Virgin Mobile offers 99% coverage from EE on a range of 4G Pay Monthly & SIM Only plans.
In the UK, Virgin Mobile is a mobile network offering 4G coverage on a range of Pay Monthly SIM cards and ‘Freestyle’ Pay Monthly contracts. Customers with a 4G-enabled Pay Monthly price plan can benefit from features like data rollover and data-free messaging on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter. Customers with a Freestyle contract will also have the ability to change their price plan up or down every month.
As well as having 4G-enabled Pay Monthly price plans, Virgin Mobile also offers 3G-only Pay As You Go JAM Packs.
In this article, we’ll review Virgin Mobile’s UK service, starting from their price plans both on Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go. We’ll then look at the coverage you can expect on Virgin Mobile and how to keep your existing phone number when moving to the network.
Pricing & Tariffs
Pay Monthly SIM Cards
The basis for Virgin Mobile’s service in the UK is their range of Pay Monthly SIM cards. Starting from £7/month on a 12-month contract, customers receive an allowance of UK minutes, texts and mobile internet. At the top end of the range, it’s possible to get a plan with unlimited data but this is exclusive to customers with Virgin Media TV or home broadband.
The following table shows Virgin Mobile’s typical line-up of SIM-only plans:
Often, special offers will be available on these SIM cards (e.g. discounts or extra data) so you should double-check on the Virgin Mobile website for information about the latest deals available.
All of the Virgin Mobile plans come with the following additional features included:
- Data rollover. All of your unused data can be rolled over into the following month. For instance, if you use 1.6GB of data on your 2GB per month plan, the remaining 0.4GB would roll over into the following month (hence giving you a 2.4GB data allowance the following month).
- Data-free messaging on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter. Usage of the WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter services are zero-rated on Virgin Mobile. Usage will therefore not count towards your monthly data limit (although voice and video calls through these services are excluded).
- Free Wi-Fi at over 3.5 million hotspots. You’ll have access to free wi-fi at more than 3.5 million hotspots across the UK. This includes on the London Underground.
- Unlimited Virgin Mobile calls (Virgin TV and Broadband customers only). If you’re a Virgin Media TV or Broadband customer, you’ll get unlimited calls to other Virgin Mobile customers included in your plan.
Mobile Phones on Freestyle Contracts
If you’d like a new mobile phone at the same time as joining Virgin Mobile, there are a range of Pay Monthly handsets available from manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Sony and Huawei. The handsets are available on a ‘Freestyle’ contract where your price plan is split into two separate parts:
- Phone Contract (24 or 36 months). You’ll get a loan from Virgin Media Mobile Finance which pays for the cost of your handset. This loan can last for either 24 or 36 months and is nominally interest-free (though you’ll pay an inflated price for the handset).
- Airtime Contract (30-day rolling). You’ll get a separate 30-day rolling contract for your minutes, texts and mobile data. This is typically priced similarly to Virgin Mobile’s SIM-only deals and contains all of the same features and benefits like data rollover and data-free messaging.
To give an example, Apple’s iPhone XS is available at the time of writing for £46/month with 10GB of monthly data included. This breaks down as £33/month over 36 months for the mobile phone (giving a total amount payable of £1,188 versus an RRP of £999) and then £13/month for the SIM card.
You can upgrade your phone at any time by paying off the remainder of your loan. You can also upgrade or downgrade your airtime contract at any time (e.g. upgrading to get more data, or downgrading to save a bit of money).
Please see the Virgin Mobile website for a complete list of the handsets they offer on a Freestyle Pay Monthly contract.
Pay As You Go
With a JAM Pack, you’ll be able to top-up your account with some credit, which will then be converted into a 30-day allowance. At present, the following JAM Packs are available for purchase from Virgin Mobile:
Unfortunately, Pay As You Go customers will only have access to 2G and 3G coverage (4G coverage isn’t available on Virgin Pay As You Go). Other key features of Virgin Mobile like data rollover and data-free messaging are also not available to Pay As You Go customers.
In our opinion, Virgin’s Pay As You Go deals are not very competitive and far better alternatives are available if you’re looking for a Pay As You Go SIM card. For more information, please see our in-depth review of Virgin Mobile’s JAM Packs.
Virgin Mobile also offers a range of mobile broadband price plans using coverage from EE. You can buy a 4G mobile wi-fi dongle to get up to 10 devices connected to mobile broadband at the same time. Download speeds of up to 50Mbit/s and upload speeds of up to 20Mbit/s are available on Virgin’s mobile broadband service.
At the time of writing, Virgin Mobile charges £5 for 1GB data, £8 for 2GB data, £12 for 5GB data and £20 for 10GB data per month. There is no upfront cost for the dongle on a 12-month contract, and a £39.99 upfront cost on a 30-day rolling deal.
Network & Coverage
2G, 3G & 4G Coverage From EE
In the UK, Virgin Mobile piggybacks on EE for its 2G, 3G and 4G coverage. This means customers of Virgin Mobile will have access to the same underlying coverage as customers on EE (and the same coverage as customers on BT Mobile, Plusnet Mobile and other EE virtual mobile networks).
At the time of writing, Virgin says this equates to 99% population coverage, with “superfast 4G speeds of up to 70Mbps” (and an average download speed of 29.85Mbps). 4G speeds are only available to Pay Monthly customers and are not currently available to customers on Virgin Pay As You Go.
Before signing up for a Virgin Mobile contract, we strongly recommend checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on Virgin Mobile’s online coverage map:
For more information about mobile phone coverage in the UK, please read our full guide on UK virtual network operators.
Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with another device (e.g. with your laptop or tablet). It’s a useful way to get 4G mobile broadband on your other devices (e.g. for getting connected in a coffee shop or whilst on the train into work).
It’s now possible to tether without any restrictions on Virgin Mobile contracts taken out since April 2018. If your contract was taken out before April 2018, restrictions on tethering may still apply to your service.
On Virgin Mobile, you’ll have access to international roaming in 170 countries. If you’re travelling to one of 43 EU destinations, you’ll be able to use your UK allowances at no extra charge when abroad. Outside the EU, charges can sometimes be substantial so it’s worth double checking before you depart.
For more information, see our in-depth guide to using your mobile phone abroad.
Keeping Your Phone Number
If you’re switching from another mobile network to Virgin Mobile, it’s a straightforward process to keep your existing phone number.
To start off, contact your old mobile network and ask them for a PAC Code. This is a nine-digit code that authorises the transfer of your phone number to Virgin Mobile. Your current mobile network is legally obliged to provide you with a PAC Code, and they must do this within 2 hours of your request.
Once you have the PAC Code from your old mobile network, order your new phone or SIM card from the Virgin Mobile website. Once your new phone or SIM card arrives, you can contact Virgin Mobile by dialling 789 on your Virgin Mobile handset. Once you provide them with your PAC Code, your phone number transfer will be scheduled (normally for the next working day).
For a step-by-step guide on how to transfer your phone number to Virgin Mobile, please select your current mobile network from the drop-down menu below:
Popularity & Number of Subscribers
Virgin Mobile launched in the UK in 1999 as the world’s first mobile virtual network operator. At launch, the Virgin Mobile service made use of coverage from One2One (later becoming T-Mobile in 2002 and then EE in 2010). 4G coverage was made available to Virgin Pay Monthly customers in November 2017.
As of 2019, Virgin Mobile is twenty years old in the UK and continues to offer coverage from the EE network. According to Virgin, their mobile phone service has 3.1 million customers as of Q3 2018. This makes it one of the UK’s larger virtual network operators along with giffgaff and Tesco Mobile.
For more information, please see the official Virgin Mobile website.