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We’ve researched and used a number of MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) services and today we're sharing how we get Verizon service on four phones while sharing 25 GB of data using Total Wireless. #cellphoneplans #totalwirelessreview

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

black and white photo of numerous cell phones being held in the air

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!

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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.

white desktop with three cell phones and various papers strewn across it

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.

One-Line Options

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.

Data:

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.

Hotspot:

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.

Coverage:

The Total Wireless coverage map looks just like the Verizon map.

Customer Support:

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.

Website:

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 rewards graphic

Rewards:

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.

Other Reviews:

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!

Sours: https://womenwhomoney.com/total-wireless-verizon-alternative/

Great coverage

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.

Sours: https://www.reviews.org/mobile/total-wireless-cell-phone-plans-review/
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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 PlansPrice
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
Service Add-Ons Price
5GB of add-on data$10
Global calling$10

Activation Process 

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:

Phone Selection 

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.

Data Speeds 

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.

Customer Service 

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.

Total Wireless chat transcript

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.

Total Wireless' help textline

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

ProsCons
Affordable single line and family plansMixed 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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Sours: https://clark.com/technology/total-wireless-review/
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