Best Prepaid Plans of 2012 -- Why Isn't Ting Listed?

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12 comments
  • Ting is kind of an odd duck in terms of classification; it's not actually prepaid, but not what you'd typically consider postpaid either. I'd sure like to see Ting on these lists, but they'd have to be for a wider category.

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  • Why is it not considered to be prepaid? You send a bill, we pay. Then you track actual usage against payment. Sounds like prepaid to me.

     

    In any case, how does Ting stack up against the others?

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  • The comments mention it and the author said he'll include Ting in the update. First comment, in fact.

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  • Actually, if our set your plans to XS, the plan is postpaid for usage in the past, but the phone charge is prepaid for the following month, so this is a hybrid.

    If you set your plans to something the same as or more than you use the plan is prepaid with a possible credit, since you are paying in advance and have no contract to lock you in.

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  • Bruce, I'm confused.

    If someone sets his initial plan to XS in each category, then he pays nothing (except $6 per phone and the fees) for the first month. Then he is billed for the second month based on what he used in the first month. Is there any disadvantage to doing this?

    How come there's no picture of Bruce? :-)

    Thanks.

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  • Prepaid is literally "pay before use": you pay a specific, predetermined amount of money, and then you receive the corresponding amount of service. It is not possible to receive a bill, because there are no other charges. If you haven't paid for a particular service ahead of time, it is impossible to use that service.

    Ting doesn't have any hard limits and works on a billing system: if you use a particular amount or type of service, you will be charged for it later, which is postpaid. It is possible to pay for credit in advance, with the intent that the credit will cover your expected charges, but that doesn't guarantee that you won't be charged more if your usage warrants it. On the other hand, Ting provides an extensive set of features to monitor and control usage, and has a dynamic service level system designed to make sure you don't waste credit for service you intended to but didn't actually use.

    So you can use Ting in a manner very close to prepaid, the actual accounting system is postpaid, and the credit and dynamic service level system is not typical of either prepaid or postpaid. Hence, odd duck.

     

    As for how Ting stacks up, pretty good overall.

    For really light users, there are much cheaper options than Ting; PlatinumTel and Page Plus have the best rates going right now. If you're wanting to have a standby phone in the glove box for emergency calls to tow trucks or similar, you can't beat a dumb phone on Page Plus at $30 per year.

    For more average users, Ting really shines, as bills vary according to actual usage and the rates are low. For some use cases there are cheaper options, but the tradeoff is potentially paying for service you aren't actually using. Ting also has voice and text roaming while most other MVNOs don't, which gets you coverage that rivals contract Sprint at far less cost.

    Heavier users get into a bit of a grey area. For heavy talk and text uses, several of the unlimited talk and text options will be less costly than Ting's offerings. Data is another story, as there's no such thing as "unlimited" data, though the best providers just throttle speed after a certain amount of usage. However some of the other "unlimited" offerings are backed by customer-hostile attitudes, and you may find yourself cut off unexpectedly due to "using too much" of your "unlimited" plan. It's something that needs to be weighed carefully, but getting consistent high speed data and reliable service from Ting may be worth avoiding the risk of dealing with the cheaper options, and it's still usually cheaper than going full contract on a carrier.

    Ting has the best thing going for family plans right now. Most other MVNOs simply don't have any, so your only other option is relatively expensive contracts.

    Ting also has a huge advantage in customer service and account control over almost everyone else, and they're backed by a stable company. Some of the other MVNOs currently playing are relatively tiny and could fall over in a light breeze. Mingo Wireless is currently going out of business, and just barely managed (with some intervention from Sprint) to get service restored long enough for their current customers to port numbers out, but they were without service for about a week with no warning whatsoever.

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  • Trevor,

    Wow! Thanks for the complete answer. 

    Why doesn't Ting have data roaming?

    I thought that "odd duck" these days meant AFLAC! :-)

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  • Hahaha, I didn't even think about the AFLAC duck, but I see the reference!

    Ting has said that data roaming costs them too much, and they don't want to make things confusing by charging more for it. In this case the biggest provider of roaming data would be Verizon, and if you're familiar with their offerings at all, high cost isn't really surprising.

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  • Peter
    What I meant is the second month you pay for what you used, but you also pay in advance $6 per device.

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  • Ting does not have data roaming because they want to keep their plans simple. There is a posting from a Ting person that says roaming data costs about 10 times that of non-roaming data.

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  • Why does it cost so much?

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  • Peter - It is just the price that we would be billed.

    We are a Sprint MVNO, so it the prices that we are charged from Sprint are what primarily determine what we ourselves charge to our own customers.

    We also have found that we can offer voice roaming to customers who live in Sprint coverage areas, but may occasionally travel off the network and need a little extra buffer.

    The costs of voice roaming have thus been determined to be low enough to fall within our existing price structure, while data roaming costs are too cost prohibitive.

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