AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have long had secret sub-brands for price-sensitive customers.
AT&T has Cricket Wireless, Sprint has Boost Mobile and T-Mobile has GoSmartMobile. The price point is generally around $35 a month for the same towers and the same service.
Now Tracfone has a new service that Verizon probably hopes you won’t find out about. It’s called Total Wireless (www.totalwireless.com) and Tracfone has the same service on the Verizon network you’re used to at a price you’re not used to: $35 a month for unlimited talk, text and 2.5 GB of data. That’s a savings of 60 percent to 75 percent off your regular bill.
Again, I want to underscore the point: All of these off-brands use the same towers and offer the same service as the name brands — with no contract.
But if you call up Verizon or talk to one of their storefront representatives, they know nothing about this deal. That’s a decision Verizon has made; they don’t want their own “official” discount sub-brand like AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. So they’ve made an effort to obscure their role in this deal.
Here’s one catch with Total Wireless: It will only run on Verizon’s 3G network, not the 4G network. That may be a dealbreaker for many people.
With Total Wireless, you can typically use the same phone you have from Verizon as long as you’ve completed your contract. Enter your phone number or serial number to find out. (New phones start at $89.)
The thing that’s neat with Total Wireless is that you get more data to share (at a lower effective cost) as you go up the plan ladder.
Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog
Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website.