As occasional users of cell phones, we subscribe to Virgin Mobile’s pay-as-you-go service. When I signed up initially, a $25 top-up lasted 120 days (i.e. the amount of time you have to top up to prevent your unused credit from expiring) but about two years back, Virgin Mobile reduced the expiry across the board and a $25 top-up was cut back to 90 days. Today, Virgin Mobile announced that they are yet again reducing the length of pre-paid top up expiries. The minimum top up of $15 will now last 30 days (down from 45) and a $25 top up will last 60 days (down from 90).
Fortunately, there is plenty of competition in the pre-paid cell phone service business and Petro-Canada Mobility (yes, the gas station) is now a clear winner. In contrast to Virgin Mobile, a $20 credit with Petro-Canada lasts a stunning 180 days (three times as long as the nearest competition). It so happens that both our cell phones with Virgin Mobile need a top up in the near future and I am going to vote with my wallet and move our business to Petro-Canada. The way I see it, even a high-end phone from Petro-Canada will pay for itself in less than a year as air time would cost $40 compared to $150 with Virgin Mobile’s new service changes.