Ting vs major carriers – who really has the best deal?

July 22, 2013
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Ting

Ting has been doing some unique stuff with their plans lately, by deciding to do away with plans altogether.

If you’re anything like most consumers, then you’re attracted by all the glitz and glamor associated with only paying an upfront fee of $99, $149, or even $199. You might think, well, I’m going to need a phone anyway, so why not have the carrier pay for it – right?

Ting’s business model represents a bold change of pace from a company that more people should probably know about. And we come to you, in the spirit of transparency, and because we live to serve you, our readers. Are Ting’s plans actually a good deal? Let’s find out.

The Ting Model

Select as little or as much as you need.

Select as little or as much as you need.

Ting has a set pricing guide based on how much of their service you use. Like t-shirt sizes, they range from XS to XXL. An example of this is if you use only 100 minutes, that’s a Small. If you use 1000 minutes, that’s a Large. There are sizes for talk, text, and data.

Say in the month of June you use 500 minutes. Your bill would come in and would show that you used the medium package for 500 minutes and would be charged the Medium rate. Assume then, in July, that there was a wedding in your family, so you ended using 2000 minutes. On that bill, you’d be charged their XL package rate. There are similar models for texting and data. According to their official blog, their $6 per line surcharge remains unchanged.

It’s definitely unique. Instead of trying to sign a contract with a carrier and choose a plan you have to stay within the confines of, you instead use your phone however you want and simply pay only for what you use. So if you have a month of light usage, your bill will be less. If you have a month where you use quite heavily, you’ll pay more. It’s a really good system and some would argue that this is how phone service should be anyway. After all, why pay for services you don’t use, right?

So we come to the biggest question of them all. Will this model result in better prices? Below, we’ll list a few examples of some typical usage with the bigger carriers and see what kind of deals people have the potential to get from Ting. If you’d rather look than read, we’ve posted a comparison graphic below.

User Profiles

To help you identify what might be the best deal for you, we’ve created different usage profiles. Which one best fits your usage profile?

User Profile
Minutes
Texts
Data (MB)
Ms. Talk2000500500
Mr. Text4503000750
Mrs. Data45010005000
Mr. Average User90012001500
Mr. Power User250025005000

Ting – A comparison

Ms. Talk

 
Ms. Talk - 2000 minutes, 500 texts, 500MB data
Best DealTingXL minutes, Medium texts, Medium data$33
2nd BestT-MobileUnlimited Talk, Unlimited Text, 500MB of data$50
3rd BestVerizon Unlimited Minutes, Unimited Text, 2GB data $100
4th BestSprintUnlimited Everything$109.99
Worst DealAT&T planUnlimited Minutes, Unlimited Text, 300MB data$109.99

As we can see, Ting does very well in this particular area. There are some shockingly bad deals out there, so be sure to avoid them if you’re a heavy talker.

Mr. Text

 
Mr. Text - 450 minutes, 3000 texts, 750MB data
Best DealTingMedium minutes, XL texts, Large data$50
2nd BestT-MobileUnlimited talk and text, 2GB data $60
3rd BestAT&T450 minutes, Unlimited Messages, 3GB data$89.99
4th BestVerizonUnlimited talk and text, 2GB of data $100
Worst Deal Sprint450 minutes, unlimited talk and data$109.99

For those with an affinity for texting, Ting’s offerings shines brightest here as the best deal. It’s becoming clearer at this point that if you’re not crazy about data, and use voice and text more heavily, then Ting is going to be a great deal.

Ting for Mrs. Data

 
Mrs Data - 450 minutes, 1000 texts, 5GB data
Best DealT-MobileUnlimited Everything + (plus 500MB of hotspot data)$70
2nd BestSprint450 minutes, Unlimited text and data$79.99
3rd BestAT&T450 minutes, Unlimited messages, 5GB data$109.99
4th BestVerizonUnlimited talk and text, 4GB a month $120
Worst Deal TingMedium talk and text, XXL data + 2000MB * $.0025 per MB$125

At this level, T-Mobile’s plan presents the best deal, with unlimited everything for $70 per month. Ting is not great for data users. Because the largest data package they offer is 3GB, means that data addicts will not be satisfied. For our Mrs. Data user profile, there will be 2GB of overage, which adds on a nice $45 to an already expensive bill. T-Mobile and Sprint are close here, with T-Mobile winning out with its unlimited everything plan.

