Total Wireless Review

Summary

Total Wireless is a well-priced mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that runs over Verizon’s network. My own experience with Total Wireless was positive, and I think Total Wireless is one of the best options available for those who want to use a moderate or large amount of data while on Verizon’s network. Total Wireless has especially well-priced family plans for those who need multiple lines of service.

Visit Total Wireless’s Website


Performance

Total Wireless is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). MVNOs don’t own their own network hardware, but instead resell access to networks owned by other companies. Total Wireless resells access to Verizon’s network. The quality of service Total Wireless subscribers get from Verizon’s network is quite similar to the access many of Verizon’s own customers receive. This is a great thing, since Verizon offers more reliable service than any other nationwide network.

Total Wireless coverage

Total Wireless has excellent coverage thanks to Verizon’s massive network. My impression is that subscribers to Verizon-based MVNOs get access to Verizon’s own network as well as a substantial portion of Verizon’s extended network.

Total Wireless shares the following coverage map on its website:[1]

Total Wireless speeds

Speeds are not throttled for Total Wireless’s subscribers. When networks are not congested, I expect Total Wireless subscribers will receive the same speeds that Verizon’s direct subscribers experience. When networks are congested, deprioritization may cause Total Wireless subscribers to experience reduced speeds. It’s my understanding that Total Wireless subscribers are deprioritized at the same level as Verizon’s prepaid subscribers.

Plans and pricing

Total Wireless offers several plans, and they’re unusually well-priced for service operating over Verizon’s network. The prices and plan options I share below do not include taxes, fees. A ~5% discount that’s available on most plans when they’re automatically refilled each month is not accounted for either.[2]

Single-line plans

Total Wireless offers three single-line, monthly plans:

  • $25 per month: Unlimited talk and text (no data)
  • $35 per month: Unlimited talk and text with 5GB of regular data
  • $50 per month: Unlimited talk and text with 25GB of regular data followed by unlimited data at significantly reduced speeds[3]

An extended plan is also available that offers unlimited talk and text with 5GB of regular data each month. This plan costs $90 and lasts for three months.[4]

Family plans

  • $60 per month: 2 lines with unlimited talk/text and 30GB shared data
  • $85 per month: 3 lines with unlimited talk/text and 60GB shared data
  • $100 per month: 4 lines with unlimited talk/text and 100GB shared data

When all of the allotted shared data is used, additional data is included at significantly reduced speeds. Alternately, subscribers can pay $10 for an additional 5GB of regular-speed, shared data.

My experience

Purchasing a plan

In June of 2019, I went to Total Wireless’s website to purchase a service plan. Something about the website felt old-school or out-of-style, but the website was still easy to use. I purchased a plan with 5GB of data and unlimited talk/text for $35 per month. I paid another $0.99 for a SIM card which came with free two-day shipping.

I paid $4.25 in taxes and fees on my order:

  • Tax – $3.19
  • Prepaid Wireless E911 and TRS Charge – $0.53
  • Federal Universal Service – $0.46
  • Regulatory Cost Recovery – $0.07

I was a frustrated that Total Wireless included some of its own carrier-imposed fees under a heading labeled “tax.”

Activating service

After a few days, I received my SIM card, some introductory information, and a code for my $35 service in the mail.

I inserted the SIM card into my Motorola G7 Play. The device started unexpectedly, automatically calling *22899, but that didn’t cause any trouble. I followed the instructions I received and went to TWBOYP.com to activate service. Once on the website, I entered (a) the IMEI number for my G7 Play and (b) the SIM card’s number. I selected that I wanted a new phone number from Total Wireless, and I entered my zip code to receive a number with my local area code. After that, I created a Total Wireless account and restarted my G7 Play.

Company background

Total Wireless is a brand owned by TracFone, which is itself a subsidiary of América Móvil (a large, Mexican telecom company). TracFone has partnerships with all of the major U.S. networks and roughly 20 million customers in the U.S. across its subsidiary brands.

Device compatibility

Nearly all phones that work on Verizon’s network should work with Total Wireless. If you already have a device that you want to use with Total Wireless, you can verify compatibility on Total Wireless’s website.

If you’re considering purchasing a new phone, I strongly recommend going with a model on my list of nearly universal unlocked phones. These phones should be compatible with Total Wireless and almost all other U.S. carriers if you eventually transfer away from Total Wireless.

Device offerings

Total Wireless offers a decent selection of phones on its website. In my quick look around, I got the impression that Total Wireless was offering decent deals on at least a couple of devices. Most devices are sold with a customer’s choice of a one-time payment, a 15-month installment plan, or a 24-month installment plan. The total cost for a device purchased via an installment plan appears to be higher than the cost of buying the same device outright.

Rewards points

Total Wireless offers rewards points that accrue with each service payment. I suggest not taking the rewards program too seriously. It looks like customers can earn roughly 1¢ worth of reward points for every $1 they spend on service.

Potential conflict of interest

I have a financial relationship with many wireless companies, including Total Wireless. For more details about my relationship with Total Wireless, see my transparency page.


Visit Total Wireless’s Website


Footnotes

  1. Taken from here on 7/8/2019.
  2. In this section, I discuss plans and pricing as of 7/9/2019. For up-to-date information, see Total Wireless’s website.
  3. Total Wireless calls this an unlimited plan. I think that’s silly.
  4. I believe this plan is not eligible for a discount when automatic payments are used.