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This Total Wireless review comes from Vicki, co-founder of Women Who Money and founder of Make Smarter Decisions. She’s been a happy Total Wireless customer for over two years and currently has five phones under two different plans. Four phones on Total Wireless and a business line on Republic Wireless.
The Women Who Money Team and their family members use a variety of cell phone carriers. We’ve researched and used MVNO’s (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) and some of us still contract with the “Big 4” services (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.)
We hope highlighting our experiences with these services will help you make better decisions about what cell service is best for you and your family!
If there is a cell phone carrier you’d like us to review, please contact us or leave a note in the comments. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have!
The Shift from Verizon to MVNO’s
I left Verizon and started using MVNO cell services eight years ago. I’ve tried AirVoice Wireless (AT&T), Republic Wireless (Sprint/T-Mobile), Project FI (Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular), Tello (AT&T) and Total Wireless (Verizon).
And my kids were on Straight Talk Wireless (CDMA – Verizon) for five years before moving onto our current family plan on Total Wireless.
You might wonder why I’ve moved from carrier to carrier so often! And the answer is easy. To save money and get the best service I could at a given time!
I switched carriers based on where I was working, where we were traveling, and on what service best met my cellular needs.
These are all no-contract carriers, and you can port your phone number in and out to shop for different plans. My advice? Don’t let customer service at the “Big 4” scare you from trying some of these great low-cost plans if it makes sense for you.
We’ve had good-to-great service most of the time, and we’ve also dealt with a few problems. But the issues were minor compared to the thousands of dollars we’ve saved!
Total Wireless Offers Free Shipping-with any phone purchase
Total Wireless Review Two+ Years of Use
We get Verizon service on four phones while sharing 100GB of data for $104/month (including taxes/fees) using Total Wireless! That’s about half of what we were paying when our family’s cell service was split between two different MVNO’s.
Background: We own the four phones we use on Total Wireless, and we chose the Bring Your Own Phone plan and bought SIM cards at Best Buy for $1.
(Pro Tip: Pick up a few extra SIM cards in case you want to add a new line to your plan or share them with friends! You can get SIM cards through Total Wireless or Walmart but it takes time to ship them and buying them in-store at Walmart costs a lot more!)
My kids both have iPhones, and my husband and I have androids. None of us have the “newest” version phone available and all of our phones are unlocked to other carriers.
According to their website, you need a Verizon-compatible phone or an unlocked CDMA phone to use Total Wireless. You can check the compatibility of your phone on their website too.
I started with Total Wireless service in September 2017. We then moved my husband and kids onto Total Wireless after I had three months of service with no issues at all.
The kids were both on Straight Talk (CDMA) using Verizon towers. They didn’t even need to change SIM cards when I moved them to Total Wireless because they are related (Wal-Mart) brands. My husband moved from AirVoice Wireless.
We all ported our phone numbers into Total Wireless with no issues. We even received text messages keeping us updated on the process.
The Plans Total Wireless Offers:
(As of 2/20/20)
All Total Wireless plans are no contract, 30-day service plans with unlimited nationwide talk and text. You can add service online, purchase refill cards in stores, or sign up and save 5% with auto-refill on their website.
1 GB of 4G LTE data (then unlimited 2G) – $23.70+tax w/ auto-refill ($25 without)
*New customer deal – 10 GB of 4G LTE data (first 90 days), then 5GB 4G LTE (then unlimited 2G) – $33.20+tax w/ auto-refill ($35 without)
25GB of 4G LTE data (then unlimited 2G) – $47.50+tax w/auto-refill ($50 without)
Extended Plan – 90 Service Days, 15 GB 4G LTE data (5GB/30days) – $90
Shared Plans – All lines share chosen service plan’s 4G LTE data (then unlimited 2G)
Two Lines – 30GB Data – $57.00+tax with auto-refill ($60 without)
Three Lines – 60GB Data – $80.70+tax with auto-refill ($85 without)
Four Lines – 100 GB shared Data – $95.00+tax with auto-refill ($100 without)
Add-On Data – 5GB for $10+ tax
- Does not expire with Active Service
- Usage starts after all your active plan data is consumed
- Cannot be used for hotspot
- Unused data will roll over month-to-month with Active Service
- You can purchase as many as needed
Global Calling – $10+tax (price varies per call)
- Call anywhere in the world
- Add to any Service Plan
- Balance carries to next month of service
- Only for calls originating from the U.S.
