In today’s world, everybody needs a cell phone plan, and if you have bad credit it can be difficult to be approved for a cell phone contract.
Consumers with bad credit probably don’t want their credit run in the first place. Adding another hard inquiry onto a credit report comes with consequences after all.
Different carriers may or may not penalize customers for forgoing a credit check, but most consumers won’t experience problems.
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Know Your Credit Score
The first thing you should do before trying to get a cell phone plan without having a credit check is to know your score. Your score might not be as bad as you think and you might be able to qualify based on your current credit.
Also if your credit is just average and you are accepted for a contract, this can be a chance to raise your credit score by making your cell phone payments regularly.
How to Get a Cell Phone with no Credit Check
1. Use No Credit Check Cell Phone Services (Like T-Mobile)
Many major service providers require a contract for a good reason. When you enter a contract you are essentially getting the newest phones for no upfront price, which means you will have a monthly bill.
What many do not realize is that you are slowly paying for the price of the phone over time with your monthly bills. Over the course of a contract, you will have paid for the service and the price of the phone itself. You are basically receiving a loan which is why you need good credit.
Fortunately, many major service providers have special plans that do not require any sort of credit check. The downside to these plans is they will not have all the features you will see with a normal contract.
These services provide pay as you go month to month billing. This means that no matter how bad your credit rating is, you can always have access to a cell phone.
2. Get a Cosigner
Some companies will allow you to use a cosigner to get a cell phone contract. A cosigner is someone who signs onto the loan with you. If you fail to make payments, it falls under the cosigner to make the payments for you.
You can choose anyone to be a cosigner for you, as it can be family or friends. When the approval process is performed, the company will run a credit check on the cosigner and not yourself.
Keep in mind that the cosigner puts their credit score at risk by signing onto the loan with you, so ensure they know the risks, and choose someone that trusts you.
3. Join a Family Plan
If you can’t get a cell phone contract on your own, another method is to join someone else’s family plan — say your parent’s or a relative’s.
You can completely bypass the credit check AND save a pile of money (cell phone family plans tend to have discounted rates for the members).
Family plans range from the low end of $25 to about $50 per month.
4. Pay a Security Deposit
Some companies will allow you to pay a security deposit upfront in order to get a cell phone contract with no credit check. The security deposit will range anywhere from $50 to $300.
If you show over time that you are making payments regularly you will get your security deposit back.
However, if your account is not in good standing with you missing payments, then the deposit can be held by the company for as long as they like.
5. Become an Authorized User
Another option that is possible for you to try is to become an authorized user on somebody else’s account. How it works is, some cell phone companies will allow you to put your account under someone else name, which will use that person’s credit score to award you a contract.
The person that owns the account then can allow you to make changes to the account. This should be done with someone that you know well and trust.
For example, you could get a contract under your best friend’s name. You will be responsible for making your payments. But if you miss payments it affects the owner of the account which would be your best friend.
It is similar to a cosigner as they are putting their credit at risk.
Keep in mind, if you are making regular payments, your credit in no way will be increasing or improving, as the owner of the account’s credit will improve.
6. Try Pay As You Go / Prepaid Carrier
If you have tried all the above options and still have yet to get a cell phone contract, you might have to use pay as you go (also called the prepaid carrier).
Pay as you go plans allow you to purchase a prepaid plan upfront which includes a specific amount of minutes, texts, and data that can be used.
There are different plans available depending on how much you will use your phone. You will be surprised at a number of features you can get with pay-as-you-go plans, and also, they are generally cheaper than contracts.
So this could actually benefit you if it can save you money while providing all the features that you need.
Many of the pay-as-you-go services are designed to be very similar to a contract plan in terms of how they work. But the main difference, you have to pay ahead of time for the services on a monthly basis.
Prepaid plans are usually more expensive and lack some of the extra perks of a contract.
Prepaid plans are usually more expensive and lack some of the extra perks that you get with a contract.
The other downside with pay as you go is you usually have to buy your phone separately, then buy a prepaid monthly plan to go with it. Buying a phone separately can be very expensive, especially iPhones, etc.
To sum things up, always check your credit score first to see if it is good enough to be accepted for a cell phone contract.
After these avenues have been pursued, you can then try getting a co-signer, putting down a security deposit, or becoming an authorized user.
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