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I have been with a number of mobile providers including Orange, One to One and Vodaphone but have found Virgin Mobile to be the best by far.
I have found the prices very reasonable:
10p texts to other networks and just 3p to other virgin mobiles 15p per minute for the first five minutes of calls each day and 5p after that
Although this is a bit of a pain if your friends are not with Virgin you can now also buy a range of different bundles including texts, minutes and picture texts which significantly bring down the cost of each message if your friends are with other networks - for instance texts are just 2.4p each if you buy their largest bundle which is 1500 texts for £36. However, unless you are planning on ending up with RSI you might be more interested in some of their smaller packages - which are also very good value:
Just texts bundles start from £7.50 for 100 (7.5p each) Just minutes start from £7.50 for 40mins (just under 19p a minute) A mix of minutes and texts starts from 20mins and 30 texts from £7.50 A mix of texts and picture texts starts from 70 texts and 10 pics for £7.50
You should bear in mind that it is only worth your while if you are going to use the majority of the bundle you have purchased, although Virgin are unique in allowing any texts/minutes left over to roll into the next month as long as you buy another bundle - making this an even better deal as, if you're like me and text lots but only make a few calls a month, you can buy alternate packages - I usually get a minutes and texts combined one month and then just texts the other, making using my phone much more cost efficient.
You can buy bundles by calling 789 on your virgin phone (free), texting your order to 789789 (also free) or on their website, making it extremely hassle free.
Another big benefit of Virgin is that they don't charge you to listen to your voicemail - many other providers do which I really object to when someone else has already paid to leave it.
Switching to Virgin:
Their SIM cards are just £10 and include:
1 Sim card E top up card £5 credit to get you started
You can then get extra credit absolutely free with Virgin 'glue'. All you have to do is persuade one of your friends to switch to Virgin and get them to quote your name and number when they ring up to buy their SIM and you'll get £10 credit as a thank you! - and even better it then takes you longer to use this credit as you can now text that friend for cheaper than when they were with the other network. Smiles all round!
How to Top-Up:
This is very simple as you have several options:
1) Ring 789 (free) from your Virgin mobile phone and register your debit/credit card to allow you to top up wherever you are - great if you're like me and run out of credit when you really need to ring home!
2) Register your debit/ credit card details online and top up that way
3) Use your 'E-Top up card' (which you get included with the sim pack) to buy credit in a number of stores. Its a credit card sized card that you give to the cashier to swipe - can be used in most supermarkets and other shops like WHSmiths, Woolworths etc.
4) The old fashioned way - buy a top up voucher from a Virgin mobile shop (although I have found they often run out of vouchers in the smaller denominations and you find yourself having to fork out £20 when you only really wanted £5)
5) Another great way to do it is via ATM - this is a service currently available at NatWest, RBS, Lloyds TSB, Allied Irish Bank, Nationwide and Co-op ATM machines - just put your bank card in as normal then select 'top up' and enter the amount and your number - just make sure you put your mobile number in right as otherwise someone else is going to get a nice suprise at your expense - it does ask for it twice so don't worry too much, I just get my number muddled with my Dad's - something he is quite pleased about!
Here you can do a number of things to do with your phone. Firstly basic stuff like topping up and buying bundles (as explained above) but that's not all. You can also register your Virgin phone with them (free) to get extra benefits:
1) Get your next phone £10 cheaper when you buy online as if you keep your new number you don't need a new sim card pack
2) Get 'Virgin Red'. This is great, for every £100 you have spent on airtime in the last 24 months, you get £10 off when you upgrade your phone up to a maximum of £100 off if you have spent £1000+. Although it may seem like a large amount, all you have to do is top up by about a fiver each month and after 2 years you'll have £10 to claim off a new phone. And the great thing is, although it is called 'upgrading your phone' you still keep your old one - I have just used my discount towards a new phone I bought for my Grandparents.
You can also buy a new phone online with great offers unavailable in the shops and superfast delivery (you don't need to already be a Virgin mobile customer to do this) - I ordered the one I wanted on a Saturday and received it first thing Monday morning - you get next working day delivery absolutely free on all their phones (via courier), a great deal for buying online (I got £10 free airtime) AND if you're not happy when you receive it you can return it to one of their shops within 28 days - and all you'd lose out on is any airtime that you have used on the phone. So if after a couple of weeks of having used it you decided that its not the one for you - no problem!
Alternatively why not look at their reconditioned phones. - All these are are the phones that people have decided they don't like within the 28 days. Once they are returned to the shops they are checked to ensure they are fully working and then sold online for about half the price of a new one - great if you want a flashy new phone with all the latest gadgets but don't want to spend a fortune. You also get 6 months warranty with it - so its not a problem in the event that it does go wrong!
You can also do numerous other things online such as find out about their tariffs and offers, read their terms and conditions and also send them an email if you have any queries - I found them to be very fast to reply and extremely helpful when I did this. However, I have had a few problems getting onto their site, as it is sometimes not working due to technical problems - but if you can get in its great!
As well as contacting them by email you can also get help by ringing 789 and pressing '0' a few times till you get through to a member of their team. I have found them to be fast at answering and very helpful but the great thing is that even if you are held in a queue for a few minutes you are only charged a flat fee of 10p each time you call and go through to an operator, so you can listen to the 'hold' music safe in the knowledge that you aren't shelling out a fortune - incidentally you also have the option to pick the music you listen to whilst on hold from a fairly good selection so at least you are kept entertained as well!
Unlocking your phone:
If for some crazy reason you are not happy on Virgin mobile and decide you want to switch networks - it's not a problem! Even this is miles cheaper than several other networks as it is 100% free. All they ask is that you have spent at least £30 on airtime on you phone - which is very reasonable as they subsidise the original cost of your phone and therefore have to be able to get a bit of their money back if they are going to be able to keep offering such great prices.
Virgin are fab. I have already converted my sister, mum and several of my friends - saving me (and them) a fortune in credit, as well as earning some along the way. Would definitely recommend!
Hope you have found this useful! Would really appreciate it if you could rate this and leave comments on how you would like to see it improved.