Ting Review: One Month In, $110.20 Saved

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 7.58.13 AMI’ve finished my first full billing cycle with Ting, and I couldn’t be happier with them. One month with a non-traditional cell provider has me convinced these guys (and companies like them) are going to break the Big 3′s stranglehold on our mobile devices.

I want to cover the three basic aspects of cell service and tell you how I think Ting is winning (for me) at all of them.

1. Quality of Service

As a Sprint MVNO, Ting is simply using Sprint’s network to deliver its service. I was already with Sprint, so I’ve noticed no change at all in call quality or data speed. Both are as good as when I was paying $155/mo instead of $45/mo.

2. Quality of Support

When I signed up for Ting and bought my two new Android devices, I somehow managed to skip a step that would have qualified me for a $25 discount. After completing the registration process, I submitted a support ticket asking if they’d apply the $25 to my account. Less than 12 hours later I got a reply that said they’d be happy to. Now, I’m not saying this is crazy, over the top customer service. What they did was fair and reasonable, and prompt. When was the last time you used the words fair, reasonable, and prompt to describe your cell phone provider?

When you have an issue requiring more immediate attention, just pick up the phone and call them. Prepare to have your mind blown: the phone will ring (maybe a good number of times, so be patient), and then….a human being will answer the phone and ask how he or she can help you.

What?? No confusing, convoluted phone tree? No “press this for billing” or “press that for technical support?” Nope. Phone rings, english-speaking human answers it, english-speaking human solves your problem. The end. I had some issues activating my new phones (read: I didn’t look at the instructions), so I called Ting support. I can’t remember the name of the guy who answered, but he hung out with me on the phone for about 15 minutes while I walked through the activation process. The experience was just…pleasant.

If Ting can preserve this kind of customer service experience as they grow, I think they’re going to rule the world.

3. Cost

My monthly bill with Sprint (two iPhones, 1,500 shared anytime minutes, unlimited mobile to mobile, unlimited texts, unlimited data) was $154.87. Problem is, I didn’t need all those minutes, texts, or data.

Because Ting is set up as a “pay-for-what-you-use” service, this is how my first bill broke down:

Fee Type Usage Cost
Minutes 633 $18.00
Texts 352 $5.00
Data (in Megabytes) 72 $3.00
Devices 2 $12.00
Taxes and Gov. Fees $6.67
Total Bill $44.67

$110.20 per month less than my old Sprint bill. Over $1,300 per year in savings.

The best part is I think I can get the bill down another $9 per month without affecting my convenience/quality of life.

How do I know that? Because Ting has combined their slick “pay-per-use” pricing with total transparency. Check it out -

When I log into my Ting account, the first thing I see is my Dashboard:

ting-dashboard

It tells me when my billing cycle ends and what my current charges are. Under each service category, it shows me my highest ever usage and my average (which are the same because I just started with Ting a month ago). Later in the month it will also estimate my bill based on my usage trends for that month.

As a budgeter, I understand how awareness improves behavior. Ting’s transparency with billing and usage make it easy to improve my behavior and save money.

Clicking on ‘View Details’ under minutes, texts, or data shows which device is responsible for what percentage of use. Turns out my wife accounted for 70% of our minutes usage, while I made up 90% of the data use.

According to Ting’s bill estimation tool:

ting-bill-estimator

…my bill would be $29 + taxes and govt fees, or about $35 total. And all I have to do is keep my minutes and text usage in the same range, while reducing talk time from 633 minutes to 499 minutes. Will we do it? I don’t know. But I love knowing that we have the ability to determine our cell phone bill.

I can even set alerts in my Ting account to let me know when any aspect of my usage exceeds certain thresholds.

ting-minutes-alert

…which means I don’t have to babysit the account to protect myself from wasteful usage. If I had teenagers who really needed to be kept in check, I could even tell Ting to disable their device if they exceeded the usage limit I set (muahahaha).

The Downside

Getting out of my Sprint contract cost me $234 and change, which is a bummer. Also, Ting doesn’t (yet) have an agreement in place with Sprint and Apple that would allow them to offer the iPhone. Not only did that mean I couldn’t use my iPhone anymore, I had to buy two Android devices to get going with the service.

By the way, that’s one thing I would have done differently: the devices. I bought the cheapest phones Ting offers (LG Optimus something or other), and my wife hates it because the keyboard is basically unusable. Now, this isn’t Ting’s fault. I should have shelled out the extra couple hundred bucks to get her a better device (they offer a great selection, including – I think – some cheaper refurbished phones). Buying Kate a nicer phone (like a Samsung Galaxy) would have made the transition much easier for her, and would only have extended my break-even date on the move by a couple of months.

(Ting is apparently in negotiations with both Apple and Sprint to be able to offer the iPhone. I can’t wait. When Ting gets iPhone, I’m pretty sure they’ll conquer the world.)

