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How to get a mobile phone deal with poor credit history

If you've got poor credit, you can still get a mobile phone. Find out how.
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How to get a mobile with poor credit guide young woman with credit card looks at her phone

When you sign up for a mobile phone contract, you usually have to pass a credit check. This is because you’ll be making a financial agreement to pay a certain amount of money each month.

But what if you have a poor credit history? Will this stop you from being able to get a mobile contract? Don’t worry; even if you have bad credit, you can still find a way of getting a decent mobile phone deal. Let’s take a look at your options.

If you’ve found a deal that includes a phone, data and minutes for a monthly fee, you’ll almost certainly have to pass a credit check to be able to sign up. But did you know that the credit check will be harder to pass depending on the price of the phone?

If you’ve currently got a poor credit history, this might rule you out of getting the latest and most expensive smartphones, like the iPhone 15. The newer smartphones can come with costly monthly payment plans, so your first option would be to find a cheaper, older phone.

You can still try for an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, but instead of the latest model, it can work out a lot cheaper to opt for an earlier release like the iPhone 12 or the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE. The cheaper the contract, the better chance you’ll have of passing the credit check.

Another option could be if you could find a contract that includes a used handset as opposed to a new one. This might also improve your chances of passing the check.

Your best bet could be to opt for a SIM-only deal that doesn’t require you to sign up for a contract. Unlike pay-as-you-go deals, which usually don’t come with good perks or allowances, SIM-only plans still give you a good amount of data, calls, and minutes to use.

Which networks do mobile deals for people with bad credit?

Pay monthly deals from major networks like EE, O2, and Vodafone will usually require you to pass a credit check. However, there are a number of networks that offer rolling monthly deals that won’t require a check, but it’s worth noting that you won’t get a mobile phone with the deal.


You won’t need to pass a credit score check to sign up to one of giffgaff’s SIM only deals, as they essentially work like a pay-as-you-go deal. You just sign up for a 30-day bundle, which includes data, texts and calls. Then, once the month is up, you either stick with the bundle you’re on, choose another plan or go with something else altogether. You can also pick from add-ons and extra perks to go with your plan. Get a giffgaff SIM from just £8 a month.

Check out our best giffgaff SIM only deals


VOXI has a range of affordable SIM only deals that you can sign up to on rolling 30-day contracts. That means you can opt out of the deal after just one month. VOXI won’t perform a credit check for any of these deals. VOXI plans also have the added bonus of not counting any social sites you visit as part of your data allowance. You can sign up to VOXI with no-strings attached from just £10 a month.

Check out our best VOXI SIM only deals


Smarty’s rolling SIM only plans are another way of getting a phone deal without having to do a credit check. With plans that run on a month-to-month basis, if you need to stop paying at any point, you won’t find yourself in any bother. Smarty’s deals range from 2GB of data with unlimited calls and texts for £5 a month to unlimited data, calls and texts for £16 a month.

Check out our best Smarty SIM only deals

Lebara Mobile

Lebara Mobile is another network that offers a range of very affordable SIM only deals that don’t ask you to pass a credit check. Lebara also offers attractive rates for overseas calling, which can be useful if you need to get in touch with friends and family overseas. Lebara deals start from as little as £3.95 a month, and you’ll never have any obligation to continue beyond a month.

Check out our best Lebara SIM only deals

How can you get a mobile phone to go with a SIM only deal?

These rolling SIM only plans won’t come with a mobile phone, so they’re ideal if you already have a phone you’re happy to use. But what if you need a new phone too? Well, if a pay monthly plan that includes a handset is not an option, you can save up and buy one outright.

There are a number of smartphones out there that don’t cost the eye-watering sums you might see for the likes of the iPhone 15 Pro Max or the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Even Apple and Samsung make great phones at decent prices, like the iPhone SE, which costs £429, or the Samsung Galaxy A55 5G, which costs £439.

If that’s still a bit too much, you could get a refurbished phone. These are used phones that have been rigorously tested to ensure they’re still fully functional and then sold at a fraction of their original price.

Do all phone networks make you pass 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 EE, Vodafone, O2, and Three 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.

Why do you have bad credit?

If you have failed a credit check, it can be due to several factors. You may have missed a number of payments, repeatedly made late payments, or even made too many credit applications at the same time. Even not being on the electoral roll can impact your credit score.

How can you improve your credit rating?

There are a few actions you can take to improve your credit rating. Generally, it revolves around staying on top of your finances and managing your money and bills.If you take the following steps you’ll be on the right track to getting good credit.

  • Make sure you have a proper bank account

  • Pay your outgoing bills on time, including your mobile bill

  • Make sure you’re registered on the electoral roll

  • Try not to share accounts or bills with someone else who has bad credit

If you’re ever struggling to find money for your mobile bills, it’s always worth getting in touch with your network if you ever need to make a late payment. They may be able to help out and allow you to stagger the payment, pay a smaller amount, or pay at a later time.


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