Total Wireless Review, My Personal Experience

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By Last Updated: Apr 11, 2018


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Overview

Total Wireless is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, or MVNO that operates on the Verizon network.  MVNO's are typically small companies that don't have their own wireless network, but rather buy minutes, texts and data at wholesale prices from major networks that they then turn and resell to you the consumer.

(Disclosure:  I was not paid or asked to do this review, however, when applicable, affiliate links are used within the post).

Total Wireless has been in service for nearly 2 years and it is actually a TracFone owned brand.

Plans

Single Line And Family Plans

All plans include unlimited talk and text.  Mobile hotspot is not allowed.

iPhone SE 32GB All Colors Now $159.00 at Total Wireless. Valid 4/5 - 4/30.

Plan Name And Features
Price
Total Wireless Logo

Total Wireless T&T

Plan Features

Supports BYOD

  $25
Total Wireless Logo

Total Wireless 2.5GB

Plan Features
  • Price is average price over 2 months.
  • To get this plan, subscribers must first purchase Total Wireless’s $25 unlimited talk and text plan, and then purchase a $10 – 5 GB data add on card.
  • Autopay billing must also be enabled for the $25 plan.
  • Any unused data in your account carries over from month to month without expiration.
  $28.75
Total Wireless Logo

Total Wireless 5GB

Plan Features
  • Price is with autopay billing enabled. $35 without.
  • BYOD is supported.
  • Additional data can be purchased with unlimited carryover priced at $10 for 5 GB
  $33.25
Total Wireless Logo

Total Wireless 2 Lines Family Plan

Plan Features
  • Price is with autopay billing enabled.  Without autopay billing enabled the price is $60.
  • Bonus: If you are running low on data, you can add 5 GB of bonus data with lifetime carryover for just $10.
  $57
Total Wireless Logo

Total Wireless Up To 3 Lines Family

Plan Features
  • Price is with autopay billing enabled.  Without autopay billing enabled the price is $85. Up to 3 devices allowed with this plan.
  • Bonus:  If you are running low on data, you can add 5 GB of bonus data with lifetime carryover for just $10.
  $80.75
Total Wireless Logo

Total Wireless Family Plan For Up To 4 Lines

Plan Features
  • Price is with autopay billing enabled.  Without autopay billing enabled the price is $100. Up to 4 devices allowed with this plan.
  • Bonus:  If you are running low on data, you can add 5 GB of bonus data with lifetime carryover for just $10.
  $95


20% Off Phone Bundles Sitewide with code TOTAL20 at Total Wireless Valid 4/4-4/30

Add On Features

A data add on card is available to add to any plan at any time priced at just $10 for 5 GB of data.  The nice thing about the data add on card is that any unused data leftover on the card will carryover month to month for as long as you keep your service active.

See also:  Tello Review, My 30+ Day Trial

International calling is only available via the purchase of a $10 add on card.  Total Wireless charges different rates depending on where you call.  Rates start at 2.5¢ per minute for calls to Mexico.  International texting is not supported at this time.

My Experience With And Review Of Total Wireless

Total Wireless Plan Purchase
Purchasing A Cell Phone Plan With Total Wireless

I recently purchased an unlocked Motorola G 4 Plus that I activated on Total Wireless for a period of 30 days. I purchased a SIM card kit from Walmart (also available from Amazon and Total Wireless), and bought the $35 plan that includes 5 GB of data with unlimited talk and text directly from the Total Wireless website.

Total Wireless gives an autopay discount of $2.80, and I enabled it at signup and to my surprise I was able to purchase the first month of service with the discount. Unfortunately, taxes and fees were not included with the price.  In my area taxes and fees amounted to $3.48 making the actual price I paid for service $36.68. At the time of this review, this Total Wireless plan was the cheapest Verizon MVNO to offer unlimited talk and text with at least 5 GB of data.