Speaking of my break-even point, I’m sure many of you won’t want to move to Ting because of cancellation fees with your current provider. Make sure you do the math, because I bet you’d break even within a reasonable period of time, and then it’s all gravy.

My cost to make the switch was $234 (cancellation fee) + $343 (device cost after $25 account credit from Ting) = $577. It will take me a little over five months to break even on the move.

Making the move to Ting will be easiest and cheapest for those of you who are already on Sprint using a Ting-approved device. But no matter what phone you’re using or who which of the Big 3 you’re currently chained to, look hard at your options. There’s really no reason to break the bank on your phone bill anymore.

By the way, filled with referral links. If you happen to click one of those links and end up signing up with Ting, you’ll receive $25 in account credit, and YNAB will receive a little referral commission. Thanks in advance. :)

This entry was posted in Savings Tips by mark. Bookmark the permalink.

About mark

Mark has been working online full-time since 2008, owning an educational website and two small software businesses. He joined YNAB (as Blogger/Staff Writer) after selling his businesses in late 2012. In addition to his love for budgeting and personal finance, Mark enjoys hanging out with his wife and two kids, snowboarding, CrossFit, bike commuting, and tinkering with side businesses.

57 thoughts on “Ting Review: One Month In, $110.20 Saved

  1. Where I live, Verizon is the only usable provider. For those like me, check out Page Plus Cellular. It doesn’t operate the same way Ting does, unfortunately, but their prices are great. I was paying $75/month on Verizon, I now pay $30 with PPC. That’s a savings of $540 per year! Their “officially supported” phone selection is rather small, however, you can bring almost any Verizon phone over. And while their official policy is that the iPhone is not allowed on their network, there are many people who have gotten one onto it anyway.

  2. As a computer nerd, please for the love of money, setup alerts for mobile data. I pay $35 a month (in Australia) for an unlimited talk, text and 5gb data plan with an MNVO. I wonder why that ting pricing seems so expensive compared to mine.

  3. I’m currently on Verizon, but that’s only because I didn’t want to shell out the money for a new phone. I get okay (at best, and not that often) coverage where I live. I REALLY need to be on US Cellular to get decent coverage. (Yes, I live in the boondocks, but I was well aware before I moved there than there were disadvantages.) Anyone know of an inexpensive alternative that uses that network?

  4. Hello Mark – check out the play store for alternative keyboards if your wife doesn’t like the keyboard software that comes as standard on your phone. There are loads of options some free and some for a small fee. Ones to check out are Swype, Touchpal and Google Keyboard which is also free and includes swiping feature and voice to text as well as standard tapping – I would checkout the google one first and see if she gets on with that prior to buying one of the other ones..

  5. I use Straight Talk, the $45 per month unlimited plan works really well for me as I’m a heavy data user. If you are careful with your phone selection you can get any of the four major carriers. Walmart’s website is really good about listing the specific carrier. CDMA-V for Verizon, GSM-T for t-mobile, etc… The service quality is basically as reliable as the network you choose. Customer service could be improved but I have yet to find another plan that gives me access to Verizon’s network at such a price.

    • Yep, I have straight talk with the iphone and love it!! Get almost as good service as anyone else in my family it seems and it has “unlimited” data, unlimited minutes (including long-distance) and unlimited texts. “Unlimited” data means that you can’t go hog-wild on your data or they might shut it down – I think you have to go pretty crazy with it for that to happen though. But it’s been sufficient for my use which is no streaming movies or anything like that. I believe I could stream music if I wanted with no problem. I’ve not had a problem with customer service which I only had to access at the beginning to port my home number to the cell phone. Originally my bill was around $51 a month or so after taxes. A few months ago, they ran a promotion where if you contacted them they would knock $5 more dollars off your bill every month and there is no end date. So now it’s about $46 after taxes. I like knowing that I can do pretty much what I want without worrying that my monthly bill will be higher the more I use as with Ting.

      • Oh, only downside is you have to buy the phone outright. But I knew that in the long run I would still save money over the Big 3 so I was ok with that.

  6. We use Virgin Mobile at our house. $32/month for my teen daughter to have an iphone unlimited text and data with 300 minutes talk. The phone was $329. My husband has an Android device and same package. No contracts. Everyone is happy.

  7. I’ve been looking at Ting, however I’m not crazy about the phone choices. All Sprint Android devices. I have an iphone 5 that I really don’t want to part with. I really LOVE my phone. I’m stuck paying crazy fees to Verizon. Does anyone out there have any thoughts on this? Thank you in advance!

  8. Is a the coverage really the same as sprint? I use credo, it uses the entire sprint network, i was about to switch to cheaper virgin since it’s also on sprint, but turns out it doesnt use the entire network. Have you compared the maps? just curious! I

    • If you live in a major city, check out Wind Mobile. It seems to be doing the same thing out here that Ting is doing down there!