- Rates as low as 1 cent
Calling and Texting:
We’ve had no trouble at all with dropped calls or missed text messages in more than two years of service.
We’ve used our phones in campgrounds in the mountains of Colorado and driving to rural areas of northern New York. Our service has been great compared to other carriers we’ve used in the past.
We’ve had no issues with our data usage or download speeds. According to their customer service, Total’s LTE data download speeds average around 5 Mbps.
Customers on Verizon’s name-brand service can get faster LTE data download speeds, depending on the quality of the connection. But this hasn’t bothered us at all, and neither of my college-age kids has complained about it either. It may make a big difference to you depending on your needs.
Although it was “not allowed” in the past by their service, we were able to use our phones as hotspots to connect our laptops and other devices. This is a MUST feature for us because I do a lot of work as we travel.
But Total Wireless now offers hotspot as a feature with plans starting at $35! Check each service plan you are interested in to see what limits are placed on data allotment for hotspots.
The Total Wireless coverage map looks just like the Verizon map.
I’ve called Customer Service with a few questions, and I have used the Chat feature online twice. I’ve never had to wait for either service. I could understand the representative, and they were able to answer the questions I had.
This has been much better customer service than we experienced on other MVNO’s used in the past.
The Total Wireless website has been updated a number of times in the last two years. While it isn’t fancy and is “clunky” to navigate at times, it doesn’t concern me at all. I’ve always been able to find what I need. I’m also excited to see a button that now lists “accessibility options” for individuals who need to customize their website experience!
Total Wireless now has a Rewards program that allows you to earn points that can be redeemed for free service, data add-on plans, and more.
You earn double points by using auto-refill, and there are fun games, polls, and other activities to earn Rewards points too.
I know there are horror stories about Total Wireless (and most of the MVNO’s) on the internet. But people using the major carriers complain too.
We’ve had nothing but good luck with Total Wireless in over two years using their service. We also know many other people who use Total Wireless, and they’ve also had good experiences.
One friend had to call back Customer Service twice over an issue, but it was resolved.
We just expect we may encounter trouble at some point and prepare for that. But we’re also saving thousands of dollars and understand that may come with some glitches in service from time to time.
If you travel internationally, you cannot use Total Wireless service. You would need to buy a local low-cost SIM in the country you are visiting.
We made the mistake of trying to use our phone overseas and it corrupted the SIM card so we had to replace it when we returned home (but we had bought a few extra $1 cards at Best Buy!)
This doesn’t bother us, and we’ll make due when we plan to travel. You can also consider using apps over Wi-Fi like What’sApp to communicate depending on your travel plans.
Overall Review On Total Wireless
We are very pleased with the four-line shared plan on auto-refill, and our bill is $104/month (because of our high New York State taxes!)
We all get unlimited talk and text, and we share 100 GB of data between four phones. With the increase in data (our plan went from 25GB to 100GB last year at no extra cost!) – we don’t need to buy more data. But it is available online if we ever need it (at $10+tax/5 GB).
If you have questions about Total Wireless or about our experience with it, please contact us directly or add them to the comments below.
To help support the Women Who Money website so we can continue to share educational personal finance articles and product reviews, please use our affiliate link for Total Wireless. It won’t cost you any more, and it will help support our ability to answer more money questions!
Total Wireless is a low-cost cell phone service that may be able to cut your current bill in half!
The TracFone-owned carrier is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that relies on Verizon’s towers to provide customers with the same great coverage at a fraction of the price.
Is Total Wireless really worth it? Team Clark put it to the test to bring you this comprehensive customer review.
Total Wireless Review: Verizon’s Network at Half the Price
I signed up and paid for a 30-day plan to see if Total Wireless lives up to the hype. Read on to learn more about the carrier and my personal experience…
Table of Contents:
Plans and Pricing
Total Wireless recently added an “unlimited plan” that provides 25GB of high-speed data for $50 a month.
This budget carrier also offers a number of single and family data plans. I chose the unlimited talk, text and 5GB of data plan that costs $35 a month or $33.20 with auto-refill, plus taxes and fees.
One of the volunteers at Team Clark’s Consumer Action Center made the switch from Verizon to Total Wireless. He told me that he lowered his bill for two lines of service from $130 to $60 a month — an annual savings of $840!
For those who use Wi-Fi at home and work, the 5GB data plan is probably the best choice. Customers can also buy 5GB of add-on data for $10 that rolls over from month-to-month.
