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.
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Article updated February 2020