Monday, January 4, 2016

Free RingPlus, what's the catch?

RingPlus has been promoting like 1750 minutes + 1750 texts + 1750 MB 4G/LTE data per month for free. Sounds too good to be true. So what's the catch?

There is no voicemail

Well, there is, but practically useless. When someone calls your RingPlus # and you are not available at the moment, the caller leaves you a voice message and hang up. Then, no message is actually left. To be able to successfully leave a message, the caller must wait for a prompt, review the message and then press "1" to save the message.

Further more, there won't be any voicemail notification on the phone (except a missed call sign). The only way to get a notification is to set an email address for a voicemail and sync it on the phone.

A workaround is to use your RingPlus # via Google Voice.

You must have a credit card

Except for the Truly Free plan, you must have a credit card on file. The good news is, your credit card is not directly charged, but through a buffer zone which RingPlus calls as "topup". For example, when you activate the 1750/1750/1750 plan, your credit card is charged $20 plus taxes. This $20 is your topup. If you don't go over the 1750/1750/1750 amounts for the month, there is no any charge. If you do go over, your topup is deducted automatically for $0.02 per minute/text/MB. If the topup finally run out, then your credit card is automatically charged to fill up the topup.

A workaround is to use a prepaid credit card. Also setup a data limit (such as 1.5GB) on your phone.

That said, the $0.02 overages are still extremely cheap and you are unlikely to run out your topup again and again, unless you download movies 7/24.

Don't forget about taxes

When I subscribed to the Leonardo 5 plan (1600/1600/1500), the topup is supposed to be $16, but in the end my credit card was charged for about $20, due to taxes.

Sprint 4G/LTE is spotty in buildings

The frequency is very high, 2500 MHz, too high to easily penetrate into buildings. The good news is, the phone will then switch to 3G; so mostly you still get a data connection. Many malls have large transparent windows on the ceiling, no problem to get LTE in there.

What about phones?

You can use virtually any phone that works on Sprint network, which means all the phones from Sprint (postpay or prepaid), Boost, Virgin and etc. You can easily find a great phone for very little money in BestBuy, RadioShack, Amazon and etc. For example, the LG Volt or 2 has a 4.7" or 5" screen and cost only $60 or $80, and often on sale for even much less.

If your 4G phone does not come with a SIM card, such as the Nexus 6, you can get one from a Sprint corp store for free. Some small Sprint dealers won't give, not even sell, one to you though.

You can find more details on which phones that work on RingPlus on its website. You can even check your phone's MEID to see if it can be activated or not. Recent Apple and Nexus phones (5X, 6, 6P, moto x pure) are good to go and they also work on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and in many other countries including China. Nexus 6 is often on sale for $200 - 250.

When buying a used phone, check its MEID on RingPlus' website. Some carriers hold the phone for 12 months; in this case you'll get a financial check failure. The SIM card can be reused too.

What about customer service?

RingPlus has an excellent website, you can do pretty much everything there. For example, you can swap phones ($1.99), change phone # ($1.99), port in a #, enable and disable features ...... You may submit a ticket to resolve an issue. You almost never need to call a representative, which is always a PITA regardless which company.

The bottom line: go get it, it's really free and you have nothing to lose, just don't expect it'll last for years.

As always, feel free to ask any question.


  1. One of the settings in the RingPlus device page is to have a text message sent when you have voicemail.
    While not as nice as having an icon on the status bar, at least you get some notification.

    1. Yeah I knew that but people say it does not work so I did not bother to try.

      Anyway, this voicemail is a total mess, you'll agree with me after paying with it more. Many times the caller won't have it at all.