All Total Wireless plans include unlimited talk and text, and some plans now support mobile hotspot.
Total Wireless 30-Day Service Plans
|Single Line Plans||Price|
|1GB of high-speed data||$25 or $23.70 with auto-refill|
|5GB of high-speed data||$35 or $33.20 with auto-refill|
|Unlimited: 25GB of high-speed data, then 2G||$50 or $47.50 with auto-refill|
|Shared “Unlimited” Family Plans||Price|
|2 lines: 30GB of shared high-speed data, then 2G||$60 or $57 with auto-refill|
|3 lines: 60GB of shared high-speed, then 2G||$85 or $80.70 with auto-refill|
|4 lines: 100GB of shared high-speed, then 2G||$100 or $95 with auto-refill|
|5GB of add-on data||$10|
Setting up service with Total Wireless was a snap. I bought a CDMA SIM Kit ($1) and a device plan ($35 for 5GB) at Best Buy, but you can also buy them at Walmart and online at TotalWireless.com.
I inserted the SIM card into a compatible device, got a new phone number and activated my service in about 10 minutes.
Since I didn’t transfer a number to Total Wireless, I wasn’t able to test the porting in process. A customer support representative told me it could take two days, but it’s usually completed in about two hours.
This was my first time setting up service with a prepaid carrier. This video takes you step-by-step:
For my 30-day test, I used an unlocked Moto G6 that money expert Clark Howard let me borrow. The budget smartphone is unique because it works with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks.
If you want to bring your phone to Total Wireless, it must be CDMA compatible, not GSM. (Check compatibility here.)
Total Wireless also sells phones. I checked TotalWireless.com and found a good selection of iPhone and Android devices. Visit Total Wireless’ website for the latest phone deals.
Call and Text Performance
Total Wireless’ call and text performance met my expectations. I experienced zero dropped calls and zero missed texts over the month that I tested the prepaid carrier.
For some perspective, I spent more than three hours talking on the phone and sent/received more than 200 text messages.
When I talked to my family and friends on the phone, I asked them to rate the call quality. Everyone confirmed that I sounded fine. I had no trouble hearing any of the people I was talking to.
Total Wireless supports Wi-Fi Calling on some devices, but my unlocked Moto G6 didn’t allow me to test this feature.
However, I was able to try its Enhanced 4G LTE Mode, which appears to be another name for VoLTE (Voice over LTE). Once enabled, I could talk on the phone and use data at the same time.
For example, Enhanced 4G LTE Mode let me look up something on the internet while on the phone.
One of my biggest concerns with Total Wireless was that my data speeds would be slower compared to Verizon customers, but that wasn’t the case whatsoever.
I used the Speedtest by Ookla app to compare Total Wireless and Verizon. Take a look at the results:
After the test in the video above, I continued to check the data speeds 10 more times during my 30-day trial. The average Total Wireless download speed was 32.61 Mbps and the average upload speed was 9.72 Mbps.
I used Total Wireless for Google Maps, streaming Hulu with Live TV and general web surfing with absolutely no issues.
I had no reason to contact Total Wireless customer service, but I called them twice to ask general questions for this review. The calls were answered promptly and the representatives helped me, though there was a language barrier.
I also initiated two chat sessions on Total Wireless’ website and had a different experience — I think I got bad information.
Earlier, I explained how activating Enhanced 4G LTE Mode allowed me to make calls and use data at the same time. This feature is usually called VoLTE or Voice over LTE.
When I asked the chat representative a question about the capability, I got this response:
May: Hi! I’m sorry, in our service you cannot make a phone calls while using mobile Data.
The second time that I contacted Total Wireless for support via chat, the representative correctly answered my question and then said “Thank you for using Simple Mobile,” which is a different TracFone-owned carrier.
I also checked the Better Business Bureau and found quite a few customer service complaints. Review them here.
On a more positive note, I frequently used Total Wireless’ help textline to get answers to my questions. I sent the keyword “USAGE” to 611611 and quickly got a response with my data usage.
Pros and Cons
If you’re someone like me who doesn’t want to pay the high prices that the Big 4 wireless providers charge, Total Wireless is a money-saving option to consider.
Now, it’s arguably an even better value with the addition of “unlimited” plans for heavy data users.
Who should switch to Total Wireless? If you’re a Verizon customer who likes the network and wants to keep your phone, this may be a cheaper option for both single line and family plans.
