After a Year: A Review of Virgin Mobile Service

Virgin Mobile Android phone box kit.
Virgin Mobile Android phone box kit. | Source

Our Cell Phone Bill Was Too High

After a year of paying $172 a month to Brand-X for their smartphone plan, my wife and I switched to Virgin Mobile, mainly to save a lot of money. We knew going in that Virgin Mobile's coverage in the US was not nearly as good as that of Brand-X (or should I say Brand-V?), but Virgin Mobile's no-contract plan was so much cheaper, we thought we'd give it a shot. After more than a year with Virgin Mobile, I have definitely formed some opinions.

Monthly Service Fee *****

Let's start off with Virgin Mobile's strongest feature. They have several smartphone plans as well as other plans to choose from. We chose the cheapest of their Beyond Talk plans because A) It was cheap and B) It fit us like a glove. For $25 a month (each) we each get 300 anytime talk minutes, unlimited messaging and unlimited data. This has worked out very well for us. One month, my wife ran out of talk minutes so I simply topped up her minutes for $10. This carried her through the few days left in the month and we still have a $4 credit.

The Beyond Talk plans are no-contract plans. Every month I go to the Virgin Mobile website and pay for next month's service with our registered credit card. I could have them automatically charge us, but I don't do that.

Now, within a month of signing up for their $25/month plan, they increased all their Beyond Talk plans by $10 a month (300 minutes is $35, 1200 minutes is $45 and unlimited minutes is $55). Irritated, and thinking it was all my fault (I have the reverse effect on stock prices), I gritted my teeth and prepared to save a little less money. Virgin Mobile contacted me and said my cost would not rise as long as we maintained our monthly service. They grandfathered the price I signed up for-- even though there is no contract between us. After more than a year we still pay $25 (plus tax) per phone. How many times have you been screwed because you were an existing customer?

One more thing: We pay $25 plus Iowa sales tax; there are no hidden fees, no “special” taxes, no just-plain-odd additions to your bill. Our monthly payment is and always has been exactly two times $26.75, or $53.50.

Industrialist Richard Branson, May 3, 2010. VirginMobile one of 400 companies in his Virgin Group.
Industrialist Richard Branson, May 3, 2010. VirginMobile one of 400 companies in his Virgin Group. | Source

Coverage ***

Now let's turn to Virgin Mobile's Achilles Heel: coverage. Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint network only; there is no roaming (and therefore no roaming charges). This was my main cause of concern and it will be a deal breaker for many people. Their map indicated that we should be all right in Eastern Iowa, but what was reality-- and what about traveling?

First, coverage has been great at home and around Eastern Iowa. We've traveled to Western Iowa, but, since we stayed on main highways, we've had no problems. I went to Detroit for a week and had no problems (this is good because I depend on Android's Navigator to get around). In actuality we don't travel much, but the one time we had no coverage was when we went to Fairbanks, Alaska. This wasn't a surprise and we prepared for this eventuality by drawing upon all our pre-cellphone skills from the ancient days.

LG Android Phone
LG Android Phone | Source

Quality of Phones ****

We have Virgin Mobile's LG Optimus V phones. A year later, Virgin Mobile has many more models to choose from, including iPhones. Our LG phones have been great, but since phones soon get eclipsed by the next big thing, I don't worry too much about getting the latest and greatest technology at a premium price. The phones are dependable, have a great feel, have good battery life (still) and, despite being dropped several times onto hard surfaces, work flawlessly. The camera is okay and there is no flash, but that's not a major drawback for me. The pictures and video are good enough. I have a camera for super quality images and video.

I was more than pleasantly surprised at the quality of our phone conversations. The Sprint Network is famous for this and it has been our experience for more than a year.

Quality of Service and Support ****

Every month I use their website to pre-pay. It's simple and straight-forward, once you get your sea-legs. My biggest complaint has been, when I click that button to apply the charge to my card, I like to see some action, something that tells me “okay, we're doing it”. Instead, I've learned to firmly click the button and wait patiently. I have never had a problem paying online and it's easy to top up for additional minutes-- though topped up minutes are costly compared to the 300 minutes that come with our plan.

At the very beginning, I had some sort of problem, but I can't remember what the problem was. All I do know was that I had to call and talk to a human being. The shocker was, it was a pleasant experience and the problem was addressed in a timely manner. Your experience may differ, but I offer mine to give you hope.

Overall Rating

4 stars for Virgin Mobile

Overall Rating

If it wasn't for the coverage issue, this would be five stars. I think coverage will be the deciding factor for most people. For our needs Virgin Mobile gets those five stars and I would recommend it to anyone who is in coverage and only occasionally finds themselves out of coverage and can live with that. Is Virgin Mobile right for you? They are definitely worth looking into. And I feel good every month I don't spend an extra $120 for the same service.

