Press Release

The coronavirus outbreak has radically changed how people are spending their money as they face an economy largely shaped by high unemployment and mixed consumer confidence. According to new survey data released today by Ting Mobile, a top-rated postpaid MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) mobile phone service, a majority of people who planned to upgrade their current phone this year are now reassessing their plans, whether that means delaying their upgrade or opting for a less expensive model. The survey is based on responses from 1,500 mobile phone users and explores their preferences for paying for or financing their mobile devices.

“Given the difficult financial situation that millions of people are finding themselves in since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not surprising that the majority are reconsidering how they spend on mobile this year,” said Andrew Moore-Crispin, Director of Content at Ting. “The results of our Phone Financing survey indicate that while people may be more conscious of how they are spending on new devices, they may also be missing bigger ways to save on mobile, like researching a different plan or carrier or looking more carefully at the financing options they choose for phone purchases. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average cell phone bill is $114, but we now have a whole world of alternatives to choose from so that your monthly bill could be far below that average.”

Ting Mobile phone financing survey key data and takeaways

Mobile in the current economic climate

– Plans have changed in the wake of a difficult economy: 69% of respondents who initially planned to upgrade their devices this year are now changing their plans:
o 55% are holding off on upgrading for now
o 12% will upgrade to a less expensive model
o 2% will buy a used phone instead
– Unsurprisingly, a majority (85%) of respondents consider cell phone service an essential expense. Of the small group (15%) who do not find it essential, 52% earn less than $50K in annual household income and 30% are ages 55 and older.
– Despite changing purchasing plans, most people (78%) do not plan to change their current cell phone service. Those who are considering changing their plan make less than $50K in annual household income (48%) and are between 25 to 44 years old (54%).

Buying outright still rules, but the jury is out on financing

– People would rather pay for their phone up front than finance it: 62% bought outright, while 38% financed their phone purchase. Most people plan to stick with the same option the next time they get a new phone as well.
– Of those who chose to finance, the majority (83%) turned to their mobile carriers to finance their devices: 47% rolled the cost of their phone into their overall mobile phone bill and 36% had a clear financing charge on their mobile phone bill.
– Buyers under 25 are 20% more likely than other age groups to use financing methods outside of their mobile carrier, like credit cards, third-party financing (i.e. Affirm, Varo) and retailer financing (i.e. Best Buy, Amazon).
– People are split 50/50 on whether or not financing a phone is a smart money move. Certain groups were more likely to lean one way or the other:
– College students and millennials are more inclined to finance their phones: 64% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 60% of 25 to 34-year-olds support phone financing.
– Financing a phone isn’t as appealing for older mobile users: 57% of people ages 55 and older weren’t in favor of it.

Phone trade-in

– Financing and trading in a phone often go hand-in-hand: 64% of people who financed their phone have also traded in their device when upgrading
– In addition to owning the financing market, mobile carriers also have the most success in getting people to trade in their devices: A majority (63%) of people traded in their phone through their carrier’s program.
– People are pretty split on whether or not trading in your phone offers a good return, with 54% saying it does and 46% saying it doesn’t.
– Trade-in programs are more enticing for younger mobile phone users: 63% of 18 to 24-year-olds, and 64% of 25 to 34-year-olds have traded in their phones before. By contrast, 60% of people ages 55 and older have never traded in their phone.
– Phone trade-in programs are favorable among those who have financed: 57% of people who financed their current phones think trade-in programs are worth the money, while 52% of people who bought their current device outright have never participated in a phone trade-in program.

For the full results of Ting’s Phone Financing Survey, visit: