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

by: Joe HindyJuly 22, 2013
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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 TextsData (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 TextsData (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.

  • Great Article, Absolutely love my T-Mobile service it’s phenomenal in my area. Also the price doesn’t hurt as well considering it’s unlimited everything. Just finished last billing period using almost 15GB data, can’t beat that.

  • Nickan Fayyazi

    Not a major mistake, but T-Mobile’s $60 plan is actually 2.5GB, not 2GB.

    • JosephHindy

      Hi Nickan! Thanks for the comment.

      It is, in fact, 2.5GB. The wording on their website is a little confusing. it’s 2GB on top of the 500MB. Our mistake!

      • well… you’re both right. If you include the 500MB tethering included in all plans, then yes it is 2.5GB.

      • Nickan Fayyazi

        Agreed, I don’t know why T-Mobile doesn’t advertise it to their advantage. Thanks for correcting it, it’s nice to see article authors pay attention to comments.

  • poocaster

    Yea Ting is pretty cool with pricing but everyone knows that when it comes to phones service is most important – Ting is on the Sprint network with Verizon voice roaming I believe – I’m still happy to be on the full Verizon network here in NYC….

  • sapo

    cool plans but im fine with my at&t plan im grandfathered in unlimited data and i live in a LTE 4G area and we dont get throttled after 3gb so i use the hell out of my data worth. i tryed to see how much i could do in a month and i hit 26gb of data and i have unlimited txt and a 400 minute voice plan which i never even use i haave around 3k rollover minutes left.

  • Lwabbit22

    This comparison needs to include prepaid plans for a fair comparison. Some prepaid plans are much better than what Ting offers.

    • JosephHindy

      Hello and thanks for the comment! We have a very (very) long prepaid carrier comparison article (updated bi-monthly, last updated May of 2013). Plus, Ting’s advertising attacked the “big 4” so that’s where we went with this one :)

    • Cal Rankin

      Virgin Mobile has fairly good “unlimited” data (throttled to 3G after 2.5 GB) starting at $35/month

  • shabbypenguin

    The other big deciding factor could be if you have some high end sprint devices, vs buying some tmobile/unlocked devices to use on tmobile/mvno :P

  • Fievel

    This is all based on single-user. Start talking about Family Plans and you’ll see some serious savings from Ting. My wife and I saw our bill go from $150 a month with T-Mobile down to an average of $40 a month with Ting* (ranges between $30 and $50 depending on the month). We’re going to add her senior citizen dad onto our plan for $6 a month and let him drop his phone bill since he never uses his phone and only keeps it for emergencies.

    *My wife does most of her talking on the phone. I try to do most of mine over wifi using Google Voice & Groove IP. I’m a big texter, she’s not. I try to use most of my data on wifi (Facebook can wait! Data hog apps can wait!). If you “play the game” and do things intelligently, you can save big and have a $30 cell bill for 2 adults – while still getting things done on your phone. Or you can be carefree and do whatever and pay twice that or more.

  • Ciera

    Solavei is the best because you can get unlimited EVERYTHING for FREE when you refer others!

  • frhoward

    My prepaid plan with tmobile coupled with Vonage mobile = 2000 mins gives me 2100 mins, unlimited text and 4.5gb of Data for only 30 bucks..

  • PopeJamal

    Nice write-up! I’ve found that Ting is really useful for lightweight users. I pay for my mother’s 2 phones, and she’s averaged about $70 / month so far. Last month though, it only cost me $30 which is nice.

    One more thing: The Ting dashboard is really nice, it allows you to micro manage which phones can use what and even set hard limits and alerts for some of them. And they don’t charge you a fee for going over in any category, they just charge you for what you used, which is how it should be.

  • John Thrasher

    i would like to see this compared to coverage….which really only has relevance on a site specific basis. So best deal based on geographic location

  • jon_downfromthetrees

    Just moved to a dumb flip phone on Ting from an iPhone on ATT because I was tired of paying $100 a month for stuff I wasn’t using. Every iPhone app is duplicated on my iPad, which I use at home and away in preference to the phone.

    Since I was using the iPhone only for occasional calls and texts, I was the dumb one if I continued paying ATT.

