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Virgin Mobile deals – what you need to know

By Phil Wilkinson-Jones | Wednesday, April 24th 2019

In this guide

Virgin Mobile was launched in 1999 and provides a range of pay monthly, SIM-only and pay as you go mobile deals. It is, of course, part of Virgin Media, best known for its TV services and for having the fastest widely-available broadband in the UK.

Running on EE’s network, Virgin Mobile has a number of features that make its mobile offers interesting. And there’s even more benefits available if you’re also a Virgin TV and broadband customer.

Who is Virgin Mobile?

Mobile providers define themselves by the features they offer customers above and beyond the standard data, text and calls allowances. This is what makes Virgin Mobile what it is.

  • Data rollover – At the end of each month, Virgin automatically rolls over any unused data to the following month and adds it to your allowance.
  • Spending caps – Virgin Mobile gives you the option of setting a spending cap, which acts as a safety buffer by limiting the amount you can spend on things not covered by your allowance, such as picture messages and premium rate calls.
  • Flexible plans – Virgin’s flexible plans allow you to upgrade or downgrade your tariff every month, so you can change down if you’ve always got loads of data left over or change up if you often find yourself running out.
  • Data-free messaging – On Virgin Mobile, you can use WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook Messenger as much as you like and it won’t affect your data allowance.
  • Free wifi – Virgin Mobile customers can connect to any of the provider’s 3.5 million wifi hotspots around the UK for free. This includes hotspots in more than 250 London Underground stations.
  • Free internet security – All pay monthly phone plans come with a free 12-month subscription to F-Secure SAFE, software which keeps you safe from viruses, protects your passwords, scans apps for threats and more.
  • Tech bundles and free gifts – Virgin often bundles extra tech, such as games consoles, tablets and headphones, with its pay monthly phone deals. Also keep an eye out for cashback offers and flash sales.

What does Virgin Mobile offer?

Virgin Mobile has a wide range of mobile deals requiring various levels of commitment, from pay as you go bundles lasting 30 days to phone contracts lasting three years. These are the types of deal Virgin currently offers.

  • Pay monthly phone deals – Virgin Mobile stocks premium handsets including the latest from Apple, Samsung and Huawei as well as budget options from the likes of Doro. There’s never any upfront cost and the option to take phones on a three-year contract allows Virgin to offer some of the UK’s lowest monthly prices.
  • SIM-free phones – For those who prefer to pay for their phone outright and not spend two or three years paying it off, Virgin has a range of SIM-free phones. They all come unlocked so you can add a SIM-only deal or just pay as you go.
  • SIM-only deals – Virgin’s SIM-only deals offer many of the same features as its pay monthly phone deals, including data rollover and data-free messaging. There are often discounts and extra data offers, while Virgin offers an unlimited data plan for its TV and broadband customers.
  • Pay as you go – Virgin’s pay as you go SIMs can be bolstered with what it calls JAM packs, which are 30-day bundles that refresh every month as long as you have enough credit in your account.

Roaming

Like other providers, Virgin Mobile allows you to use your data, minutes and text allowances anywhere in the EU just as you would in the UK, with no extra charges. Virgin does operate a fair usage policy, though, which states that in every rolling four-month period you must use more data, calls and texts in the UK than abroad in the EU or spend more time in the UK than somewhere else.

Before you travel, you should log in to your Virgin Mobile account and ensure International call barring is switched off and that Roaming is switched on. It’s best to do this at least 24 hours before you leave the country if you’re going to want to use your phone right away.

The destinations included in Virgin’s Roam like Home area are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the French Antilles and Vatican City.

You can roam in countries outside the EU but it will cost you more as this isn’t covered by your usual allowance. Virgin warns that if you joined the provider or have had a new SIM since December 2017, you won’t be able to roam in Chile, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands, Guam, Namibia, Northern Mariana Islands, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu or Venezuela.

