Can I get a phone contract without a bank account?

phone contract

For one reason or another I don’t have a bank account, but I’d like to get a phone on a monthly contract. Is that possible? George, Southampton

You’re not alone, George. In fact, over one million people in the UK don’t have a bank account. 

On paper, you don’t need a bank account to get a cheap phone contract. You could get a pre-paid credit card and pay for your contract that way.

But in reality it’s a lot easier to get approved for a contract phone if you do have a bank account. And the good news is that it’s now very easy to get a 'basic bank account', even if you’ve got bad credit.

Basic bank accounts explained

High-street banks are now legally obliged to offer so-called ‘basic bank accounts’ to customers. And you won't need to pass a credit check to get one. 

These won’t allow you to go overdrawn. But you will be able to get a debit card, which will mean you can set up a direct debit to pay your monthly phone bill.

Which banks offer a basic bank account?

Banks that offer basic bank accounts include:

  • Barclays
  • Co-operative Bank
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Bank
  • Metro Bank
  • Nationwide
  • Natwest
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Santander
  • TSB
  • Virgin Money

But be aware: if you’ve got a bad credit rating, you’re still likely to be refused.

What are my alternatives to a bank account?

If you really don’t want a bank account, you have a few alternatives.

One is to buy a phone outright and off-contract. And then get a pay as you go SIM card.

The catch is that you’ll need a lump sum to pay for a phone outright. So you might want to look at cheaper Android models, such as Motorola’s Moto G7 series, that sell for a shade over £100.

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