Reviewing is a key component to success. I constantly encourage my ninth grade Algebra students to review their work. Coaches are always reviewing game film to learn from the previous game. I would submit to you that reviewing financial decisions is an important aspect of living wisely in the area of finances. When I make a big purchase, I should ask if it were worth it one year later. If I change a lifestyle habit, I want to evaluate how it affects my bottom line a year later.
One decision that I wrote about last year and wanted to review was my decision to switch cell phone providers to Ting Mobile. I started my review by reading last year’s article and re-evaluating the pros and cons. This time I spare you the obnoxious puns.
A pull-down offer will appear at the top of your screen shortly after you visit their website.
At the time, I was anticipating a monthly phone bill of $39 per month without changing habits. Over the span of 18 months my bill has averaged just over $40, due to my usage being higher than average a few months. The rates have not risen which has been a pleasant surprise!
Good Coverage, No Contract
My wife and I have had no surprises with reception. At home in Bellevue we experience great coverage, and experience no bars while floating down the Niobrara River in rural Nebraska. This would be exactly the same had we stayed with Sprint.
We both upgraded phones during the past year (my wife to an iPhone 5 and myself to an even newer flip phone!!!) and changing our numbers over to the new phones was a piece of cake.
The website makes it very clear what you will pay for. I switched phones midway through this year and did it all myself with ease.
Last year I told you about the irony of cost with Ting. It is not for everyone. I searched average cell phone usage and by inputting the averages into Ting’s estimator tool, found out what a “normal” bill would be.
DEVICE CHARGE: $6 for 1 device
MINUTES: $9 for 450 minutes
MESSAGES: $11 for 2500 messages
DATA: $19 for 1.75 Gigabytes
Again,Ting is probably not a good replacement for unlimited talk, text, and data if you use all three in large amounts each month.
As mentioned above, a person rolls with Sprint’s coverage for better or worse.
My wife’s phone broke three months ago, and without insurance we had to eat a fairly significant cost to buy a new phone (we used Glyde to buy a gently used iPhone 5 for just over $100). We’ve learned our lesson to invest in good phone cases and save towards new phones (my sights are set on going back to the Razr! Who’s with me?)
Overall, there has been no significant surprises except for two pleasant perks. First, I have not waited in a line at a cell phone dealer for over 18 months now! By my “what it feels like” estimates that’s like 20 hours saved! Because efficiency is a high value for me and because lines at cell phone stores are the bane of my existence, Ting has worked out great for me! Secondly, Ting has made controlling my phone use easy. I’m able to set alerts when I reach a certain level of messages to warn me before I go over. If I go into “super strict crazy budget guy mode” for a month, I’m able to ask Ting to “cut me off” when I’ve had too many messages or data for that month. After a year and half of using Ting, my loyalty to the company is even stronger because of the lack of surprises, pleasant perks, and low phone bill each month!
Update – Three Years Later – September 2017
My insurance costs have gone up over the past 3 years. My electric bill has gone up over the past 3 years. With the family addition of a little one, the diaper budget has gone up exponentially over the past 3 years. But even after 3 years with Ting mobile, my cell phone bill is the same. This has led to more confidence and loyalty to Ting as my wireless provider.
Qualities that I appreciate about Ting now, just like I did 3 years ago…
- Cost. I pay for what I use. My wife and I don’t use our cell phones a lot, and therefore we don’t have to pay a lot! Our bill has stayed steady around $50 per month for the length of our time with Ting.
- Customer Service. I’ve never had to wait to speak with a Ting representative and 100% of my interactions have been with folks who know exactly what they are doing. And I don’t have to leave my couch to go wait in lines for the over-worked, stressed out folks in polos down at the local wireless shop who activate phones.
What I appreciate about Ting now, even more so than I did 3 years ago:
- No Contract. I’m nervous about any long term commitment (except my wife…don’t worry honey!), so I’m glad I’m not bound by a cell phone contract that lasts over a year. While some of these contracts may work for some, I’ll take the freedom.
- Flexibility with Devices. Who doesn’t love a BYOD (bring your own device) network party? In my first post, I may have made it seem like Sprint phones are the only ones that can be carried over to Ting. That’s not the case – and we recently tested this out. We came across an iPhone that a family member was parting with that had previously been on a Verizon plan. We had to purchase a new Sim card from Ting (9 dollars), but after that the activation was smooth as well! Ting does a great job of letting you know if your device is compatible, and if not, how to make it compatible with their network.
- Updates. I can set up alerts to notify me when I’ve reached certain data, message, or minute levels. This can help me be for certain that I’m staying under the limits that I want to achieve each month.
Three years ago I was really searching for what the ‘catch’ was with Ting. Today I’m resting confident that Ting will be my wireless carrier for many years to come.
A pull-down offer will appear at the top of your screen shortly after you visit their website. TTG may receive compensation if you purchase via this link – at no charge to you.
Update 8/4/15: One important detail that I failed to mention – Ting’s network mirrors that of Sprint but this year Ting’s coverage has expanded and includes GSM wireless coverage.
Update 2/4/16: Consumer Reports again names Ting to one of the best MVNO providers.
Update 8/5/16: Ting just announced they have dropped their pricing on all plans. Kind of unheard of today! Data now costs just $10 a gigabyte beyond the first. Kudos to Ting!
Update 5/3/17: Check out this free ebook on how to cut your data usage (provided by Ting!)
Update 9/13/17: Ting offers a refer-a-friend program where they will give $25 to your referral (for phone or service) and $50 to you for the first referral ($25 for each referral after that).
Update 2/7/18: Ting again takes top honors in Consumer Reports survey of top cell phone providers.
Update 10/1/18: For a limited time, Ting is offering TTG readers a $50 credit when you sign-up for cell service. Click on the green button above to take advantage of this offer!
Comparison of other MVNO providers
|MVNO||Network Used||Plan Price|
|Mexico & Canada Included in Plan||Customer Service||Plan Friendliness|
(Ability to uprade / downgrade at will)
|Boost||Sprint||$35 (Unlimited / 3GB data)||$5 extra||Fair||1 month notice||No|
|Consumer Cellular||AT&T, T-Mobile||$15 (250 min / no data) AARP members can get 15% discount.||International direct dial||Good||Anytime||-|
|Cricket||AT&T||$25 (Unlimited Talk / Text Plan)||Smart / Pro Plans only||Fair||2x per billing cycle||No|
|Republic Wireless||Sprint, T-Mobile||$15 (Unlimited talk / text)||No||Fair (Most CS logged to community)||2x per billing cycle||Yes|
|Straight Talk Wireless||AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon||$35 (Unlimited text/talk + 2GB)||Add-on||Good||Anytime||No|
|Tello||Sprint||$5 (100 min / Unlimited text)||Yes (texts and MMS only)||Good||Anytime||Yes|
|Ting||Sprint, T-Mobile||$15 (100 min / MB / text. Plans based on what you use). Offers $25 upon signup||Yes||Good||Okay||No|
|TracFone||Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile US, Sprint Corporation, and U.S. Cellular||$14.25 for auto-renew (200 min / 500 texts / 500mb)||No||Fair||Okay||No|
|Twigby||Sprint, Verizon||$9.00 (Text + 300min + WiFi only)||No||Good||Yes||Yes|
|UNREAL Mobile||Sprint||$10 (Unlimited text + talk + data - up to 1GB)||No||Good||Yes||No|