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Ting Review Update and Cost Comparison For 2014


has a totally different approach to wireless service compared to other mobile carriers: instead of charging you a set amount each month for a "plan" they simply have tiered rates for different services. Ting charges you for what you actually use in three separate categories: minutes, texts, and data - everything else is free.

Have you already read the review and are back for the $25 ting credit? If so, use this link immediately prior to buying your first Ting phone or activating your first line through the BYOD process.

Ting Mobile That Makes Sense

Pros & Cons

  • No contract
  • Cost varies according to usage (in tiers)
  • Additional lines only cost $6
  • Free tethering & hotspots
  • Free alerts and per-line limits
  • Excellent customer service
  • No hidden/extra fees
  • Early termination fee relief
  • Phones are not subsidized so they are little more expensive
  • If you are not in an area with 4G LTE, Sprint 3G may be slow
  • No current generation iPhone support (only the 4 through 5s models are available)

For the full review and ratings continue reading below. You may also skip to the updated section at the end that includes pricing charts comparing Ting to T-mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon using real usage data.

Below are my review ratings. Overall Ting receives a very good 4.3 out of 5 star rating.

Value = 5
Customer service = 5
Coverage = 4.5
Phone selection = 4
Network Speed = 3

Finding a New, Less Expensive Carrier

At the beginning of 2013 I was doing a lot of research trying to find a new cell phone provider as my monthly bills just kept getting more and more expensive even though my usage had actually decreased. Initially I was planning on switching from T-mobile to another GSM carrier - this time a no-contract one - just because it is so easy to switch providers and keep your unlocked phone. But, I was trying to find the best option for us and I came across a company I had never heard of before, called Ting, a Sprint MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) owned by Tucows.
The two most important factors to consider in choosing a wireless provider are coverage and value."

In my opinion the two most important factors to consider in choosing a wireless provider are coverage and value. Consequently, before even reading the rest of this review you should determine if Ting has good coverage in your area and if Ting offers good value for your specific needs.

Coverage and Network Speed

Ting uses Sprint's wireless network to provide service that includes a voice-only roaming deal with Verizon.  That means that if you already have Sprint and are satisfied with the coverage in your area, switching to Ting should make no difference. If you are switching from another mobile provider, check Ting's coverage map to see what coverage is like in your area. We would also highly recommend asking friends, family, or co-workers who use Sprint about their coverage. If you can find someone who will loan you their old deactivated Sprint phone you should take it with you to work, home, and the other places you frequent to determine what the signal strength is like in those important areas.  Sprint is in the middle of a nationwide improvement of their wireless infrastructure they are calling "Network Vision." This is a good thing, as areas that have been upgraded can provide significantly better coverage, voice call quality, and network speeds. Although a large number of 4G LTE sites have come online in the last year, unfortunately not everywhere is covered yet, and those sites that have not been upgraded can be incredibly slow. If you plan to use a smartphone and having a fast data connection is important to you, then you are probably going to want make sure your area has 4G LTE. For more objective data on Ting's network, check the RootMetrics coverage map and choose "Sprint" as the carrier. It is a great way to check the fastest and average data speeds in your area.

Value: Is Ting Worth it for You?

On average we are saving 60% every month compared to our previous cell phone provider.
Ting will most likely save you money unless you need to use a lot of data. Grab your last couple of mobile phone bills and head over to the savings calculator to see your projected monthly bill. They use your current usage in minutes, texts, and data to estimate how much you will save and in my experience it is accurate.

Before signing up, I compared Ting to many of the other no-contract providers such as T-mobile's no-contract service, Tracfone, AT&T's GoPhone, Boost, and Virgin mobile. Besides Ting, they all had a few things in common - you either had to sign up for a very low allowance plan, they did not have good smartphones, or you had to spend at least $40-50 per line per month for an "unlimited" plan that wasn't actually unlimited. After running all the numbers, for us, Ting was the best value. Everyone has a unique situation, but on average we are saving 60% every month compared to our previous cell phone provider. That savings is incredible considering that before we only had 2 out of 5 lines with a data allowance and now we have added an extra line so we have 6 smartphones on my account.

As an incentive to switch, Ting also offers a credit equal to 25% of any early termination fees (ETFs) you paid in order to switch from another carrier. Also, if you have a phone on another carrier like Verizon, AT&T, or T-mobile, and want to switch to Ting, you can sell your current device on Glyde and Ting will give you a credit for 30% of the device's selling price through their improved swap program:

Swap your AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile device for one that's Ting-ready. Whatever you sell your phone for, we'll top you up with an additional 30% in Ting credit to off-set the cost of your new phone.

You may be wondering, "but why is Ting so cheap?" Is there something lacking in Ting's service? From my experience there is very little to complain about. Ting answered the "why are you so cheap" question in a blog post that is an interesting read if you have time, but the bottom line is that Ting isn't that "cheap" - you pay for what you use, Ting earns a healthy margin, and that is it. The reason Ting seems cheap is because the wireless industry as a whole in the US is very expensive: prices are inflated and almost every carrier makes you buy far more usage (minutes, texts, data) through their plans than you will ever use.

Ting Charges According to Actual Usage

What first attracted me to Ting is that they charge you according to your actual usage without any contract. At the end of the billing cycle Ting will charge you according to your usage in the tiers listed below in 3 separate categories: minutes, texts, and data. There are no plans or overages - you just pay for what you use.

