Short post today, but I wanted to share a workaround I’m doing for my upcoming trip to Italy. I currently have the old AT&T unlimited data plan costing around $30 per month so my incentive to change carriers is very low. In the past, I typically just purchased the AT&T International Plan (not smart) or bought a local SIM (smart).

Enter, Google’s Project Fi…

You may have heard about Project Fi, a Google product that is changing the cell phone industry. Essentially the way it works is you pay a flat $20 per month for unlimited talk and text and then $10 per month for every 1GB of data you use. If you pay $40 per month for unlimited talk and text + 2 GB of data but only use 1GB of data, Google will only charge you $30 for that month. Pretty sweet!

Whether you’re in the US or abroad, this pricing structure remains the same 🙂

Google uses a blend of towers in over 130 countries to provide you with the best signal. I’ve yet to use this service overseas so I’ll be sure to report back on the quality. My father is a Project Fi subscriber in the US and loves it.

Data-Only SIM (Holy Grail)

Okay, this is the part you want to pay attention to…

As a Project Fi subscriber, you are able to order up to 9 data-only SIM cards for free. These SIMs cannot text or make phone calls but they get internet service in the same 130+ countries that all Project Fi subscribers do.

The best part is these data-only SIMs use the same plan as the Project Fi subscriber and you can track data usage by SIM. Google also has WiFi Assistant, a feature on Nexus devices, which automatically connects to quality public hotspots in an effort to save on data costs. The connection first runs through a secure Google VPN and then to your phone so you can be sure your data is secure.

In this day and age, especially with apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Google Voice, you don’t need a traditional calling plan to contact people. My family uses Facebook or WhatsApp so if I need to contact them I’ll use the data on my phone to call via these apps.

Once I return from my trip I’ll simply view how much data I used and I’ll Venmo my dad the money.

I love technology!


Of course the alternatives to Project Fi would be to pick up a local SIM card at your destination, or use T-Mobile or Sprint for the unlimited international data.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a SIM provider in a foreign country. I also have zero experience with T-Mobile or Sprint, but Lucky at One Mile at a Time has written about T-Mobile extensively.

Like I say, to each his/her own. This is a decent option and many Googlers have told me it’s as easy as it sounds so I’m going to give it a shot!

Bottom Line

A couple things here.

  1. You need to be or know a Project Fi subscriber to be able to order a data-only SIM. Note: No invitation is needed to sign up for Google Project Fi service.
  2. You need one of the devices on this list for your data-only SIM to work. Note: Many have told me that you can use an unlocked GSM phone, too, which is true but Google doesn’t guarantee support if you use a device outside of the aforementioned list.

Personally, I converted from iPhone and bought a Nexus 6P a few months ago and I love it. I got the 64GB model for roughly $450, completely unlocked.

I’ve done quite a bit of research on this so if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!


(Hat tip to Gene)