  • koiulpoi

    The figuring for Sprint’s plans are way off… Sprint’s “Unlimited, My Way” plans, which have been out for a couple weeks now, offer a single phone with unlimited everything for $80 1GB of data for $70, and unlimited talk and text (no data) for a basic phone for $50. Sure, Ting still wins in most cases, but there’s no point in paying $110 on Sprint for the old Unlimited Talk plan.

  • Dan J

    I’m really enjoying Ting so far. I’m on wireless all day so I use that for data and just use VOIP instead of minutes. My bills come out to be $23 per month and I was paying $78 per month on Verizon before I switched (with a company discount). You have to buy your device non-subsidized but you save money in the end, especially not being on contract.

    It’s a win-win. If you join Ting using my referral link we each get a $25 credit. Here’s mine: https://zosaf01g5q1.ting.com/

  • Cal Rankin

    Honestly, I can use less data because I have access to more WiFi, and Ting uses Sprint’s network, which has much better coverage in my area than T-Mobile (matter of fact, T-Mobile is the only major carrier in my area still stuck on 2G, and Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T all have 4G LTE in the area). So, Ting works out very well for my family. I have 2 grandfathered unlimited data plans (for me and my wife), plus 3 other voice and text lines. We all share 700 minutes, and have unlimited texting. Since my youngest wasn’t old enough for a cell phone, and we already added my folks to our plan, I pay my brother for her cell service (when, in retrospect, I should have just bought a phone from TracFone). With Verizon’s new “Screw Everyone” plans, I have to wait until April for my son to be out of his contract with Verizon. Ting and Virgin Mobile work out well for my family, since my dad wants an iPhone and wants to keep his unlimited data (Virgin Mobile). I can also move everyone else to Ting, and save more cash than with Verizon

  • Bruno Diaz

    Alright… I am lost in something, and kinda shocked no one brought this up. HOW the hell did ting get up to $125 in mr. data… 3000mb or 3gb is $60 and 2000mb more times $0.0025 like this website states is $5, which IS RIDICULOUSLY cheap and awesome o.O.
    Its because is $0.0225 per megabyte, that makes more sense lol.

  • Flipsevox

    Also helps if you update the plans. At&t release new mobile share plans that allow unlimited talk, text and 300mb for $70 a month.

  • Perry

    Ting just cut their rates for heavy usage, you might want to update your comparison.

  • Christopher Keller

    TING offers something that I’ve NOT seen any carrier offer: Free “tethering/hotspot”. I’m currently on AT&T (those GREEDY bastards!) and as soon as my EFT gets to 75$, I’m outta here. With the free ability to use WIFI/3g/4g/LTE (depending again, on location) it’s a much better deal. When you “tether” with the major carriers, you have to have like a 5GB plan to tether……

  • Anthony

    The other big advantage for Ting is that usage is always variable. So, even if you are a heavy data user and one month you rack up $150 on Ting, the next month you could be down to $30 as you may have a totally different situation (didn’t commute, 2 week vacation etc etc). So in two months you average $90/mo vs with my AT&T plan where you pay and pay and pay. My mother spends 4 months a year out of the country and for a case like that it’s a no brainer.

  • Beakler

    $25 Ting Mobile Wireless credit at checkout if you buy used or bring a Sprint device to Ting using this discount coupon link: https://zhnkd31tt82.ting.com/

    Pay only for the minutes, texts, and data that you use each month. No contract. Use the best smart phones on the market including the iPhone 5, Galaxy S5, and Nexus 5.

  • EquesX

    Ting would be perfect for me, because I wouldn’t talk/text much at all. I’d get away with probably spending $12 a month. For people who just want a phone for security, it’s perfect. But I agree with the article, data and power users need to look somewhere else.

  • john

    AT&T or Verizon are my only choices because of coverage. Tmobile and sprint has weak coverage fir my area.

  • Pesobill

    Ting still offers the best all round deal . Pay what you use and who over 14 does 1200 texts a month ?? The average bill (12/14) on Ting is $21 . I have had them all and never had a bill that small … With wi fi phones and internet one does not need much data .If they use tons of data ,better to go Tmobile .

  • Advisor

    If there is any need for data Ting is a horrible selection. With the number of smartphones released each year there are better selections such as Republic Wireless and Cricket.