briefly, it is a text and voicemail service. You get a free phone number and calls and texts call be gotten over a browser or an app. You can give out the number to others as your second line. You can check for messages once in awhile. You can use the app to reply to texts (but I don't think calls, you probably have to use your current number). I think they made an enhancement recently where you can have calls to the Voice number forwarded to another number, say your home or smartphone [just checked, it can ring all your phones.] May the force be with you to get the last four of 3553 (ELLE) (click "Show more" until you see a number you like).


The advantage is that you get people used to this extra number and then when you are ready to go on camino with your dual sim phone you activate FI using your Voice number (on an esim to make things easier). Later switch the number back to Voice (I think this can be done, I still experimenting with Voice). You get a few numbers to chose from.

I've found that most companies don't document their products well online. I guess they figure that tech writers for online magazines will do a better job and for free. I searched for an article on Voice that would describe it decently. A lot of articles and videos describe how to sign up but are a little light in telling you why you might want to. This one looks good.

 
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Joe C

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés (2019)
I'm going to guess that the extra expense came because you made long calls that you thought were being made over wifi but were done over cellular. Google says they will switch the method of calls to get the best service. In the US this doesn't amount to much as you don't pay for the call. It does matter for international calls though. They don't choose the method based on what will be cheapest.

I got billed extra for this myself and made a complaint call. I asked for a certain amount of credit that I figured I should have saved if the calls were made only over wifi. I was put on hold for a bit but they came back saying they would give me more. No arguing. I did have to call a few more times because I wasn't getting the full amount of credit when expected but I was always treated right. I took it as them messing up handling an unusual case rather than trying to cheat me.

If you want your call to definitely only go over wifi turn on airplane mode, turn on wifi, dial your call and talk and then, when done, turn airplane mode off again.
No, that wasn't it. It was mainly around the fact that I paid for a device protection plan that was supposed to cover repairs to the device that I had bought from Google. However, their repair partner did not carry parts for the phone, necessitating a more expensive device replacement. Double whammy!
 

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