Ting from Sprint: 5 Months In

Back in January/February, I switched cell phone carriers. I had bought a fancy smartphone and started a contract with Sprint back in mid-2011, buying into how awesome smartphones are. Don’t get me wrong, they’re pretty awesome, but after having it for over a year, I found that I wasn’t using that much data. And I wasn’t using all that many minutes or texts from my ‘unlimited’ supply either. I kind of missed my $30/month 1500 talk & text plan I’d had with T-Mobile previously. I was paying ~$85/month for unlimited evenings and weekends, unlimited text, unlimited data, 750 daytime minutes, and unlimited calls to any US cell phone number. I did some shopping around and that was the “cheapest” contract plan I found at the time, by whatever comparisons I did. Also, Sprint had the particular phone I wanted (first problem: I decided I *had* to have a specific phone).

So I was super happy when I discovered that Ting would let me port my Sprint phone and would most likely cost me much less money per month, for the same reception. The only catch remaining was that I would have to pay out an early termination fee to end my Sprint contract early. Well, guess what! It turned out that Ting was offering to pay for people’s ETFs (in late January when I switched)! There went both of my reasons to not give it a try. The $30/month plan I had with T-Mobile was a slightly better deal on a monthly basis, but not having to buy a new phone made switching to Ting make much more sense.

I’m now about 5 months into this experiment, so I thought I’d give you an update.

  • I have paid out $145.43 to Sprint.
  • I have paid out $56.39 to Ting after my various credits. (as of the end of the June billing period)
  • In total, I’ve paid $201.82 for cell phone service over the first 6 months of the year.
  • Had I stayed with Sprint, I would have spent about $496.86 in that timeframe, or about almost triple.
  • My estimated cell phone costs for a 12 month period are now down to $220, versus $994 with Sprint, saving me about 4.5x my Sprint bill.

Here is what my usage looked like over the first few months:

Month Minutes Texts Data (MB) Cost on Ting
February 590 (L, $18) 470 (M, $5) 44 (S, $3) $32+fees
March 906 (L, $18) 509 (M, $5) 0 (XS, $0) $29+fees
April 279 (M, $9) 365 (M, $5) 0 (XS, $0) $20+fees
May 86 (S, $3) 292 (M, $5) 61 (S, $3) $17+fees
June 42 (S, $3) 786 (M, $5) 12 (S, $3) $17+fees

At first, the experiment was performed with minimal thought to how many texts I was sending or how many minutes I was spending on the phone. I did, however, only use data while traveling and kept my usage under 100 MB to stay in the smallest non-zero usage tier. After a few months, I started watching my usage a bit more.

I definitely send a good number of texts, but texts are super cheap with Ting compared to minutes. The jump from 100 texts to 1,000 texts costs you $2 and the jump from 1,000 to 2,000 (hah!) costs you $3.

On the other hand, the jump from 100 minutes to 500 is $6, $9 from 500 to 1,000 minutes, and $17 from 1,000 minutes to 2,000. Those minutes are pretty dang expensive! Most of the longer calls are made at home and I have a theory that I can stay under 100 minutes if I don’t use my cell phone for any calls at home. I’ve tried using Google Voice at home to make calls and I also tried out a few apps, but I didn’t have much luck. So, based on some reviews from the MMM forums, I bought VOIPo service for 24 months for $149+taxes or $185 total. I used a referral code I found online to sign up, so that actually works out to $7.40/month for 25 months. I already had some spare cordless phones lying around the house, so I plugged the base one in to the adapter they sent me and I’m good to go! The next step is to figure out how to call forward my Ting cell phone to the VOIPo service so that I don’t have to give out a new phone number. This means that I now have unlimited calling to US/Canada for 25 months. That has been key to getting my minutes usage on Ting under 100/month – I’m now only using my cell phone for calls when I’m out and about.

I have already gotten my first referral. The first one is valued at $50, which means I won’t have to pay my Ting bill in July or August based on my usage and I’ll have a pretty small bill in September based on my current usage. I’m so glad I made the switch!