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Comments 42 comments

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Harald - Great Hub. You laid out all the relevant specifics and numbers. You always wonder when you see commercials for cheaper plans (1) what will the sound quality be like and (2) what are the coverage limits geographically? You addressed both of those which was very helpful. Here's to saving 120$ a month! :) Sharing!


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Yeah, I couldn't believe it when I came across it via StumbleUpon.com-- I'm extremely... skeptical when it comes to service companies of all sorts. My experience is usually: get sucked in, watch the costs rise and then see all kinds of great offers for non-customers. Thanks very much for commenting and sharing, phdast7.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

I tweeted your product review.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Thanks much, Mhatter99.


techhound profile image

techhound 4 years ago

I had wondered about this service. Thanks for the insight!


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Hi techhound. Thanks for reading and I hope it helped.


Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

We do not have it here, so it can hardly be used in Ukraine, but it was interesting for me too.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Hi Pavlo-- thanks for reading and commenting even though my review is about a service in the US. I know Virgin Mobile is in other countries (but not Ukraine, apparently) but they would be different from country to country. From what I gather overall, US mobile phone users in general pay more and get less than many other countries.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Harald.....Excellent product review! Virgin should give you 2 months FREE just for the fabulous free publicity! In fact, send a link to their headquarters.....who knows? You might even get round trip tickets for 2 on Virgin Air, to the destination of your choice! I've gone too far? Yeah, I thought so!.....

Congratulations to you for shopping around for a better deal and realizing a satisfactory experience. You definitely have saved yourself some cash. Great informational hub....UP+++ Shared


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Ha! Thanks effer (um, that is one of your nicknames isn't it). Yeah, at first I thought it was too good to be true, but they've delivered-- and if they hadn't or don't I can just take my toys and walk away. I think Americans are too used to being locked into contracts for their services, whether its mobile or land lines or cable TV or whatever. What happened to keeping your customers with good service and decent rates? Thanks for your enthusiastic support!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I pay way too much a month for two phones. I'll have to check out what Virgin Mobile Canada can offer me once my Rogers contract is over.

Great review!


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Thanks, Susan. I don't know about V M Canada, but I would think if you're in coverage, it's probably worth looking into further. And DO Google for other's experiences with it. As I mentioned, all mobile phone services have horror stories and wonderful experiences. Just hope V M Canada has less horror stories and significantly greater savings than the others.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Great review harald, I just use pay as you go, my brother is on a monthly tarif, but its too expensive for me, but voted up and tweeted!


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Thanks for reading, Nell. Unfortunately, I got caught up with Android smartphones-- though I've never been tempted to even consider Apple's iPhones.


susansisk profile image

susansisk 4 years ago from Georgia, USA

Very informative! We use Boost Mobile, which is related to Virgin Mobile. We have been very satisfied, too. I think the no contract companies are more customer oriented, because they know you can easily leave them.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

susansisk, thanks much for your comment. I agree-- when there is real competition, free enterprise can work. That's why the giants want to lock you in for two years. Then they can forget about you.


viveresperando profile image

viveresperando 3 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

Loved this review I have mine prepaid and had it for a year. Checking around to see if anything better. Mine is prepaid also. I might do a review. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Just signed up with Virgin after checking out their local coverage. I was really tiredofpaying so much to V and of being locked in two years at a time. Been wanting to do this fora long time, but your hub was my personal "tipping point." Thanks. :) And Merry Christmas!


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

viveresperando, I hope you do review your plan. I'd be very interested in reading it. Thanks for your comment.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

phdast7, I'd also be interested in hearing how it works out for you. I have no regrets. I set my calendar and it reminds me a few days before I need to top up and it just takes a few minutes for both our phones. Thanks and Merry Christmas to you. I hope you see significant savings.


MochaBelle profile image

MochaBelle 3 years ago from New York, New York

As a student, I love my Virgin Mobile phone! I've been using the same Virgin Mobile phone for over a year and have the same experience as you and your wife. I was skeptical about it at first, but prior to switching, a rep told me that the Virgin Mobile phones operate off the Sprint network (which I had a Sprint phone prior to switching); she said most people didn't know that Virgin Mobile is the sister company to Sprint. I had friends that laughed at me for having a "no contract phone"....but I'm gland I am paying HALF of what I used to and feel like the joke is on them ;-) Great review!!