Based on my research and limited interaction with customer service, that’s one area where there’s room for improvement.
Total Wireless: Pros and Cons
|Affordable single line and family plans||Mixed reviews for customer service|
|Verizon’s dependable network|
|Good phone selection|
Total Wireless isn’t the only Verizon alternative! We have a list of the best cell phone plans and deals from low-cost cell phone providers that run on all the big networks — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.
Share your Total Wireless review in the comments below and read more in Team Clark’s cell phone guide!
This article was originally written by Michael Timmermann and published on November 8, 2018.
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Total Wireless Review: Is It 100% Legit? Let’s Investigate…
Total Wireless is a US MVNO carrier that delivers cheap plans for individuals and families. But is it any good? Let’s investigate with a full overview of Total Wireless – from its prices and phones to its coverage and customer support
Total Wireless is owned and operated by Mexican telecoms company TracFone, alongside other no-contract MVMO networks like Straight Talk, SIMPLE Mobile, Total Wireless, Walmart Family Mobile, NET10 Wireless, Page Plus, SafeLink, GoSmart Mobile, Telcel America, and Clearway.
In 2020, Verizon announced plans to acquire TracFone – and all of its IP – for around $6 billion. This deal is still currently ongoing but is expected to be competed during 2021. Critics claim this acquisition could spell the end of the Lifeline program, a government subsidy program that helps low-income families get online with cheaper phone plans and internet services.
And while Verizon has said it will continue the Lifeline program, it is under no legal obligation to do so – so it could go either way in 2021/22. But what about Total Wireless right now? Is it a good option for you? Let’s take a look at what makes this carrier tick – from the phones it carries to the plans it offers…
Total Wireless Plans – An Overview
With plans, Total Wireless keeps things pretty simple – you have individual plans and family plans. And there is only several individual options in each category. And they are as follows:
- Unlimited talk and text (no data): $25
- 5GB: $35
- Unlimited: $50
- 15GB (90 days): $90
- 30GB (shared): $60, two lines max
- 60GB (shared): $85, three lines max
- 100GB (shared): $100, four lines max
With Total Wireless, you can get your phone setup pretty quickly and for not much money per month. Not having to deal with contracts, or being tied into one for prolonged periods of time, is also very appealing from a user perspective.
I also like that Total Wireless offers family plans too – really competitive ones as well. I mean, $100 a month for four plans with 100GB of data and unlimited calls and texts for all users is pretty darn cheap whichever way you slice it.
> VIEW ALL PLANS
Cheap Data Plans w/ Unlimited Calls & Texts
Total Wireless’ main USP is that it sells really cheap data plans, so if you already have a phone that you own outright, you could save yourself a lot of money by switching over to Total Wireless – in theory.
Here’s a breakdown of Total Wireless’ current data plans for individuals – there’s only three, so at least picking one is fairly straightforward!
- 1GB Plan – The 1GB data plan costs $25 per month with no contracts.
- 5GB Plan – The 5GB data plan is $35 per month and, again, comes without contracts.
- Unlimited Data Plan – With the Unlimited Plan from Total Wireless, you get unlimited data usage for $50 a month. Again, there are no contacts, so you can cancel or switch at any time.
All of Total Wireless’ plans come with unlimited calls and texts – even the 1GB and 5GB Plan. In this respect, Total Wireless has bigger networks like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T banged to rights. It is cheaper and you get more of the things that actually matter (data, calls and texts) for less.
Total Wireless Phones – What Are Your Options?
Total Wireless doesn’t sell a lot of phones, and most of the ones it does sell are lower-end, budget Android phones like the LG Journey and Samsung A10. You can buy the iPhone 11 via Total Wireless, however, and phones like the Samsung Galaxy A50 and iPhone XS.
This aspect of Total Wireless’ business is not a focus for the company; you have options if you do need a phone but most of Total Wireless’ customers are Bring Your Own Phone users. Still, $599.99 for the iPhone 11 is pretty good, matching what you’d pay from Apple and bigger networks like Verizon.
> View All Phone Options Here
What Network Does Total Wireless Run On?
As noted in the introduction to this post, Total Wireless is an MVNO and it runs on Verizon’s network. This is a good thing too because Verizon has one of the best networks in the country with great coverage, excellent speeds, and the best 5G network currently available.