Total Wireless Dashboard
A peak at the Total Wireless dashboard used to manage your account

Data Speeds And Consumption

Total Wireless Speed Test Results
Total Wireless Speed Test Results

Verizon MVNO's are known to have their speeds limited to roughly 5 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload. This is essentially what I experienced while testing Total Wireless.  (Updated 8/28/17 TracFone owned Verizon MVNO's no longer have LTE speed restrictions.   With Total Wireless, in many areas you may now get download and upload speeds that are 10x higher than what was initially tested in this review.)

During my testing period, I ran 20 different internet speed tests at different times of the day and different days of the week. Speeds were pretty consistent regardless of the time of day or day of the week that they were run.  I averaged download speeds of 5.17 Mbps, 2.03 Mbps upload and a ping time of 92.9 ms.

With real world use, I did not perceive any difference in website page load times compared to my main wireless plan on the T-Mobile network, where I use a LeEco Le Pro 3 as my main device.  I found that I was able to stream YouTube videos at 1080p without any stuttering or issues.  Using Netflix I also experienced no issues with the Netflix app set to stream on high, which the app says consumes about 1 GB of data per hour.

I watched about 20-30 minutes of streaming video on each platform with no issues or complaints.

I also listened to several hours of streaming audio via Amazon Prime Music, as well as Tune In radio. I was able to stream audio with no issue using either app and was perfectly satisfied with the service.

Data consumption during the review was 3 GB.

Voice Calls and Text Messaging

Admittedly, I am not big on speaking on the phone so my talk time was rather limited.  I logged about 60 minutes of phone calls spread out over a combination of 10 incoming and outgoing calls.  I had 0 dropped calls and had a signal everywhere I went, which was a nice change compared to my T-Mobile daily driver where for about 40 minutes a day I'm in a building with no signal. My location still does not have T-Mobile band 12 support, but I digress.

See also:  Red Pocket Mobile Review, My 60+ Day Trial

Phone calls were clear but I did hear a small amount of background static.  The small amount of static was confirmed to be caused by the phone itself, because I heard the same sound while placing a call over Wi-Fi using Google Hangouts.

During the test period I sent and received roughly 800 text messages and dozens of MMS picture messages. All text messages were sent and received successfully, however, a few MMS picture messages sent to a Cricket Wireless number got lost in space and never delivered.  I believe this issue to be due to how Cricket/AT&T and Verizon handle MMS messages but not the fault of Total Wireless. I believe this because the same issue occurred on occasion when MMS picture messages were sent to the Cricket number from a phone on a Verizon post paid plan. The culprit here is likely due to the picture messages being sent are slightly larger in size than what AT&T/Cricket can accept.

Tethering

Total Wireless Tethering
Total Wireless Does Not Officially Support Tethering

I was able to successfully tether my phone to my PC and watch YouTube and Netflix as well as browse the internet. The test I conducted lasted about 20 minutes. I did not have any issues or notice things loading slower compared to my main cable network which gets download speeds of roughly 20 Mbps.

Tethering is not officially supported by Total Wireless, so if you are going to try it yourself, you are using at your own risk. Total Wireless may choose to send you a warning not to Tether or to disable your account if they find your are abusing their network.

Customer Support

Some say customer support is the bane of any TracFone owned brands existence.  A search on the internet and you'll likely find quite a few loud voices complaining about customer support issues.

During my time with the provider I did not have any need to contact customer support for any issues.  I did however contact them several times both through their online chat service and over the phone to test wait times one may have if they do in fact need to contact customer support.

Chat Wait Times

I initiated a chat with Total Wireless on 6 different days using different time points.  The average time it took to get my chat answered was just 2 minutes, and this includes initiating a chat just 2 days after the Christmas holiday when one may expect customer support to be more heavily taxed during the holiday season with people activating their brand new devices.  On one of the post Christmas chats, the chat service told me that they were "experiencing a high volume of chat at this time and to please try again later."  I elected to wait, and reached a customer support representative just 6 minutes later.

