Tariff review: Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go
What does the Virgin Mobile PAYG tariff offer?
Unlike some operators, Virgin mobile doesn’t divide its pay-as-you-go tariffs into animal brands, ice cream flavours, or colours of the rainbow. There’s just one straightforward tariff with fixed prices per call or text:
- UK landlines and all mobile networks: 25p/min
- Texts to all networks: 10p
- Voicemail: 25p/call
Virgin Mobile PAYG top-up incentives
Like most other operators, however, you can ‘dress up’ Virgin Mobile’s PAYG tariff with a choice of two top-up incentives if you’re willing to spend a certain amount per month.
A £10 top-up with Virgin gets you £10 worth of voice calls, “unlimited” (25Mb) web access for 30p a day, and 300 free texts per month.
£15 gives you “unlimited” (3000) free texts, “unlimited” (1GB) data allowance and £15 worth of voice calls.
Both top-up incentives also let you send five free ‘call back’ texts per month to friends (though this is probably redundant if you have topped-up £15).
- Straightforward and simple flat-rate pricing.
- You get 5 free ‘call back’ texts per month if you top-up by at least £10.
- Topping-up £15 per month gives you a decent data allowance.
- £10 top-up doesn’t get you much compared to other pay-as-you-go bundles.
- There’s steep out-of-bundle costs for daily internet usage (see below).
- Light users can find better flat rates for voice calls elsewhere.
Take a look at Which?’s mobile phone tariff advice section for more info on what to look out for when buying a tariff.
What kind of mobile phone user does Virgins PAYG tariff suit?
Virgin’s standard flat rate cost for calls is 25p per minute, and there are more competitive rates out there. So the tariff might not be as good as some if you don’t plan on topping-up more than £10 per month.
One of the tariff’s big plus points is the 1GB of data usage you get (along with 3000 texts) for a £15 top-up. So if you’re willing to pay at least £15 per month, use a lot of internet on your phone, and don’t mind a lack of free voice minutes, then you’ll probably be happy. But if you are a heavy mobile internet user, then you’ll
probably want to look into pay-monthly contracts rather than pay-as-you-go.
How does the tariff compare to others
Virgin Mobile’s pay-as-you-go tariff isn’t ideal for very light PAYG users. If you rarely use your phone, you might be better off with either
- Orange’s basic Racoon tariff – which offers flat rate calls at 12ppm with no minimum monthly top up.
- Talkmobile’s Essentials – which gives you 8ppm calls and 4p per text, with no minimum monthly top-up.
Virgin’s £10 add-on
But what if you regularly top-up £10 or more per month? Well, Virgin gives you 300 texts as well as the £10 worth of voice, which at 25ppm equates to 40mins. This is a pretty meagre bundle when compared to 3’s pay-as-you-go add-on, which gives you 3,000 texts, 100mins and 500Mb for the same amount.
After topping-up more than £10, Virgin also gives lets you pay 30p per day for 25MB’s worth of web access, which is a decent PAYG day rate if you’re a very light mobile internet user and just want to check a few emails.
But if you plan on viewing video, or streaming music, 25MB won’t go that far. If you go over the daily allowance, Virgin charges £2 for every subsequent megabyte you download. By comparison, Talkmobile also offer 25MB per day internet access for 30p. However, if you exceed this limit Talkmobile charges £1 per subsequent megabyte you download – half what Virgin charges.
Virgin’s £15 add-on
Topping up £15 on Virgin gives you 1GB of data, which is a decent allowance – by comparison, 3 gives you only 500MB with its £15 add-on.
But Virgin doesn’t give you any free minutes, if you want to make calls you have to use your £15 credit, which equates to around 60mins. With 3, your £15 top-up doesn’t get translated into credit, but the add-on gives you 300 voice minutes.
For light PAYG users: Talkmobile’s Essentials
8ppm calls and 4p per text, with no minimum monthly top-up.
For moderate to heavy PAYG users: 3 pay-as-you-go
A £10 top-up with 3 gives you 100 voice minutes, 500MB of data and 3,000 texts, while £15 gives you 300 voice minutes, 500MB of data and 3,000 texts.
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