- Alternatives to Virgin on the same network
- Great data inclusions at affordable prices
- These plans are better value than Virgin was
- See our SIM Only page for alternatives on other networks
This review relates to Virgin Mobile’s SIM Only (postpaid) plans. See below for links to the Virgin Mobile prepaid review and other relevant resources which might assist you.
- Virgin Mobile were an Australian brand that people loved.
- They have a suite of SIM Only (postpaid) plans to suit most needs.
- These plans have a number of benefits which are unique to Virgin Mobile.
- Virgin’s plans have more plan features / benefits than any other phone company we know.
- Benefits include things like free calls to other Virgin Mobile users and free voicemail retrieval.
- Virgin perks, a different category of benefit offer cheaper flights with Virgin Australia for being part of the ‘Virgin Family’ – and similar joint sales agreements with other Virgin brands in Australia.
- However, many of these benefits are undermined to the point of worthlessness by the rising tide of phone companies which offer Unlimited voice and SMS plans at the same or similar price points to Virgin.
- Below, we explain more about all of these benefits’ features, drawing out those which may be considered more useful and those which could be seen as less useful.
- In summary, Virgin’s SIM Only plans are great for people who love the brand, collect Velocity points and enjoy streamed audio like Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Google Music.
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This article compares Virgin Mobile and Optus on their postpaid plans. Below, we have discussed a number of subjects which could be new to some readers of this website. Here are some additional resources which might help you in your research.
- Streaming Audio:
Streamed audio – or internet radio / music as you might have heard it called is a new aspect of some Australian phone plans. In this article we explain what streamed audio services from phone companies include and what they do not include. We also explain how the use of streamed audio services will impact the data you use in your plans.
- How much data do I need ?
The most fundamental question when you’re buying is ‘how much data do I need’
- What is SVOD ?
SVOD or ‘Streaming Video On Demand’ is the visual version of streamed audio that we’ve started to see included in plans. Entertainment options have exploded this year. Now might be the time to rethink how you are spending your commute. In this article, we explain the options available to you.
Virgin are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Optus company. Virgin Mobile Australia and Optus share the same premises in North Ryde, Sydney. As a result, Virgin use the whole Optus network including Optus’ 4G capabilities.
Virgin are an MVNO – that’s a Mobile Virtual Network Operator. Virgin have access to the Optus network and resell it to you, often at price points lower than what Optus offer their own customers.
The extremely weird thing about the Virgin network is that people prefer it to the Optus network. Although the two companies use what are demonstrably the same network infrastructure, people feel better about using the Virgin network.
Virgin have a couple of names for the suite of ‘extras’ that Virgin customers enjoy and others don’t.
Virgin Perks and Benefits
In addition to the usual voice, SMS and data, Virgin have a couple of names for the suite of ‘extras’ that Virgin customers enjoy and others don’t. Virgin perks and Virgin Benefits. Benefits include plan features like free voicemail retrieval and free Virgin to Virgin calls. Perks are different sorts of bonuses that customers enjoy for being part of the Virgin family. These include cut priced flights on Virgin Australia’s airline and reduced fees for Virgin Insurance, for example.
Let’s explore those benefits in a bit more detail. When you buy with Virgin mobile, you are getting:
For similar price points, Virgin Mobile offer more included value and data than many tier 1 phone company competitors. (That means they’re cheaper than Optus, Telstra and Vodafone.)
The vast majority of new devices sold are smart mobile phones. Data is the key criteria people use to compare plans when they have a smartphone. Virgin are often more generous than Optus and Vodafone with their data inclusions.
- Streamed audio:
Including content as part of a phone plan is one of the major changes happening in Australian telco this year. Optus offer streamed audio on their prepaid plans. Virgin have adopted the same inclusion for their postpaid (SIM Only) plans. There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. First, Virgin are including in your plan (giving you for free ) the data you use when you listen to streamed audio from internet based music services like Pandora / Spotify / IHeartRadio and Google Music. That means the data you use listening to those services will not come out of your phone plan’s data allowance. What Virgin are not doing is providing those services to you – you will need to have your own Spotify / Pandora (etc) account. You get the data to bring the music to you, not the music service itself.