With Total Wireless, you get full access to Verizon’s network. And that includes its 5G network too, although you’ll need to be running a 5G phone in order to access Total Wireless’ 5G services. You do have some really good cheap 5G phone options now, though, so this isn’t too much of an issue.
You can check Total Wireless’ 5G coverage metrics here.
Total Wireless Customer Service – Is It Any Good?
Total Wireless does not have particularly good customer ratings, scoring 2.1 out of 5 on TrustPilot. However, it is worth nothing that there are currently only 12 reviews of Total Wireless on TrustPilot (and Total Wireless has millions of US customers), so it is worth taking with a pinch of salt.
For comparison’s sake, Verizon has similar bad customer service reviews – it scored just 1.3 out of five on TrustPilot with 86% of customers rating the carrier “bad” on a scale for “bad” to “excellent”.
With high-end customer reviews, Mint Mobile is one of the best options on the market right now. Mint Mobile scored a massively impressive 4.6 out of 5 on TrustPilot and for a carrier this kind of score is more or less unprecedented – 76% of its customers rated its service as “excellent”.
How Much is Total Wireless Unlimited Plan?
Total Wireless only offers one unlimited plan; it costs $50 a month and is only available on Individual plans. You cannot get unlimited data on Family Plans – these top out at 100GB which is still very good.
How fast is Total Wireless’ mobile data? According to our tests, conducted in Florida, Total Wireless LTE data speeds were very respectable – around 24Mbps which is great for an MVNO. Similar, Verizon – using the exact same testing protocols – scored 23Mbps.
These speeds are great for the vast majority of online activities. But if you’re using Total Wireless and experiencing poor mobile data speeds, you could try CloudFlare’s 188.8.131.52 w/ WARP app; it is a free proxy resolution app that will speed up your mobile data for no cost.
Will My Unlocked Phone Work on Total Wireless?
In order to be compatible with Total Wireless’ network, you will need a totally unlocked phone, for starters, and it will also need to be a CDMA phone as well.
Universal unlocked phones, like phones bought direct from Apple or Samsung, will work with all major US carriers, including Total Wireless. The only area where you might run into problems is with Xiaomi phones or other Chinese brand phones that aren’t designed with US networks in mind.
If you do have a Xiaomi phone, or you’re thinking about getting one, you’ll want to go with Mint Mobile over Total Wireless as it supports four out of the six bands used in Xiaomi phones.
And Mint Mobile also has exceptional customer reviews too, so you’re going to be in very good hands with this particular MVNO regardless of what phone you’re using.
Wrapping Up – Is Total Wireless Worth It?
Powered by Verizon’s network, Total Wireless has some of the best coverage of any MVNO in the USA. Total Wireless’ plans are affordable and very accessible. I also really like that it keeps its plans nice and simple – you have four options (for individual and family plans).
The customer reviews of Total Wireless are slightly alarming, especially when compared to Mint Mobile’s stellar reviews. But, again, customer reviews only often highlight the bad aspects without noting any of the positives. Plus, a lot of issues with “phones” in general are not related to your carrier.
If you’re looking for cheap mobile data plans in the US, and you want options for unlimited data and 5G, then, yes, I would say Total Wireless is definitely worth a look – its plans are exceptionally well priced and they all include unlimited texts and calls.
If you’re undecided, I would probably recommend you go with Mint Mobile over Total Wireless. Mint has better customer reviews and its plans are just as good. And, because Mint is powered by T-Mobile’s network, it will also be able to run Xiaomi phones too.
Either way, you now have plenty of options when it comes to cheap data plans. And that’s the main takeaway here.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.
Total Wireless Review 2021: Totally Cool
Total Wireless is one of the more popular mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). An MVNO is a cell phone service provider, usually on the smaller side, that doesn't operate its own wireless network but instead sets up a deal with one or more major carriers. It purchases minutes, text messages and mobile data from these major carriers wholesale, and then resells them to its customers.
Total Wireless runs on Verizon's network and has been around for almost three years. The company's brand is owned by TracFone. You can compare MVNO plans at Wirefly.
Plans Available with Total Wireless
Every plan on Total Wireless offers unlimited minutes and text messages, with the mobile data allotment being the difference in pricing with all of them. Customers can bring their own devices to Total Wireless with any of the carrier's plans, assuming those devices are compatible with Total Wireless. Since Total Wireless is on Verizon's network, phones would need to work on its CDMA network.
