Virgin Mobile review 2017
Virgin Mobile’s 4G SIM-only deals and contracts are all variations on their Freestyle tariff, which allows you to pay off your handset and change your tariff on a monthly basis.
Whether you already have broadband, TV and phone through Virgin Media or are a new customer, prices are exactly the same. Virgin Mobile offers a varied and flexible selection of SIM-only and contract deals.
Is Virgin Mobile any good?
Pros and cons
- Unlimited texts as standard
- Free public wi-fi
- No interest on contract handsets
- Swap your monthly tariff at any time
- No 12-month option
- Mobile tethering is not allowed
- No unlimited data plans
- Lack of extras for existing customers
What we like
Virgin has long been a household name whose various logos have been stamped onto many a product and service – some successful, others not so much (Virgin Cola anyone?). Virgin Mobile, which launched back in 1999, has achieved both stability and success.
With extensive 3G and 4G UK coverage and a wide range of tariffs, phone contracts and dedicated data SIMs, how well does Virgin Mobile compete against major players such as Vodafone and EE? We’ve delved into the details. Here’s what we found…
No limits on texts
All Virgin’s contract and SIM-only tariffs include unlimited texts so you’re free to send as many messages as you like without being subject to the standard charge of 15p per text.
Free public wi-fi
As well as on the London Underground, Virgin Mobile customers can get access to 22,000 public wi-fi hotspots in the UK, for free. These hotspots are located in bars, restaurants and high street stores.
No interest to pay on handsets
If you sign up for a Freestyle contract and decide to spread the cost of your handset over 24 months, you won’t pay any interest. The cost of your smartphone is simply divided into 24 manageable monthly repayments alongside the cost of your monthly tariff.
A flexible monthly tariff
Virgin’s Freestyle tariffs allow you to upgrade or downgrade your airtime bundle on a month-by-month basis – even if you’re on a long contract – and you can cancel at any time with 30 days’ notice.
What we don’t like
No 12-month options
Virgin Mobile’s prices are fairly average when compared to other providers. However, whereas some providers will offer a reduced monthly price if you sign up for 12 months, Virgin does not offer this - all its plans are 30-days only.
Tethering is not permitted
Virgin’s mobile network also lacks appeal due the fact that it doesn’t allow tethering. The ability to turn a mobile into an internet hotspot can be extremely useful, so being barred from this feature may cause frustration for some.
No unlimited data plans
Having an unlimited data plan always helps – especially for those who regularly use their phone to go online or stream content. Unfortunately Virgin doesn't offer this luxury. The highest amount of data you can get is 20GB. If you're looking for an unlimited data plan you may wish to consider a mobile plan from Three.
Existing Virgin Media customers only get unlimited calls to Virgin numbers
If you're an existing Virgin Media customer, don't get too excited. While other providers offer existing customers a discount on SIM plans – including BT – Virgin Media doesn't. However, it does offer free calls to other Virgin Mobile numbers, but we think a discount could have been a little more generous.
Virgin’s mobile service is carried on the EE network. To find out if you’re covered where you are, take a look at Virgin’s coverage map.
Frequently asked questions
How do I switch to Virgin Mobile?
Tell your existing provider that you’re switching
If your existing contract is coming to an end, you’ll have to give notice of your intention to leave. If you’re leaving your existing provider early, you will need to buy out the remainder of your contract. Make sure you ask for your PAC (porting authorisation code) if you want to transfer your current mobile number to your new Virgin Mobile SIM card.
Check that your phone is unlocked
If your phone is locked to your existing network, a Virgin Mobile SIM won’t work with it. Call your existing provider to check whether this is the case and request that it be unlocked if necessary. The unlocking process can take a few days and may be subject to an upfront cost. You should confirm all this with your provider.
Tell Virgin if you want to keep your existing number
If you want to keep your existing number, you will need to call Virgin and give them your PAC number. They will handle the rest and will notify you of the expected switchover date. Full details for switching can be found on the on the Virgin Mobile website.
Does Virgin Mobile offer 4G?
Yes, Virgin has now introduced 4G for customers across all its plans - SIM-only, PAYG and data-only SIMs. There is no guarantee of 4G coverage where you are though, so check Virgin Mobile's coverage map before you get excited and sign up.
Does Virgin make any charges outside of your allowance?
Virgin Mobile’s standard tariff applies to calls, texts and data used outside of your monthly allowance. Calls are currently charged at 40p per minute and texts at 15p per message. If you exceed the data included in your allowance you’ll be charged £1 per day for unlimited browsing.
|Usage||Standard tariff charges|
|Calls to landlines, Virgin Mobiles and other networks||40p per minute|
|Calls to Freephone numbers||Free|
|International calls||60p to £1.50 per minute|
|Texts to UK mobile networks||15p per text|
|International texts||30p per text (free to receive)|
|Data (browsing the web)||£1 per day (unlimited UK usage)|
Standard tariff charges
Calls to landlines, Virgin Mobiles and other networks
40p per minute
Calls to Freephone numbers
60p to £1.50 per minute
Texts to UK mobile networks
15p per text
30p per text (free to receive)
Data (Browsing the web)
£1 per day for unlimited usage (UK use only. Charged upon access to the internet from your phone)
More details of Virgin Mobile’s call charges can be found on its website.
How good is Virgin Mobile customer service?
A recent customer service satisfaction report prepared for Ofcom found that Virgin Mobile customers exceeded the industry average for contacting the provider with a complaint during a three-month survey period.
Virgin Mobile achieved 78% in comparison to the sector average 72%. Plus, Virgin was below the industry average for complaint resolution, suggesting a fairly good level of customer care.
What is Virgin Mobile's customer service telephone number?
If you're an existing customer and need to contact Virgin Mobile customer services to lodge a complaint or report a technical difficulty, you can call them on 789 from your Virgin Mobile phone, or 0345 6000 789 from a landline.
Does Virgin Mobile allow tethering?
Unfortunately, tethering is prohibited on Virgin Mobile, so if you plan to use your handset as a wi-fi hotspot to connect other mobile devices to the internet, then it may not be suitable for you. Here’s a helpful guide to the networks that do allow tethering.
What kind of SIMs can I get with Virgin Media?
Virgin offers all common types of SIMs, including nano-SIMs and micro-SIMs. However, this has not always been the case.
You’ll get to choose a nano-SIM or micro-SIM
Virgin Mobile offers five different combinations of minutes, texts and data for the three different types of SIMs. These combinations are available on a rolling 30-day contract.
All SIM-only deals come with unlimited texts
Whether you choose the cheapest or the most expensive deal, you’ll be getting unlimited texts to any UK network included as standard, which would otherwise cost 15p each on Virgin’s pay-as-you-go tariff.