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Great to hear you're also enjoying Virgin Moble, MochaBelle. As I no longer chase the latest, greatest in technology, I don't have smartphone-envy-- it does everything I need and I don't feel I'm using a "lesser" device.


Eva 3 years ago

Virgin mobile Canada is the the worst phone company I have ever encountered!

When I signed up with virgin, the salesman told me that I can get back my deposit of 300 dollars in 3 months, after 3 months I called customer service they said it’s 6 months.

I called before 6 months just to make sure and they said yes and the money will either in a check sent to me or became the credit. I said I need the check and I don’t want the credit for my bills. They said ok. Until after 6 months I’ve been waiting for this check, but I in the meanwhile I found that they put it on the credit! I called them and asked where it’s my check, they said it’s the company’s policy the deposit I paid would became the credit automatically. I declined as I called many times to confirm that I can have the check. They refused to send me a check until I complained to CCTS.

And recently I have had another problem with them!

I have called virgin mobile at least four times to cancel my service and confirm there is no extra charge nor punishment (as I did call 30 days before to cancel my service)

after confirming that I don’t need to pay for extra and they would send me the right bill again and again, frustratingly I still got overcharged with 50 dollars.

a supervisor called christian promised to call me back on the day but never.

emailed to executives but has never got the answer.

virgin mobile has also changed my e bill to paper bill so I got charge for 2 dollars plus taxes three times without my consent!!!!!!!!!!

such a hideous mobile service should never trust and will never ever go back to that shit no more in my lifeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

can’t believe there’s a company who can be so hideous and not trustable. they just take every chance to deduct money from your account and just in case you don’t realize it. It’s stealing!! they are like thief!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Hi Harald - My contract with Verizon was finally up in January and I switched to Virgin Mobile. Couldn't be happier. like my phone a lot. very reliable. And I pay 21.20 a month for the same number of minutes that Verizon charged 53.50 a month for over the courseof two years. Thanks.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Great to hear it worked out for you, phdast7. I'm still pleased with the cost, quality and service-- but I will keep my eye on things.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Eve, I'm very sorry to hear about your terrible experience with VM Canada. Apparently, they are acting like the big boys in your case. The hell you went through/are going through seems to be related to having a contract? That's specifically why I went with a no-contract deal, so I pay up front a month at a time. On the other hand, Virgin Mobile seems to have severely dropped the ball in your case.


Unnamed 3 years ago

Yeah, you get grandfathered in... until you switch phones and they make that an excuse to charge you the new rate.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Thanks for the info, Unnamed (any relation :)?). That doesn't surprise me, though. Oh, and another thing: I noticed a few months ago VM started charging a $0.33 fee of some sort (I need to update my article). Thirty-three cents is hardly a deal-breaker, but could it be a trend?Ah well, Business Is Business, right? How I hate that phrase. What did surprise me was that they grandfathered at all. After more than a year and a half, we still pay the old rate and we're still pleased with the service.


Lucy 3 years ago

I live in Dayton Ohio and I have THE WORST reception possible through virgin mobile prepaid service. I've called them to report the problem several times, but always to no avail. Dayton Ohio is a metropolitan city and quite large. There is no reason I should be losing a phone call EVERY single time I use my phone no matter where I am in the city. I give virgin mobile no stars! Also, I'm locked into this phone unable to switch providers. I bought an iPhone through their website at full retail price. What an oxymoron! I have one of the best phone models and can't even hold a conversation on it without the call failing. I'd suggest a different provider if you're considering Virgin Mobile. Horrible customer service and horrible reception!


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Lucy, your situation sounds horrible and the fact that Dayton, a major user base, has such crappy coverage, is very disappointing. I suppose it's the old "your mileage may differ" syndrome. We are still extremely happy with V.M. after almost two years now (and still paying $25 per phone per month) while yours is a case in the opposite extreme. Thanks very much for your comment, showing the other side. Coverage/quality is paramount-- it's no good having a cheap rate if your phone doesn't work!


Bryan 3 years ago

I live in olive branch miss just outside the city and it sucks


Phil 2 years ago

Get this.....I ordered a phone and plan online and waited for all the emails telling me it was on the way and watched the tracking on Canada Post as my phone was delivered to someone else who signed for it and stole it. I called Virgin and couldn't get anyone to help because they didn't seem to know what to do. I spent a week calling and waiting and being passed around and around and then to add insult to a very, very bad customer service treatment, they send me a bill for a phone and a plan I do not even have?????? No one has yet called to explain what happened, how they were going to fix it or even just say sorry. The worst thing is I left Bell Mobility to get away from this shitty customer and foreign call center treatment, only to find that Bell owns Virgin Canada.....and everyone knows that if you want a business to go belly up fast, let Canadians run it for a month


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Its funny how service and quality vary within the same company. I am still very happy with Virgin. Calling area is limited, but I know that and it suits me fine. never drops call and the monthly cost is extremely low. If course I bought a cheap basic phone and I am happy with it. If I had bought a pricey top end IPhone, I would be pretty unhappy. Happy New Year.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 2 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Phil... that is a horror story. I don't know about you, but that's the kind of situation that makes me feel helpless. And I hate helpless. I hope it gets taken care of soon, but they ought to also reward you for such incompetence on their part.