The carrier currently has three single-line plans available.
Related: Wirefly's picks for best cell phone plans
The basic Total Wireless plan with talking and texting only is $25 per month or $23.70 if the customer sets up Auto Refill.
For $35 per month, or $33.20 with Auto Refill, the customer gets 5 GB of mobile data.
For $50 per month, or $47.50 with Auto Refill, the customer gets 25 GB of mobile data.
The carrier has three shared family plans available.
The cheapest family plan is $60 per month or $57 with Auto Refill, it includes 30 GB of mobile data and it's for up to two lines.
The next step up is $85 per month or $80.70 with Auto Refill. It includes 60 GB of mobile data and it's for up to three lines.
The most expensive family plan is $100 per month or $95 with Auto Refill. It includes 100 GB of mobile data and it's for up to four lines.
There's also an add-on option that allows the customer to get another 5 GB of mobile data for $10. This is available with both single-line and family plans. If the customer doesn't use the entire 5 GB, unused data carries over every month as long as the customer has active service.
Although the most common way to use this 5 GB add-on is for a customer to get it when their plan's data runs out, they could also add it to the $25 plan that only includes talking and texting. If they use less than 5 GB of data per month, this would end up being the more affordable option compared to the $35 5 GB plan. For example, if the customer used 2.5 GB per month, they'd end up spending $30 per month on their plan plus the 5 GB add-on or $28.70 if they set up Auto Refill for their plan.
Customers who want to make international calls can do so with a $10 add-on card. There is also a per-minute rate for these calls depending on the country the customer is calling. Rates are lowest for calls to Mexico, which are 2.5 cents per minute.
For the amount of data it offers, Total Wireless has very low rates, making it a bargain for customers.
The Total Wireless Experience and Review
Getting started with Total Wireless is quick and simple. A new customer can purchase a phone from Total Wireless or bring their own device and active it with a SIM card kit. Signup can be done through the Total Wireless website.
If the customer sets up Auto Refill, which is Total Wireless' auto pay feature, the discount for doing so applies right away. It's important to note that the prices for Total Wireless plans don't include any taxes or fees, which means the actual price can be a bit higher.
Data Use and Speed
Data speed used to be an area where Total Wireless was okay, but nothing special, as it was limited to about 5 Mbps for downloading and 2 Mbps for uploading. Fortunately, in August of 2017, the LTE speed restrictions were taken off of MVNOs running on Verizon's network, which means Total Wireless data speeds can be significantly faster than before.
Even when Total Wireless had those limits in place, they didn't have much of an effect on the user experience. Websites still loaded fairly quickly, even when compared to the speeds of major carriers, and it was possible to stream videos in 1080p high definition (HD) without experiencing stuttering or other problems. The speed was also more than sufficient to watch Netflix content and listen to streaming audio.
Since the restrictions are now gone, speed is even better. HD video content loads almost instantly if the user is in an area with a good connection.
Calling and Texting
Verizon's network is known for being the best in the nation, and Total Wireless customers benefit from that. Calling is reliable whether making or receiving them, dropped calls are extremely rare and Total Wireless customers have a signal in most areas of the country, especially in major cities.
There can be a bit of static here and there, although this is often actually an issue with the phone and not the network. One way for the customer to test this is by using Wi-Fi calling. If the static is still present on a Wi-Fi call, then it's a matter of the device and not the mobile network.
Texting is another area where Total Wireless is as reliable as it gets. There are no issues with sending or receiving SMS messages. The only potential snag can be with sending MMS messages to devices that are on AT&T's network, and that's simply because customers on Total Wireless can send MMS messages that are a bit larger than AT&T customers are able to accept.
It is possible to connect a phone on the Total Wireless network to a computer with tethering and share the phone's mobile data. By doing this, the customer can use the internet on the computer with only the phone's data plan. Data speeds are fast while doing this, although how it compares to a customer's home network will depend on how fast that home network is.
However, Total Wireless doesn't technically support any tethering, and it mentions tethering in its Terms and Conditions as one example of unauthorized use of its services. The customer essentially tethers at their own risk. If Total Wireless finds out that a customer is tethering, the carrier could end up shutting down that person's account or send them a warning telling them not to do it again.
TracFone and the brands it owns have a mixed reputation when it comes to customer support. Some have no problem with it, but there are also plenty of people who have had issues and have made their problems well known online.
Tests were conducted of Total Wireless' customer service options to assess the quality of the service and how long it took to receive service.
