Virgin Mobile Review Summary
Virgin Mobile is probably the #1 favorite no contract phone company amongst the younger generation of cell phone users from teenagers to the under-45 crowd. They offer 6 competitively-priced flexible phone plans without contracts. Heavy text users or phone users will find their plans especially cost-effective. Besides cost-effective phone plans, Virgin Mobile provides users with a great choice of the latest prepaid smartphones and features phones that they are proud to use and carry around.
Many Virgin Mobile (VM) users are really happy with the quality of their voice calls and data connections, and thrilled to save significant $$ every month compared what they previously paid.
Virgin Mobile is one of the best rated no contract providers in the market today. They stand out in the following ways:
- Trendy smartphones at the best prices. The no contract provider with the best prices for popular iPhones and Androids.
- Unlimited plans for smartphones start at $35/month (300 min talk, unlimited texts, unlimited data at 2.5 GB high speed).
- Clear connections through Sprint’s network. They are owned by Sprint.
- Flexible monthly plans for feature phones start at $20/month, and users can add more airtime as needed.
- Lots of great daily/weekly phone deals on their website.
- Pay As You Go plans (PayLo) start at $20/month, higher than other companies (eg. Tracfone).
- More limited selection of phones for Pay As You Go plans.
For cheaper and more flexible Pay As You Go plans and phones, compare Virgin Mobile with TracFone or Net10.
Virgin Mobile Detailed Review
Virgin Mobile is one of the largest and most popular providers of no contract prepaid phones and plans in the USA. They are a subsidiary of Sprint Nextel. In JD Power & Associates’ 2014 study and survey on customer care by non-contract phone companies, Virgin Mobile ranked as one of the best companies.
Amongst no contract phone companies, they offer consumers one of the best selections of phones, from the latest smartphones to Qwerty keypad phones and more. The official Virgin Mobile USA website regularly offers special deals and offers on hot-selling smartphones like iPhone or Samsung Galaxy models. In addition, consumers can find Virgin Mobile phones and phone cards on sale at major retailers across the country.
Cellular Network Reliability
Virgin Mobile phone services are provided through Sprint’s nationwide cellular network. Their coverage is extensive nationally. In selected areas, 4G LTE high speed data is available for phones that can receive it. Overall, users find VM’s network coverage reliable and good.
No Contract Phones
SmartphonesVirgin Mobile offers consumers a wide range of smartphones from manufacturers like the Apple iPhone, or Android phones by Samsung, HTC and LG. Their iPhones are very well received because Virgin Mobile offers the best discounts for them amongst all no contract phone companies. Compared to other prepaid or no contract companies, Virgin Mobile rates best for their selection of coveted phone models offered at the best prices.
They also offer Virgin Mobile branded phones (made by ZTE) that are lower priced than comparable models from brand name manufacturers. Shoppers can choose from entry-level to mid-range or advanced smartphones, costing anywhere from $60 to $600.
Feature Phones/ Non-smartphones (PayLo Phones)Besides smartphones, Virgin Mobile offers feature phones or non-smartphones with Qwerty keyboards or flip phones with cameras. These phones are also referred to as PayLo phones, as they work exclusively with VM’s PayLo plans. They cost around $10 to $50. Their range of feature phones is good.
For example, the Samsung Montage picture on the left is an attractive slider feature phone with a slide-out Qwerty keyboard and a 2 MP (megapixel) camera. It is an easy-to-use phone that not only does phone calls and text messaging, but also allows users to access the web, check email and make social account updates. Some users said they like the simplicity of the phone, and recommend it for kids. At around $40, it’s an inexpensive phone.
No Contract Phone Plans
Virgin Mobile USA offers two types of no contract prepaid phone plans to users. Beyond Talk plans are meants to be used with their smartphones, while PayLo plans are used for non-smartphones (also referred to as PayLo phones).
Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk plans
Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk plans work with their iPhones, Android and Windows phones. These plans have high usage limits. They are suitable for users who want to have a smartphone and who use their phones a lot, whether it is for texting, talking or web browsing.
All of VM’s Beyond Talk plans provides Unlimited Messaging, which includes Text SMS, Email, Instant Messaging (IM) and Picture MMS messages. The 3 levels of Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk plans are:
- $35/month – Unlimited Messaging, 300 talk minutes, 2.5 GB High Speed Data
- $45/month – Unlimited Messaging, 1200 talk minutes, 2.5 GB High Speed Data
- $55/month – Unlimited Messaging, Unlimited talk minutes, 2.5 GB High Speed Data
Each of these plans also includes 2.5G of high speed data. After 2.5G, the data speed slows down considerably.
