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:  FreedomPop Global SIM Review, Tried And Tested In The USA And Europe

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:  Tello Review, My 30+ 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:  Red Pocket Mobile Review, My 60+ Day Trial

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

iPhone SE

iPhone SE Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$159

LG Rebel LTE

LG Rebel LTE Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$19.99

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8 Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$659.00

iPhone SE

Total Wireless iPhone SE
Get At Total Wireless
$159.00

Huawei Nexus 6P

Huawei Nexus 6P Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$439.99

iPhone X

iPhone X Total Wireless
Get At Total Wireless
$999

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Colt
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Colt

Me and my brother have been on the TW 2 line plan and it’s been working great but recently our dad got a phone with TW and mown we are trying to change to a 3 line plan but when we try to add the device to our plan to make it a 3 line it won’t allow us and we have talk to a representative at Total Wireless and can’t figure it out. Does any one have any advice on how to get this all figured out? Please

Anne Hewitt
Guest
Anne Hewitt

I have been a HUGE advocate of Total Wireless for the past few years- until today. Even after viewing all the negative comments left all over the internet by others, I gave them a chance. Have been very pleased – THAT ENDS TODAY!! I have been summoned to court and was told to bring my cell phone records for the months of May and June. I went online to my account (NOTE: Where TOTAL WIRELESS has not only my personal information but my banking information since they bill me monthly) to find where/how to print out the two months the… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

I went with Total Wireless about 2 years ago. I am not a big phone person, mostly texting, definitely not a data hog. I went with the talk/text only plan for 20. a month, signed up for auto refill; total cost for me after taxes is about 27.55. Perfect plan for me. I buy a 5G data card that is SUPPOSED to roll over for about 10. and that one card will last me 5-12 months. I have had almost zero issues with this phone and company for the past 2 years, until last month (July 2018). Only thing I… Read more »

LDH
Guest
LDH

Currently on the phone once again with a TW supervisor in regards to the 5GB of add on data that disappeard from a FLIP phone! Horrible service, they obviously do not understand anything other than what their computer screen shows in front of them. I am trying to explain that a flip phone could not possibly consume 5GB of data by only sending and receiving occasional picture messages…they say they are “checking into it” while I am on hold. It just is amazing how poor the situation is. I can see how they can make their money up by having… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

OMG I’m dealing with almost this same issue…disappearing rollover data for the 2nd month in a row. Only different thing I did 3 months ago was buy my data card on their website rather than in the store. I’m done with this company.

LDH
Guest
LDH

We decided to switch to TW last Nov (2017) because of the great rates and the Verizon coverage. We set the plan up to be the talk and text only and then we purchased 5GB of add on data for each phone, knowing that one phone is a flip phone, and 5 GB would last a lifetime (need data to send and receive picture messages) and the other smart phone is always connected to wifi. Everything was going smoothly with TW. At the end of June the smart phone had 2+GB of data remaing, thought it would be a good… Read more »

JehRey
Guest
JehRey

My wife and I switched to Total Wireless on Verizon because Cricket on AT&T did not have a good signal in an area we needed service. Since I use about a gig of data a month and my wife seldom uses any data we got the $25 plan with no data and then purchased add-on data that should have lasted us 6-8 months. I put two $10 add on data cards on my line and one on hers. Every thing was fine until a couple of days ago I got a text saying I needed to buy more data. I… Read more »

Bruce
Guest
Bruce

I am having the same issue. I used my phone data last Sunday when out and about and all worked as normal, Then Thursday I went to connect to the internet with a good signal but it would not connect and the LTE did not show up next to the signal strength meter. I checked my data balance through the web site, My Account App and their 800 number phone options and all indicated I had a zero data balance, which is far from correct. I just use the $25 talk and text only account and then get data with… Read more »

John R
Guest
John R

you probably did not turn off your background data from the settings dialogue. Otherwise your android will automatically update itself on everything and use up your data usage in a few days.

Anon
Guest
Anon

No, it’s not that John. I’m having the same issue. For some reason, when the plan renews, it is not rolling over the rollover data. My background apps(and I only have a few apps) are shut down from using data. Most of the time I’m in a wifi area. My data usage on my phone says I have only used 560 mb of data from July 27-Aug 17. I should have around 3.5 G’s of data right now, and it’s showing 0 balance. They did something, whether it was an update or whatever, and it’s messing up everyone’s phone, but… Read more »

lee
Guest
lee

i was a TW customer. I switched to another provider because I wanted more options for phones. I canceled my phone and the next day my card was charged by TW. I called and tried to dispute the charge. I was told that i needed the serial # of the phone b/c the phone number no longer existed. I called back and got someone to transfer me to get a refund. The women in billing told me that i was not permitted a refund even though i was charged after i changed plans. it was just their policy. Its a… Read more »

GoHuskers
Guest
GoHuskers

Joe – Please help. I just ported 3 lines to TotalWireless from VZW postpaid. Signal is fine, speedtest is as good as when I was on VZW. Download speed ranges from the low of 6 mbps to the high of 32 mbps (depend on the time of day and where I am at). The best part is $87/month for 3 lines with unlimited talk/text and 20 GB of data. The bad part (may be dealkiller): Both my GS6’s and Note5 with Android 7.0 have the SAME problems: 1- After restarting the phones you cannot receive calls/text. Phone calls will go… Read more »

Disappointed
Guest
Disappointed

worthless, can’t even set up my phone, absolutely worthless.

Joe P
Guest
Joe P

This doesn’t help. What do you mean by can’t setup phone? And what phone?

total wireless customer
Guest
total wireless customer

I am a Total Wireless customer. I can receive texts from a AT&T customer but can’t send texts. I called customer service but got no solution. I can receive texts and send texts to everyone else, I think.