If you’re interested in trying out VOIPo, you can email me and I’ll give you my referral code, which would give us both a month of free service..

Back in 2011, my communication services consisted of a $30/month T-Mobile prepaid plan on a dumbphone that gave me 1500 minutes/texts per month and a line through Vonage that I prepaid annually for a cost of about $30/month. Now look at what I have set up: $20-40/month cell phone through Ting (a MVNO of Sprint) with no contract and a VOIP service at a cost of ~$7/month. I kind of wish I hadn’t bought that expensive smartphone and signed a contract two years ago. That would have saved me about $1,400 over the last two years!

Readers, have you re-evaluated your cell phone and landline services recently?

Note: All links to Ting in this post are referral links. If you use the link to sign up for Ting service, you will get a $25 credit and so will I. All opinions, however, are my own.

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26 thoughts on “Ting from Sprint: 5 Months In

  1. We both have iphones (and love them and at least one of us would be fairly reluctant to switch to an alternative), but more and more I feel like we need to look into other options. The big carriers are so $$$ and phones remains a big line item in our budget each month!

    $1,400 over 2 years is great. And it also makes your monthly expenses so munch lower!

  2. we dont have these sorts of options here in Canada so we’re stuck paying rather high fees regardless (other than WIND but i’m hearing rumours they might get bought out by one of the “Big 3”). the BF and i signed up on a couples plan which upped both our data amounts because they were running a sale on at the time. we do a lot on our phones and use them constantly so we’re happy with having smartphones.

    i’m happy to hear you found something that works for you :)

      • We’re pretty high data/messaging users so the unlimited texting, lots of data, and free facetime calling works for us. This is our only extravagant splurge; we’re really frugal everywhere else so it balances out :)

        My parents just got rid of their landline as it was cheaper for them to go with plans that had free calling between family members.

        It’s cool to see how others handle the cost of having a telephone.

  3. I’ve never heard of Ting before, but I’ve been wanting to find ways to cut down on our cellphone bill. I have an iPhone and the husband has a windows phone, our monthly bill is anywhere between $145-$160/mo with AT&T! The fees for data plans are crazy, plus unlimited texting. I’d love to cut this at least in half without giving up our smart phones (we use them a lot for work.) Off to check out the coverage areas!

  4. I’m on Sprint SERO ($55/month) with a bunch of perks and I tried to switch from sprint to ting when they were refunding the ETF, but didn’t make it on time. Now, my sprint phone is basically shot, so I will not be going to ting. I also considered republic wireless at $19/month unlimited, but don’t like the limited, yet still expensive phone choices.

    I rarely talk on the phone when I don’t have access to wifi, and rarely text, so with that in mind, I am testing out the following set up, which I may go to upon my contract expiration in September:
    1) Porting my cell number to google voice
    2) Talkatone when in wifi range for voice and texting (some alternatives are grooveip or sipdroid+pbxes) – decent quality so far, but not perfect.
    3) Lycamobile (uses t-mobile network) (2c/min voice, I’ve heard free incoming text, 4c/outgoing text) when not on wifi – currently waiting on the sim. I believe it rolls over if you use it at least once every 4 month or 90 days.
    4) Have my transcribed voicemail texted to me (since incoming texts are supposed to be free from forums, this should not use minutes)
    5) For now, use old nexus one I borrowed, but if it works well, I’ll get a nexus 4 or 5 if it comes out same price in October.

    I should be able to set this all up so it’s all seamless – might cost $1 for app that will make it seamless (grooveforwarder).

    Negatives are that I will not be using data when I am not on wifi (which I rarely do anyway, just an occasional gmail or maps), though I still could in an emergency at 6c/mb. Another negative is that at 4c/min outgoing texts when not on wifi could add up if you text a lot when not on wifi.

    Would not be surprised if my total cost based on my usage ended up being phone cost (likely $299 or less) + $30/year

    • The main reason I went to Ting was that I could BYOD my Sprint phone. That made it basically a no brainer. I’ll stay with Ting for as long as this phone is still good enough and then I’ll re-evaluate, but I definitely won’t sign another contract.

