Total revamps its prepaid wireless service, with 5-year rate guarantee, discounts for families

Total Wireless logo on blue background
(Image credit: Total Wireless)

Prepaid phone plans may be quite different from the postpaid offerings at the major phone carriers, but the truth is, most people shopping for wireless coverage really don't know the difference. And the Total by Verizon prepaid service is launching a rebrand so that you won't ever to.

The Verizon-owned phone service is rebranding itself as Total Wireless, complete with a new logo that's at least vaguely reminiscent of the carrier's Verizon roots. More importantly, though, the rebrand introduces new unlimited data offerings available at $40, $50 and $60 monthly rates that reflect Total's discussion with customers and analysis of the competition.

"This was a journey focused on what our customers want and need," David Kim chief revenue officer of Verizon Value, told me when we talked about the new look for Total Wireless.

Specifically, Kim said, Total's customers told the carrier they didn't like seeing speeds deprioritized, throttled or capped, which can happen to prepaid wireless service when there's a lot of traffic on the parent carrier's network.

Prepaid customers who like the appeal of paying a fixed monthly rate with no surprise overages at the end of a billing cycle also worry about their bill going up over time. And Total customers also expressed a desire to get the kinds of deals on 5G devices usually reserved for pricier wireless services.

"We heard all these different things from our customers," Kim said. "Our goal was to take all those things and relaunch Total Wireless as the best prepaid value proposition."

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Total Wireless Plans
PlanBase 5G UnlimitedTotal 5G UnlimitedTotal 5G+ Unlimited
Monthly rate$40$50$60
Hotspot data5GB15GBUnlimited
International callingCalling to 85+ destinations, texting to 200+ destinationsCalling to 85+ destinations, texting to 200+ destinationsCalling to 85+ destinations, texting to 200+ destinations
RoamingCanada and MexicoRoaming in 15-plus countries, Canada and MexicoRoaming in 15-plus countries, Canada and Mexico
Fourth line free?NoYesYes
Other perksN/A6 months of Disney PlusDisney Plus

To that end, Total's new plans carry a five-year price guarantee that locks in the rate for that length of time. Total customers will also be able to access Verizon's faster Ultra Wideband 5G network. (In the Total by Verizon days, 5G coverage came from Verizon's nationwide 5G network, which isn't as fast as Ultra Wideband.)

Free 5G phones will be made available to customers switching their service to Total, and if you stick with the carrier for a year, you can qualify for a $200 credit to buy a new phone.

One of the more interesting changes is an appeal to families, where Total is adopting a tactic used by bigger-name carriers. Families who add additional lines at Total will be able to add a fourth line at no cost; under this approach, a family of four would pay $110/month for unlimited data with high-speed 5G access.

The Total Wireless rebrand comes at a time when a lot of rival wireless services are shuffling up their offerings to tackle some of the main complaints about prepaid service. In May, Metro by T-Mobile launched new Metro Flex plans aimed at rewarding existing customers of the T-Mobile-owned service. 

Meanwhile, Cricket Wireless has expanded its low-cost plans to accommodate anyone who lost access to the wireless service subsidy available through the U.S. government's now-discontinued Affordable Connectivity Program.

In other words, if you're on the hunt for one of the best cheap cell phone plans, this is a good time to re-examine prepaid carriers you might have overlooked in the past. Add Total Wireless to the mix of the wireless providers who are stepping up to win over your business. 

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.