Liverpool Public Library

LOADING ..
Expand Menu

Need an Easy Phone Plan for Canada? This Could Be Your Ting

by Keith Gatling | 18 months ago

Many years ago, everyone in our family had an AT&T GoPhone. Everyone, that is, except for our toddler daughter, who obviously didn't need one. There were two great things about the GoPhone as it existed back then. First of all, it was on a prepaid plan. You paid up front for the minutes you thought you'd need, and when you were running low, you bought more.

Second, it worked in other countries...and by other countries, I mean Canada. We would regularly visit Niagara Falls or Ottawa, and still be able to make and receive calls to and from the States.

But then our toddler daughter hit the magic age of 8. That's the age at which you get a cell phone in our family. Why does an 8-year-old need a cell phone? Do you remember phone booths? Do you remember when you were a kid, having your parents make sure you had two dimes with you to call home if you needed help? Have you seen a working phone booth lately? But when it was time to get our 8-year-old a phone, we discovered Tracfone, which was selling a basic phone for $10, and prepaid service for less than we were paying for AT&T's GoPhone service, and a lot less than others we knew were paying for unlimited service.

So when each of our GoPhone plans expired, we joined Tracfone.

But there was just one little problem...it didn't work in other countries. It only worked in Canada if you were on the border, in line of sight of a tower in Buffalo or Detroit. So for years, when we visited Canada, we entered into a couple of days of "radio silence," which some people might consider a good thing.

Then one day I got email from a company called Ting. What was Ting? It was another little company that offered low-cost cell phone service. It's not quite as low-cost as Tracfone, but it did offer one great feature that Tracfone didn't...it worked in other countries.

We just happened to have a spare older iPhone in our house, which we signed up with Ting, to be used only when we were traveling internationally. Last year, when we visited Kingston, Ontario, it worked like a charm. In fact, as we sat in Cape Vincent, N.Y., waiting for the ferry to take us to Wolfe Island, Ont., less than a mile away, we got a greeting welcoming us to Ting's Canadian network.

I said that Ting wasn't quite as low-cost as Tracfone, but it does have one other advantage that Tracfone doesn't. You can pool your minutes, texts and data between family members.

For example, looking at our Tracfone accounts right now, my wife has 5582 minutes and 7957 texts before she has to renew in December. We joke that she uses her phone so rarely that when she dies, whoever gets it is gonna think they hit the jackpot. At the other extreme is me, with 121 minutes and 757 texts before I have to renew in June. I use my phone a little more than she does. My two daughters lie somewhere in between us. My wife can't give me her spare minutes, so right now, when I know I'll be on a long call, I'll grab her phone, and use the minutes I know she'll never get to.

But if we all belonged to Ting, we'd all be sharing a pot of over 18,000 minutes and 23,000 texts. Right now it doesn't make sense for us to switch over...especially with that many minutes and texts in our individual pots...but it might make sense for you. Check them out over at ting.com.