- Free Voicemail:
For those that still use the voicemail facility, free retrieval could save you money, compared to the alternative phone companies who still charge you for the privilege.
- Rollover Credit (Now Data and Voice):
On networks other than Virgin (and recently Optus), if you don’t use everything you’re entitled to in your plan each month, you’ll lose it. Virgin rollover any unused credit at the end of the month, in to the next month where you can use it again! It only gets rolled once, mind you, so you won’t end up with 50GB at the end of your contract. However, this ‘doggy-bag’ deal is a fairer way to deal with you having capacity at the end of your monthly commitment.
- Included International Calls:
Virgin used to be the only phone company to let you call friends and family overseas using the inclusions within your voice cap. Vodafone now offer this same facility, plus the additional Red Roaming plan feature which lets you use your Australian allowance overseas for only $5 per day. Optus, Amaysim, Boost and an increasing range of phone companies are also ‘throwing in’ free international minutes in their plans. Anyway, Virgin have the facility at $40 and above on these plans.
- Free Virgin To Virgin:
Call your friends and family for free on the Virgin network with any Virgin Mobile SIM Only plan.
- Velocity points:
Virgin mobile SIM Only plan users get 2 velocity points for every dollar they spend on their phone plan. If you are a Velocity member and you’re going to be spending your money on a phone plan, why not spend it where you get the points!
- Virgin Perks:
Virgin perks is a way of providing some of those perks to Australian Telco customers of being ‘part of the Virgin family’. In the past, there have been special offers on Virgin wine, Virgin credit cards and Virgin insurance.
If a competitor plan has the same or similar price point and offers unlimited calls, some of Virgin’s ‘benefits’ disappear.
It’s easy to look at the long list of benefits Virgin include in their SIM Only plans and feel impressed. Virgin’s plans do, ostensibly, appear to offer more than other phone companies. Virgin have a reputation for value and they are perceived, by many to offer more data at lower price points than Optus and Vodafone. Even those who are unusually well informed about phone plans will believe, based on experience, that Virgin’s is a bargain brand.
Taking a slightly closer look, however, reveals something different. We live in a world where most plans, have unlimited national calls and included unlimited national SMS. That’s true of all Optus’ and Vodafone’s plans. It’s even true of companies like OVO Mobile and Amaysim (both of which also use the Optus 3G / 4G network) at price points below $30.
If a competitor plan has the same or similar price point and offers unlimited calls, some of Virgin’s ‘benefits’ disappear. Free voicemail retrieval and free Virgin to Virgin calls are meaningless benefits when others offer effectively the same thing. (That is, customers don’t have to pay for those services anyway because they have a plan with unlimited voice and SMS.)
Unfortunately, the value of ‘included free international calls’ has also been eroded by competitor moves. Amaysi, Optus and others both offer included international calls as part of their plan structure meaning Virgin no longer stands out for having them.
Some of the benefits Virgin give you provide value which makes Virgin stand out head and shoulders above the competition.
On the other hand, some of the benefits Virgin give you provide value which (for many people) makes Virgin stand out head and shoulders above the competition.
Rollover data / voice / SMS, and free roaming (in some countries) with up to 500 MB of ‘free data’ do mean something. Streamed audio included as part of Virgin’s SIM Only plans is also a great benefit that likely can save you a good deal more data than you think. And Velocity points for a service you were going to spend money on anyway, is also a lovely feature.
Virgin Mobile have some of the best customer Service in the industry.
- Virgin use the Optus 3G + 4G network:
The network you sign up to when you choose Virgin Mobile is the Optus network. It’s not like the Optus network. It’s not similar to the Optus Network. It actually is the full, entire Optus network. In a recent independent review of the telco networks which we have covered in detail elsewhere in Whatphone (you can read all about it in what phone company has the best coverage).
- Best Customer Satisfaction:
Virgin Mobile have some of the best customer Service among the big 4 telcos, Optus, Telstra and Vodafone. In fact, until recently they officially had the best customer service in the industry. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago, Virgin Mobile came second in the industry customer satisfaction behind Amaysim.
