We just completed our move from AT&T Wireless to Ting so we can save money!
It was a little confusing since it’s been 7 years since we had to change wireless carriers, therefore I had to chat with both AT&T and Ting to determine the proper order in which to set things in motion. Now that it’s done, I figured I’d outline it for anyone else thinking of switching carriers.
What is Ting?
But before I do that, have you heard about Ting? It’s a wireless carrier that charges based on your actual usage, not just a package you choose (and get charged handsomely for) which you may not fully utilize. They have a nifty calculator to determine ahead of time how much you’ll be charged (and consequently, save) with their service.
On top of that, once you’ve created your account you can set alerts when you’ve used so many minutes, texts, or megabytes and you can even turn certain features on and off. It’s all about having complete control over your usage and how much you pay each month.
Our migration process
The very first thing I did was create a Ting account (click my referral link and you’ll get $25 off your first bill!) so I could verify our phones would work on their network. Then I ordered the appropriate SIM cards.
Ting offers both GSM and CDMA coverage so you can join regardless of what carrier you’re coming from. Since we were on AT&T we ordered GSM SIMs. Ting is a pay as you go type of service and you’re not locked into a contract, so you do need to pay for the SIMs ($9 each) plus shipping (cheapest was $4) which is a small price to pay to cut your wireless bill in half! We were paying $135 per month for two phones with AT&T and based on our average usage I don’t expect our bill to exceed $70 with Ting.
For what it’s worth, we figured out that Ting uses T-Mobile’s network for GSM (at least here in Chicago). I’ve always liked them and the only reason we left them initially back in 2009 was so I could get an iPhone which was only available on AT&T at the time. Times sure have changed!
While we were waiting for our SIM cards to arrive, we contacted AT&T to request they unlock our devices. If you’re still under contract with your carrier this can get a little tricky because they won’t unlock your device until after you’ve paid your ETF (early termination fee). So you’ll have to make sure the account is cancelled first and your balance is zero, but don’t cancel your account if you’re planning on using the same phone number(s) on Ting (more on this in a bit).
Once our SIM cards arrived, we decided to wait until we were closer to the end of our AT&T billing cycle since the carriers don’t necessarily prorate your final bill. Then we went to the Ting website and clicked Activate. Ting will ask for your carrier’s Account Number and PIN which is not the same as your password to access your online account, but rather a number established when you’ve opened your account. Don’t worry if you don’t have or remember your PIN, you can contact your carrier to have it reset.
Once I submitted the porting request to Ting, they emailed me to confirm the process and then again once the numbers had been ported over. The porting process can take up to 24 hours but it took less than a half hour. At the same time our AT&T account was automatically cancelled once the porting was complete.
What AT&T did next was a bit odd – they created a new username to access the account online. They sent an email to Joe since he’s the main account holder, but since I didn’t know that, I was trying to log into my account using my phone number like before. I’m not sure why they change the login information, but I figured I’d warn anyone to check the email of the primary account holder if you need to log back into your account to check for a final bill.
From there it was just a matter of putting the Ting SIM cards in our phones and unlocking them per AT&T’s instructions. Joe had to enter an unlock code for his phone (Samsung Android) but I didn’t have to do that for mine (iPhone) so the process varies.
Also, AT&T’s unlock emails are a bit confusing. Case in point, here’s part of the email they sent me once they had unlocked my phone:
Congratulations! Here are your unlock instructions:
Once you have received the email confirming AT&T has approved and processed your unlock request, follow these instructions to complete the unlock for your device.
I didn’t understand that the email above IS the confirmation that my request had been approved. I was sitting around waiting for another email because of that line in there that says “once you’ve received the email”. Why would they phrase it that way? In any case, once I figured that out things were easy. And even though AT&T said it could take up to 48 hours to grant the unlock request it was more like 10 minutes. My biggest concern was being without phone service for days and it turns out I didn’t need to worry at all.
Also, since I forgot to click the referral link when I first signed up, I chatted with Ting to provide the information after activating my phone and they were happy to apply the credit. So don’t worry if you forget – you can still get that credit off your first bill!
How to switch to Ting
Here’s a quick recap for someone wanting to switch over –
1) Open Ting account, order SIM card.
2) Request that your current carrier unlock your device.
3) After receiving your SIM card, log into your Ting account and choose activate.
4) Request through Ting that they port your number (optional).
5) Once port request goes through your old carrier will automatically cancel your account. Or if you’re not porting a number, call your carrier to cancel your service.
6) Install your Ting SIM card and follow your former carrier’s device unlock instructions.
7) If you have to pay an ETF, send that final bill to Ting and they will credit you back for a portion of it.
Enjoy the savings!
Hope you like it as much as I do!
Thanks, Crystal! So far I’m a bit obsessed checking our usage (both online and in the iPhone app) and watching our estimated bill amount increase along with it. I really need to stop since even if we use the same as we were on AT&T our Ting bill will still be half what it used to be. I guess I’m just challenging myself to see how low we can make that first bill.
Back in October they had a promo where you could check if your phone number would work on Ting and get a $5 Starbucks GC so I tried all four of ours (using a different email address each time) and received $20 in Starbucks gc. Woohoo!
That aside, last July I had looked into using them (we are on AT&T as well), but I quickly found out that several factors won’t work for us: their area of coverage doesn’t cover many areas where Greg likes to travel, they don’t offer mobile data roaming, and they don’t provide service to France at all. Of course some of this might have changed and with Greg’s contract being up at the end of this month, I might look into it again.
I’m glad it’s working for you. Compared to how much I use our iPhones (very seldom to place calls, a few texts but mostly to use apps), it ridiculous how much our bill is. We pay $167 after taxes for 3 (old) iPhones and 1 dumb phone and we have the cheapest family plan. We’re on Wifi 90% of the time so we never EVER use up our data. I like the convenience of having access to it in case someone happens, but whenever I think about how much money we’re giving to AT&T for what we’re actually getting in return, I get sick to my stomach, lol.
I know what you mean about coverage because we have run into a difference with that switching to Ting since they are on the T-Mobile network. I think this is why AT&T and Verizon charge so much – they know they have the most extensive coverage. But for now Ting works for us and we’re paying a third of what we did so I’m happy. I also like that we’re only paying for actual use instead of, like you say, paying for hypothetical usage with no adjustment if we use much less. We’d consider going back to AT&T at some point if they could offer more reasonable prices. Just the monthly line charge per phone is ridiculous at anywhere from $15-$40 per month (depending on which data plan you select).