      I send/receive up to 1,000 text messages per month, so Ting’s text pricing structure works pretty well for me. I rarely talk on the phone when I don’t have access to wifi though. I think my biggest concern with your idea is that I didn’t have much luck getting Talkatone or GrooveIP to work well for me. If you are though, that’s great.

      At 6c/MB, using data isn’t the end of the world. I use it occasionally with Ting, though it feels like the first time I give in costs me $3 and the rest of the month is free, haha.

      I’m a bit surprised that you would buy a Nexus 4 or 5 when you’re planning on spending $30/year on cell phone service. Why is that?

      Let me know how your system goes!!

      • Yeah, if my sprint phone wasn’t out of commission, I probably would have tried Ting first and seen how it went, though on the plus side, until sprint goes LTE, their phones are incompatible with the rest of the world. Agree – no more contracts for me ever.

        On the different options (all over wifi)
        1) For talkatone, I have tested it with probably 10 (some lengthy) outgoing calls and one incoming call. The people I spoke to reported high quality, though on my end there was a tolerable weirdness to the sound (I don’t know if this will be resolved by a different phone, but I got used to it and it doesn’t make people harder to understand)
        2) Grooveip did not work well at all for the people I called (though I did not mess with the settings), but sounded great on my end.
        3) I’ve heard good things about sipdroid and CSipSimple and had mixed success with it for calling while abroad a few years back (pre free outgoing on google voice days). You can either set it up using just pbxes and google voice (sipdroid helps automate this) or get a free DID from callcentric or ipkall (which would give you free incoming, but not outgoing, but future proof you for google changing it’s policy) and pair it with a google voice callback app to get the free outgoing. I plan on testing it out some point in the near future with the method described here (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1791957&page=4 post 37).

        I have no great legitimate excuse (it probably ultimately comes down to gadget lust) for getting nexus/4 5, but here is what was running through my head:
        -Need a decent android phone for my set up and 299 is not outrageous for a decent off contract phone (compare to gs4 at 650)
        -Don’t want to deal with the potential problems of a used phone off ebay.
        -I will use it instead of getting a tablet for checking things when I am away from computer
        – far prefer stock android (which I can otherwise achieve by rom flashing), but would rather just keep getting automatic updates)

        A correction to my post above – the app that will allow me to make this seamless is autoair (free) not grooveforwarder.

        • True on the ROW incompatibility, but I figured that was worth it for not needing to buy a new phone…yet.

          Thanks for the update! Yeah I definitely wouldn’t get the GS4 or even the GS3 – the Nexus 4 does make way more sense. I just don’t like how big it is. I definitely love using my phone as a mini-tablet away from the computer. And absolutely agree with you on stock Android. I’ve used the Samsung Android and it’s just not the same.

  5. A few years back we bought home phone service through Ooma, which at the time was an up-front cost for the hardware with no ongoing monthly cost. We are still grandfathered under these terms of service so our monthly phone bill remains $0. Ooma now makes new subscribers pay taxes and fees each month which cuts into the savings.

    I use Google Voice for texting off a tablet when at home on Wifi. I don’t own a cell phone myself, so I limit my calling and texting to when I’m at home. My wife has a smartphone which she uses for work as well as personal use. (I also have her call or text on my behalf on occasion). Her employer reimburses her phone expenses at almost 100%. So we don’t really pay much of anything for our communications anymore, other than the bill for our internet service.

    • I really wish I’d bought into Ooma instead of Vonage when I first moved here. Sounds like you guys have a pretty sweet setup. You could also use the Google Voice website or Chrome extension to text while you’re at work.

  6. I’ve never heard of Ting, but it sounds like a winner. It’s amazing how the traditional cell phone model is finally starting to fold. I’ve seen a number of companies recently who are offering reliable service for a reasonable price. It sounds like you’ve rocked this one. If I had a Sprint plan, I’d be all over Ting.

    I’m actually in a strange position. My whole family is still on a Verizon family plan. The incremental cost for my smartphone with unlimited talk/text/data is only $30/mo. So that’s how much I pay. It would be tough to build a financial justification to beat that with a cheaper carrier (although I’m all ears).

