Most phone providers will run a credit check when you apply for a new phone plan to ensure that you’re financially responsible and can be counted on to pay your bills on time. If you have a bad credit score, it can be hard to get a phone plan.
With that said, some providers offer alternative plans for people with bad credit or an insufficient credit history. We’ll take a look at the different options you have when shopping around for a phone plan, what you need to apply, and how you can build credit while paying your phone bills.
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What credit score do you need to get a cell phone plan?
There’s no universal minimum credit score required to get a cell phone plan. Phone carriers have different criteria, and their requirements can also vary between specific plans.
However, as a very rough guide, if your credit score is below 620 or so, you might have a harder time finding a plan. That’s usually the point below which your credit score will begin to seriously interfere with your life in various ways.
Can you get a phone plan without credit?
Yes, you can get a phone plan without credit. Some phone carriers offer specialized plans that don’t require a credit check. There are also other ways you can get a traditional phone plan that requires a credit check, even if you have no credit history to speak of.
Can you get a phone plan with bad credit?
Similarly, if you have bad credit, then your application for a phone plan is more likely to be denied than if you had good credit. However, as we’ve said, there are certain types of phone plans you can get that don’t require a credit check.
How to get a cell phone plan with no credit check
There are a few main ways to get a phone plan with no credit check. These are your best option if you have bad credit or no credit:
1. Apply for a prepaid phone plan
Prepaid phone plans come with credit that you’ve purchased in advance. With these plans, you can generally only use the services you’ve already paid for, and you make payments when your credit runs out or the service period ends (which often happens on a monthly basis).
Since you’re paying in advance, your cell phone provider is taking on less risk with one of these plans, which means you can get one without a credit check.
These plans also have other benefits. For instance, you can easily change providers without having to pay any penalty fees. However, unlike with a traditional plan, a prepaid plan doesn’t allow you to get a new phone and pay for it in installments.
Which cell phone companies do not require a credit check?
The three major phone plan providers, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, offer several prepaid plans that don’t require a credit check. These plans are actually cheaper than their postpaid plans (often about $30 cheaper per month).
See the table below for a price comparison between these companies’ prepaid plans:
Phone Carriers that Offer Prepaid Plans
|Phone Carriers||2-5 GB||10-15 GB||Unlimited|
|Verizon Prepaid||$25/ mo, starting at $40/mo||$35/mo, starting at $50mo||$50/mo starting at $65/mo|
|AT&T Prepaid||$30/mo||$40/mo||$50/mo starting at $65-$75/mo|
|T-Mobile Simply Prepaid||-||$40/mo||$50-$60/mo|
|Mint Mobile||$15/mo, starting at $45/mo||$20-$25/mo, starting at $60-$75/mo||$30/mo, starting at $90/mo|
2. Join a family plan
Joining a family phone plan won’t require you to undergo a credit check either. However, it does mean that the main account holder will need to undergo one, as they’re responsible for all the bills, including any missed or late payments from your personal account.
You can also potentially save money with a family phone plan because you’ll be splitting the cost with others.
3. Pay a security deposit
If you can afford to pay a security deposit upfront when applying for a phone plan, then you can sometimes bypass a credit check. The amount you’ll need to pay on the deposit depends on the phone carrier and your credit score, but it could reach several hundred dollars.
Shop around and research what deposit amount different phone carriers require for someone with your credit score (or with no credit, if you don’t have a score yet). Most major carriers (like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint) will refund your deposit after a full year of uninterrupted service or whenever you cancel your account.
Can you get a phone plan by finding a cosigner?
Several other sites claim that another way to get a phone plan with no credit check is to get someone with good credit to cosign your application.
Unfortunately, we reached out to the carriers listed above and weren’t able to confirm that any of them accept cosigners. One company representative (of Sprint/T-Mobile) claimed that their company never allows cosigning.
If you’re able to find a phone carrier that will waive their credit check requirement if you have a cosigner, this method might work for you, but we recommend not counting on it.
What else do you need to get a phone plan?
In addition to checking your credit, phone companies may ask you to provide the following personal information when you sign up for a phone plan:
- Personal identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card
- Telephone number
You can usually submit this information either in-store or online, through the carrier’s website.
Why would you be declined for a phone contract?
There are several reasons for why your phone contract application might be declined, but all stem from issues that the phone company has identified that point to you being a high-risk customer.
Here are potential causes for a phone plan application to be rejected:
- Lack of credit history
- History of late payments
- Having a joint credit account with someone else who has poor credit
If you want a phone plan that requires a credit check and you’ve had issues with your credit, take steps to repair your credit score before submitting your application.
How can I build my credit while paying my phone bills?
Usually, your cell phone carrier won’t directly report your bill payments to the credit bureaus, which means they won’t affect your credit score (either positively or negatively).
However, if you’re looking to build your credit by reporting your payments, you can use services like Experian Boost and LevelCredit to add your regular monthly bills to your credit report. This will boost your credit score—provided you’re consistent about paying on time.
However, note that although Experian Boost is free, it will only add your phone payments to your Experian credit report and not your TransUnion or Equifax report. Services that report to all three bureaus are usually paid.
Another way of building credit by paying your phone bills is to use a credit card for your payments. While this won’t show up as phone payments on your credit report—it’ll just show up as your regular credit card payments—it can also help you establish a good credit history if you pay your credit card bill promptly each month.