Vodafone and Virgin Mobile are two of the most popular companies to come out of the UK, with huge customer bases in Australia, too. In fact they have quite a lot of things in common. In addition to their origins, both of their names start with the letter ‘V’ and their respective colour schemes are both red. But what about their phone plans? Canstar Blue has produced a comprehensive guide to their mobile plan offers, so you can determine which one of these British telcos you want to say G’day to.
Before we dive in, let’s first just explain that Vodafone has its own mobile phone network infrastructure, whereas Virgin Mobile operates off the Optus network. If this is a deal breaker for you, then we hope you enjoyed this review. If you’re not fussed about which network you use, read on.
Virgin Mobile vs Vodafone: What’s on offer?
Between the two providers, there are about 50 plans in total, which is a pigging massive amount. This is split up into four general categories:
- Prepaid plans from $15
- Postpaid, SIM only, month-to-month plans from $30
- Postpaid, SIM only, 12 month plans from $30
- Phones on a plan from $30
Both providers have a few plans in each category, so let’s get a look at what’s on offer below.
Prepaid Plans from $15 Compared
Prepaid plans are convenient because they are no-fuss and you can recharge whenever you like. Between Vodafone and Virgin Mobile, if it’s just a regular old prepaid plan you want with a 28 day expiry, both offer quite a lot.
- Virgin seems to take the cake for both the budget end and the high end of prepaid plans, but Vodafone has the middle ground sorted
- Virgin offers five plans with 28 day expiries, ranging from $19 to $99. None of the plans have unlimited calls or texts – instead, dollar values are in place. This is what you get:
- Unlimited Virgin to Virgin calls and texts
- Calls are 90c a minute, plus 40c flagfall
- Texts are 25c
- All plans have data rollover up to 12GB when you recharge before expiry
Vodafone, on the other hand, has the middle ground sorted with 3GB data plus unlimited calls & texts for $30. This is a simple, straightforward option. Other plans include a $40 plan with 9GB, and a $50 plan with 12GB. Keep in mind these latter two plans come with a 35 day expiry, which is a valued addition if your data doesn’t quite get gobbled up in 28 days. Compare these to Virgin’s plans which all come on a 28 day expiry period; for $29 you do get 2GB but only $450 call value. Here’s a small taste of what both have to offer:
Prepaid plans with long expiry periods
Both Virgin and Vodafone have a range of plans with varying expiry, from 90 days all the way up to 365 days. These represent a great niche for people who either desire longer expiries for a second spare phone or for ultimate low-fuss flexibility.
- Both Virgin and Vodafone have plans in this arena but Virgin has more to choose from
- Most have dollar-value credit limits attached, though Virgin does include 100mb data on some plans
Virgin dominates the ranks with its range of expiries from 90 to 365 days. Often, you won’t get data included, just dollar values applied. Text, call and data rates are also generally lower in value than its other prepaid plans. Texts cost 28c, calls are 78c a minute plus 40c flagfall, and Virgin to Virgin calls will cost 5c plus a 40c flagfall. Vodafone represents a similar proposition.
A special mention must be made for Vodafone’s MyMix plans. While the telco is a bit lacklustre as far as ‘pay as you go’ (PAYG) phone plans are concerned, it does offer customers an interesting plan builder, labelled ‘MyMix’. With the MyMix platform you can build your own phone plan and customise features like calls & texts, data, international calls & texts, and even your expiry period – from 7 to 90 days. While you do tend to pay for this convenience, it doesn’t work out to be too much more than equivalent plans and with the added bonus of being able to get exactly what you want.
Overall, if you’re a regular phone user, you might find these ‘alternate’ prepaid plans a bit of a waste of time. However, their varying expiry periods make these plans viable for someone with a second ‘emergency’ phone, or for the person who hardly uses a mobile in this day and age. Here’s how the plans with varying expiry periods look:
SIM Only, Month to Month Plans from $30 Compared
A postpaid mobile plan is great because you can just ‘set and forget’, and providers frequently do battle with how much extra data they can throw in. Month to month contracts also mean that you can leave whenever you like when you spy a better deal. In this postpaid, no lock-in contract space, the two providers do battle over data inclusions.
