Can I Get A Cell Phone With Bad Credit?

By the Pachyy Editorial Team

The Pachyy Editorial Team comprises a diverse and experienced team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts whose aim is to provide you with useful insights, guidance and commentary on all matters related to your personal finances.

Yes, it is absolutely possible to get a cell phone even if you have bad credit. However, it’s important to note that having a poor credit score might influence the kind of deal you can get and the amount you will need to pay.

Most cell phone providers conduct credit checks whenever a customer signs up for a new contract. They do this to ensure that the customer will be able to afford the monthly payments associated with buying a phone. Typically, cell phone companies consider a credit rating score of 600 and above as a prequalification for potential users. A low credit score might make it seem like the customer will struggle to cover the monthly bills.

Cell phones have become an essential electronic device in today’s society. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, smartphones were found in 84% of American households in 2018. Many individuals with poor credit are also eager to own a device.

Considering that approximately 48 million Americans have poor credit, it’s not surprising that T-mobile revealed that 50% of its customers do not meet the credit requirements for the company’s best plans. Nonetheless, there are still numerous options available for those with low credit scores. These include paying a higher deposit or choosing a month-by-month prepaid phone plan. If you have bad credit and are looking to purchase a cell phone deal, then keep reading as this guide will explain how to do so.

Can You Get a Cell Phone Deal With Bad Credit?

Absolutely! If you have a less-than-perfect credit score, there are still plenty of options available to find a cell phone deal that suits your needs. Here are some suggestions:

Consider Prepaid Cellular Plans

One option is to go for a prepaid cellular plan offered by companies that do not require a credit check. With this type of plan, you pay for your cell phone service in advance.

Look into Providers for Customers with Bad Credit

Some providers cater specifically to customers with bad credit. Although they may charge higher interest rates and require down payments, they focus on other factors, such as regular income or rental history, to determine eligibility. Keep in mind that there might be additional fees or charges due to the higher risk associated with bad credit.

Explore Affordable Programs

Another option is to look for Smartphone Equality Programs offered by providers like T-Mobile. These programs offer affordable prices for cell phones and plans without requiring a credit check.

Consider Leasing a Phone

Similar to leasing a car, you can also lease a new phone if you prefer not to spend a large sum of money upfront. Make sure to conduct thorough research to find the best deal that suits your financial needs.

Find a Co-Signer

If necessary, you can consider getting a co-signer to help secure a phone deal. A co-signer can be a family member or friend who agrees to pay your bills if you’re unable to do so.

Join a Family Plan

Another option is to join a family plan, which allows you to get a cell phone without worrying about your credit score. By becoming an additional line holder on an existing account, you won’t need to have any credit score. Family plans often offer affordable rates. However, it’s crucial to pay your bills on time to avoid negatively affecting the credit rating of the primary account holder.

How Can I Improve My Credit Score to Qualify for a Cell Phone Deal?

If you’re looking to get a cell phone deal, there are several steps you can take to enhance your credit score and demonstrate that you’re a trustworthy candidate. To begin with, it’s helpful to obtain a copy of your credit report so you can understand why your score is low and identify any errors that might be dragging it down. Next, focus on promptly paying off any outstanding bills or consider creating a repayment plan to reduce your debts as much as possible.

If you’re struggling to find the necessary funds to clear your existing debts, you could explore options such as selling unwanted items through a garage sale or online platforms like eBay. Another idea is to take on an additional part-time job or side hustle to eliminate any outstanding bills. It’s also important to maintain regular communication with the companies you owe money to and keep them informed about your progress.

An easy way to boost your credit score is to register to vote if you haven’t already done so. This not only confirms your identity and home address but also strengthens your credit profile, potentially giving your score a lift.

Improving your credit score may take some time, possibly several months, but the effort will be worthwhile in the long run. Making timely payments is crucial as late payments can harm your score. Additionally, you can work on building your credit profile by using only a small portion of your credit card limit and repaying it promptly.

How Can I Budget More Carefully to Afford a Cell Phone Deal?

If you’re interested in signing up for a cell phone plan, there are some helpful budgeting strategies you can employ to ensure you can afford the monthly payments. Start by tracking your expenses to get an idea of how much you spend each month and see if a cell phone fits within your budget. You can make use of budgeting apps to easily keep track of your finances.

Another approach is to evaluate your priorities and determine if you’re overspending on unnecessary items or subscriptions. For example, you might have a gym membership you rarely use or a TV subscription package you don’t need. By cutting out these unnecessary expenses, you can potentially have more money available to put towards a phone.

It’s also advisable to reduce your spending where possible, as this can have a positive impact on your budget. For instance, if you typically spend $4 a day on a hot drink, consider making your coffee at home instead to save a significant amount over time. Additionally, cutting back on non-essential purchases like eating out or clothes shopping can help you save money to pay off debts, improve your credit score, and ultimately obtain a good cell phone plan.

Once you determine whether you can afford a phone, take the time to compare various cell phone plans to find the most competitive rate that fits your budget and meets your needs. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need the newest or most extravagant phone; focus on finding one that fits your budget and has the necessary features.

You can also be savvy by considering purchasing a second-hand phone and opting for a sim-only contract. If you can afford the upfront payment for a used device, this option can often be more cost-effective overall and result in lower monthly payments.


If you have bad credit but want a cell phone deal, don’t worry! There are still many options available to you. Furthermore, by working on improving your credit score, you’ll be in an even better position to secure a great deal.

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