Four years ago I decided I was finally fed up with the expense of owning a cell phone on Verizon. At the time I had an old fashioned dumb phone, and hadn’t yet stepped up to the wonderful world of smart phones. Even then I was paying nearly $100 per month for two phones. I was dissatisfied with the value I was getting for that amount I was paying so I started shopping around.
If you are here looking for a coupon code to save $25, here is your link. If you have any doubts, I encourage you to read through this review to answer any questions you may have.
The world of cell phones has changed a lot in those four years, and there are more great deals to be found now than ever before. Four years ago, Ting was innovative, being one of the first wireless carriers to offer service without a contract. Now, others have followed suit.
If you are like me, you may be worried about switching to a wireless company that you’ve heard so little about. Let’s discuss that a little before we get into all the details about Ting. Some wireless companies operate as MVNOs (Mobile Network Virtual Operator.) Basically that means they sell and manage the service, while someone else owns the infrastructure (cell towers and such). Most MVNOs operate on Sprint or T-Mobile towers. In the case of Ting, you can use either.
As long as the company has been around for a couple years, there is little risk in switching to an MVNO like Ting. Especially if there is no contract, as you can switch to someone else if it doesn’t work out.
The two things you should be concerned with are:
- Does the MVNO provide good service for a reasonable price?
- Does the company that owns the towers provide the coverage you need?
The main reason I switched to Ting was to save money, so let’s take a look at what makes Ting different from the competition. The way Ting charges for wireless service is really different from most other carriers. Ting doesn’t have any set plans that you sign up for. Instead you basically pay for what you use.
I like to call it “floating bucket” pricing (although I’m not sure that term is catching on). Ting has buckets of voice minutes, texts, and data and the buckets come in different sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL). At the end of the month Ting looks at how much you used in each category and they place you in a bucket according to that usage. The amount you pay is based on whatever buckets you fall in. If you’ve been reading Ting reviews, you’ll know price is one of their strong points.
Take a look at this chart to see the “buckets”.
The medium bucket is highlighted in this graphic, but the cool thing with Ting is they let you float around in different buckets. They don’t make you guess how many minutes, texts, and data you’ll use. Instead they look at your usage and you pay for whatever buckets you fall into each month. You could be in a Large “L” bucket one month and a Small “S” the next. Also, each set of buckets (minutes, messages, megabytes) are measured independently, so you could be in Small for minutes and Large for Megabytes. On any given month your usage will determine which buckets you fall in, and that’s the price you pay. This floating pricing can really add up to significant savings.
Here is how Ting describes it:
“Voice minutes, text messages and megabytes of data are each billed separately. Your usage is pooled and shared across all the devices you have under your account. At the end of each billing cycle, we’ll settle up for whichever “bucket” your usage falls into.”
Ting has a really cool saving calculator that will show you exactly how much you can save. Click this link to calculate your actual cost on Ting to see how much you can save, or use this link to explore their rate buckets.
Not only do you save on usage, you can also save when adding family members to your plan. Each device you add costs only $6 per month. When I was on Verizon it was $25 per month to add a phone to my plan, so Ting offers quite a savings here.
The final bit of savings, that is icing on the cake, is there are no hidden charges (like recovery fees), no contracts (meaning no early termination fees), and tethering and wi-fi hotspot are included for free (meaning you can connect your laptop or tablet to the Internet through your phone).
Here are copies of my two most recent bills, so you can see the detail on what I’m actually paying. This will give you an idea of the taxes and extras that don’t usually get disclosed when you are shopping around. It also shows how usage can vary from month to month, and with Ting that means your bill is lower when you use less minutes/texts/data.
In the first bill we fell into the XL bucket for data, Medium bucket for texts, and Large bucket for voice. Notice that our data bucket ran over by 3 gigs. There are no overage fees and no throttling when you run over the largest bucket. Ting simply charges for the extra data at a flat rate. Also, note the taxes and fees – I noticed these were quite a bit lower than the fees I was charged on Verizon. In the second month we fell into the XL bucket for data, Medium bucket for texts, and Medium bucket for voice. We also used less data (still more than the XL bucket, but less than the previous month) and therefore paid less in that area as well.
You’d be surprised how much your usage can vary from month to month. With most other cellular companies, you have to guess what your highest usage will be and choose that (more expensive) plan. With Ting, there is no guessing, they simply bill you for what you use each month. As in this example, we used less minutes and data in the second month and therefore paid much less.
