I had been stuck in the cycle of searching for the best cell phone provider for the best price for so many years now that I was exhausted! I have been with pretty much every carrier under the sun that is in North America since the advent of cell phones. I have been with the Big 4 (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile) as well as some of the smaller competitors such as Virgin Mobile, Boost, Cricket, US Cellular, Cellular One and Nextel. I want the best price for the best service, because I’m weird like that, hence my constant search.
Fighting Increased Charges
The main reason for me to switch continually was the fact that almost all of the aforementioned carriers are notorious for changing their rates and increasing my bill after a certain amount of time. Well, that and any time I negotiated new monetary terms they were almost wholeheartedly not carried through to my bills properly so I spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone arguing with the barely trained customer service reps to fix them. The fact that I kept copious notes about who, what, where, when and how much it was supposed to be was the bane of every customer service reps existence. You’re welcome!
Now please note that most of the smaller companies were much more true to their word and never charged me for anything that we had not discussed and were great when I called them. The biggest problem with regards to billing and continual changes were the Big 4. Surprise, surprise!
Best Change Ever
The last two providers that I had were smaller and fantastic but the service was sometimes spotty and the phones kept having operational issues. While the service reps were fantastic and always helped me out, I got tired of not having service when I traveled and having phone issues. The impetus for my most recent search, and the love of my cellular life, was an abroad trip to Peru. I knew that I didn’t want my phone on most of the time so that I could really enjoy the trip but I also wanted to be able to connect every now and then and post pictures and show my friends and family that I had not fallen off the side of a mountain and disappeared into the ether.
I began scouring the internet for the best service providers in North America for the best prices and the most service nationally and internationally. I read through a lot but happened upon Clark Howard, who has yet to steer me wrong, and kept running across one provider that I had not heard of before but looked promising.
Related Service: Try out Republic Wireless starting at $10/month with a 30-day guarantee
What in the world is Project Fi? Well it just happens to be one of Google’s newest and greatest experiments! They decided that they were tired of how the Big 4 were treating customers in the US and launched their own solution into limited beta April of 2015. All of the reviews that I read from the beta testers were fantastic, with the exception of some spotty issues with voice calls when the phone was on WiFi instead of the network, but apparently that minor issue had been fixed by the time that it came out of beta.
How it works is absolutely fantastic in that it searches for any open WiFi networks in the vicinity, or networks that you have logged into previously, and runs off of those first. If there is no WiFi network available then it will search for the closest and strongest Sprint or T-Mobile tower and run off of those networks. It does all of this seamlessly so that you don’t even know that it is doing it.
It not only does this in the United States but in over 120 other countries. I put it to the test when I was in El Salvador, Peru and Aruba since getting this phone and service in March. Not only did it work for data and texting but I was able to make phone calls to friends and family from Lima, Cusco and even Machu Picchu!
Billing – How Project Fi Charges
After checking out how the network operated, I needed to see how the costs stacked up. It’s actually fairly simplistic in the way that it works. Their plan is $20 a month for unlimited voice and texting and $10 per GB of data that you want to add to your plan. Now the beautiful thing about this is that you can not only decide how much data you think you will use but you get a credit on your bill for any data not used.
What that means for me is that I pay for 2GB of data a month, even though I NEVER use even close to that, just in case I had a crazy month or my children got ahold of my phone. I also opted into the $5 per month insurance on the phone, which to me is well worth it in case I break my phone. Therefore, my monthly bill should be $45, but my bill last month was only $34.88, because of the credit for data not used!
Phones – What You Can Use on Project Fi
The only thing that may have some people hesitate is their limited phone choices. As of right now they only offer two different phones, the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P. While the choices are limited, I happen to love my Nexus 5X and it’s ridiculously fabulous camera! The phones aren’t that expensive to purchase through Project Fi at all, and they almost always have a deal running, but you can purchase them through third party vendors (checkout the 5X and 6P on Amazon) as long as they can be used on any network and Project Fi will send you a free SIM card for it.
Not only is the phone awesome, but the price is basically unbeatable, as well as the service, and the setup time for me to swap phones was only about 15 minutes in total. This was the easiest and smartest cell phone swap that I have ever made and I am so glad that I did it! I would love feedback from any of you who have also made the switch. And if you are hesitating taking the plunge to better service and better prices, WHY?
I’ve Been Cable Free for 5 Years and Still Watch TV
While in debt, I cut cable and haven’t looked back. It’s easier than you think especially with new services out on the market. One of my favorites is Sling TV, which allows you to watch live TV on the internet. It’s awesome. Check out my Sling TV review.