The biggest thing keeping most people tied to their cell phone company is the hefty early termination fees attached to their contracts. Even when you can get a better deal at a different company, having to pay upwards of a few hundreds dollars (mine is $325 with AT&T) to get out of your contract can keep you from pulling the trigger. What if the company you’re switching to offered to pay that fee for you? That’s what prepaid provider Ting is trying. They want to pay your early termination for you to get you to switch — sort of.
The offer sounds pretty enticing at first glance, but the details are a little less impressive. When they say they’re offering to pay off your early termination fee, what they really mean is that they’ll give you up to $350 in credit on your new Ting account. They’re basically offering you “Tingbucks,” a term I just made up, but that I would like to see catch on. It’s not a bad deal, but it doesn’t stop you from having to fork over a decent amount of money upfront to get out of your old contract, which could still keep people from jumping on board with Ting.
Another big sticking point is that Ting is actually pretty limited as a provider. You can take some Sprint phones with you to Ting as part of their beta Bring Your Own Device program, but if that’s not the case then you’re stuck buying a new phone, and Ting doesn’t offered phone subsidies.
To get $350 in Tingbucks you have to pay off your early termination fee, and buy a new phone at full price. Depending on your contract and the phone you choose, you could be laying out nearly $1,000. Part of that could likely be recouped by selling your old phone, but it’s still a lot of money up front.
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