How-To: Setting Up a Feature Phone with Ting

by | Aug 29, 2018

Setting Up a Phone on Ting

Parents often ask us how to get started with a feature phone for their child or teen. Tyler is our in-house techie, and he recorded a quick video to show you how we use Ting as our cell phone service provider.

We will be sharing other options soon (there are some other great inexpensive options for tweens/teens just starting out with a device). However, this has been our favorite option, so we are starting here.

We have used Ting for the past four years! We currently have 3 of us on the plan, two phones with data, the other is calling and texting only (our teen). Our cell phone bill is always right around $80 a month. We LOVE it.


Ting is not like other cell phone companies where you visit a store front and wrestle with a salesman, or select from the various phones available via the company website. With Ting you buy the phone you want, get a Ting account, connect the two, and pay monthly according to how much you use your phone. So simple!

Get the Essentials

First you need to get three things:

  1. Ting account
  2. Compatible phone
  3. Sim card


Setting up the account can be done at with our awesome $25 off link!


Ting is an Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which means they make business deals to use cell phone networks from other companies. Ting has arranged to use the T-Mobile and Sprint networks. These two networks use different, incompatible, communication technologies. T-Mobile uses GSM while Sprint uses CDMA. You need to purchase a phone that is compatible with one of the two networks. Before you purchase a phone to use on Ting you can ask people in your area about which network performs the best.

Phones need to be unlocked (not tied to any particular company) and be compatible with the networks of either T-Mobile (gsm) or Sprint (cdma). Verizon phones will not work. The easiest method to ensure compatibility is to purchase the phone directly from Ting. In the case that you want a phone not for sale at Ting, you can buy it elsewhere, just be sure to check its compatibility by searching on Ting’s website, Google, and Amazon customer questions. If you have a phone already, you can also use Ting’s compatibility checker. We share a few of our phone picks in our post Handing Your Child a Cell Phone: A Simple Four-Phase Process You May Not Have Considered.

The phone can be new or used, but must be unlocked. Being locked means that the phone will only be allowed to work with one particular company. Most phones that are purchased as part of a cell phone plan are locked. Unlocking the phone is possible with the help of the company that locked the phone, but will not be discussed here. Each company has different terms for when unlocking is allowed, and the process can be researched online.

SIM Card

Once you have a compatible phone, you need to get a Ting SIM card. The SIM card is a small card with a chip embedded in it that identifies your phone as yours, and tells the phone which network to use. Like a phone, a SIM card will be either on a GSM network or a CDMA network—not both. You can purchase one on Ting’s website. Ting also sells GSM SIM cards on Amazon. (As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Please let us know if you have any questions! We’re here to help.

One caveat: If you live in a very remote area Ting may not be the best option for you. Their service runs off of T-Mobile or Sprint cell phone towers, which works just great in most parts of the country. So, be sure to ask people that live in your area to see if they have any experience with T-Mobile or Sprint.