It looks like Virgin Mobile is offering its long term customers the opportunity to "upgrade" to Sprint postpaid. A reader forwarded me an email (posted in full below) he got from Virgin offering a new Samsung Galaxy S6 for no money down and $20 per month for switching to postpaid. Whether that's a good deal depends on a lot of things. Here the details of the offer.
- The $20/month S6 is actually a 24 month lease. At the end of the lease you don't own the phone. You can either turn it in and lease a different phone or keep the phone and continue to pay $20 month.
Unlike with Sprint's regular lease agreements there doesn't seem to be an option to purchase the phone by paying the difference between the total payments and the phone's full price which is $552. Update: The offer's terms of service do mention that there's an option to purchase the phone although there's no indication of how the purchase price is calculated.
- There's no credit check, no activation fee and the customer's Virgin Mobile balance, if they have one, gets applied as a credit to their postpaid account. However there's a $150 spending limit. If you run up a bill over $150, service will be suspended until the bill is paid in full. Sprint normally charges a $7.99/month adninistrative fee on Spending Limit Accounts. The fee isn't mentioned in the offer email so maybe Sprint is waiving it.
- The deal is only good for individual lines. The only available plan seems to be $60/per month which includes unlimited talk, messaging and data, domestic voice and text roaming, some data roaming, unlimited calls and texts to Mexico and Canada and unlimited calls and texts and 1 GB of data while roaming in Mexico and Canada. The majority of use must be on the Sprint network.
One has to wonder what this means for the future of Virgin Mobile. Sprint certainly hasn't been doing much to retain Virgin customers only. Only a handful of mostly old and low end devices are available on the Virgin Mobile site. Sprint pulled Virgin from the independent dealer channel last year. Virgin's plans aren't very competitive anymore even compared with Boost mobile, Sprint's other prepaid brand.
Could Sprint be winding Virgin down in anticipation on merging it into Boost or Sprint Prepaid? Maybe, but Sprint has a long history of running hot and cold with its prepaid brands. From in 2004 to 2009 Boost got all the love with heavy promotion including the big budget "Where you at?" TV spots featuring Kanye West and other well known hip hop artists as well as NFL stars and other athletes. In 2010, the pendulum shifted to Virgin with the heavily promoted launch of the Samsung Intercept, the first Android phone from a US prepaid carrier and its companion $25/month 300 minute, unlimited texts and 2.5 GB of data plan. Boost languished with little promotion until last year when Sprint brought it back to the forefront with with increased data, the high end devices and free phones and double data for customers switching from other operators. Given the history, it's certain possible that Sprint will revive Virgin for some new promotion rather than killing it.
Here's the full email that the Virgin Mobile customer received: