Please sign in to post.

Google Fi Now Suspends Data Roaming after 90--or Fewer--Days Outside the US

Google Fi is now cutting off data access to customers on long trips outside the US. I received a letter on my 54th day in Europe, advising me that my data roaming would be suspended in 30 days. I hoped Fi wouldn't be efficient in following up on that notification, but it was on the ball and cut me off on Day 84. I still have free texts.

I was puzzled about the economics behind this policy since Fi charges me $10 per GB of data, which must be many times the bulk rate it pays its suppliers. Surely there's a very nice profit margin involved. But I poked around on the 'net and found a comment that Fi was under pressure from its overseas suppliers because of the folks staying on the road for extended periods and using Fi service rather than buying foreign SIMs. I guess I can understand that.

In any case, I'll be using two Airalo eSIMs to get me through the rest of this trip. And why would I pay Fi $10/GB on future trips rather than depending totally on eSIMs from a source like Airalo? This is going to save me over $50 per year if I continue to travel a lot.

I can't vouch for this, but there's some indication Fi will restore data roaming once a customer is home for 30 days.

Posted by
2532 posts

There is a whole Reddit discussion on this very topic at the moment, including folks who try to activate Fi the day before they go overseas (it doesn't always work, there is a notion that you need to have at least 30 days active before you head overseas). The Fi terms of service require the phone used "primarily" in the USA in a 90 day period. Unfortunately they aren't more specific than that, so not sure how they got you at day 84.

I have only been on trips of a few weeks at a time so it works for me and is cheaper than my regular AT&T plan (which I will eventually get rid of but it involves switching out my parents...and that's not going to be fun). Your alternatives sound like they will work for your longer stays and good advice to others who might need to plan for this (like me!).

Posted by
4957 posts

Interesting, thanks for letting us know, acraven. I got tired of using Verizon (too-high bills in the US, too-high options for Europe) and have switched to Google Fi altogether. My trips are usually 3.5 weeks long, so I haven't had my hand slapped.

I use very little data at home, not much more when I'm traveling, mostly for Google Maps. I am on the $10 / GB Flexible Plan, which they pro-rate for actual usage. Thus far, my two 3.5 weeks trips have each cost me less than $5 in data. At home, my data bill is less than that. So I will continue to use it for my trips, short compared to yours, acraven.

For those who may be considering switching, Google Fi has worked perfectly for me in Bulgaria, Serbia, N Macedonia, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. I'm optimistic about Hungary in October.

Posted by
15729 posts

Thanks for the info. I was thinking of switching to Google Fi but since my trips are around 90 days, I'll stick with T-mobile.

Posted by
1837 posts

I'm not sure if this is anything new. I had Google Fi before I moved to Mexico. After I moved, I kept Fi and only used it when I went back to the US or was traveling elsewhere. (I have a Mexico provider that I use here.) My trips back to the US were never longer than a week or two, so I was hardly using the service at all.

I took a trip to South America in spring of 2022 and used Fi while I was there. Shortly after I got back to Mexico, I got an email from Google informing me that they were canceling my account because I had violated the TOS by not using the service primarily in the US. In my case it was not a suspension, but a cancelation.)

I share your confusion, acraven, as to why Google has this rule. I was paying them something like $40 a month for minimal usage.

Posted by
27453 posts

Lane, I saw a few online reports similar to yours yesterday, including one from a staffer on a super-yacht who was probably almost never in the US. It sounds as if in 2022 they either did nothing or closed the account. Now there's an intermediate response, which actually works OK for me. It seems they have tightened the rules this year and have an automated algorithm in play, and I'm evidence that you can't count on being OK for 90 days.

I was out of the US for about 4-1/2 months last year on a single trip ending in late September but didn't even receive a warning email. Perhaps it helped that it had been almost 3 years since I had been out of the US.

Posted by
27453 posts

I guess that algorithm isn't rock-solid! I use very little data at home, which might be a factor, I guess.

Posted by
10371 posts

My Fi data was cut off at 3 months outside the US. It came back within minutes when I went to the US to visit. I use it on wifi when I need it for US verification codes. A total suspension and loss of US number would be tough, Lane.