Ting for Mr Average User

 
Mr Average User - 900 minutes, 1200 texts, 1.5GB data
Best DealT-Mobileunlimited talk and text, 2GB a month$60
2nd BestTingLarge talk, Large text, XL data$74
3rd BestSprint900 minutes, unlimted text and data$99.99
4th BestVerizonUnlimited talk and text, 2GB data $100
Worst Deal AT&T900 minutes, unlimited messages, 3GB data$109.99

T-mobile’s best fit is unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 2GB a month for $60 per month. It’s a very well structured plan that offers ‘average’ users the best deal. Verizon and AT&T are pushing the envelope here – anything above $75 is far too much money to pay for this amount of voice, data and texts.

Ting for Mr. Power User

 
Mr Power User - 2500 minutes, 2500 texts, 5GB data
Best DealT-MobileUnlimited everything$70
2nd BestSprintUnlimited everything$109.99
3rd BestVerizonUnlimited talk and text, 6GB of data$120
4th BestAT&TUnlimited talk and text, 5GB of data$139.99
Worst Deal Ting3000 minutes, 4000 texts, 3GB data + 2GB overage @ 0.025/MB$154

In what emerges as a trend, T-Mobile takes the cake for best deal, here, and keeps it equally easy with unlimited everything at $70 per month. As we’ve seen several times now, Ting is not a good value for heavy data users, coming in at a whopping $154 for 2500 minutes, 2500 texts, and 5GB data.

So what carrier is best for each type of user? 

User Profile
Minutes
Texts
Data (MB)
Best Deal
Ms. Talk2000500500Ting @ $33
Mr. Text4503000750Ting @ $50
Mrs. Data45010005000T-Mobile @ $70
Mr. Average User90012001500T-Mobile @ $60
Mr. Power User250025005000T-Mobile @ $70

After we added everything up, we found that pretty much everyone could benefit from Ting except power users and data users.

If you’re a heavy caller or texter who doesn’t use a lot of data, then Ting can save you a lot of money.

For instance, for frequent talkers like Ms. Talk, you could save over $70. The savings are a little less for heavy texters. However, with data usage we see a dramatic turn that shows the major 4 US carriers beating out Ting by quite a bit. Here are some more fun facts we found.

  • For calling and texting, Ting’s prices are way better.
  • For data, Ting loses to all 4 of the major US carriers.
  • In areas where Ting did better, people are paying the major carriers for services they do not use. For instance, Ms. Talk was forced into unlimited messages on all four major carriers, despite not needing that many.
  • Some plans come with “hidden features”. For instance, T-Mobile’s unlimited everything plan also comes with 500MB of hotspot data.
  • AT&T and Verizon were the most expensive most of the time. In 3 out of 5 lists, Verizon or AT&T were the most expensive. In the other 2, it was Ting.

There’s no doubt that Ting is definitely on the right track with this “pay for what you use” system they have in place. It’s definitely something that more carriers should implement.  While their system is  well thought out and great for many types of people, their prices are still behind the big carriers in a few ways. If they can come up with an unlimited data package, or perhaps offer a choice for more than 3GB of data, then that would make their offerings much more competitive, for the data heavy user subset.

Ting actually did a spreadsheet that you can find here that shows all the scenarios where Ting does better or worse. It compares prices based on bills that customers submitted.

If you are interested in checking out Ting, we have secured a $25 off discount. Just follow this link or click on the banner below.

And for you – which carrier and plan are you on? See any deals here that would save you money?

Get $25 off your ting package.

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