Two Networks to Choose From – Sprint and T-Mobile
Something new to Ting as of last year, is that you can now choose from two different wireless networks. You have a choice of using the Sprint network (CDMA) or the T-Mobile network (GSM). (note that for some odd contractual reasons Ting is unable to tell you that the GSM network is T-Mobile, but you can see from the coverage area that it is.)
That means you can use Ting as your wireless company and have the freedom two choose which nationwide network suits your needs the best. You can also have one phone on the Sprint network and another on the T-Mobile network if you choose. It’s a flexibility that isn’t offered by most other MVNO companies. The choice for you comes down to which network suits you best, and that will be mostly determined by coverage area. Here is a link to the coverage areas for each network to help you choose. Also, here is some additional information about CDMA vs. GSM in case that helps you decide. If you’re not sure which to use, I suggest choosing by coverage area.
Ting’s Phone Selection
With low prices and no contract, you may be wondering if there is a catch. And there is – sort of. Ting does not subsidize your phone purchase. That means you have to buy a phone outright, either new from Ting or Apple, or used from Glyde, eBay, craigslist, or your uncle Earl.
Personally I prefer this anyway, because when a carrier subsidizes your phone, you pay a little more in your monthly bill to cover that cost. You’re not really getting anything for free, you are just spreading the cost over a year or two. The real downside to a subsidized phone is felt if you don’t upgrade when you qualify for a new phone – you end up paying the extra for a subsidized phone while you are still happily using your old phone. Ting doesn’t bother with all that nonsense, and instead deals strictly with bringing you good service at a reasonable rate for whatever phone you happen to have.
Ting has a good selection of new and refurbished phones. Click here to see all the Ting phone choices. You can also buy the latest unlocked iPhone from the Apple store and bring it to Ting. (note that you’ll need to buy a SIM card from Ting to use an iPhone on Ting.)
One good option if you want to test Ting before jumping into it is to buy a cheap phone, either new or used, and sign up with Ting. Since there is no contract, you can easily and cheaply test drive Ting. Plus if you sign up with one of the links on this page, you’ll get a $25 credit to use towards your first phone or your first month’s service.
That’s what I did. I kept my phone on Verizon, bought a cheap smart phone from Ting, and tested it out. After trying it for a month I bought a better phone from Ting, moved over my phone number from Verizon and the cancelled my Verizon service. Since an extra phone on Ting is only $6 per month, I gave the cheap phone to my daughter. I could have just as easily cancelled the cheap phone or kept it and moved my existing number to it, so there are several options after your testing is complete.
On the topic of used phones, there is a couple of things you need to know. A used phone should come either from the Sprint network or the T-Mobile network. Sprint for CDMA and T-Mobile for GSM. That phone will need to be in good standing with the previous carrier, meaning no outstanding balances remaining. Ting has a page where you can verify that the phone you have or intend to buy will work on their network, all you need is your MEID or IMEI number. Click here to verify your phone. The MEID or IMIE number can be found by dialing *#06# on your phone’s dial pad.
Coverage, Speed, and Call Quality
One of my big concerns when switching from Verizon was whether or not my day to day experience would be as good. Verizon has one of the best networks in the U.S. in terms of coverage and speed. That is why they charge a premium for their service. When you switch to another carrier, you will likely have a slight dip in coverage, speed, and/or quality.
In my case, I’m using the Sprint network on Ting, and I have a slightly smaller coverage area in my part of town. Typically when I am more remote, like in parks on the fringes of town, I have slower data and sometimes less phone coverage. The same is true in the center of very large buildings. You’ll have to determine if the extra speed and coverage area is worth the premium cost. For me, it was not, and so I am much happier with the lower cost on Ting. I find my coverage on the Sprint network to be plenty good to suit my needs.
Voice calls are my ultimate concern, as I want to be able to call for help should the need ever arise. You’ll be happy to know that Ting allows voice roaming for no extra cost, so if you are outside of your coverage area and there is another network available, you be able to use that network. (Note CDMA roaming is only on other CDMA networks and GSM roaming is only on other GSM networks.) What that boils down to is that you will rarely find yourself without voice coverage. One caveat here is that if you are on the edge of your coverage area, with one bar for example, you will likely remain on that network rather than switch over to roaming. Ting does not offer data roaming.
As I recommended above, testing the service with a cheap phone is the way to go when trying to determine how well the service will work for you.
Managing Your Account with The Ting Dashboard
One of my favorite things about Ting (other than the savings) is my online experience. Their entire website is laid out in a way that make it super easy to use. Their dashboard, where you find all your usage data and settings, is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Since you won’t be able to see the dashboard without being a customer I took a couple of screenshots.
