Ting! Save Money on Mobile

Category: Mobile

Cellular customers are like Goldilocks, who wanted everything to be just right. They pay a set amount for a bucket of minutes, text messages, and data bytes. At the end of each month, they are unhappy if they don't use all they paid for, or they have to pay extra for going over their allotments. Ting feels your pain, and has a solution that can save you money on your mobile phone bill...

The Rankin File

What is Ting?

Tucows has started a mobile services carrier called Ting, which is provided over Sprint's cellular network. Ting is one of the most flexible deals available. You can roll your own service plan, choosing different amounts of monthly voice minutes, text messages, and data megabytes from six tiers (XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL).

Kinda makes you wonder why they don't also sell t-shirts. But anyway... you can even choose "zero" if you don't want to use your device for one type of service. Each device added to your account costs a base price of $6/month, so you can customize a family plan or a multiple-device service plan.

It might seem complicated, but Ting provides a short video that shows how simple this roll-your-own service plan is. There's even a calculator where you can plug in up to a year of your current usage and costs to see how much you would save with Ting.
Ting Mobile Calling

If you exceed your chosen allotment in any category, you are automatically bumped up to the next higher plan. For example, if you are paying $9 for 500 voice minutes and use between 501 and 1000, your next bill for voice minutes will be $18. If you exceed the "XXL" allotment, you pay a unit price per minute, message, or megabyte for the overage.

But don't worry... this automatic adjustment works in reverse, too. If your actual usage falls into a lower-priced bracket, your next bill will reflect the lower price in the form of a credit. Just try to find another phone company that will proactively lower you bill! Ting doesn't perfectly match your usage to your bill, but it comes closer than other bucket-based pricing plans.

No Math, No Contract, and Free Stuff!

There really isn't any need to estimate your monthly needs for each type of service. Just sign up for the lowest-priced plans and let your actual usage determine your bill. Ting requires no contract, and you can cancel service at any time. That's a breath of fresh air for anyone who's ever been in the vice-like grip of those multi-year cellular contracts that come with hefty early termination fees.

And how about some free stuff? Every Ting customer gets Voicemail, Call Forwarding, Caller ID, Three-way Calling, and Picture & Video Messaging. Not impressed? How about free number porting, tethering, and mobile hotspot capability? I know for sure that Verizon and AT&T don't offer those things for free.

Another plus is Ting's "Moms Ride Free" feature. If you have a Mom, Dad, Grandma, or other family member who needs a cell phone only on rare occasions or for emergencies, you can get them a Ting feature phone for $100 ($65 plus $35 activation), and pay only $6 a month to keep the phone active.

I also like Ting's approach to customer service. If you call Monday through Friday (8am to 8pm EST), you'll never be put on hold. The phone simply rings until someone at Ting picks it up. I called on a Monday at 11AM and got a rep on the first ring. And for what it's worth, she spoke perfect English. Ting says they hire people ("geeks", actually) who are already accustomed to solving problems for their friends and families. These reps are trained and empowered to solve problems without reading from a script.

There are a few downsides to Ting's business model. First, you have to pay full retail price for a Ting handset, which can range from $65 for a simple feature phone to $545 for a Motorola Photon smartphone. Second, there is a $35 activation fee for each device added to your account.

I can't guarantee that Ting would save everyone money in the long run. My gut reaction is that people (or families) who use at least several hundred minutes a month would benefit. For a small business, it seems like a slam dunk win. Try the savings calculator mentioned earlier here, and see if your personal, family or small business mobile phone bill looks better with Ting. At the very least, it's a unique step towards true metered pricing of cellular services. Perhaps it will spur further movement in that direction.

Have you tried Ting, or are you curious about it? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Ting! Save Money on Mobile "

(See all 21 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

19 Mar 2012

Great pricing concept, but it's disappointing that you can't keep the phone you have. Do you think they'll change that? Or add more phones with more features than the absolute basic, and lower cost than the others? However, I am also keeping in mind that it's not environmentally friendly to switch phones when you don't really need to. Thanks for the info!

Posted by:

19 Mar 2012

Sounds like a great service except for one thing: Sprint! Many places, such as where I live, have virtually no service with Sprint...and that's not saying much about the others (Verizon and AT&T). Can't get T-Mobile either, which has a great data plan.

Posted by:

John Hanks
19 Mar 2012

I really like the idea, except they don't have BlackBerrys, only expensive Android phones and more importantly why it's lame is they use Sprint, one of the works carriers for coverage.

Posted by:

Lee Barnett
19 Mar 2012

Sorry, but I'm too busy reading my first free ebook.
It was an honor to receive a gift for YOUR birthday, Bob.

Thanks and now I have to figure out what to give you on MY birthday.

Posted by:

19 Mar 2012

I am already a Sprint customer. Do I still need to buy one of their phones? Thanks.

Posted by:

19 Mar 2012

Yes definitely interested. However, Sprint doesn't have the best coverage in areas that I frequent, like home. Maybe that will improve. Right now I am a little tied into AT&T because I have had an iPhone since its introduction and I am grandfathered into an unlimited plan. Plus I have a Clear hotspot so I have unlimited data over any of my devices that support WiFi. What is interesting will ccme true is that I will soon have teenagers. Tat will come true in a couple more years, so I hope Ting is still around at that time.

Posted by:

Art Flexser
19 Mar 2012

Why don't they just charge a fixed rate per minute, same way as you get charged for gasoline, electricity, etc? Why must minutes be sold in blocks?

Posted by:

DB Campbell
19 Mar 2012


Sounds like a good deal "except" ... that it provided via Sprint's network. Sprint service here is so bad locally (Jacksonville, FL) that neighbors, relatives & friends that have tried have all left, frustrated with the experience.

