5.2 million Virgin Media home phone, broadband and TV customers will see prices rise by an average of 5.1% from November. But you'll be able to leave your contract penalty-free, or if you want to stay, you may be able to beat the hike by haggling.

The cable provider has started sending letters to customers today outlining the changes, which include a hike of just under £42/year for those with broadband and phone and those on 'Big Bundle' packages, and just under £36/year for those with broadband only.

It says it'll also be announcing price changes for new customers from 1 September.

The news comes just a few months after Virgin's last price rise, which saw home phone, broadband and TV customers stung with an average 5.4% increase in February. But as we explain below, it's possible to beat the hike.

How prices will rise

Virgin's changing the price of its packages across the board. Line rental's going up to £19/mth, making Virgin the most expensive of the major providers for this on a monthly basis. There's no difference in the increase due to your broadband speed though – all broadband packages are going up by the same amount.

If you're on a special deal Virgin says you'll get the same monthly discount but with the increase added on top. So for example if you get £10/month off standard pricing, your bill will go up by the amounts below; if you get 50% off, your bill will only go up by half the increase.

You should notice the changes on your first bill which covers 1 November (if you pay in advance, this will be your October bill). Here's a full list of how prices are changing:

Virgin price changes: in full

Line rental Current price Price from 1 Nov Increase
Monthly line rental £17.99/mth £19/mth £1.01/mth
Line Rental Saver £184/yr £196/yr £12/yr
Package (1) Current price Price from 1 Nov Increase
Broadband only (all speeds) £30.25/mth – £43.25/mth £33.24/mth – £46.24/mth £2.99/mth
Broadband and phone (all speeds) £36.99/mth – £49.99/mth £40.48/mth – £53.48/mth £3.49/mth
Big Easy – b'band, phone, 60+ channels £41.99/mth £45.48/mth £3.49/mth
Big Bang – b'band, phone, 130+ channels £51.99/mth £55.48/mth £3.49/mth
Big Kahuna – b'band, phone, 230+ channels £72.99/mth £76.48/mth £3.49/mth
(1) Prices include line rental where packages include home phone.

No changes are being made to call costs, call packages or TV add-ons. Virgin Mobile customers, who saw prices increase by up to £39/year in July, are also unaffected.

How to beat the hikes

Depending on whether you want to stay with Virgin, here are your options...

1. Switch provider – you CAN leave your contract penalty-free

According to rules imposed by regulator Ofcom, if there are mid-contract increases to your monthly line rental, broadband or mobile bill that weren't announced before you joined, you can cancel your contract without paying early termination charges.

This normally only applies to contracts taken out after 23 January 2014. However, Virgin has chosen to allow all customers affected by these changes to leave, regardless of when they joined.

Virgin's formally notifying customers by letter – you've then 30 days from receipt to let Virgin know if you want to leave. From that point there's a 30-day notice period, meaning you'll have to pay for this many days as a minimum. If you've paid for a year's line rental upfront you also won't be able to get a refund.

You should only be leaving if you think you can find a better deal elsewhere (or you no longer want Virgin). If so, see our Cheap Broadband, Cheap Home Phones and Digital TV guides for top picks.

Virgin Media to hit customers with price rise of up to £42/year – beat the hike
Virgin Media home phone, broadband and TV customers will see prices rise by an average of 5.1% from November

2. If you're happy to stick with Virgin – haggle away

The top deals are usually reserved for new customers, but since you've the right to leave without penalty, this puts you in a good position to haggle yourself a better deal.

See our Haggle with Virgin guide for detailed tips. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Benchmark the best deal elsewhere so you ask for a realistic discount.
  • Get through to the retentions (sometimes called disconnections) department. 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 in the past – eg, slow broadband – politely tell it when you haggle.
  • You may find that your Virgin customer service rep will only offer a small discount at first, but if you don't agree with the price use phrases like: "I've worked out my budget, and my absolute max is £[insert price here]/month"; "[TalkTalk/Sky/BT] can do it for less"; "I need to think about it".
  • You should never go with the first offer. Chances are, it's not the best deal they can do. Remember, be firm.
  • The salesperson may push you to agree because it's a 'limited-time offer' – don't feel pressured into agreeing to the new price or deal unless you're certain.
  • If they won't slash the price, see if they can include any extras, such as free calls or a boosted TV package.
  • Vote with your feet. If you don't get what you want you should seriously consider leaving.

What does Virgin say?

Gregor McNeil, managing director, consumer at Virgin Media, says: "Our customers are doing more online than ever before – data usage continues to grow by 60% every year.

"At Virgin Media our customers are getting more:  faster broadband, an upgraded TV service including a greater choice of box sets and the only place where you can watch all the live footballing action from both Sky and BT Sport in a single package.

"We do everything we can to keep prices competitive while striking the balance with investing in more of what our customers want."