- Both providers start at $30 a month, but Virgin throws in 2.5GB for your troubles, while Vodafone can only muster up 1GB.
- At the upper ranks, however, Vodafone dominates and for $100 a month you can get a massive 25GB data
All in all, expect ‘tit for tat’ variations. For example, Vodafone might offer big data inclusions on a lot of plans, but Virgin has international call credit included in some plans. It’s hard to decide the winner here as there’s something for everyone.
SIM Only, 12 Month Plans from $30 Compared
This is where the two providers tend to shine most. Prices range from $30 up to $85 per month, and once again Vodafone seems to dominate the upper price ranges, while Virgin places itself as a ‘budget friendly’ choice.
Where Virgin and Vodafone separate themselves is the international calling stakes. With Virgin you’ll get between $50 and $500 international credit. With Vodafone you can generally go one of two ways – opt for more data, or get more international credit with the added bonus of Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
- Vodafone offers $5 roaming, which is a popular feature
- Virgin offers data-free music streaming on many plans
Overall, both are pretty neck and neck in terms of extras. So, are you calling overseas, or actually heading overseas? Here’s an example of how little there is between the two:
Phones on a Plan from $30 Compared
This is the business-end of the mobile market. Both service providers offer a range of phones to bundle your plan with, from the cheap to the high-end. It’s handy to use the new iPhone 8 64GB as a yardstick, comparing what each provider has to offer.
Arguably, Vodafone offers the most interesting proposition. It has gone to remove your plan from your phone repayment. All plans come on a month-to-month basis by default, and the only thing you’re locked into paying for is the phone repayment. This means that you can change your phone plan without incurring penalties. Say you think you need 2GB data one month but that doesn’t suffice, the next month you can switch to a 5GB phone plan and so on.
- The 12, 24 and 36 month phone repayments by Vodafone give a lot of flexibility and options for customers
- Virgin still lays claim to the cheapest iPhone 8 plan, which comprises of a $40 plan and $29 for the phone repayment, but Vodafone offers a lot more for a comparable price albeit over 36 months
Once again, Virgin Mobile offers international credit as standard on its plans, and with Vodafone you can choose either a ‘Global’ plan or a ‘Data’ plan. While the cheapest iPhone 8 plan between these two comes in at around $60 a month from Virgin Mobile, you may find it’s well worth going with Vodafone for fringe benefits such as extra data or Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
- If you’re willing to stick around for up to three years, Vodafone also throws in lots of data for a comparatively low price.
- Virgin does offer data-free music streaming as standard, however.
These are just some of the examples that Vodafone offers when you side with them, but Virgin does tend to dominate the cheaper end of the spectrum. Are these perks from Vodafone enough to sway you over? Only you can decide that. Here’s an example of how Vodafone and Virgin do battle in the ‘phone on a plan’ segment:
Virgin vs Vodafone: Where to find the best deal?
The two companies starting with V whose colour is red are markedly similar in what they offer to the masses. Often their plans are near identical, with unlimited calls and texts and set amounts of data, so it may be a little disappointing for those shopping around to see that there isn’t as much robust competition.
However, where the two separate is their bundled plans. Using the iPhone 8 as an example, it’s apparent that Virgin offers the cheapest, no-frills plans starting at around $70 a month. Vodafone dominates the high-end market, however, and arguably offers customers great flexibility with its 12, 24 and 36 month plans.
- Vodafone has a superior swathe of perks to get you over the line, including the Frequent Flyer points and data bonuses.
- In this instance, if you’re after the cheapest plan out there, Virgin may be the go.
All in all, both providers are pretty even in terms of value across the board, but Vodafone may have the slight edge in the bundled plan market, with Virgin shining in other areas. It all depends on what you’re after, and it never hurts to compare more providers in your hunt for the best value.