Now more than ever, carriers are fighting for customer loyalty. Whether it’s the general shortage of new mobile consumers or T-Mobile’s bold ongoing Uncarrier initiative – or perhaps a mix of the two – it’s becoming abundantly clear that carriers are clawing for your business. Sprint recently unveiled a promotion that offered an entire year of unlimited service for free if you switched from an AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon postpaid plan, and today Virgin Mobile, a subsidiary of Sprint, took the wraps off of a similar promotion: One year of unlimited service for just $1 if you port your number to Virgin Mobile or are a current Virgin Mobile customer switching to an iPhone.
Aside from activation fees and SIM kits (and possibly a new phone) there weren’t many caveats to Sprint’s offer. Virgin Mobile, on the other hand, has one glaring qualification: iPhones are the only phones that qualify.
Not only that, but iPhones are the only phones that Virgin Mobile will carry on its network from now on. Virgin Mobile will offer the iPhone 6, iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7S. If you’re an Android (or Windows Phone) fan that absolutely refuses to buy an iPhone, this deal probably doesn't tickle your fancy. But for everybody else? It could be a great opportunity to save some cash.
Dubbed “Inner Circle”, Virgin Mobile’s offer is detailed as followed: You buy one of the aforementioned iPhones (full price; there are no installment plans here), pay $1, and get one year of unlimited service for a whole year. The next year, the price goes back to full price for the unlimited plan, which is $50 plus taxes and fees. There are some glossed over details, such as that customers who take up Virgin on the offer still need to pay monthly taxes and fees. “Unlimited” is also, ultimately, limited, and 4G LTE is capped at 23GB per month. It’s way above what an average user would use, but it’s still important to know that unlimited here still has its limits. On the plus side, Virgin offers a similar deal as T-Mobile when it comes to certain streaming services like music, video, and video games which won’t count against your data each month.
Similar to T-Mobile Tuesday, Virgin Mobile has its own freebies it’s throwing at customers who spring for this offer. For instance, you can get a free companion ticket to the UK, a night at a Virgin hotel, discounts on Virgin America flights, Virgin Sports festival, and their wine club. While these are tailored to a very niche group of people (T-Mobile Tuesdays seems to be more inclusive with discounts to chain restaurants, movie theatres, etc.) it’s still an enticing perk if you’re looking to travel to Europe between September and March this year.
The $1 for a year offer is only available to people who switch before July 31st. Users can get another 6 months of service for $1 if they upgrade to a new iPhone after 2 years of service.
So, is the deal worth it? If you were even remotely interested in switching carriers and don’t have any qualms with the iPhone, it’s absolutely worth it. No matter what plan you’re on, you’re saving hundreds of dollars in one year on a prepaid carrier, meaning there’s no risk of being bound by contract. Since you have to pay full price (the iPhone SE in particular is a good deal at $120 cheaper than Apple’s full retail price) for your phone up front, there’s no risk of getting stuck via installment plans, either. Even $50 per month afterwards is a reasonable price for unlimited.
However, the Sprint network tends to be hit or miss, depending on where you live. If you already know Sprint service is spotty in your area, then no amount of free service would really be worth it. But if you’re lucky enough to have good local Sprint coverage and love the iPhone as much as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson does, then this is an excellent deal to consider.
Readers, what are your thoughts on Virgin Mobile’s offer? Will you be jumping ship for $1 of unlimited service for a year, or is the now iPhone and Sprint network exclusivity holding you back?