  9. I have T-mobile and my bill was running as high as $400 a month (biz use too), I was going to switch to Solavei, a new provider which was all inclusive for $49 per line. When I called T-mobile to switch, they (conveniently) offered me a new plan for $30 a line, no contract, unlimited everything (which I must have). Right now I am blissfully happy with them (after 8 yrs of paying extremely HIGHt rates!

  10. I was happy when my contract expired and I could switch over to a Sprint MVNO. I opted to go with virgin mobile over Ting. I liked that their plans were centered around unlimited data and customizing talk minutes. That’s much more in line with how I use my phone.

  11. Looks like Ting is great for Minute/Text users but for Data heavy/only users its a big expensive. I’m looking at T-Mobiles Pay as you Go plan $30 100min, Unlimited Texts, Unlimited Web (5gb @ 4G, slowed after that)

  12. We switched to Ting after your previous post and we are SUPER happy. Our Verizon bill for two “dumb” flip phones was $95/month. Now we have two Android smartphones and it will be just $39 a month, plus fees. It’s nice to be able to use YNAB on my phone, too!

  13. I have telephone plan with my company, which allows me to get cheaper rates than normal ( as they buy in bulk, and can push the price down ).

    I rarely pay more than 5 euro’s ( 6 dollars, European here ) on telephone costs each month.

  14. I pay £10 a month (UK) and can use whatever phone I want. I chose a Nexus 4 because I can own it outright.

    I find it crazy that people will buy a subsidised phone on contract and either have to pay to end their lock-in or pay above and beyond its value for years on end.

  15. Ting sounds great, but Sprint has no coverage in my area. I used prepaid plans with my so-called “feature phones”, but when we switched to iPhones we were stuck with an expensive AT&T plan. Prepaid plans for iPhones were always too expensive to be worth losing the phone subsidy, especially since I get a discounted AT&T rate through my work.

    After reading this article, I searched again, and it looked like I can get affordable iPhone pay-as-you-go service from AirVoice, and will be able to dramatically chop the cell-phone bill. I ordered a couple SIM cards and will be trying it out as soon as they get here. If all goes well, the savings will almost cover the monthly cost of braces for my daughter that we found out about yesterday.

  16. Just went to the Ting site to do a comparison of their prices vs. my current plan with Verizon. After they pulled 3 months of my data from Verizon, they determined i am in the 2% of people that will not save any money with their plan. Oh well, guess I’m staying put, and Verizon coverage is definitely much better than Sprint in my area anyways

      • I don’t think it was the data, on average I only use about 600 mb (1000 is $24). Texting I do about 1000 which is $5. I think I would have minute overages, because the highest group they have is 3000 ($52) and my average minute usage is about 3500, with my highest month being around 4400 minutes used… When I calculated the per min charge after the 3000 mark, it was roughly around $30 extra. The total with Ting comes to about $111. I currently spend about $89/month for my cell phone plan. The other insight I have is that I talk alot lol!

        • Holy Cow! How do you talk that much? I barely use 200 (including Nights/Weekends and Mobile2Mobile). Data is my killer. I use on average 5gb+ and have hit 10-12gb a few months.

  17. Thanks for this review. We just switched to ting (with your referral link) and are saving $90 per month on phone bill. We are very happy with the services and are spreading the word.

  18. Unless they began offering this after you wrote your blog, the Ting site states they’ll reimburse you a portion of your carrier’s termination fee as a credit- 25% up to $75. For me, that was about a month and a half of service.

  19. Thanks, Mark. I’ve spent the last 2 months hemming and hawing over switching from AT&T (whom I’ve probably had for 14 years) to Ting. I bought a Sprint iPhone on ebay last weekend as Ting is currently beta testing this. I used your referral link so hopefully we will both get a credit for me signing up. Wish me luck!

  20. thanks for the referral link, i used it as well; i doubt you’ll be paying for service for a while :)

    i signed up with the iPhone 4S beta. working great so far (3 days). if all goes well over the next month, i’ll be cancelling my Sprint contracts and fully switch to Ting with my families 4 iPhone 4S’s.
    with a heavy focus on using less minutes/data when not near wifi (also plan on offsetting minutes usage with a free/ultra cheap VoIP solution at home) i think we can easily drop our costs by 50% or more from what i was paying Sprint…

    biggest thing i am very happy to save money and still keep cell service on the iPhones!

  21. I am taking a hard look at Republic Wireless. No contract, Motorolla Moto X for $299, but then monthly plans with unlimited talk, unlimited text and no data, 3G data and 4G data from $5 – $40 a month! Phones use WIFI for calls, falling back on Sprint network if there is no WIFI signal. Crunch those number, talk about savings!

  22. Pingback: What is Brian and Janna’s best path to home ownership? | YNAB

Leave a Reply