Their website (formerly www.mingowireless.com) seems to have been taken down (it just leads to a parked domain page on Godaddy), so it looks like they're finally out of business for good. They had been in trouble before but at this time last year it looked like they had survivied, but that's no longer the case.
If you're looking for a company that offers a free plan, then I recommend that you check out FreedomPop which offers 200 voice minutes, 500 texts and 500MB data at no cost.
Mingo Wireless describes itself as a community-oriented
prepaid cell phone company. It is an internet-only company. You have to
buy their phones and airtime online not in retail stores. They have two
“free” offerings that make them unique. The first is a free touchscreen
or smart phone offer if you buy $100 of airtime. The other is really
unique – a free plan where you actually get 20 minutes free a month.
But first let’s start with their network.
You can get overall as well as street-level coverage on their website. They even tell you the quality of the coverage – 3G, 4G etc., but they don’t tell you who provides it. So I click the Chat button that’s always there on the bottom of each page of their site, and asked “Gerard M.” a representative, who typed back that they rely on the Sprint network. While Sprint’s reputedly not as extensive as Verizon’s or AT&T’s, it’s still has a pretty good nationwide 3G network.
Now that we know if we can get service, we’ll take a look at the plans.
Mingo Wireless has a free plan that gives your 20 free voice minutes a month. All you have to do is select this plan when you buy one of their phones. This is pretty cool because it would make a great emergency phone to keep around.
It’s also great to hand to your kids for things like field trips if they don’t have a regular phone. (You may want to consider a Kajeet phone if you want parental controls.) Phones are available for as low as $19.99 for a basic flip phone.
The Mingo Flex pay as you go plan is a regular prepaid cell phone plan. You buy airtime which is good for a certain number of days. The minutes rollover as long as you add airtime before the expiration date. If you renew early, your service time is extended.
The more airtime you buy, the better the rate, though the rates are all pretty good. $5 gets you 50 minutes good for 30 days. This works out to 10 cents per minutes with a yearly cost of just $60. But if you buy $100 of airtime, you get 2000 minutes and one year of service – a rate of 5 cents per minute and a yearly cost of $100.
As I mentioned earlier, with a $100 Mingo Flex airtime purchase you can get a free touchscreen or smart phone when you sign up with a $100 airtime purchase.
Text messages cost 5 cents per text. If you buy $10 or more of airtime you get a 100 text message bonus that’s good for 30 days. If you plan to do more texting, you can buy 30-day text messages packs starting at $2 for 100 texts up to $15 for unlimited texting.
Picture Messages cost 15 cents each plus the cost of the data (from the attached multimedia files).
Web surfing (data) costs 29 cents per megabyte, which is high, but again you can get web package add-ons if you plan to check the web often. Web packages start at $5 for 20 MB which is equivalent to 1 hour of web browsing on the phone or about 5 minutes of streaming video. You can spend up to $30 for 500 MB web data good for 30 days.
If you find yourself using these add-ons a lot, then you should consider their Plus plans.
The Mingo Plus monthly plans offer more minutes, but they have to be renewed monthly without rollover. Plans start at $15, but the $20 plan which offers 200 voice minutes plus unlimited texts and 20 MB data is an attractive option if you mainly text and make just a few calls.
At the high end, you can pay $40 per month for 1000 minutes, unlimited texting and 100 MB of data. If that’s not enough for you, you may want to check out their unlimited plan.
The Mingo Wireless Unlimited plan offers unlimited talk and text plus 100 MB data for $50 per month. As unlimited plans go, it’s actually NOT that great. Several companies offer unlimited plans with unlimited data for $50 per month or less. For example, Straight Talk offers unlimited talk, text and data for $45 per month.
However, if you are mostly going to be on the Flex or Plus plan and may want to use Unlimited service temporarily such as in the summer or during holidays when you plan to make more calls and texts. Then it’s good to know you have this option with Mingo Wireless.
Phones available from Mingo Wireless start as low as $19.99 for a basic LG flip phone.
Their best deal is for a free touchscreen or smart phone when you buy $100 of airtime on the Mingo Flex plan. These phones are the Samsung M810 Instinct touchscreen phone and the Blackberry 8330 smart phone. (Note: Blackberry push services are apparently not available.) Of course, once you get one of these free phones, you will be tempted to get the Text and Web packages to take full advantage of these phones.
You can also choose from among a couple of Android phones at reasonable prices. You can choose from among phones like the LG Optimus, HTC Hero and the Sanyo Zio. These phones are best used with the Plus or Unlimited plans.
Overall, Mingo Wireless looks like a pretty cool service with an attractive pay as you go plan and an attractive free phone offer to get you to try it out for a while. If you don’t want to go that route, you can even try it out on the unique free 20 minute plan.
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If you want an alternative and inexpensive provider, but one that has a longer track record, here are a few options.
Tracfone has always had low per-month costs even if their minutes were somewhat expensive. Now with the launch of their Android handsets and data cards, they're worth another look.
If you already have a Sprint phone, you can activate it on the Kajeet plan which has parental controls.