Posted by
4957 posts

On the opposite side of their algorithms, I usually use less than 500MB per month and near zero at home.

When I got home from the airport the other day, I hadn't turned off data and pulled up the lightweight forum pages. I got a Google Fi warning to check my settings due to excessive data usage. When I checked, I'd used less than 200MB for the new billing month. And perhaps had loaded 2 or 3 pages just then.

Apparently the algorithm knows I usually use near-zero data at home, so any usage triggered the algorithm's "excess usage" caution. I can't complain about that sensitivity since, by reminding me to switch back to wifi, it saved me from unnecessary charges.

Posted by
18871 posts

This is an old thread, but I thought I would add my TMOBILE experience.after about 90 days in Europe, I got back to the States and had no data. Worked fine the day prior in Europe, but I was locked out of TMobile in the U.S. Went to TMobile, and they checked my account, no flags or messages, so they called a help line and, at my insistence, asked if I had been locked out because I was out of the country too long. Yup. That was it. Took 30 seconds to get me working again. This trip, I leave the phone in airplane mode and turn on WiFi only (I have a European phone I can use). Still could have a problem if they don't see me on a US network for 90 days ... don't know.

Posted by
7033 posts

James, I saw a Reddit post about this awhile ago, and many said that if you turn off roaming when you get close to the 3 month mark, it won't trigger anything to T-Mobile. They also said they continue to use texting and wifi calling (or will just put it in airplane mode and use wifi) after the 90 days are up with no problem. So you might try that next time.

Posted by
18871 posts

Mardee, thank you. I will give that a try. Appreciate it.

I don't understand technology much but I suspect that the block is something initiated by the US TMobile service and data service isn't affected while in Europe on another carriers service. I say that because I used the data in Budapest and Frankfurt airports on the way home. No problem, but dead in the US.

Posted by
27453 posts

With Google Fi I was able to text after they cut off my data service. A good thing, too, because my eSIMs didn't allow me to text.

When I returned home I didn't have data on Fi for a while (don't know exactly how long, but it was definitely days, not hours). I didn't need it, so I didn't bother to call to complain. It eventually started working.

I'm puzzled about why Fi, in particular, doesn't automatically restore service when you return to the US. I pay $10 per GB of data (quite a high rate), so I'd think they'd want me to use data in the US as much as possible.

Posted by
158 posts

I have a love-hate relationship with Google Fi. They have cut me off several times (texting and phone calls still work, but data doesn't) but I have full functionality once I'm back in the US. I've since been more cautious about turning off my data overseas. I have one of the Pixel phones with a dual sim (the Fi sim is embedded and I add a Jordanian sim for data and local calls when I'm not in the US). It's also super handy to get off a plane and instantly connect to the local network, as we travel a lot. They have gotten a lot stricter in recent years, however.

Posted by
10371 posts

Fi popped on within minutes when I landed in the US last week. Otherwise I turn it on only for security codes using WiFi when outside the US. I have heard that Mint, at $15 a month, works just as well for this purpose.

Posted by
7728 posts

Might be worthwhile to point out that just about any provider will do this if the phone is not used in the "home" country for a period of time, as Mr. E has illustrated. The reason is basically the cost of providing the service overseas, it works as a benefit and marketing incentive for short terms, but expensive if went on for months or years. If you dig through the terms f any provider, you likely will see cutting you off as an option, or they make it so expensive to roam internationally that it is not an issue.

Myself, Fi has worked great for me. It is wonderful to land, turn the phone on, and have service just like at home, no change of phone number, no fumbling with SIMS. My phone is my greatest travel resource, I use it for everything.

Problems? Yeah there have been a few, occasionally I will have trouble getting service, I do remember being in Portugal once and they must not have had a current deal with one of the major providers, several times I had to manually choose a network, but that was years ago and not had the problem anywhere since.

Posted by
27453 posts

I had issues when I first arrived in Rome at the very beginning of a trip earlier this year. Something was definitely going on, but that was the only persistent problem I've had across 10 countries since I switched from T-Mobile a few years ago. T-Mobile was fine but a great deal more expensive for my usage pattern.