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).

Tariff pro’s

  • 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.

Tariff con’s

  • £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

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.

Alternative tariffs

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.

10 replies

  1. I just cancelled my phone from Virgin and went to Vodafone. The reason was appalling customer service and complete refusal to solve my problem. My problem was that without any notice and without my consent, suddenly Virgin switched my tariff from an old tariff to the much more costly Addict tariff. They would not listen when I complained, and they would not switch me back to the tariff I was happy with and did not ask to change. I complained to Oftel and Ofcom about them. I will never deal with any part of the Virgin empire again.

  2. I just switched to virgin but I’m so disappointed. Topped up £10 then need to switch the basic tariff to the big data which i wanted to use so topped up another £10 after successfully switched to the big data. In 10days my air time balance has gone zero. I was appalled. I called the customer centre, what I was told is I’ll get the tariff from next month. Yeah, you won’t get it straight away. I used up £20 in about 20days and I need to waste more money until I get the deal. What a rip off!

    1. never buy products from any business run by branson or sugar they promise what they can’t supply and claim what isn’t factual about their product, history confirms that, and both have customer service NOWHERE on their list of priorities, virgib media has just been bought by an american cable company and we all know the reputations they have , it will be a case of come back branson

  3. Virgin Media claim 120mbps speeds, when only 25mbps are possible. They send a modem to you to prove that you are getting 120mbps.

    But if you connect your computer directly to a Superhub and still get 25mbps, who is right? Certainly not Virgin. They also took me off VIP and added mobile at extra cost without confirming it with me.

    Virgin have certainly broken the trade descriptions act many times over. If you are thinking of having a Virgin data/TV/phone package on the basis that they have the fastest internet, think again. They don’t. They also have blackouts for days – and route some of their data traffic through BT’s slower network.

    Finally, they are signing up with people like O2 to do data backhaul from 4G networks. When they get popular, Virgin’s service will be even poorer.

    Value for money – Very poor.

    As for Richard Branson, he’s in trouble. Sold his cable stake, lost a lot of Virgin Atlantic to Delta….

    Customer service at Vurgin is great if you like the voice of the switchboard recording. Otherwise, you’ll find it awful.

    Sorry Richard – believed in you, but not any more.

    1. I am also fed up with my Virgin internet speed and black outs. The trouble is many providers I have tried are just as bad . You never get what you pay for in GREAT BRITAIN .One rip off after another. I am sick n tired of complaining , It just gets you more frustrated with all the lies these companys keep dishing out. And what does the Government do? SOD ALL!

  4. I changed my mobile phone tarriff with Virgin on 6/4/14 which they confirmed by email. They said they would inform me of the change “by text”.

    When i changed landline/broadband services with them the change took effect the same day. With mobile it didnt take effect until 23 days later, on 29/4/14, to co-incide with their “refresh date”. They didnt make it clear there could be a delay of such a length.

    Between 22/4 and 29/4 I was charged “extra usage” of £65. I had assumed by then i would be on the new tarriff, and these calls would have been included. I suspect most customers would have made similar assumptions.

    I have contacted Virgin but despite my best efforts they refuse to refund the “extra charge”. They do not address my point that their email should have made it explicit as to when the new tarriff would take effect, and that it would not be for 23 days.

    Seems like £65 matters more to Virgin than customer service and the goodwill of a longstanding customer.

    Will pursue this with national press/media

  5. Virgin Mobile Pay as you go is a complete rip off bordering on out and out fraud. I use my phone as an emergency only and top up about £10 a month. Due to the low activity I have on my phone it is easy to check. My last £10 top up was almost halved in 2 days due to I quote ADVERTISING CHARGES. This is now the second time this has occurred and can be reversed only after lengthy chasing of Virgin Mobile Service. I suggest every Pay AS You Go user check their account for the spurious charges authorised by Virgin yet not communicated with their client.

  6. I’ve had a virgin payg for years and as a light user I’ve topped this up as necessary. Two months ago I browsed their cheap monthly packages but didn’t go ahead. I received daily phone calls from them until I finally answered and told them to stop harrassing me. Since then a £10 top up disappears in 10 days – this month I made one 7min 24 sec call and two text messages. I don’t have a data package so why is this happening?

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