Around 4.4 million Virgin Media home phone, broadband and TV customers will be hit with inflation-busting price hikes of 5.4% on average from 1 February 2016, the provider has announced.

But you can cancel penalty-free, and there are ways for those who want to stay with Virgin Media to beat the hikes as we explain below. Also see our Haggle with Virgin guide, plus Cheap Home Phones and Cheap Broadband for the best buys.

How prices will rise from 1 February 2016

Here's what's happening to line rental:

  • Line rental: Rises from £16.99/mth to £17.99/mth – up £1/mth.
  • Line rental saver (for new and renewing customers): Rises from £164/year to £184/year – up £20/year.

Here are the increases for bundles and packages – the £1/mth line rental increase is included in the price rises below:

  • Big Connection: Rises from £34.49/mth to £37.98/mth – up £3.49/mth.
  • Big Easy: Rises from £38.99/mth to £42.48/mth – up £3.49/mth.
  • Big Bang: Rises from £48.99/mth to £52.98/mth – up £3.99/mth.
  • Big Kahuna: Rises from £68.99/mth to £72.98/mth – up £3.99/mth.
  • Big Daddy: Rises from £121.49/mth to £125.48/mth – up £3.99/mth.
  • All other bundles and packages: Rise by between £1/mth and £3.99/mth, depending on the package. (The 'Big' packages above may rise to a different price if you're on a legacy tariff, but the increase will still be £3.49 or £3.99.)

Virgin Media's 500,000 broadband-only customers, who have already seen prices hiked by up to 6% this month, are not affected by today's announcement, and neither are mobile-only customers.

Three steps to beat the Virgin Media hikes and cut costs

1. Ditch and switch. You can leave penalty-free

If you're unhappy with the price hikes, you can leave penalty-free by contacting Virgin Media within 30 days of receiving a notification letter about the hikes – these are being posted from today.

Virgin Media says you're entitled to cancel your media services (phone, broadband and TV), but not your mobile service if you have one, as this is a separate contract.  

See our Cheap Home Phones and Cheap Broadband guides for the current best buys if you're thinking of switching.

2. Want to stick with Virgin Media? Pay line rental upfront to cut costs – plus see if you can boost your broadband speed

Standard line rental will cost £17.99/month (£215.88/year) from 1 February 2016 for existing customers (from 24 November 2015 for new customers). If you can afford to pay upfront, choose Virgin Media's line rental saver option where you pay in one go for the whole year.

If you do that before 1 February, you can lock in for the year at the current £164 price, vastly undercutting standard line rental. If you get it after 1 February it'll cost £184, which is still a £31.88 saving compared with the new standard line rental price.

From 1 October, customers have also been able to check if they're eligible for a free broadband speed boost of up to 70Mb, 150Mb or 200Mb (from existing speeds of up to 50Mb, 100Mb and 152Mb) – the exact speed you'll get depends on your current package.

Just use Virgin Media's tool to check when your area will get a speed upgrade, and if you're eligible to get one now, call 150 from a Virgin Media mobile or log in to your 'myvirginmedia' account to activate it.

3. Want to stick with Virgin Media? Haggle, haggle, haggle

The best prices are usually reserved for new customers, so existing ones lose out. But if you're willing to take the haggle challenge, you could beat the price hike. We've heard many success stories – for example, Helen emailed us last month:

Just to say thank you very much for your weekly e-mail tips. I have just phoned Virgin Media and got our bill reduced by £30 per month plus a new router – great result!

In our latest service provider haggle poll, 81% of Virgin Media (not Virgin Mobile) customers who'd tried to haggle reported success. See our guide on how to haggle with Virgin for full help on what to do, but in the meantime, here are five tips to start...

  • Benchmark the best deal elsewhere so you ask for a realistic discount.
  • Get through to the retentions (sometimes called disconnections) department, as they have the most power to slash costs as their job is to keep you.
  • Use charm and be friendly. Aggression or anger will just put their back up.
  • Don't panic if they call your bluff and say they'll disconnect you.
  • Problems mean discounts, so if you've had issues with Virgin Media in the past – eg, slow broadband – politely tell it when you haggle.

Also watch Martin's How to haggle video for more inspiration.

How to beat Virgin Media's 5.4% broadband, home phone and TV price hike
How to beat Virgin Media broadband, home phone and TV price hikes

What are other providers doing?

It's not just Virgin Media hiking prices. Here's a summary of price hikes the other major telecoms providers have recently enforced:

Why is Virgin Media upping prices?

Gregor McNeil, managing director of Virgin Media's consumer department, says: "We are doing everything we can to keep prices as competitive as possible.

"Through the continuing investment in our network we are again upgrading our customers' broadband speeds and providing unlimited downloads – meeting the growth in data consumption we see. Our customers want to do more online, so we are always making sure that our customers get more for the prices they pay."