Feature phone or non-smartphone users can access Virgin Mobile services through their PayLo plans. Starting at $20/month, PayLo plans are less expensive than Beyond Talk plans.
Mobile Hotspot – Mobile hotspot is a feature that will allow the use of a smartphone to connect a device (eg. iPad, laptop) to the internet is only available for phones with that feature. To see a list of these phones, go to the Virgin Mobile website here, and click Shop > All Phones at the top. On the left navigation area, under the Filter Phones column, click on Features and Mobile Hotspot.
There is an additional cost of $15/month to use this feature, up to 2.5 GB of high speed data. The price compares well their BroadBand2GO plans that specifically connect mobile devices to the internet for $25/month, with a limit of 1.5 GB of high speed data transfer.
$5/month off – iPhone users enjoy a $5 a month discount if they choose to sign up for AutoPay. This brings the lowest cost of a Beyond Talk plan down to $30/month.
Virgin Mobile’s PayLo plans are Pay As You Go type prepaid cell phone plans. These plans have lower minimums and are better suited for consumers who are light to moderate phone users. Users purchase an amount of airtime credits each month to be used for their phone activities, such as texting, talking, picture messaging, web browsing etc. PayLo plans work with PayLo phones, which is a label that describes Virgin Mobile feature phones or non-smartphones.
It cost a minimum of $20 a month to keep a phone active. There are 3 levels of plans:
- $20/month – 400 minutes of talk time. Text messages cost 15 cents additional each. Web access is $1.50 per MB.
- $30/month – 1500 minutes of talk time and 1500 text messages. 30 MB of web access included.
- $40/month – Unlimited talk time and text messages. 50 MB of web access included.
For each of these plans, picture messages cost 25¢ each.
Users can login in to their accounts online to purchase airtime credits for the month, or to top their account up with additional Virgin Mobile phone cards bought online (virtual cards instant delivery) or at stores. This is if they are using their phone activities are greater than what the monthly plan has provided for, for the month.
Through their Virgin Mobile PayLo phones, a user can conveniently keep track of how much airtime credits they have left for the month.
No Rollover – There are no rollover or carryover of unused airtime credits/minutes. All airtime credits/minutes expire after a month.
Compare with Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk plans.
Long Distance Charges
There are no long distance charges to calls made to anywhere in the US, as well as to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Roaming occurs when the cell phone network signals that the phone is regularly attuned to is using is too weak to establish a call connection. The connection then roams over to an alternative network with working signals in the area.
Virgin Mobile does not allow their phones to roam over to other networks. As such, there are no extra roaming charges with Virgin Mobile cell phones.
The disadvantage is that it could limit the use of the phone when a user travels to outside more populated areas. Fortunately, the Sprint network is sufficiently wide to provide good overall coverage across the country.
If there are places that you often visit (eg. for business or visiting relatives or friends), it’s a good idea to check out the cell phone coverage in that area before you buy. (Virgin Mobile’s network coverage map can be found by visiting their website here and clicking the coverage map link at the top.)
International calling to over 200 countries like Mexico (5¢/minute), Canada (10¢/minute), UK, Australia, China, Japan and more are available at international rates. Users need to activate their phones for international calling.
International text messages are 15¢ each to send or receive.
Compared to companies like Boost Mobile or Straight Talk, Virgin Mobile’s international calling features are decent but not the best. If you are going to be calling or texting a lot internationally, you could either purchase a cheap international phone card and/or use smartphone texting apps with wifi to reduce expenses.
If you would rather have the phone provider directly take care of your international calling needs, Boost Mobile has $5 to $10 a month add-on services for international calling and texting.
To set themselves apart from the competition, online purchases of phones from the official Virgin Mobile US site provides the following perks:
Periodic Online Deals – Virgin Mobile offers some of the best online deals for their phones and plans on their website. These deals often present good discounts, such as 20% to 40% off popular smartphones, including the iPhone. These are good genuine deals, not ones where the retailer marks up the price and then “discounts” it.
Free Shipping – Virgin Mobile’s website offers free shipping (FedEx Ground) on all phone purchases. Users can pay an upgrade fee to get expedited shipping.
14-Day Guarantee – Phones bought directly from their site carry a 14 day full refund guarantee with original receipt and packaging.
Lost Phone Replacement service – Once a phone is reported stolen, VM will suspend a user’s service and help them get set up on a new replacement phone quickly and at a low price.
This is in addition to the usual advantages associated with no contract cell phones, such as switching an existing number to a new VM phone, no contract commitments, no activation fees and no credit checks.
Not sure about Virgin Mobile? Compare Virgin Mobile with other top providers on the Best Providers Reviews page. Compare Virgin Mobile side-by-side with other plans and providers in the No Contract Cell Phone Plans Comparison Chart.
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