Virgin Mobile Review
The last time I used Virgin Mobile, I was in college and using a shiny new flip-phone (well, more of a slider).
Not to date myself, but Virgin Mobile has changed a lot since my college days. Now there are no more flip-phones, and there are some interesting member perks. But those perks also come with quite a few not-so-great limitations, which is why we only gave it one-and-a-half stars.
All-in-all, we think Virgin is still a great pick for a college student or someone who needs just one phone line.
- Up to 35 GB of high-speed data per month with unlimited plans, then your data is slowed
- Member benefits and discounts on well-known brands
- Limited streaming and gaming quality
- No family plans—only one line per account
- BYO iPhones only
Virgin Mobile phone plans and prices
You get one line and one line only. Not to mention a bunch of other limitations
Virgin Mobile makes things simple by only have one basic plan, which you can customize to fit your data consumption needs. This plan has one line, unlimited talk and text, and a minimum of 5 to 35 GB of unthrottled (full-speed) data.
Here’s a look at the most inexpensive version of the plan.
Virgin Mobile Unlimited Plan with 5 GB of data
If you want a Virgin Mobile plan with more than a piddling 5GB of data, you can go up to the 10 GB or “Unlimited” (which is actually 35 GB) data options.
Virgin Mobile $45 and $60 Unlimited Plans
Virgin Mobile Family Plans
Unfortunately you’ll be limited to just one line with Virgin—there are no family plans available, which means there are no multi-line discounts, either.1 So you’ll be paying at least $35 each month for each line.
That adds up quick if you need a phone line for more than just you. Essentially, two lines will cost you $70. To compare, Visible Wireless can get you up to four lines, each with unlimited data, for $100 (and Visible’s Verizon-run network is better than Virgin’s Sprint-run network).
Visible Wireless plan with four lines
There are some limitations on your data even before you reach your full-speed data limit on a Virgin Mobile plan. Your video, music, and game streams will be throttled. Here’s a breakdown of the speeds you’ll get, and some other perks that will cost you extra.
|High-speed data||5-35 GB (depending on the plan)|
|Video streaming resoultion||SD (480p)|
|Music streaming||Up to 500 Kbps|
|Game streaming||Up to 2 Mbps|
|Mobile hotspot||$5/mo. extra for 1 GB|
|Member benefits access||Yes|
After you use up all of your high-speed data—in Virgin’s case, 5-10 GB a month—your data speed will be slowed, or throttled. Sure, you can keep using data, but your downloads will be like watching paint dry and your video streams will buffer more than a late-night janitor who’s cleaning the floors.
Not to mention that 23 GB pales in comparison to 35 GB of unthrottled high-speed data from MetroPCS. If you really want to go big and stream all your favorite Hulu shows without feeling like time has stopped, check out T-Mobile’s 50 GB of unthrottled data or the Verizon Above Unlimited plan’s 75 GB of unthrottled data. Oh em gee.
Virgin Mobile member benefits
We used to rave about Virgin Mobile’s awesome member benefits here, like 25% off and free shipping from Reebok. But those benefits are no more. Virgin seems to have slashed all of its fun discounts and perks so you’ll just left with a standard old cell phone plan (what is this, the 2010s?).
If you’re looking for snazzy bonuses, like access to HBO and other premium channels, then check out AT&T’s Unlimited plans.
Virgin Mobile phones
You can get the latest devices, unless those devices are made by Google
With Virgin you can buy the latest devices from most of the major companies, including Apple, Samsung, and LG. One notable exception is the Google Pixel, which Virgin doesn’t sell.
For example, here’s what it would look like to buy a new iPhone 11 Pro Max 64 GB phone when you sign up for Virgin’s $60 Unlimited Plan.
Virgin Mobile’s Bring Your Own Phone program is limited to iPhones—and you might not even be able to bring older iPhone models, either.
Virgin doesn’t explicitly state this, but we can all take the hint when we see “We support the models of iPhone below, but all are not compatible with our network” in the FAQs.
How good is Virgin Mobile performance?
Virgin runs on Sprint’s network, so don’t expect stellar coverage or speed.
Virgin Mobile runs on Sprint’s network, so don’t be surprised if you run into some of the same coverage and speed issues as Sprint users.
What can we say? Third-party tests ranked Sprint’s coverage as third or fourth out of the top four cell providers (that top four includes Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile).3, 4
Of course, coverage depends on the area you’re in, so you may get lucky and never see “No service” pop up on your screen. Because of this, we recommend checking Virgin’s coverage map to get an idea of whether your location is covered—or not.
Speed on the Sprint network is a similar story. Three different independent companies pretty much came to a consensus that Sprint is dead last for speed.5, 6, 7
But low ratings aside, we’ve used Sprint for a while and experienced few speed or coverage issues in both Washington state and Utah. So take those ratings as you will.
Dealing with Virgin Mobile customer service
If Virgin Mobile played Super Mario, it wouldn’t collect enough stars to beat the game.
The customer service ratings don’t look so great for Virgin Mobile8—but we’ll caution you that most cell phone companies are in the same boat. That’s right, wireless providers are pretty notorious for poor customer service.
We agree that’s no excuse, but it does mean you’ll want to take a deep breath and focus on remaining patient when you do need to reach out to a representative.
If you hate phone trees and waiting on hold, you could send a few hashtags Virgin’s way on social media. (We even saw a couple shoutouts praising Virgin’s customer service team on Twitter, so it must be doing something right.)
Recap—how good is Virgin Mobile?
Is Virgin Mobile the one for you? Here are our thoughts.
- Plans: Virgin’s plans come loaded with limitations: you get only one line per account, and your video streaming is stuck in standard definition (480p). (Not to mention your music and gaming speeds are limited too.) You’ll also need to pay extra for international calling and a mobile hotspot.
- Performance: Virgin runs on Sprint’s not-so-highly-rated network, so your service may drop and your speed may stutter if you don’t live solidly within a Sprint coverage area.
- Customer service: Customers don’t have high praise for Virgin’s service team, but Twitter seems to work. We recommend reaching out on social media so you can at least play a game of Heroes of the Storm while you wait.
- Overall: If you’re single or just looking for a one-line phone plan, Virgin does offer low prices. But otherwise, the limitations outweigh the benefits.
1. Virgin Mobile, “How Much Does It Cost for Additional Lines”
2. Highspeed Internet, “How Much Speed Do I Need to Stream Music?”
3. RootMetrics, “Mobile Performance in the US Part 1: Performance Across the Entire US – 2H 2017”
4. OpenSignal, “State of Mobile Networks: USA (January 2018)”
5. Speedtest, “Reports—United States—Mobile”
6. RootMetrics, “Mobile Performance in the US Part 1: Performance Across the Entire US – 2H 2017”
7. OpenSignal, “State of Mobile Networks: USA (January 2018)”
8. Consumer Affairs, “Virgin Mobile Reviews”