Phone Call Wait Times

I placed 5 different calls to customer support and the longest wait time that I experienced was 6 minutes and 45 seconds.  Two of my other calls were answered by a customer support representative instantly, while another call took 2 minutes.  When my calls weren't being answered instantly I was given the option to either wait or have Total Wireless call me back within 3-5 minutes.  Since I did not have any issues to discuss with customer support, I disconnected the call once answered.  To my surprise, I found that when I hung up the phone, a real person from customer service called me back instantly and left me a voicemail notifying me that my call was disconnected and that I could call back to discuss my issues.  The fact that I got called back right away after a disconnection is appreciated and likely will be appreciated by anyone who has ever had a phone call dropped during a support issue only to find that they have to call support back and start all over as if the call never happened in the first place.

See also:  H2O Wireless Review, My Personal Experience

Porting In/Out

Porting in was not tested as this was a new line of service with a new number.

Porting out required me to call Total Wireless to ask them to release my number.  The call to the company was answered instantly by a real person, however, since it was a port out, I was transferred to another department which took 30 minutes to be answered at 8 PM in the evening on a week night.  I had to call Total Wireless to ask them to release my number because I gave the wrong account number to my new provider.

If you end up needing to port out from Total Wireless or are porting out from any other carrier, I suggest you initiate your port out several days before your plan expires to avoid losing your number.  Porting out to another carrier from Total Wireless requires you to give that carrier your phones IMEI number, which is what is used as your Total Wireless account number.  Your account pin number for porting out by default is 0000 unless you set it to something different.

Ratings

(Updated 8/29/17 - the rating was updated to reflect the changes in download and upload speeds provided by the network)

8.5 / 10 Overall Rating
Pros
Cheap data
Good bang for your buck
Good network coverage
Cons
Although a good experience for me, customer support does not have a good reputation
Account Dashboard Ease Of Use7
Download Speeds10
Upload Speeds10
Customer Support Help6.5
Customer Support Response Speed7
Network Coverage9
Price/Value10

Recommendation

My experience with Total Wireless was a good one, and based on that I would have no problem recommending the service or using the service for myself, although since I use a lot of data, the T-Mobile plan is still a better choice for me.

A majority of those who do choose to signup for service with Total Wireless should find the network and service suitable for their needs, unless of course they are one of the unlucky ones who have a need to contact customer support with a serious issue.

 

See also:   |  Total Wireless news and deals

|  Configure your phone to work on the Total Wireless network with the correct Total Wireless APN settings.

Available Phones

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8 Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$659.00

Samsung Galaxy Luna

Samsung Galaxy Luna Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$29.99

LG Stylo 3

LG Stylo 3 Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$179.99

ZTE Zephyr

ZTE Zephyr Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$

LG Power

Get At Total Wireless
$9.99

LG Fiesta LTE

LG Fiesta LTE Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$99.99

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Roy Benson
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Roy Benson

We are fed up with the increasing prices for our current plan so I have spent the last month looking for alternative s. We want 2 Fiesta 2 (LG) with the $60.00 2 line plan. I ordered the plan card and one phone and wanted to order the 2nd phone. The online chat guy NEVER told me that I couldn’t order two phones when I asked him. Every time I would add another phone it would require me to get another plan. Today I get the first order and so I called the 800 number to order another phone for… Read more »

Joe P
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Joe P

That is silly that they have that requirement. But you should be able to apply the plan from the second phone to your second months bill. So you’re basically buying two months of service instead of one.

Joe P
Guest
Joe P

Also, you can use the code TW50OFF to save $30 on the phone and plan bundle requirement.

Forrest Phelps
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Forrest Phelps

I recently purchased a new phone thru total wireless because they advertised it was a no contract plan with verizon and at almost half the cost of my verizon plan. I live in the Dayton ohio area and verizon is the only carrier that I can get a signal with at my location. They advertise 4g network but after activating and downloading a months worth of min, I find the the best it can do is 3g network. I have 5 gig wifi in my home and found that I can’t get wifi on the phone because it is only… Read more »

