Millions of Virgin Mobile users will see their bills rise by 1.5% from 1 July, a price hike linked to the rate of inflation.
The price increases will affect the majority of Virgin Mobile’s SIM-only and pay monthly customers. If you took out one of those mobile contracts before 5 May 2021, your bills will increase by 1.5%, in line with the retail prices index (RPI) from March. Because this inflation-linked price rise was written into your contract, you won’t be able to duck out early without facing exit fees.
If you signed up for or renewed a Virgin Mobile contract on or after 5 May, your bills already incorporate the price change and won’t rise again in July.
Pay-as-you-go customers, who saw their rates jump dramatically last November, also won’t face additional price hikes.
Customers who are out of contract can leave Virgin Mobile at any time without facing penalties.
Virgin Mobile hasn’t specified how much the average customer will see added to their bills. With a 1.5% price rise, those paying £20 per month will see their bills rise to £20.30—or an extra £3.60 per year.
Virgin Mobile also didn’t state exactly how many customers will be impacted but it's understood to be a majority of their 3 million users.
A spokesperson for Virgin Media said: “We want to offer our customers the best, most innovative mobile services possible, and to continue delivering the flexibility, speeds and products our customers expect from us, we occasionally need to review our pricing.”
While Virgin Mobile customers may feel the sting of a few extra pence on their monthly bills, they should be comforted to know that many competitors have pushed even steeper price hikes on their subscribers. EE, BT Mobile, Plusnet Mobile and Vodafone have all baked into their contracts annual price hikes of the consumer price index measure of inflation plus 3.9%. Meanwhile, Three has said it will raise its prices by 4.5% every April regardless of the rate of inflation.
Like Virgin Mobile, O2, soon to be its stablemate, imposes annual price hikes in line with the RPI.
But if you want to avoid bill shocks altogether, consider Tesco Mobile. The supermarket’s mobile arm, with services over O2, pledges not to raise its prices mid-contract and, in fact, has called for a ban on what it terms “misleading” price hikes.
Meanwhile, Virgin Mobile customers should brace for the MVNO’s switch from EE to Vodafone’s network later this year.
Since January, Virgin Mobile has been placing new customers with SIM-only or 5G handset tariffs onto Vodafone’s network. Existing customers and those purchasing 4G handsets will be rolled over later this year, as Virgin Mobile’s twenty-year partnership with BT’s EE ends. If service from Vodafone in your local area is substandard, you might want to consider ditching Virgin Mobile when your contract is up.
Virgin Mobile’s deal with Vodafone will run until 2026, after which time Virgin Mobile subscribers will likely be served over O2’s network. Virgin Media and O2 are merging their UK operations, a £31 billion tie-in recently given the stamp of approval by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
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