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Update: A member of our Frequent Miler Insiders posted that his order from the Google Store triggered an Amex Offer good for $100 back on $500 or more for advertising. This offer is widely available on many Amex business cards. Sure enough, my purchase triggered the offer. We’ll see if it credits, but I suspect it may.
Google Fi is running an unbelievable promotion today. Anyone who likes to travel should take note, whether you are a current Google Fi customer, you’ve been thinking about it, or you just want to reduce the cost of a trip. That’s because today only (11/28/18), if you buy a Google Fi phone, Google will give you a Delta, Southwest, AirBnB, or Hotels.com gift card in the amount of the purchase price of the phone. That means you could go all out and get the most expensive phone for $999 and get a $999 travel gift card. Whether you want to try Google Fi or not, that’s well worth it as you could probably later sell the phone for a huge discount on the travel gift card if nothing else. If you prefer to bring your own phone, you can get a $200 service credit — but I’d not even consider that with how hot this deal is.
- Get a new Google Fi phone (whether porting a new line or buying as an existing customer) and get a travel gift card of your choice worth the same amount as the price of the phone
- Direct link to sign up (You get a $20 service credit for signing up through a referral. This is Greg’s.)
- Limited time offer applies to any qualifying device purchased from fi.google.com from 11/28/18 12:00 AM PT through 11/28/18 11:59 PM PT, or while supplies last. When you purchase a qualifying device on fi.google.com, you can redeem a travel gift card in the amount you paid for the device, excluding taxes (details below).
- To qualify for this promotion, a device must be activated within 15 days of device shipment and remain active for 60 consecutive days within 75 days of device shipment. The device must be activated within the same group plan that was used to purchase the device. Activation must be for full service (i.e., activation does not apply to a data-only SIM).
- This offer is available for new Google Fi customers as of 11/28/18 12:00 AM PT and existing, active Google Fi customers. If the customer is new to Google Fi, the customer must transfer (port-in) their current personal number over to Google Fi during sign up. The number being transferred must be currently active and have been active with the previous carrier and the customer since 8/28/18 12:00 AM PT.
- If Fi service is paused for more than 7 days or cancelled within 120 days of activation, the value of the gift card will be charged to your Google Payments account to match the purchased price of the device.
- Limit one per person
- Link to full terms
First thing’s first, this promo is insane. While many carriers will offer a subsidy when you agree to be bound to them for a couple of years, Google is giving you a gift card worth the full cost of the phone that you can use independently and not have a long-term commitment to Google Fi.
That said, there are a couple of “gotchas” if you will:
- The device must be activated within 15 days of shipment and remain active for 60 consecutive days. You can’t just get the phone and immediately resell it – you’ll need to open the box, activate it, and keep it on the network for 2 months.
- If you’re new to Google Fi, you’ll have to port in a number that’s been active with another carrier since 8/28/18. That means I don’t think you’ll be able to port in a Google Voice number or buy a number to port from somewhere else. You’ll have to port in a real number. From my reading of the terms, existing customers do not need to port in a new number or add a line.
- If you pause service for 7 days or more or cancel service within 120 days, they will charge the full value of the gift card to your account. This makes it hard to count on selling the phone as prices are likely to change significantly in 120 days. That said, if you buy with a credit card that offers decent price protection, that might be be a big issue. Thanks to reader abey for pointing this out.
So if you’re new to Google Fi, you’re going to need to have a number you’re willing to switch to Google Fi. That might not be impossible for some folks who have traditional postpaid service and have an additional line that isn’t being used (not that uncommon thanks to various promos for adding lines). If the only line you have is the one you regularly use, you’ll have to see Greg’s previous posts (and the numerous comments) to see if you’d like to try Google Fi:
- Google Fi now officially supports new iPhones, Samsung, and more
- Google’s Project Fi abroad. 6 surprises: 3 good and 3 bad.
- International Roaming: AT&T / Verizon vs. Project Fi vs. T-Mobile vs. Sprint vs. SIMS vs. Hotspots.
- International Roaming Next Steps (I’ll try Project Fi).
- My Google Fi Experience So Far.
That said, this is an awfully strong argument for trying it. The most expensive phone, the Google Pixel 3 XL, costs $999. Right now, I see that model (unlocked) on Swappa from $740. The price is bound to drop a bit, but even if you keep the phone for 2 months and sell it for $600, you’ve gotten yourself a huge discount on a $999 gift card to Delta, Southwest, AirBnB, or Hotels.com. Phones start at $199 and go all the way up to $999, so there are quite a few options.
If, on the other hand, you want to keep the phone, you could sell the gift card and have gotten a huge discount on the phone.
If you actually want both, I can’t imagine a much better deal.
I live in a rural area. My hang up on this is that Google Fi phones do not yet support T-Mobile Band 71, which is the main rural coverage band that is expanding to new areas. But I have an extra line on my plan and I’m pretty darn tempted.
One thing that’s not clear to me: if you port over a single line, are you then an existing customer? Can you then buy additional phones without porting additional numbers? I’m not sure. Update: The promo is limited to one per person.
If you’re interested in Google Fi, you’ll get an extra $20 Google Fi credit by signing up through a referral link. Again, here’s Greg’s.
In Greg’s experience, paying the monthly Google Fi bill codes as a 5x merchant via Chase Ink Cash, but buying the device coded at 1x. Long term, you’ll want to use a card that offers cell phone insurance to pay the bill, like the Chase Ink Business Preferred or Uber Visa. For the purchase of the phone itself, consider a phone that either offers purchase protection or price protection. The best option may be the AT&T Access More card if you have it. This may code at 3x on that card (online purchase) and qualify for Citi Price Rewind. That could make for an awfully sweet deal.
Update: As noted at the top, a member of our Frequent Miler Insiders alerted me to the fact that a purchase from the Google store would trigger an Amex Offer for $100 back on $500 on advertising. Sure enough, it seems to have done so. Time will tell if it credits.
Run, don’t walk on this deal.