On tests conducted over several different days and during different time periods each day, there was an average wait time of about two minutes. Even after holidays when companies tend to have much higher customer service queues than normal, Total Wireless was still able to deliver chat support in a little over five minutes.
Chat representatives with Total Wireless proved knowledgeable and helpful. Overall, chat support was extremely efficient and effective.
Just like with the chat support tests, the phone support tests involved calls on several different days and during several different times of day to get a balanced look at how Total Wireless performs. Several calls were answered right away, a few were answered in about two minutes and the longest wait time was right around the seven-minute mark. Total Wireless also provides the option of getting a call back in about three to five minutes instead of waiting on hold.
On one test, the call was disconnected immediately upon a representative answering because there wasn't any problem to deal with. A Total Wireless representative called back immediately and left a message with a callback number. This is a huge plus, because dropped calls are frustrating when a customer calls in for support. Phone agents were friendly and helpful, making the phone support experience with Total Wireless a point in its favor.
Porting a Phone Number
If the customer wants to port out a phone number that they have with Total Wireless, then they need to call the carrier and request a number release. This is one area where a phone call can take a bit longer. Even though the customer may get someone on the phone right away, they'll need to be transferred to the department that handles porting out, and it can then take 20 to 30 minutes or more for someone to pick up, depending on the time of day.
Porting a number in to Total Wireless is simple enough, and in that case, it's more about the customer's previous carrier than Total Wireless when it comes to how quickly the process goes.
Whether a customer is porting in to Total Wireless or porting out, it's a good idea to start the process about a week in advance of a cell service plan expiring to ensure that they don't lose their phone number.
Total Wireless Summary
The biggest benefits with Total Wireless are how cheap its plans are considering the amount of mobile data they offer, along with the fantastic network coverage it has courtesy of being on Verizon's network. Because of those factors, Total Wireless is an excellent value.
The customer support is the main potential drawback. Although the tests in this review didn't find any issues and actually found the customer support quite good, others have had issues with it.
Total Wireless Recommendation
Based on its value and the quality of its service, Total Wireless will be a good choice for the typical consumer and anyone who is looking for cheap cell phone service. There is a possibility of having issues with the customer support, but many customers won't even end up needing that.
Those who use a substantial amount of mobile data could find that a plan through T-Mobile or another carrier better suits their needs, though.
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1.0 out of 5 starsDoes not work - Can't activate SIM - Terrible customer service.
Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2019
Total Wireless has truly terrible customer service and its ALL outsourced to the Philippines. I purchased the SIM card kit, followed the directions carefully and had a Verizon compatible phone (iPhone XS MAX dual sim unlocked). I travel for work AT&T is my primary carrier it works well when I am at home but when I travel, I need to use Verizon. My devices is dual sim compatible therefore, I wanted a low cost talk and text plan with a Verizon MVNO and that is exactly what Total Wireless is however, I have not been able to activate the SIM card that I purchased from Amazon. Total Wireless is very difficult to work with, the language barrier is very bad and they don’t listen and only read pre-written responses regardless of what you say to them, its comically bad. If you choose to go with Total Wireless, I wish you the best of luck!
Total Wireless is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), which means that it piggybacks on another company’s network. In this case, that company is Verizon. Luckily for Total customers, Verizon operates the largest network in the country.
Take a look at the map down in our coverage section to see how strong the network is in your area.
Verizon’s network isn’t just large. It’s also pretty darn powerful. You should see strong data speeds in most major metropolitan areas, and look for the rollout of 5G in the months (and years) to come.
What we don’t like
Total Wireless’s individual cell phone plans have a couple of significant drawbacks, both of them related to data.
Limited full-speed data
All three of Total’s individual plans come with data. In fact, all of them technically come with “unlimited” data, but it’s very important to clarify: most of that data will be at very slow 2G speeds.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, 2G is three fewer Gs than the most current technology (5G), so it’s kind of like going back to a dial-up modem when you’re used to broadband internet. You won’t be able to do most of the things you actually want to do on the internet, like stream video, listen to music, and play games.
For that, you’ll need higher data speeds (at least 4G). It’s this 4G LTE data that’s limited with Total Wireless. The company’s $25 plan only comes with 1 GB of full-speed data. The $35 plan has 5 GB and the $50 plan has 24 GB. Once you hit those caps you’ll be slowed down to a slug’s pace.
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