Here is the Account menu, showing all the various options.
The most useful item on that menu is the Current Usage. I had a horrible time finding my usage on Verizon, so I’m happy that Ting makes it so easy. Ting’s Current Usage page shows everything you need to know: Totals for Minutes, Messages, and Megabytes; subtotals for each person/phone; and the current bill, last bill, and average bill.
You can also setup alerts, so that you know when you, or someone in your family is using too much data, minutes or texts. The most common alert will be for data, so that you know when you might be creeping towards the upper end of one of the buckets. Here’s another cool feature: you can set the alert to disable data when it reaches a cap that you determine. You can use that to prevent your kids from racking up your phone bill. Here is what the alerts form looks like.
Ting’s tech support is out of this world. Have you ever called for support with your current carrier? It likely goes something like this: call support, an automated message responds and runs through a list of options, you wait for the tech support one and then press the corresponding number, then you talk to someone who takes some info and transfers you to someone else. During that process you may be put on hold a few times to wait for someone to be available.
Guess how it works at Ting. You call their number, a real live person answers the phone, and they take care of whatever you need help with. They speak in clear understandable english, are super friendly, and can handle everything from simple account questions to in-depth technical questions. How awesome is that?
I called one time when my phone wasn’t able to dial any voice numbers. I was in the coverage area, but my phone wasn’t seeing that I had service. I called Ting for help, and they walked me through a couple simple things. When that didn’t fix it, they walked me through resetting my phone and restoring from backup. They stayed with me through the entire process and never made me feel rushed. It was a great experience, and one I wish more companies could replicate.
Pros and Cons
This is probably a good time to list all the pros and cons so you can reference them easily.
- Not a good choice for super heavy data users on unlimited plans.
- Not a more affordable solution for 2% of potential customers.
- Pay full (unsubsidized) price for phones / devices.
- Data limited to Sprint or T-Mobile network with no option to data roam.
- Do not offer device insurance (you’ll need to go through a third party if you want insurance.)
- Pay for what you use at the end of each billing cycle.
- 98% of potential customers would save money.
- Low price to add additional phones.
- No contracts.
- No overage fees or penalties.
- Dashboard tool to view and control account and usage. Can be used to place limits on data to limit your bills or control access for the kids.
- Voice and text can roam on for free.
- Option to bring your own device.
- Good selection of phones.
- Ting doesn’t charge extra activation fees.
- Ting doesn’t charge extra for voicemail, caller ID, or call waiting.
- Ting doesn’t charge extra for tethering / wi-fi hotspot.
- Ting doesn’t charge add-on or recovery fees; they only collect the taxes and regulatory fees they’re legally required to collect and remit on customers’ behalf.
- You can bring your existing phone number over. Or, you can test Ting by getting a new number on Ting and then bring your number over later when you decide to switch to Ting.
- Great customer support. They are truly helpful and speak good English.
I have been with Ting for nearly four years, and I’m very pleased with the overall experience and really happy with the price I’m paying. Their dashboard is great and lets me easily monitor my usage. It was cheap to add a phone (just $6 per month) so we got one for my 6 year old daughter (who is 10 now). Obviously she doesn’t need a phone but with the low price it doesn’t hurt anything, gets her introduced to technology, and gives her a way to call home when she is visiting friends or family. Ting’s customer support is top notch. Their support staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. Don’t hesitate to call support if you have any issues at all as it’s actually a pleasant experience.
Ting is so vastly different from other phone companies. It’s basically the phone company I always dreamed of.
I have teamed up with Ting to offer my readers a discount when you sign up for Ting. You can save $25 off your first device, or $25 off your first months bill if you bring your own device.
Disclosure: I do get a small commission for my Ting referrals and that helps me keep the blog running. I have been a Ting customer for over a year, so unlike other Ting reviews that are simply trying to get commissions, I actually use Ting and believe their service is worth my hard earned dollars. If you don’t want to use the referral link and save the $25, that’s ok too, you can simply go to Ting.com and sign up from there.
One final note. As you read other reviews out there, make sure to note if the reviewer is actually using the company they are reviewing. If they are, it means they believe in the service they are reviewing, as I do here. I encourage you to research as much as you can, but also don’t be afraid to try Ting before you cancel your current service. With no contracts, it really won’t cost you much to give them a try.
If you have any questions about my experience with Ting, please ask in the comments section below, and I’ll reply to you personally in an email.