I updated our colossal guide to the Best UK SIM only deals last night, but the problem with housing around 100 SIM only deals in the one feature is: we can’t exactly delve into tons of detail about each one.
Which brings us here, quite possibly the first in a series of features digging deeper into individual SIM only deals, and asking, quite simply: are they any good?
First under the microscope, it’s Virgin Media/Virgin Mobile’s unlimited everything – minutes, texts and data – for £20. They claim it’s the “UK’s best value”, but we’ll be the judge of that.
Here's the plan: dissect Virgin Media/Virgin Mobile’s unlimited everything SIM only deal and consider each factor individually before concluding with Pros and Cons. With me? Let’s rock!
Virgin Mobile unlimited everything availability
I should probably start by discussing availability, since Virgin Media/Virgin Mobile’s unlimited everything SIM only deal is only available to existing Virgin Media customers, so you’ll need to have TV, broadband and/or a landline with them to take advantage. Poop.
Virgin Mobile commitment
In a neat twist, Virgin Media/Virgin Mobile’s unlimited everything SIM only deal carries no commitment; it’s a rolling 30-day dealio.
Incidentally, if you’re a Virgin Media customer, you can grab any of Virgin Mobile’s SIM only deals at 12-month prices on 30-day contracts. That’s a saving of £5 per month compared to non-customers, or – to look at it another way – the same price but without the commitment. Not too shabby.
Virgin Mobile unlimited everything price
Price is an obvious factor here, so let’s look at some other SIM only deals for comparison.
Three is the only other UK network to offer unlimited everything, coming in at £28 on a rolling 1-month commitment, or £25 if you sign up for the full year. That makes Virgin Media/Virgin Mobile’s unlimited everything a good £8 cheaper.
For further context, here are some other comparable (in terms of allowance) SIM only deals:
- Vodafone Red XXL - unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 20GB 4G data, £40PM (12 months) @ Vodafone (effectively £35PM with £60 Quidco cashback)
- giffgaff – 2,000 minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited 3G data, £18 (£20 from April) @ giffgaff
- O2 – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 5GB data, 4G, £27 (30 days) or £24 (12 months) @ O2
- Tesco Mobile - 3,000 minutes, 5,000 texts, 8GB 4G data, £30 (30 days) or £27.50 (12 months) @ Tesco Mobile
- EE - unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 10GB 4G data, £27.99 (12 months) @ EE (effectively £23.83PM with £50 Quidco cashback)
So clearly Virgin Media/Virgin Mobile’s unlimited everything SIM only deal is pretty good value for money at £20 per month, giffgaff being the closest – arguably better? – alternative at £18. However, there are other things to consider, like…
Virgin Mobile 4G and tethering
At present, Virgin Mobile does not include tethering (that’s when you pair other devices like your laptop or tablet to your mobile via Wi-Fi, and use your mobile data allowance to connect to the internet).
Nor does Virgin Mobile support 4G mobile data. It’s currently exclusive to Virgin Mobile’s business customers. There’s currently no word on when Virgin Mobile 4G will launch for consumers, which is kinda surprising considering Virgin uses the industry leading EE network.
Virgin Mobile coverage
While there’s no Virgin Mobile 4G just yet, the network at least benefits from the 99% coverage offered by the UK’s largest mobile network, EE. Check out the Virgin Mobile Coverage Checker here.
Virgin Mobile fair use
Here’s the official small print from Virgin Media/Virgin Mobile’s terms and conditions:
For customers who joined Virgin Media after 25 June 2012 excessive use over 3.5GB of data per calendar month will result in their maximum bandwidth being restricted to 3G speeds (384kbit/s downstream, 200kbit/s upstream) on our network. For customers who joined before 25 June 2012 excessive use over 2GB of data per calendar month will result in this restriction being applied. This policy will apply until the end of the calendar month, when it will be automatically removed. We reserve the right to review these usage levels from time to time. At this reduced speed, customers will still be able to browse web pages, send/receive emails, and stream audio and video all at 3G data speeds, but peer-to-peer and large file downloads/uploads will be slower than normal.
As an example, a customer would have to watch over 16 hours of high quality video before that threshold is reached. Typically far less than 0.25% of our customers will be affected on a monthly basis.
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but there doesn’t appear to be a fair use limit on minutes or texts, at least.
Virgin Mobile network extras
Like most other MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators), Virgin Mobile doesn’t offer much – or indeed anything – in the way of extras. Three has Feel At Home, O2 has Priority, some Vodafone tariffs have free Netflix… But nothing on Virgin Mobile.
What you see is what you get with Virgin Media/Virgin Mobile’s unlimited everything: unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data for £20 per month, with no 4G (yet), no tethering, and no extras of any kind.
But still, compared to other SIM only deals with similar allowances, it’s actually pretty good value – assuming you can live without the aforementioned extras.
- Relatively low price
- No commitment
- 99% UK coverage
- Only available to Virgin Media customers
- No 4G or tethering
- No network extras
- Fair use policy (not actually that big a deal?)
If you’ve been using any of Virgin Mobile’s SIM only deals and you’d like to chime in, by all means leave a comment below.