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I’ve been a Verizon customer for 8 years. Ever since I got my first (incredibly crappy) pay as you go flip phone as a Junior in high school, they’ve been my go to carrier. Big Red had the best coverage for my hometown and some of the coolest phones. My first smartphone was a Droid X and it was the best phone out there. I had unlimited data and a hotspot, so I could avoid suffering through my university’s sub par wi-fi.
Using my hotspot allowed me to forgo getting internet when I was an intern. I used almost 20 gigabytes of data a month that summer, and saved roughly $200 plus I didn’t have to mess with the cable companies. Ain’t nobody likes that.
Unfortunately, despite all the good times we’ve had, I had to break up with Verizon in November. Several years ago, they discontinued my unlimited data plan. While I was grandfathered in, this meant I had to jump through all kinds of ridiculous hoops to get a new phone. Not being able to use my upgrade, having to buy my phone for full-price and being paranoid every time I went into a store for help was not fun.
I was willing to pay a premium to have the best coverage, but the straw that broke the camel’s back came when Verizon announced they were raising the price of the unlimited plan by $20/month. For those too lazy to do the math, that’s an extra $240 a year on top of the already high prices.
Over the 8 years I’d been with them, I’d been charged just shy of $10k for the privilege of having service with them. That’s a lot of money for a broke high school/college student to be forking over! However, that was one area I was willing to splurge on.
Mr. Money Mustache has for years advocated Republic Wireless. See here, here and here for his thoughts. I always read the articles with interest, but the newest, brightest, and biggest smartphones kept bedazzling me away from saving lots of money. And then one fateful day last September, I changed my tune. MMM published this article on Google’s new phone plan Project FI and I got very excited. I’m also a huge Google fan (fangirl?) so anything Google puts out I want to use. Ok maybe not Glass or Cardboard, but everything else has been pretty cool. Especially Google Fiber.
Then, when I went to Ecuador, I got to see it in action with my own two eyes. Not only did Mr. Money Mustache have it, one of the other guys on the trip had it as well. While their data signal wasn’t always the greatest (but I mean, we were in the middle of the rainforest in Ecuador), they were usually able to text no matter where we were.
I was limited to Wi-Fi only on the trip for everything. No calling, no texting, nothing. I had to use third-party apps to communicate with people back home, and was limited to places with free Wi-Fi. Which, as you can imagine, are a bit difficult to find in the middle of the rainforest. We also experienced some problems with the internet at the resort, so for 2 or so days I was completely cut off from the rest of the world. Not exactly the world’s worst thing to ever happen, but it would’ve been nice to check in with the family. I’m also lucky I didn’t need to look up directions, or places of interest like I expect I will when I visit London this fall.
Anyways, the phone plan looks like this:
$20 for unlimited domestic calling and texting, unlimited international texting, a Wi-Fi hotspot and access to cellular coverage in 120+ countries.
$10/GB for data
My plan looks like this: $20 for the plan, and $20 for 2 GB of data per month. Add in $3 ish dollars in taxes and that’s it. That’s all there is to my bill, unlike when I was a Verizon customer. My bill was a crazy hot mess of this fee and that fee and I could never get a straight answer on why anything was the way it was.
Overall, the coverage at home has been less than stellar since I switched. Again, not surprising because I went from the best network to a conglomeration of the two worst networks. Accessing the network was even more difficult for me as my first SIM card was defective. For my troubles of dealing with the faulty SIM card, I was given a $25 credit towards my next bill. That’s amazing! Verizon would’ve told me, too bad, so sad, not our problem. Google did not do that, and I already love them for it. My bill the second month was just shy of $18! That’s simply incredible.
In order to get on the FI plan, you must have one of 3 phones: Nexus 5x, Nexus 6 or Nexus 6P. This posed a slight dilemma for me. I had just bought a new Droid Turbo that I loved, but wasn’t compatible. So after crunching some numbers, I decided it was time to give up the cool fancy phone and go for the cheaper option. LIttle did I know I could have both! I went with the Nexus 6P shortly after it came out. I was slightly apprehensive as people online were reporting all sorts of issues, but I got lucky and ended up with a perfect unit. It’s big, it’s bright, and it takes excellent pictures. Not to mention I splurged on the 128G option, so I have more than enough storage space for the foreseeable future. Plenty of space for all my cat pictures! I also love having a phone with the new standard of USB connector on it. No more fumbling to make sure it’s going in right side up, since it works no matter what side goes in.
Here’s the math I used to make my choice. You can see that even with having to purchase all the supplies that came with the phone (case, new cables, screen protectors), I’ll still make my money back in less than 6 months!
$110/mo x 6 months= $660
Phone cost ($690) + accessories ($25) — $ from old phone sale ($300) + 6 mos service ($233) = $648
In addition, the next 6 months would see me save at least $400 with the difference between the two carriers. I might be able to save more, as Google reimburses me for the data I didn’t use in the previous month. For example, this billing cycle (which ends on the 2nd for me), I’ve only used 249 MB of data. I have one week to use 1.7 GB, so I’m anticipating I’ll see most of that back. If I used 300 MB, I get 1 penny back per MB I haven’t used, to equal a credit of $17 on my next months bill. Add in taxes and I’ll pay $26 next month. Which means I could actually get my money back way faster than 6 months!
Overall, I’m incredibly glad I switched, and I suspect those feelings will only get stronger when I’m in England and won’t have to drop off the face of the Earth while I’m there. I’m not far from a Wi-Fi network these days, so the best data network in the country isn’t really needed anymore. When I’m not on a Wi-Fi network, I’m usually driving or hanging out with friends, which means I definitely don’t need to be fiddling around with my phone.
To recap, the advantages I’ve gained by switching to a Google Project FI phone plan are as follows:
‑same price international data and texting
‑cool new phone with fingerprint sensor, excellent camera, and USB C connectors
‑MUCH lower monthly costs
‑Not giving Verizon anymore money
What carrier are you using? Can you switch and save any money?