    • Family plans are awesome if you have enough people on them. I actually have some friends who share a family plan among friends. I would probably stick with your crazy awesome plan if I were you!

  7. I am with VZ and though I enjoy and like the service the cost just doesnt seem worth it considering I have several friends who have switched to MetroPC or Straight Talk. This is the first I have ever heard of Ting but I will be adding them to the list of companies to check out. Currently between wifey and I we spend about 2400 per year on service and thats with a discount. just getting that to 1400 a year would save us 1k.

  8. I have been considering going to Republic Wireless. Currently I use a Pre-paid smart phone which only costs me $100 a year, so around $8 a month. however, I am quite limited in my usage to keep it that cheap.

    I would like to keep my cost very low but get more usability out of my phone. Republic offers a $20 a month unlimited plan which would run then about $240 a year + fees. I hear the fees are a few dollars a month. The initial start up cost of $200 is kind of high for the phone, but averaging that out say over 2 years comes out to a little under $30 a month for unlimited talk, text, and web smart phone.

    Anyone else here know of Republic Wireless and have tried it maybe? They do offer a 30 days complete refund if you don’t like it so there is a back out plan if the service or useability is really terrible.

    This was also recommended my MMM, here. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/05/30/republic-wireless-19-for-an-unlimited-everything-smartphone-plan/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MrMoneyMustache+%28Mr.+Money+Mustache%29

    • What really helped me was that I had two years’ worth of numbers on my usage with an unlimited plan to know just exactly how much I use with no limits. For example, for $17+fees/month with Ting, you could get 100 minutes, 1,000 texts, and 100 MB of data or for $20+fees, 500 minutes and 100 texts. I’ve been paying maybe $2-4/month in extra fees, which is way better than the $14/month I was seeing with Sprint.

      Do you know what Sprint reception looks like in your city / at your place? That’ll be a huge factor in what Ting or Republic looks like for you.

      I.P. Daley over at the MMM forums is really against Republic Wireless because he feels you can get the same or better deal elsewhere: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/this-is-only-beginner-level-badass-but/ If you’re with T-Mobile right now, one of their MVNOs might be a better deal for you.

      Emily at Evolving PF uses Republic Wireless and is quite happy with it: http://www.evolvingpf.com/tag/republic-wireless/

      I like Ting in that I’m charged based on my usage, so if I don’t use my phone at all (e.g. international travel), I won’t pay anything. I can see there being months where my usage is down to $12+fees/month when I’m traveling out of country, but I think my normal months will be $14+fees/month. If I didn’t have the VOIPo, I would range up to $32+fees/month and I like that I can range based on usage.

      It’s mostly my parents who I make long calls to and those are all at home, so this setup has worked pretty well for me.

  9. I might be switching over to Republic Wireless, and have been testing it out for a couple of months now. Lately our phone bill has been in the $200 per month range, and I just can’t bear that any longer!

      • Leigh, I want to switch to Republic Wireless too, but I’m stuck in a contract with Sprint! I’m trying to get out of three cell phone contracts and avoid $670 of early termination fees. A friend suggested Cellbreaker.com. Do you know anyone who’s used them? I didn’t know anything like that even existed. But I’ll be glad if they can get me away from Sprint! I appreciate any insights you have. Thanks.

        • I’ve never heard of cellbreaker.com. You might be able to bring your current Sprint phone with you to Ting, which would save some money on buying a new phone though! Ting will also give you credit for 25% of your ETF, up to $75 per device: https://ting.com/etf

          Good luck, Justin!

  10. After this review i am now signing up my family with this service. We have 4 phones with spring and without tax our bill is around $210 a month. I saw the post back in February and was going to jump on it, but saw they went away with the paying your ETF. Thank you again for this review, I am excited and hoping it turns out as good as it has for you.

  11. […] Ting From Springs: 5 Months In @ Leigh’s Financial Journey ; She cut her cellphone bill expenses by using Ting, a service I’ve been looking into ever since! Check out the comments for more links/advice on saving. We definitely need to cut our cellphone costs! […]

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