Virgin Mobile SIM Only Plans – summing up
If you love streaming audio, if you love the Virgin brand, you like data rollover, you have Velocity points and /or you feel likely to engage with other companies which use it ( like Virgin Australia flights, Virgin wine, Virgin Insurance ) then give Virgin a solid look.
The Virgin brand is synonymous around the world with Richard Branson. The truth of it’s use in Australia is that Virgin – over here – could be seen as quite a cynical product offering from a telco few people trust – Optus. The simple fact is that Optus license the Virgin brand and sell Optus’ own phone, data and SMS services using it. Their goal is to present you with the impression of choice but get your dollar whether you choose Optus or Virgin.
Cards on the table: I have worked at both Optus and Virgin Mobile. That means I can offer you some information that a lot of people might not have access to. It’s true that Virgin Mobile is a wholly owned subsidiary of Optus. It’s true that they occupy the same office space in North Ryde. But the commonalities beyond the location are slight. The people that work for Virgin Mobile consider themselves very different from the people who work at Optus.
Unfortunately, however they feel about it, Virgin staff do work for Optus. And the Optus Mothership has used and abused the Virgin brand a bit over the last few years. Optus have taken some of the unique benefts Virgin used to offer ( data rollover for example ) for their own plans. Optus are now much closer to Virgin’s price points and inclusions too.
But it’s not all over. To you, the way Virgin staff feel about the brand they work for represents itself in the way they deal with customers in customer service situations. As we have said, in this article, Virgin’s customer service is among the best in the industry.
Some of Virgin’s ‘Benefits’ and ‘Perks’ are meaningless. Free voicemail retrieval and free Virgin to Virgin calls means very little these days – almost all plans have unlimited national voice and SMS. However, Virgin do have some real benefits, too and for some people, those could legitimately make all the difference. Data rollover, free streaming audio, Velocity points for those who collect them. – these are actually very strong benefits to offer. If they appeal, they might well be enough to get you over the line on choosing Virgin.
That Virgin still offers standout plan features despite this hamstringing by Optus is a testament to the fight they still have in them. If you love these plan benefits, if you love the Virgin brand and you feel likely to engage with other companies which use it ( like Virgin Australia flights, Virgin wine, Virgin Insurance ) then give Virgin a solid look.
Extra Resources – Articles of use to Prepaid Users
- Prepaid plans now have streamed audio included in them :
You may not be aware of one of the biggest improvements to prepaid plans since they were originally devised. 2016 saw the release of prepaid plans which have streamed audio included in them. If you already have a Spotify, iTunes Music, Google Music or IHeartRadio account, then you might like to find out more about streamed audio in phone plans.
- Entertainment options are becoming common :
You may also have started hearing about the increasing inclusion of entertainment options in prepaid and SIM Only phone plans. We also examine Optus’ mobile phone plan Entertainment options, Telstra’s mobile phone plan Entertainment options and compare the two.
- Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month :
We’ve given a short explanation on this page but if you want more detail on the types of phone plans in Australia, this is it. In Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month, we explain and the best value alternatives you have and when it makes sense to use each type.
- Prepaid vs Postpaid –the simple trick to getting the best value :
The tier 1 telcos ( Optus Telstra and Vodafone ) all have both prepaid and postpaid plans. Sometimes they have both types of plan at the same price point.
- Does it make sense to buy a Phone myself and add a SIM ? :
It’s often even cheaper to buy your own phone and add a SIM ( including a prepaid SIM ) to it. We explain how to go Buying a phone outright and adding a SIM.
- Data Rollovers :
Considering a plan with data rollover in it ? We explain why they’re not the real solution to the real problem with prepaid plans.
And, remember, before you buy, read the CIS (that’s the Critical Information Summary–a clearly written definition of what is and is not included in the plans from these phone companies) before you buy. You need to be confident in the plan you choose yourself. You’ll find the CIS on the Vodafone website.
Compare all of our prepaid plans
If you need another network, you might like to check our Best Prepaid Plans Page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. ) A list of best value plans using the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks.COMPARE THE BEST PREPAID PLANS
See all SIM Only plans
If you need another network, for example you’re after an unlimited plan with Telstra coverage, or you live in a city and you’re happy with Vodafone, you might like to check our SIM Only Comparison page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. )COMPARE ALL SIM ONLY PLANS
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