Also, knowing that we can save money by limiting our usage helps us be more aware of our usage and more likely to do things like connect to WiFi when it is available or use Google Voice on a computer if we need to make an extended call. Those things help us limit our data and minutes usage and are easy to do.

Rates and Tiers

Here is a diagram of the rates Ting offers. Remember you start out at XS (zero minutes, texts, and data) and the plan will adapt according to your usage. Each line costs $6 per month to continue service. In the example below using up to 500 minutes, 1000 texts, and 500 megabytes of data for one device would cost roughly $32 per month. These are new, lower, rates as of February 2014 that benefit everyone, especially heavy data users.
Ting review 2014 rates

Your Bill, Free Alerts, and Per-Line Limits

The Ting dashboard and subsequent bill are very intuitive and easy to use. Watch the video below to get a quick idea of what the Dashboard is all about. The dashboard makes it easy to keep track of your usage throughout each month.

Ting also includes usage alerts and individual line limits for free. Most other carriers I have used charge extra for those features and call them "parental controls" or something similar. If you have a family and your teenager is texting or using up data like crazy you can automatically warn them to slow down, and then if they do not heed the warning, cut them off until the end of the billing period - they will learn pretty quickly to stay within the limits you have provided ;-)

Ting also offers dashboard apps for both Android and iOS to track your usage and change settings directly from your phone.

Phones and Tablets

Ting offers some very nice high-end Android phones like the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, Motorola Moto X, and more. You can even buy an unlocked Nexus 5 from the Google Play Store and bring it to Ting. The Apple iPhone 4, 4s, 5, and 5s can also be brought over to Ting but are not sold directly by Ting at this time. If you are interested in getting an iPhone on Ting, but are not sure where to start, check out this post on how to buy and activate the iPhone 5s (the same principles apply for other older models). Although not officially supported, the inexpensive but impressive Motorola Moto G can be activated.

For LTE equipped tablets, the 4th generation iPad (model A1460) and the first generation iPad Mini (model A1455) can be activated.

Most MVNOs do not get new devices nearly as fast as their respective carrier, but Ting has managed to offer new phones like the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One, and the Motorola Moto X just a few days to weeks after Sprint has offered them. This indicates good relationships with Sprint as well as phone suppliers to make this happen. Also, Ting is the only Sprint MVNO that can activate the unlocked Nexus 5 and utilize Sprint's tri-band LTE, also known as Sprint Spark.

Ting has a bring your own device (BYOD) program where you can activate almost any new or used Sprint device. I took advantage of this when I first signed up and bought an inexpensive Smartphone from eBay to try everything out before deciding to switch the the rest of our lines over. If you don't mind buying a used phone, this is a great way to get a nice smartphone for much less than retail value. Check out CNET's 5 reasons to bring your smartphone to Ting if you are still wondering if switching would be best for you.

Customer Service

When I signed up for Ting I read about their "no hold" phone policy, but was skeptical to say the least. However, in the process of signing up I had a question, so I called their main phone number and to my surprise and delight an actual human answered almost immediately! No automated system to attempt navigate whatsoever and no holding! Since then we have called a number of times and everyone we have spoken to was knowledgeable and were able to answer our questions and resolve any issues right away.

Ting now offers a service that will help you find a used phone that is compatible with their network by asking you a few questions about what kind of phone you want and then searching Glyde, eBay, Amazon, and other places before giving you a list of possible options.

Potential Downsides

  • There is no "unlimited plan", so users who use a huge amount of minutes, texts, and data - this might not be the best for you.
  • The phones are not subsidized like other carriers (that lock you in to a 2 year contract) so they are kind of expensive up front.

Referral Program

Ting has a referral program where each person you refer gets a $25 credit towards service or a new device and the person who referred them also gets a $25 service credit.

If this post helped you decide to switch to Ting please use my referral link. After using the referral link you will get $25 off a device or a $25 credit to your account.

Review Updates for 2014

We switched to Ting at the beginning of 2013. I have edited my entire review to keep it up to date, but for this review update, I wanted to make sure that my recommendation of Ting's mobile services was still valid - after all, there have been some significant changes in the telecom industry recently. T-mobile has rebranded itself as an "un-carrier," doing away with contracts and lowering prices. Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon now all have the option of unsubsidized plans that are less expensive than their subsidized counterparts.
We are still saving a lot of money on Ting, and can continue to strongly recommend their mobile service.

So, I decided to see what the cheapest plans available from T-mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon would have charged for our first six months of usage in 2014 compared that to what we were actually charged by Ting. I used the Wall Street Journal calculator in addition to the carriers' websites to determine the projected costs. Since I chose the cheapest Big 4 plans that fit my actual usage for each month individually, I probably underestimated the costs as this would be the real-world equivalent of switching your plan every single month.

As you can see, even with heavy data usage in January (over 5 GB), Ting was still cheaper than all the other carriers by a small margin. With low data usage, Ting was often about half the cost of its closest competitor. After reviewing this new data, I am confident that we are still saving a lot of money on Ting, and can continue to strongly recommend their mobile service. Mouse over the interactive charts to see the actual costs and usage numbers.

If you found this review helpful, please let me know by sharing it or by clicking the 1+ button below. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments section.
Review Summary:
Service reviewed: Ting
Description: Ting gets high marks on almost every category, including outstanding customer service. Ting's only real downsides come from their use of Sprint's network.
Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars.
Updated: 09/30/2014
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