Can I get a phone contract with poor credit?

Phone and pound icon

Much like applying for an overdraft or bank loan, if you have poor credit you're unlikely to get a mobile contract. But the good news is, you can still get a deal. See below to find out how…

So they can be sure that you’ll pay your bills on time, mobile phone networks carry out credit checks.

To that end, its important to make sure you’re on top of your payments, as a poor credit score can make securing a phone contract very difficult.

Why have you been refused?

Man looking at bills on computer screen

If you’ve been refused a contract, it’s important to work out why. Typically, you might have been rejected because:

  • You’ve missed payments
  • You’re not on the electoral roll
  • You’ve made too many credit applications in a short space of time
  • You don’t have enough credit history

To find more about why you might have failed your credit check in the first place, read our comprehensive guide.

As we say, though, it is still possible to get a phone contract with a bad credit score. But these contracts come with disadvantages:

Bad credit contracts tend to be more expensive

To make up for the fact that there are no credit checks, providers will usually charge more for the phone itself, which means the price of the contract will be higher than a normal contract. And you may pay more in the long-run.

Plus, just like any other contract, you could end up locked in for 12, or even 24 months. So think carefully before you sign on the dotted line.

Use someone else on your contract

If someone you know has a good credit rating, its worth asking if they’d be happy to set up a family account you can use.

You see, some family deals allow for up to ten people to join one contract. And with just one person responsible for paying the bill, the provider will only need to carry out just one credit check. Better still, these type of contracts can actually work out cheaper overall than a standard contract.

Alternatively, you could ask someone to be liable for your payments. Much like a guarantor when you rent a house, this person will act as a risk reducer to your provider.

Moreover, by doing this you could also improve your credit score – providing you’re on time with your payments, of course.

Choose an older, cheaper phone

Bunch of old phones

When it comes to getting a mobile contract, you’re far more likely to be accepted if you opt for an old handset than you would be if you choose the latest flagship.

So rather than get the latest iPhone – with a top-of-the-range processor and camera setup – you'll need to set your sites on handset that’s a few years old instead.

Pay upfront

Some providers will let you pay a set amount upfront if you struggle with a bad credit history.

This is a great way to offset your poor credit score, and will put your provider at ease. That said, if you go down this route, be prepared to pay a significant amount upfront – the provider is likely charge a hefty sum to counterbalance the risk of missed payments.

Where can I find contact deals?

Companies like No Hassle and Sunshine mobile offer phone contracts without a contract.

Remember, though, these contracts tend to work out more expensive than standard phone contracts, and your choice of phones will likely be limited.

For more information and deals, check out our bad credit phone deals page.

What are my other options?

If you’ve tried the above options and they haven’t worked out for you, a SIM only plan or pay as you go deal is well worth a look.

For starters, both will be cheaper than a pay monthly phone contract. And if you choose a 30-day rolling-contract SIM or opt for pay as you go, you won’t be tied into a lengthy contract, either.

SIM-only. If you can’t get a mobile contract with bad credit, we recommend a SIM only deal instead. If you already have an old handset in your drawer at home, a SIM deal will be ideal for you, and its possible to get one without having to pass a credit check.

Pay as you go. Pay as you go contracts don’t require any credit checks, either. And with these contracts, you’ll get no minimum monthly charges and, because you’ll only use a pre paid credit card, you won’t get any nasty charges at the end of the month, either. Moreover, you can also get a contract if you’re under eighteen too.

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