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Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk

Est. $35 per month and up
Reviewed
December 2013
by ConsumerSearch
Virgin Mobile

Best unlimited prepaid cell phone plan

Pros
  • Wide variety of plan options
  • Rated a better-than-average value overall
  • Uses Sprint network
Cons
  • Some find plans and website confusing
  • Some customer service complaints
  • No roaming

Bottom line

With modern smartphones and low monthly costs, Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk is a great alternative to a traditional cell phone plan. Those who want a basic-feature phone for voice calls and texts also have attractive options. The biggest catch is that Sprint-owned Virgin Mobile only uses Sprint's relatively small network -- no off-network roaming is allowed.

Plans and flexibility

Similar features to traditional cell phone plans. Reviewers enthuse about Virgin Mobile's range of prepaid cell phone plans, saying that the plans look like expensive postpaid plans. The company doesn't charge activation or roaming fees for its prepaid service -- though that last point is more marketing than feature, as the company also doesn't allow roaming off the Sprint network. In addition, domestic long distance is included in its pay-as-you-go and monthly plans. Virgin Mobile's Beyond Talk plans start at $35 per month for unlimited text, email and data (2.5 GB at high speed), with 300 voice minutes; $45 raises the voice minutes to 1,200, and it's $55 for unlimited service. Note that unused minutes on Beyond Talk plans with minute allotments don't roll over. For those uninterested in very much Internet usage, Virgin Mobile's PayLo talk and text plan could be a good choice. Prices for these plans start at $20 per month for 400 minutes of talk; text and data cost extra. The monthly $40 PayLo plan provides unlimited talk and text and 50 MB of data.

Performance

Uses the Sprint network. Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk service uses the Sprint network, and reviewers say coverage might be an issue. That's because unlike parent Sprint, Virgin Mobile does not allow users to roam on partner networks. The result is some large gaps in coverage, so make sure you check out Virgin Mobile's coverage map before you choose this service. Where coverage is available, the carrier earns average ratings for voice quality in surveys by J.D. Power and Associates, PCMag.com and others.

Customer service

Average ratings, and geared toward young customers. Virgin Mobile receives above-average ratings for its customer service in large customer surveys by PCMag.com and J.D. Power and Associates. Traditionally geared toward young customers, Virgin Mobile's website can be "hard to navigate and understand if you're over the age of 20," PrepaidReviews.com editors say. Although the editors at PrepaidReviews.com give Virgin Mobile 4.5 out of 5 stars, nearly 1,800 users aren't as enthusiastic, especially about customer service, awarding an average of 2 out of 5 stars.

Phone selection

Good selection of advanced phones. Virgin Mobile has a decent selection of smartphones for its Beyond Talk plans, starting entry-level devices that cost less than $50. More advanced smartphone users can instead opt for the latest iPhone models, including the Apple iPhone 5s (Est. $550 and up). Things aren't as robust on the Android side of things; high-end phones are limited to last-generation devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S III (Est. $400), though there is a good selection of mid- and entry-level handsets. Before selecting an LTE-capable phone, however, make sure that LTE service is available in your area as the Sprint/Virgin Mobile LTE network is still very small. PayLo talk and text users can't use smartphones with that service. Instead Virgin Mobile offers a handful of inexpensive basic-feature phones for its PayLo users, including some that cost less than $15.

Our Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org

Virgin Mobile is included in a customer satisfaction survey of over 58,000 cell phone users. Altogether, eight prepaid carriers are rated and ranked.

Review: Cell Phones and Services, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, January 2014

2. J.D. Power & Associates

In the 2013 J.D. Powers Customer Care survey of non-contract cell phone users, Virgin Mobile finishes just behind first-place winner MetroPCS. Both carriers earn the maximum 5 out of 5 stars.

Review: 2013 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Performance Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, Feb. 6, 2013

3. PCMag.com

Virgin Mobile falls in the middle of pack in PCMag.com's 2013 Reader's Choice survey, with high marks for fees and low marks for choice of phones, and network reliability. Virgin Mobile receives the lowest marks of all the cell phone carriers for coverage and speed.

Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013: Smartphones and Mobile Carriers, Ben Gottesman, March 13, 2013

4. TopTenReviews.com

Virgin Mobile receives the Silver award from the editors of TopTenReviews.com. Editors praise the carrier for its cost, customer support and features. Phone selection is also top rated, even though the editors note that the latest Android phones are not available.

Review: 2014 Best Prepaid Cell Phone Reviews and Comparisons, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not Dated

5. My Rate Plan

Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk is the second choice of editors at MyRatePlan.com for best no-contract cell plan of 2013, as reported in this news release posted at PRWeb.com. The unlimited talk, text and data allowances earn Virgin Mobile high praise.

Review: The Best No Contract Cell Phone Plans of 2013, According to MyRatePlan.com, Editors of MyRatePlan.com, July 18, 2013

6. PrepaidReviews.com

Although editors at PrepaidReviews.com give Virgin Mobile 4.5 out of 5 stars, users aren't as enthusiastic, especially about customer service; nearly 1,800 user reviews give the carrier a rating of 2 out of 5 stars. Editors do say that Virgin Mobile's prepaid wireless plans are confusing, and its website "can be hard to navigate and understand if you're over the age of 20."

Review: Virgin Mobile Prepaid Phone Service, Editors of and Contributors to PrepaidReviews.com, Not Dated

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