Can I Get a Cell Phone With Bad Credit?

Author · Modified on 16 October, 2023

Yes, you can get a cell phone with poor credit, generally speaking.

Cell phone contract providers almost always carry out some sort of credit check on potential customers, as you’ll have to make a financial agreement to pay a certain amount of money on a monthly basis, and a provider needs to ensure you’ll be able to make these payments.

Even if you have bad credit you can still find a way of getting a decent mobile phone deal – right now, around 96% of the American population has a cell phone and so it is likely that there is a cell phone deal out there for everyone, no matter your credit score.

How to Get a Cell Phone with Poor Credit?


In many cases, customers with bad credit who want to get a new cell phone often subject themselves to hefty deposits or credit checks. However, there are still several ways for you to get a cell phone without throwing yourself in bigger debt and harming your credit.


Get a Prepaid Plan


One of the most common and efficient ways to get a cell phone with bad credit is to opt for a prepaid plan. Like prepaid checks, this option has you paying a certain fee in advance before you use any services.

Since you are paying in advance every month, this one does not need credit checks. Your credit may have hit rock bottom, but you’d still be eligible to get a prepaid plan.


Enroll in a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) Plan


The latest smartphones, such as iPhones and Samsungs are often great to use and have many cool functions and features, but the upfront price is usually extremely high – we’re looking at over $500.

This being the case, you could decide to enroll in a “buy now, pay later” plan. As the name suggests, you can get this phone without needing a deposit or a credit check, and then pay it later on in installments. Typically, these plans are paid off in 12-24 months.


Use a Cosigner


One other efficient way of getting a cell phone is to use a guarantor (i.e. cosigner). If someone with excellent credit signs on your behalf, then you may get your cell phone plan even with bad credit.

Just as with using a guarantor for financial products such as installment loans, you should bear in mind that you need to make timely payments because if you don’t, your cosigner will become responsible for paying off your debt.


Get Added to a Family Plan


A family plan is yet one more efficient way to get a cell phone. If you have a family member that has excellent credit, then you might want to join in the family plan offers. You might even get access to features that are not normally available to people of your credit score.


cell phone bad credit

96% of the American population has a cell phone!


Does Every Cell Phone Provider Run a Credit Check?


Phone contracts that have a new mobile phone and a payment plan that spans one to two years will usually require you to pass a credit check. Most of the major networks like Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T will conduct a credit check if you want to sign up to a contract.

Your best bet is to find a good SIM only deal that is on a monthly rolling basis. This way, you won’t need to pass a check but you’ll still get a good rate on data, calls and texts.


How Can I Improve My Credit?


If you don’t want to settle for an older phone or worry about being rejected, your only option is to try and improve your overall credit score.

There are several things you can do to bump your rating.


1) Register to vote


You can boost your credit score by registering to vote. If you use the same address for this and your phone contract, it indicates a sense of stability that providers approve of when checking your background history.


2) Don’t over apply


Making too many credit applications at once can be seen as you experiencing significant financial problems. This could then damage the credit check for your new phone.


3) Pay on time


If you pay your credit card bills on time and keep on top of your rent or household bills, your credit score will start to improve, allowing you to be more flexible when searching for a new phone deal.


4) Show a long credit history


If you can successfully manage repayments, especially over a long period of time, this will look great on your credit history. Keep any old accounts open, too, so financial stability is clear.


5) Lower your Credit Utilisation


This is the percentage of your credit limit you actually use. For example, if your monthly limit is $1,000 but you only end up spending $500 one month, your credit utilisation for that month would be 50%.

Try keeping your credit utilisation below 50% so lenders will look at you more favourably.

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