Additionally, could never activate work laptop aircard ossued through sprint here. (lack of signal.)
Company reissued one through Verizon and was operational in less than 5 minues. A god deal is only a deal if the product can be used.

Posted by:

20 Mar 2012

I've been warned away from Tucows because it loads your computer up with an installer and lots of crapware, plus hundreds of cookies. I'd think twice, or three times, before dealing with them. At the least, a lawyer should read their terms of agreement carefully. KRS

EDITOR'S NOTE: Apples and oranges. The Tucows download site has nothing to do with Ting, except they are both owned by the same corporate entity.

Posted by:

20 Mar 2012

I have two questions:
1) How good is its service area?
2) What are the minimum monthly costs for each feature for those of us who don't use our phone much but don't have a child/grandchild to piggyback on?

Thank you,

Posted by:

20 Mar 2012

Correction, if you go over the XXL plan not the XL plan then you are billed per minute, per text and per mega byte. If you go over 3000 MB, which is the XXL plan limit the cost is $2.25. This is the gotcha point. If you are like me and have 6 phones on the family plan, 3 owned by teenagers, and they get foolish and go over on the data plan, let's say 100 MB it will cost you $225.00. Let's say they download a bunch of you tube videos and movies and go over a GIG! $2,225.00 OUCH!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fortunately, your math is off by a few orders of magnitude. The XXL plan gives 3000MB, which is 3GB. An extra GB would cost 1000 * 2.25cents, or $22.50.

Posted by:

Art Frailey
20 Mar 2012

Art Flexer, haven't you figured that Out? Ans: Money
Why can I not buy a block and use it on three or four computers? If I buy a barrel of gas I can put it in any car I want. But you cannot data. When you break it all down, it is all about greed,

Posted by:

20 Mar 2012

Ooooooh Thanks for the correction. Thank God I lift heavy things for a living.

Yet, the way they used fraction format 1/4cents for text overage, then switch to decimal format 2.25cents for data overage instead of 2&1/4 cents, can confuse us stupid people. And I still want to argue (even though I know I'm wrong) that 2.25cents reads as 2dollars and 25cents. Maybe I should read one of your "free online college course" newsletters and sign up. Do you have one for grade school levels?

Posted by:

Tom Menger
20 Mar 2012


This sounds like a terrific plan; I use a Trakfone now, really only for voice conversations, but the per-minute cost is fairly high. I also feel tethered to AT&T for my Internet modem connection at home. Can I somehow get the Internet service as part of a data plan on the Ting system? And can it be cheaper than the $35 per month I am now paying AT&T for about 60 hours of usage per month?

Posted by:

20 Mar 2012

My brother and I have Sprint which I've never had any problems with. He is on an extremely limited budget so I am happy to share this information with him. He was planning on checking out cheaper phone plans anyway and most of the inexpensive ones require a new phone purchase. Since he doesn't text or use the Internet, the cheapest phone will work fine for him. I used their calculator and they say they can save me over $300 a year for my very modest phone usage. More than pays for the phone. Thanks!!

Posted by:

Colin Bain
21 Mar 2012

Living in the UK temporarily, it makes me weep when I see what I will be coming back to, when I do return to N America. Right now I have a smart phone bought for $150 and have paid $14 per month for 100mb data, 500 texts and 35c calls. My wife bought a basic phone 18 months ago for $10 and has paid on Pay as you Go $50 in total to keep her service going. AND you can change your provider by simply changing the sim card. Small charge for "opening" the phone for this. ($7)
and can I use the phone in the rest of Europe? you betcha! However can't use it in the US/Can. As I have found out coming back on a business trip! Not quite a fully global business yet.
(All prices quoted converted to $US btw)

Posted by:

Michael Goldstein
23 Mar 2012

Hi, I'm Michael from Ting. I wanted to answer this question:
Why don't they just charge a fixed rate per minute, same way as you get charged for gasoline, electricity, etc? Why must minutes be sold in blocks?

It's a great question. There are really two reasons. One makes perfect sense. The other is a bit silly and emotional.

The rational reason is that we are actually improving the rates as you use more. So, if you do the math on $/minute or $/megabyte, it drops as you move up from bucket to bucket. If we just did a flat rate, we couldn't do that. There is an unavoidable quirk where the rate/unit goes up as you just enter a new bucket and goes down throughout the bucket. But the trendline (if I may be so geeky) ultimately is going down.

The silly reason is that lots of people told us that a fixed rate stresses them out. They don't like feeling metered. For example, they stare at the clock when they're on the phone. Something about the buckets made people more comfortable.

But it's mostly about the first reason!

Posted by:

25 May 2012

Bob, thanks for the info. I had been shopping around for a reasonably priced plan for the little use I give a cell phone, and Ting seemed to be just what we needed. I've had it for a couple of months now and it seems to work very well. I really like only paying for what I use. Service is as good or better than our old pay-as-you-go Verizon phone. Only two things I wish would change - that you could provide your own phone and that I could put my bill on Discover card.

Posted by:

01 Jul 2012

You can save an extra $25 when you start new service with Ting when you this Link https://zi4a11mh.ting.com/ through the Refer a friend Program from Ting.

Posted by:

30 Dec 2014

I took a look at the Ting web site. Turns out you can use an inactive Sprint phone rather than buying a new one, they're now a part owner in a Charlottesville, VA, ISP, and they plan to add GSM capabilities to the mobile service in 2015.

"Early in 2015, Ting mobile service will come online on a GSM network. We’re targeting February, for the launch. This is not us announcing we’re moving away from offering service on Sprint’s CDMA network. Rather, this is us announcing that we’re adding GSM network access to Ting."

More info at: https://ting.com/blog/

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