Shawn Moseley
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Shawn Moseley

Their support is pretty terrible. My wife an I both have factory unlocked LG V20’s (US-996). These phones are not verizon phones but are verizon compatible. The IMEI checker on Total Wireless says they are not compatible. No big deal I though. I just activated an old verizon phone I had and then transferred the SIM card to my V20 and everything worked fine. However, the problem came when I tried to do it again for my wife’s phone. I tried to activate the old verizon phone again but they said it was still active on my previous line. Support… Read more »

John M
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John M

Customer service is unacceptable !!! I have made two on line orders with Total Wireless and both orders were missing items or defective phones. Working with customer service was a bad experience. The representatives were working from a prepared script and could not work with any issue outside of their script. When they failed to grasp the problem I was disconnected. This disconnect issue happened five times. If you use Total Wireless and do not ever have the need to contact it is a good plan. The minute you need customer service it make you want to go back to… Read more »

Stogie
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Stogie

How much did total pay you for your review? This company sucks. Horrible customer service. No one speaks English clearly. A ton of ads and nonsense. They cut my service off because someone there didn’t load my card information information in when I was told that they would set it up to pre-pay. I purchased the payment card and called them about adding the months payment. I was told that they would take the information and put it on hold and it would “drop” when the month was over. At the end of the month my service stopped. I called… Read more »

Alexis Braddy
Guest
Alexis Braddy

RUNNNNNNN!!!! Horrible service, calls wouldn’t come through at certain times of the day, depending on how much traffic Verizon towers were handling. At 3pm in a major city this was horrible. This is coming from someone who was an actual Verizon customer and switched to see if I could save a few bucks! You save some money, but the cell phone service quality is not the same. When I spoke to the total wireless rep about it, he informed me directly that Verizon wireless customers get first dibs on tower coverage, which explains the lag in calls and internet. After… Read more »

Tracy MARTIN
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Tracy MARTIN

I have my son-in-law standing next to me with Verizon coverage, and he hooks up to the Internet very fast. This is the worst internet coverage I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been with them for several years. And it has never gotten any better. They are lying to you about the coverage capabilities of this network. They suck, to put it in words, they suck

Eric Farley
Guest
Eric Farley

WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER. WORST. EVER. Now, let me qualify. As long as you don’t have any problems or issues the customer service is fine. They are friendly and helpful. However, if you have any tech support issues they get sketchy fast. Initially we had issues with data on my Moto G4 (brought my own phone). Every month, when the service renewed, I could not connect to data. They were able to fix it each time, but had no long term solution. Instead they said I would need to call them every month to get it fixed. Really? So I… Read more »

pt
Guest
pt

One very negative thing we experienced was in Kayenta Az when we had a flat tire. Our phone would not connect to any network even right in town with good bars. I kept getting a “you are roaming enter a credit card number” message. Also happened in Gateway Co. It doesnt give you service at all Verizon covered locations.

Joe P
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Joe P

Have you had coverage before on Verizon in Kayenta, Arizona at that location you had a flat tire? According to Verizon’s coverage map there’s not supposed to be any coverage in Kayenta, except possibly in some fringe areas. They don’t even list as having any roaming partners in that area. Also according to the map, Gateway, Colorado lists no coverage at all, not even in fringe areas. The only areas that should really differ from Verizon postpaid with Total Wireless are in the places on the map where it says “Extended 4G LTE.” It is my understanding that “Extended 4G… Read more »

pt
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pt

If you buy prepaid cards at Target and load them on to your Total wireless you dont pay all the taxes just the card value. Sometimes Target has them on sale. I loaded 6 mos on to my account. I still get annoying reminder texts to renew even though I have the reserves and it auto loads the reserved cards. Cheaper than using the auto pay system.

Dave
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Dave

The first time I paid for TW was through their website and I saw how much I was paying for sales tax and 911/local CA fees. I then bought a prepaid card at Walmart and saw that the 911 fees were added to the cost of the card along with sales tax, basically what i paid through TW. The third time around, I bought prepaid through WirelessRefill.com. They do add on the 911 fees, but offer a monthly discount code and don’t charge sales tax. I found that the overall price was cheaper than TW even with their auto pay… Read more »