How good is Virgin Mobile’s network

Virgin Mobile is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) and so doesn’t run its own network, instead using that of EE to deliver its services. EE’s 4G network covers 99% of the UK population and according to the latest report by analysts Opensignal achieves an average download speed of 28.9Mbps, making it significantly faster than the UK’s three other network operators – O2, Three and Vodafone.

Virgin says the maximum speed available on the network is capped at 70Mbps, although the speeds you’ll get on your phone will be lower. It also says you can download an app over 4G in less than 20 seconds and download a 1GB file in less than five minutes.

What we know is that average download speeds in the high 20s make 4G comparable in terms of user experience to home broadband, by which we mean it’s easily good enough to stream videos on YouTube or Netflix, or to stream audio from the likes of Spotify or Apple Music. The thing most likely to disrupt you is if you hit a blackspot, which still happens occasionally even on a network as good as EE.

What are the alternatives?

If you’re not completely sold on Virgin Mobile, maybe it’s time to take a look at its rivals in the UK mobile marketplace. Here’s a quick breakdown of what each has to offer.

  • ASDA Mobile – Asda Mobile runs on the EE network and only offers pay as you go SIMs, with 30-day bundles of data, minutes and texts available.
  • BT Mobile – BT Mobile’s pay monthly phone plans often come with extra data, tech giveaways and BT reward cards, while its Family SIM feature lets you save money if you need multiple SIM plans.
  • EE – EE’s mobile deals come with six months of free Amazon Prime Video, MTV Play and Apple Music, if you want them, and three months of free BT Sport on mobile.
  • giffgaff – All of giffgaff’s phones come SIM-free and unlocked although you can choose to team them up with a 30-day bundle. giffgaff runs on the O2 network.
  • iD Mobile – iD Mobile’s 4G plans come with data rollover, bill capping and inclusive roaming in 50 destinations. Owned by Carphone Warehouse, iD Mobile runs on the Three network.
  • O2 – O2’s pay monthly plans allow you to spread the cost of your phone over anything from three to 36 months. You also choose your data allowance and how much you want to pay upfront.
  • Plusnet Mobile – Plusnet Mobile only offers SIM-only deals, no handsets. Its plans allow you to set a bill cap and often come with reward cards. Plusnet uses the EE network.
  • Sky Mobile – Sky Mobile, which uses the O2 network, has a unique version of data rollover that lets you keep your data for up to three years and share it with family members.
  • SMARTY – SMARTY runs on the Three network and has a range of 30-day SIM plans. At the end of each month, any data you haven’t used is converted into a discount on your next 30-day plan.
  • Tesco Mobile – Britain’s biggest supermarket chain also runs an MVNO on the O2 network, offering a full range of phone contracts, SIM deals and pay as you go bundles. It also lets you earn Clubcard points.
  • Three – Three’s mobile deals and SIM only contracts come with unlimited streaming on apps including Netflix and Apple Music, and you can get treats and rewards from the wuntu app.
  • Vodafone – Vodafone’s Red Entertainment plans come with a free 12-month subscription to your choice of Amazon Prime Video, Spotify Premium, NOW TV Entertainment Pass or Sky Sports Mobile TV.

Frequently asked questions

Does Virgin Mobile do credit checks?

Yes, Virgin does run credit checks and so if you have a poor rating then there’s no guarantee that you’ll be accepted for a phone contract.

Are calls to other Virgin Mobile numbers free?

Virgin Media TV and broadband customers get free unlimited calls to other Virgin Mobile phones when they sign up to Virgin Mobile.

Are calls to Virgin’s 150 customer service number free?

Yes, you can call 150 for free from a Virgin Media landline or mobile. From any other phone you can call 0345 454 1111 to get hold of Virgin Media customer services, from 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm on Saturdays and 8am to 6pm on Sundays.

You can contact Virgin’s text relay service for free on 18001 0800 052 2164.

Is Virgin Mobile’s unlimited data plan really unlimited?

Yes, Virgin’s Mobile’s unlimited data plan is truly unlimited – there are no hidden limits and your speed won’t be throttled. The Truly Unlimited plan is available with phones or as a SIM-only deal, but it’s only for existing Virgin TV and broadband customers.

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