What’s on offer?
Virgin Mobile now has the cheapest mobile phone contract in the UK at £8.50 a month for 18months. The tariff, which comes with 100 minutes and 100 texts, also includes the high-spec handset, the Samsung G600, for free. The handset comes with Windows Live Messenger for six months, a 512Megabit (Mb) memory card, a five megapixel camera and 50 free prints. This is the best value tariff on the market as Virgin tussles with 3 Mobile for the crown of the UK’s cheapest mobile phone provider.
For its part, 3 Mobile also has a highly attractive deal available. Its Mix & Match 100 tariff gives customers 100 network minutes or texts (or a mixture of both) along with a free Sony Ericsson G502 for just £9 a month over an 18month contract – only 50p a month more than the Virgin deal.
These deals are great for mobile phone users who have been considering moving to a Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) deal to cut costs. Most PAYG customers spend at least £10 a month so a sub-£10 tariff is an attractive alternative particularly as it offers all the benefits of holding a contract – there’s no need to top-up, you always have credit and the costs are low.
The fact that you get a free handset should also generate interest. Most PAYG customers have to fork out for handsets on their own.
So is there a catch?
These low-cost deals from Virgin and 3 may be the right choice for many, but they do require phone users to be strict with their usage so if you’re always talking or texting neither will be the right tariff for you. There’s no point picking up an ultra-cheap contract if you’re going to vastly exceed your minutes and text allowance each month – doing so could leave you with a hefty bill.
For example, users on the Virgin £8.50 a month tariff that exceed their monthly allowance revert to Virgin’s standard rates. This means you are charged 15p a minute for the first five minutes of calls each day to UK landlines and Virgin mobiles (5p a minute thereafter). If you make a call to another network’s mobile you’re charged 40p a minute and texts to other networks cost 12p each time.
So before you sign up for a seemingly-attractive mobile contract, think about how you use your phone first – take a look at past bills to get a rough idea of how many minutes and texts you use each month. Then use our comparison tool to identify the best deal for your needs.
Indeed there are plenty of value-for-money deals available depending on your usage:
For talkers: The 3 Mix & Match 1100 package includes 1,100 minutes of calls at any time to any network. Alternatively, you can send 1,100 texts or a mixture of the two. Additionally, customers can make 300 minutes of calls to other 3 mobiles. This deal includes a free Nokia 3210 handset and costs £27 a month and you must sign up for an 18-month contract.
For texters: The Orange Dolphin 25 tariff carries unlimited texts and 200 free voice minutes a month on an 18month contract with a free Samsung U900 Soul for just £24.47 a month.
For people who like to talk and text: For an average monthly cost of £30 you can sign up for the T-Mobile Combi 30 contract through Tesco Contract Mobiles and enjoy 600 voice minutes and 3,000 texts every month for 18 months. The deal also includes the Nokia E51 for free.
Disclaimer: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.