Rather than opting for loads of different plans, Ting Mobile likes to keep things simple, so you only pay for what you use and there are no long term contracts. On top of that, Ting Mobile is a virtual network that piggybacks on three of the biggest cell phone providers in the US to give you a wide range of coverage.
The combination of no contracts and high coverage is a promising one but only cell phone users with low usage will be able to make the most of the service, and higher users will find that they get better value elsewhere.
Ting Mobile review: Prepaid plans
- From $6 a month
- $10 a GB for higher-usage plans
Ting Mobile doesn’t have any contract plans; technically, it doesn’t have Prepaid plans, either. Instead, rather than paying upfront for a package and losing the call minutes, texts and data that you don’t use, Ting Mobile only charges you for what you use.
As such, on the website, you can use the bill estimator to show what you might pay. It starts with a single line, which is $6 a month, with additional lines costing the same amount. Interestingly, there’s zero charges if you don’t use any voice minutes, text messages or data, so if you need to provide a phone for emergencies only, you could end up paying as little as $6 a month.
More realistically, you’ll want to use some voice minutes, text and data a month. If you’re a low user, then Ting Mobile is good value. Pay for the average 101-to-1000 texts ($5 a month) 101-to-500 voice minutes ($9 a month) and 101-500MB of data ($10 a month) and you’ll have a monthly bill of $28. Of course, if you underspend and move down a tier, say using fewer text messages and voice minutes, you pay less: $22 a month, assuming the same up-to 500MB of data usage.
Tiers are well granulated at the start. For example, use between 501MB and 1GB of data and you pay an additional $6 a month on the minimum data price. That’s only for a month, too, as next month, you’re billed again for the amount you use; Consumer Cellular has a similar structure only when you go up a tier, you’re charged the same the next month unless you request to drop down.
As neat as Ting Mobile looks from a low-usage point of view, things start to get expensive for higher users. There’s no unlimited voice or text options, so picking the highest available voice minutes (1001-to-2100 minutes, $35 a month) and text messages (2001-to-4800 texts, $11 a month), with a mid-range data limit of 3GB ($30 a month) comes in at a whopping $82 a month. A similar plan on Consumer Cellular with unlimited voice minutes, unlimited text messages and 3GB of data is just $30 a month.
Ting has no unlimited data plans, either, so push it to the maximum selection of data (30GB) and you end up paying $10 a gigabyte, for a total of $300. If you’re a higher user, then Ting Mobile is not the network for you.
If you’re worried about exceeding limits, you can set custom alerts and hard usage caps in your Ting Dashboard.
The upside of having such high costs is that there’s no data throttling going on, nor any restrictions on the quality of video that you can watch; of course, this means that it’s easier to ramp up more data usage, so be careful when using a plan and use the data caps to set hard limits.
Ting Mobile review: International calling
- Free calls to many countries
- Individual roaming rates when outside the USA
Ting has a generous policy of international calling, with 60+ countries included with your regular minutes, including calls to Canada, Mexico, the UK, Australia and large parts of Europe. If you travel abroad, you need to let Ting know in advance so that you can be sent a temporary SIM card to let your handset connect to a GSM network. This temporary SIM card must be installed once you reach your destination country.
There are no roaming bolt-ons, instead you pay per minute, text message or MB of data that you use when travelling. Full rates are available on Ting’s Traveling outside the USA page, but are typically between $0.20 and $0.25 per MB, which works out quite at expensive at between $200 and $250 per gigabyte. If you travel a lot, then you’ll want a network with better roaming rates.
Ting Mobile review: Cell phone options
- The latest iPhones
- Less choice with Android
As with most other mobile networks, Ting Mobile carries a full range of Apple iPhone cell phones, including some of the latest models. There’s less of a choice when it comes to Android, with Samsung and Motorola the only choices. You don’t get the latest Samsung phones at the time of writing, either.
There’s also one feature phone to choose from, which could make sense for an emergency calls-only handset for a low user.
Ting Mobile review: Coverage and speed performance
- Uses Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile
- No throttling
Ting Mobile isn’t officially allowed to say which networks it uses for its coverage, but it does say it has three big ones and AT&T isn’t one of them. From that, we can see that Ting users can use the Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile networks. According to the company your handset will most likely be assigned to the network that gives you the best coverage where you live, although you can phone Ting and request a specific network if you prefer.
That’s a good combination with these three scoring highest in the Speedtest.net test. Likewise, Rootmetrics scores the same three providers top for coverage and speed in its tests. In other words, you couldn’t ask for a better combination. Just in case, Ting has a mobile coverage checker on its website so that you can make sure that you’ll get decent coverage where you live, although you have to enter your ZIP as the map doesn’t currently work.
As mentioned earlier in the review, there’s no throttling on this network, although the price is higher data charges than with the competition.
Ting Mobile review: What users say
- F BBB rating
- Mid-range user reviews
Ting Mobile doesn’t score well at the Better Busines Bureau with an F rating. User ratings tend to be slightly higher, with a 3.5 rating on TrustPilot and near-three-star rating from BBB. The split tends to be between those that love the cell provider and praise the customer service and quality of the network; those that didn’t like Ting have complained about continuing to be charged after cancelling the service.
Ting Mobile review: Verdict
Ting Mobile is quite a niche mobile service provider. If you’ve got an elderly relative that just needs an emergency feature phone, you’ll be hard pressed to find a cheaper service. The same goes for low-use smartphone users. Start to use your phone more and the price rapidly racks up, so heavy users will be better off looking for a cheaper deal elsewhere.
If you're undecided on the handset you want, check out our best smartphone guide, while we also rank the best prepaid cell phone plans. Take a look at our cell phone coverage map of the US to find out who has the best network in America.