Virgin Media prices to rise from February

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MANY of Virgin Media's broadband and phone packages will rise in price by an average 5.4% from February.

Customers have started to receive letters informing them of the changes, which include an almost inevitable hike in line rental, raising it from £16.99 to £17.99 - and up from £11.99 at the end of 2010.

It's expected that around 4.4 million people will also have to pay somewhere between £3.49 and £3.99 more for their bundles on top of that per month.

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Those who try to offset some of the increases by paying for 12 months' line rental up front will also face a higher bill, as their line rental saver will be increasing by £20, from £164 to £184.

People who only take broadband from Virgin are exempt for the time being - which will come as something of a relief given that their bills recently rose by £1.75 a month.

Virgin's new charges

Other call charges, features, and call bundles are staying the same price - and unlike several other providers, Virgin Media are keeping inclusive weekend calls in with the cost of line rental.

Current price From February 1st 2016
Line rental £16.99 £17.99
Line rental saver £164 £184

Customers taking one of the ISP's broadband and phone deals, or one of their highly popular Big Bundles will see those prices rise too.

Those with the Big Easy will see their package increase in price by £3.49 a month; other Big Bundle customers will face a £3.99 increase:

Current price From February 1st 2016
Big Easy £22 £25.48
Big Bang £32 £35.99
Big Kahuna £52 £55.99
Big Daddy £104.50 £108.49

People with the Big Kahuna and Big Daddy bundles have already seen their bills rise by £3 in recent months, after Virgin Media increased the cost of the BT Sport pack to cover the addition of BT Sport Europe.

The increase for customers on other bundles and packages will be somewhere between £1 - covering the increase in line rental - and £3.99.

Saying goodbye

Annual line rental and broadband package price increases are one thing, but many of us have been hit by more than one price rise per year - and not just by Virgin.

An investigation by Money Mail found that the big four providers - BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin - have increased their prices on 90 separate occasions since 2011.

At least it's now widely recognised that customers are entitled to leave mid-contract without a penalty when price rises are announced.

That's the result of Ofcom's tighter interpretation of guidelines governing how customers were treated when prices increased.

Communications providers were told that not only must they give their customers at least a month's notice of any price changes, but they had to let them leave free of charge if the changes were of material detriment.

Most of those who want to leave should now find it easier than ever - although Virgin customers might still find it involves some coordination.

In June 2015, Ofcom brought in simpler rules on switching between providers. Previously many would-be switchers had been obliged to call their existing providers to let them know and request transfer codes, often to be pestered to stay.

For those moving from one ISP to another on the BT Openreach network, that obligation was removed: nowadays, all they need to do is search for a new provider and sign up, and they do all the dirty work for us.

Moving to or from the Virgin Media cable network is still a little more complicated: there's more on what's involved here.

Doing more

In their defence, Virgin say that they're boosting download speeds to a maximum of 200Mb - the third such increase since 2012.

Seemingly rarely, their advertised speeds tend to match reality. According to This is Money, around 98% per cent of Virgin broadband customers get the advertised speed in off-peak hours, and more than half report getting these speeds at peak times.

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