It is the maximum amount of credit Virgin Mobile will extend to you on your monthly bill.
I.E. Suppose you used up your mobile data allowance within the first couple of days but then continued accessing mobile data each day. You would be charged £2 per day for this use. After 25 days you would have used (be in debt) to the tune of £50.00 and Virgin would cap it at that.
There is no set number of SIM only payments you can make which can guarantee you a phone contract.
The handset agreement is an interest free loan or credit agreement that is taken out over the period. As the agreement is a loan agreement then a credit check would have to be ran in line with the FCA guidelines.
Unfortunately loyalty/history with Virgin isn't the consideration as it’s your external credit file that would decide if you could pass for a loan or not.
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