Are you looking for a mobile phone contract but are worried about how your poor credit history might affect you? Read our guide to learn how you can get mobile contract phones for bad credit.
Being turned down for a mobile phone contract because of your bad credit rating is a frustrating experience.
If you are applying for a Pay Monthly contact you will need to go through a credit check. This is because mobile phone contracts are effectively subsidised. You get to use the phone and pay back the cost of the new phone plus airtime in instalments over 12 to 24 months. There is a risk to the phone shop or network provider that you may not keep up with your payments, and so they will check your credit rating before they sign a contract with you.
If you are turned down for a mobile phone contract, one option is to get a Pay as you Go phone so you do not need to apply for credit from the network provider.
However, this can be inconvenient and costly as you will need to keep topping up and Pay as you Go can work out quite expensive over the long run. So for those looking for a phone contract with bad credit as a result of a missed repayment or other financial difficulties, finding a Pay Monthly contract may be a better option.
Like taking out a mortgage, loan or credit card, a mobile phone contract is something you need to apply for and for which you may be turned down if your credit rating is insufficient.
Your credit rating is based on your previous financial history and includes information about how you have repaid debts such as mortgages, credit cards and loans. If you always repay your credit on time and you are borrowing well within your credit limits, then your score will be high. However, if you miss payments, max out your credit cards, or have simply have a lot of outstanding credit commitments, then your score will be lower.
Try not to make lots of applications for credit within a short period of time – this can include credit cards, loans or mobile phone contracts – as this can adversely affect your credit score.
When you apply for a mobile phone contract, the provider or phone shop will do a credit check to assess how likely it is you'll be able to keep up with payments each month.
They are also checking the likelihood of you committing fraud. Your credit rating is really the only way they can assess this.
If you have missed payments on your credit card or any other bills, this will bring your credit score down, as will having an unreliable source of income. Though you may not be spending a large amount of money on a mobile phone each month, compared with say a credit card, there is still a financial risk to your network provider. They want to minimise the risk that they will lose money because you won't pay your phone bill.
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If you want to get a mobile phone contract and do not feel a Pay as you Go mobile phone is a good enough alternative, there are some things you can do to improve your chances.
Check your credit report for errors: If you have never seen your credit report and score then it is worth checking it to make sure there are no errors on it that could affect your credit rating. Read our guide on how to improve your credit score and your credit rating.
Choose a cheap phone: You can also apply for one of the low-end mobile phones on the market. Mobile phone network providers see a bigger risk in giving someone one of the high-end newer models on a contract, so go as low as possible to increase your chances. If you are also prone to damaging or losing your phone, it could also make sense to consider a far cheaper model. You could opt for a basic model and minimal calls and data bundles in order to reduce your costs and make it more likely that you will be approved for credit.
Consider a Sim-only contract: Likewise, Sim-only contracts are better for people with bad credit as there's no mobile phone involved in the deal. The mobile phone makes up much of the risk involved with a contract, so when you are only paying for the network the risk for the provider goes down.
It is worth making sure you are registered on the electoral roll at your address and set up direct debits to stay on top of all of your outstanding debts to prevent yourself from missing any repayments. You can see our guide to improving your credit rating for more ideas - it can really benefit you in the long run.
Beware of companies that say they can give you a mobile phone contract without any credit checks. These contracts come with quite a few caveats you should look out for.
Firstly, no credit check mobile phones are often outdated, so don't expect to get the latest smartphone. You will get a new, unused phone, but it will not be the latest model.
Another issue with no credit check mobile phone contracts is that the price is inflated by the fact that there are no credit checks involved.
Check your credit report to make sure you're in good shape to apply for loans, credit cards, overdrafts, mortgages and mobile phone contracts
You could be paying in excess of £30 per week for the phone plus data bundle if you want an up to date phone with no initial credit check. Some providers also ask for a deposit upfront, or that you use the network for two months using your old phone before they send you the new phone. All these measures are to check that you can handle your finances well enough to be able to keep up with the cost of the contract.
No credit check mobile phone deals will work out much more expensive, especially if you want the latest phone model.
Even without a credit check you are still signing up for a contract, so if you are not happy with the deal or the phone there's not much you can do until the contract is over. For example, a £30 a week contract would cost you £1,560 over the space of a year. If your finances are tight, do you really want to spend that much money on your phone?
Use the comparison table below to compare credit reports and see if another look at your credit report could help you improve your chances of getting a mobile phone contract.