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Review of Virgin Mobile iPhone

2013 March 11
by Charlie

charlie_imageLike most expenses in my life I’m always looking at ways of reducing them and my cell phone bills are no different. Recently, I evaluated how much we were paying for our existing cell phone coverage, and wasn’t really pleased. Here is a breakdown of our previous cell (QWERTY) costs:

  • Monthly Access (450 minutes): $41.99
  • Surcharges: $7.17
  • 1000 texts per month package: $10
  • Monthly Bill: $59.16

So in evaluating our cell costs and our contract coming to an end March 1 I decided to evaluate moving to a smart phone. Over the last two years I’d heard a lot of excellent things about the Virgin Mobile service in our area, and the monthly costs seemed cheaper than what I was paying with my QWERTY phone. I decided to evaluate with the Virgin Mobile iPhone 4s. Here is how I figured the phone could save our family money


  • Initial Phone Costs (iPhone 4s): $449.99
  • Monthly Service Costs: $32.10
  • Package: 300 minutes, Unlimited Texting, Unlimited Data
  • Average Cost Per Month (over 2 years): $50.80

So with my facts on what I was getting with my existing coverage, and my new iPhone 4s in hand I evaluated the Virgin Mobile services over the last 30 days (free of charge).

Contract

One of the great features of the Virgin Mobile phone service is that they don’t lock you into a 1 year or 2 year contract. Their contracts are built on month to month contracts in much the same way Tracfone’s are offered. Nice thing to this is that on your monthly bill there is only the additional cost of tax (in my instance $30*7%tax= $32.10). Where in your normal AT&T or Verizon phones you have to pay the federal fees, taxes, etc. (Important Tip: make sure you sign up for the monthly automatic withdrawl, which will save you $5 on your monthly bill ($35-$5=$30/monthly).

Cost of Phone

Part of the flexibility you get in the contracts you end up paying for with the phone. In my case, for the the iPhone 4s, we paid full price on the Virgin Mobile website of $449. So in evaluating my existing costs vs Virgin Mobile I ammoritized the phone costs over 24 months ($18.70/month) to compare apples to apples. If you can get over the initial costs, and figure the costs over the normal life of a contract, then it ain’t so bad.

Coverage

When I was looking at Virgin Mobile’s coverage I was really concerned about their coverage outside of large Metropolitan areas. Look at adjacent map tovirgin-mobile-coverage-map see for yourself. In looking at it prior to signing up I thought when you were outside these “coverage areas” that their cell service would roam. BIG MISTAKE!! Luckily half way through the month our family took a trip back home to rural NW Iowa. In traveling back we lost cell and data coverage once we left the interstate, and never had it for the two days we were at home. This included BOTH CELL and DATA!!! I couldn’t have been more disappointed with their coverage! I couldn’t believe I could not call anyone, and using a cell phone for emergencies is a given! As you can see from my puncuation usage this wasn’t pleasing in my evaluation. :)

Customer Service

While signing up for the phone service customer service was great (a little wait – 5-10 minutes). However, in disconnecting our service it was a different story. The first time I called in I got transferred about 8 times before “accidentially” getting disconnected. I kept getting transferred from department to department, because each one said “that is handled by another department.” Second time I called in it took about 65 minutes to get my phone disconnected and RMA to return it. (Tip: if you call in to disconnect first request to disconnect the monthly contract. You’ll lose any existing time or data though. Secondly, request to be transferred to the department to return the phone to get your RMA #.) On an additional note when I went into the local Virgin Mobile store there was five high school students having a picnic on the office floor!

Would I Recommend It?

Based on my overall experience I personally wouldn’t recommend Virgin Mobile. The actual Apple iPhone worked great, but the cell coverage was the biggest deal breaker for me. Our family couldn’t risk being out of the coverage area in case of emergencies, and that’s part of the need in having a cell. Secondly, I wouldn’t recommend them based on my customer service experience either. I constant felt like a burden to their reps, and was just handed off from one department to another. I felt like they were more concerned about the “call time stats”, then really resolving my issue. Do you know what I mean?

So that’s just my evaluating of Virgin Mobile. Have you used Virgin’s services before? I’d love to hear from some of our readers on their experiences. Also what alternatives would you recommend to reduce cell phone costs?

For TTG readers >>> Get $100 Off the Samsung Galaxy Victory for a Limited Time Only at Virginmobileusa.com!

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Charlie

An IT professional, Charlie also buys and sells liens, lives on the cheap, runs marathons and helps to run his family farm. In his spare moments, he raises 3 children, does the dishes and writes one post a week. His former blog, Frugal Retirement Plan, has been cited by US News and World Report.

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6 Responses
  1. Sandy permalink
    March 11, 2013

    Hi Charlie,
    What cell phone service do you recommed? My husband and I are not in a contract and currenlty have Verizon as our provider. I have an iphone 4, my husband has a standard phone we pay $136 per month with taxes. We found that if you get a shared data package with Verizon you will pay about $150 for two smart phones (tax and insurance not included). That was the best deal we could find. We also qualify for a 15% discount due to my husbands occupation. Do you have any other suggestions?

  2. Jason permalink
    March 11, 2013

    Have you heard of Straight Talk? I cannot yet speak from experience, but will be moving to this when our contract expires.

    Similar to the Virgin plan above, you purchase a phone that is un-subsidized and therefore quite expensive. However, the plan (unlimited talk, text, data) is relatively inexpensive at $45 per month.

    In contrast to the plan above they utilize the major carriers’ networks so the coverage is supposedly excellent.

  3. March 11, 2013

    Sandy – that is a great question! It’s one I’ve been considering too. Personally, I don’t know why both husband and a wife need a smart phone. If I were you I’d keep one smart phone on Verizon ($72/month) and buy a TracFone. I buy the 200 minute cards every three months and the minutes are tripled (because of the phone I have). It costs me $40($13.33/month) to refill that every 3 months, and I get to text a lot too with those minutes. Compare these costs…$72+$13.33= $85.33 per month. When you have the costs laid out like that you can ask yourself…”is saving $50/month ($135-85=$50) worth the extra smartphone?”

    Jason – I haven’t heard much of Straight Talk. Which towers do they use (Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint)? You have any helpful links that talk about it more?

  4. Sandy permalink
    March 13, 2013

    Thanks for the tips, we have a lot to consider.

  5. Jason permalink
    March 13, 2013

    Supposedly from all depending on the phone or area. However, I just read some some concerns regarding the service and some alternatives from the following links to pcmag.com:

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2414418,00.asp
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2414768,00.asp?obref=obinsite

    Also, it is apparently only available through Walmart.

    http://www.straighttalk.com

  6. Louie k permalink
    March 26, 2013

    Getting the virgin I phone is the biggest scam out there once you buy the phone they have you.i got the $45 plan but never got the $5 discount no matter how much I complained to make it worst when my months would expire they would cut my phone service off even though I had a valid credit card to keep the service active it turns off exactly at midnight the only way to get it back is by calling a live advisor you can’t get one until 7 am.i would call and yell at them and the always blamed my credit card I gave them 2 cards and it just happened again this morning they promised to fix the glitch again for the fifth time. Stay away!

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