But I do strongly disagree with your last statement. I really think Americans could win hands down.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 2 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Hi phdast7. Glad you've had a good experience. Yeah, I don't get the whole "gotta have the latest iPhone" thing. I'm getting to the point where, as long as I have a phone that lets me browse the Internet, I'm good. I rarely download apps anymore (why does a note-taking app need access to my contacts and phone and camera?). It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you (companies, governments, criminals, oh my).


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

I have written my own hub about cell phone issues in general and am very leery of these new companies. I've been a Verizon customer for years and agree that they charge too much for everything...but...a few years back they offered me an "over 65" plan for $29.99 per month ($37.45 with tax) that offers 200 peak minutes and 450 night and weekend minutes and also free minutes to use with other Verizon customers. The phone is a very good Samsung flip phone...very basic and perfect for seniors because the keys and screen are larger and the sound quality is good. You can even enlarge the font size!

I did sign a two year contract for it which is now up, so I have been checking out other companies to see what they have to offer. I just cannot match it for price, quality and coverage, so I am staying put.

I don't like the smart phones and feel they are insecure and hubby and I are happy with our little, simple phone.

When I hear what others are paying for service, I realize that my deal is pretty good. Hubby and I share one phone, and that works fine for us.

Since our home phone offers unlimited local and long distance coverage, we really don't need more minutes...but if we wanted to have them, we have the option of switching any time to more minutes for about another $12 per month.

I know Verizon charges a lot, but after looking around quite a bit, I have not seen that most other companies whose services equal those of Verizon are any better.

Glad Virgin works for you, but for now, I'm still a Verizon girl.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 2 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Thanks for commenting Timetraveler2. I believe Verizon has the best coverage, which, I believe, is V.M.'s Achilles Heel. It sounds as if you have a great deal since a flip phone is all you need and want. Verizon is indeed expensive though, and they charged me hundreds of dollars to break my contract-- but, "buyer beware". I knew I was obligated to pay if I left early-- I just didn't realize how much. I learned my lesson. Glad you're happy with your phones-- that's all that matters really.


TOPTENTECH profile image

TOPTENTECH 2 years ago from USA

Thanks for the information regarding Virgin mobile. I need to stay away from them. I currently have ATT and I will most likely stick with them.


hiddenwindowsol 2 years ago

I live in Lincoln Nebraska and the service here is horrible! After 2 years of using Sprint's network, with VM, I am ready to actually sign a contract with AT&T and I hate contracts. My roommate is with AIO, soon becoming Cricket (boo hiss), and gets better coverage than I do ( we are both using a Galaxy S3, and better coverage than Verizon in our apartment. For me it makes more sense to spend an extra 5-15 bucks for better coverage. To top that off GSM has a lot going for it because of the ability to switch phones easily.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 2 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

Service is sketchy in western Iowa except along interstates and main highways, but I knew that going in so I'm not surprised Nebraska has it worse. After nearly three years now, the and service in Eastern Iowa is still as good, the price is the same and even our phones' batteries still work fine.


Pete Blunt 2 years ago

The "unlimited" claim is FALSE Virgin slows your download speed to 1x, but still want your money. The same business tactic applied by Verizon and ATT


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 2 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa Author

I wouldn't be surprised-- just about all cellphone service providers like to throw "unlimited" around and then hide behind the fine print and their lawyers: "It IS unlimited-- it just gets slower than hell after [add their number here]". I personally haven't experienced this so I guess I'm not a power user. I do use PDANet occasionally when I need to access the Internet on my laptop and there's no wifi around. I hook up my phone (3G) and I have access through it. I don't watch movies that way so I don't eat up a lot of bandwidth. It beats no Internet access at all.

I understand Virgin Mobile isn't THE answer for many people, but it works for me (sure, Western Iowa and many other places are problematic and we didn't even bother taking our phones to Alaska). Haven't had any problems dealing with VM either. And they still honor the $25 a month per phone we originally signed up for.

Thanks for your comment, Pete. Agree or disagree, as long as comments are true, people can get an idea of what's what.

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