MoneyLife

Can I Get A Cell Phone With Bad Credit?

By Anna Yen

From making and receiving calls to watching the latest series on Netflix, cell phones have become an inseparable part of daily living. Getting the type of smartphone you want is as easy as signing up with a cell phone company and paying for service. To make sure you’ll pay up, phone companies need your credit score to check your ability to pay.

Are you thinking of how to get a cell phone, but a lousy credit rating keeps getting in your way?

While most companies require a credit check to verify eligibility, you can still check other options, even with a less than stellar credit score.

What do cell phone companies look at when evaluating your application?

Cell phone companies or carriers, like lenders, like to be paid. The fastest way to go out of business is having customers rack up bills without paying. Carriers will often consider your creditworthiness to qualify you for a contract, even if you don’t have a credit score.

So, what do these companies consider as a good score?

Cell phone companies do not have any standard minimum credit rating to prequalify prospective users. Most of them will consider a credit rating or score of 600 and above. However, a credit score of 700 and above would be ideal.

Factors that affect your credit score include late or missed payment history, length of credit history, and amount of credit you have. Bad credit habits tell the carrier that you may find it challenging to cover your monthly bills. 

Difference between soft credit pull and hard credit pull?

Anytime you apply for a new loan, the creditor does a hard inquiry or “hard pull,” which pulls down your score.

Fortunately, not all inquiries into your credit status knock off points from your credit score. In contrast to a hard credit pull, a soft credit pull doesn’t show up on your credit reports and doesn’t affect your scores. Soft pulls are checks carried out by a lender to pre-approve you for a loan offer and also by some cell phone companies.

To establish a good credit score, you can try to limit the number of applications. Each hard pull remains on your record for 2 years.

How to get approved for a cell phone with bad credit

Have poor money decisions crippled your credit score? Here are some of the best cell phone plans for bad credit

Prepaid plan

With a Prepaid Plan, you pay a fixed amount monthly in advance to your cell phone provider for their services. Paying in advance means there is no risk for the service provider, and hence, you don’t need a credit check.

Unlike traditional cell phone contracts with fixed monthly payments and long-term commitment, prepaid plans offer more flexibility. You can switch carriers without spending hefty amounts. You can also opt for pay-as-you-go plans which allow you control over your spending.

Month-to-Month

A month-to-month contract is a great way to circumvent a bad credit rating. You get plenty of data allowance, unlimited texts, and minutes. You are not tied to a long-term contract, and you can change carriers at any time.

But it may cost you more upfront as you must pay full price for your phone. However, you could save hundreds of dollars over a few years, especially if you don’t need the latest and flashiest smartphone models. Oftentimes, long term plans allow you to pay your phone in installments and encourage you to upgrade to the newest phones which can range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to $1000+. 

Join a family plan

Another way you can get a cell phone with no credit is by joining a family plan. Family plans allow a primary account holder to add extra lines to their accounts. The primary account holder must have an acceptable credit rating to obtain the plan and additional line holders do not have to have any type of credit score.

You should pay on time, so you don’t ruin the credit of the primary account holder. The family plan option also offers you the best rates. You can split the bills with other people in the plan and pay low flat fees for unlimited services.

Pay security deposit 

You don’t need an excellent credit score if you can fork out some cash as a security deposit. The deposit amount needed to secure a phone plan will depend on your credit score and the cell phone company. Deposits could run into hundreds of dollars and are typically per line. You will get your deposit back after a year if you are consistent and timely with your bill payments.

Providers with prepaid or month-to-month plans:

Boost Mobile

  • Plan: Boost Unlimited
  • Price: $50 monthly
  • Key Features: Unlimited minutes, texts, and data; 12GB high-speed mobile hot spot data. 

T-Mobile

  • Plan: T-Mobile Simply Prepaid 10GB plan
  • Price: $40 monthly
  • Key Features: 10GB of data; unlimited talk and text; mobile hot spot access; unlimited music streaming. 

Cricket

  • Plan: Cricket Core Unlimited
  • Price: $100 monthly
  • Key Features: Unlimited talk, text, and data; family plan for four

Republic Wireless

  • Plan: My Choice Talk & Text
  • Price: $15 monthly
  • Key Features: Unlimited minutes and text messages; data access via Wi-Fi; only works with Android

Ting

  • Plan: Ting Single Line (no data)
  • Price: $12 monthly
  • Key Features: 100 minutes; 100 text messages

AT&T

  • Plan: AT&T Daily Plan
  • Price: $2 per day of use
  • Key Features: Unlimited minutes and text messages; only pay for days you use the phone

You can improve your credit score in as little as 6 months!

If you eventually want to go for a contract or fancy the latest iPhone iterations, your best bet is improving your credit score. And you may be able to quickly achieve that with the MoneyLion Credit Builder Loan. MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Plus program has helped thousands of members rebuild their credit by 47 points in as little as 60 days.1

For only $19.99 per month, you’ll have access to an installment loan up to $1000 at a competitive rate without any hard credit checks2. The loan helps you build credit through positive payment history while encouraging you to save.3

Here is how it works:

  •  You receive a part of your approved loan into an account of your choice.
  • The balance is held in a Credit Reserve Account and given to you when you make the final repayment.4
  • You automate the loan repayment and pay off the loan within 12 months
  • Every month, MoneyLion reports your positive payment history to the three major Credit Bureaus; which can bump your ratings upwards.

You’ll get access to credit monitoring tools to keep track of your progress, and we’ll check your top four credit score factors weekly. Other benefits of the Credit Builder Plus membership include 0% APR InstacashSM advance of up to $300 per pay cycle to help you with everyday expenses and access to Lion’s Share Loyalty Program. 

There’s a way out even with bad credit

You can get a cell phone with bad credit if you know where to look. The plans listed above are great alternatives to the traditional cell phone contracts and maybe cheaper in some cases.

Prepaid plans offer great flexibility, but you can also take advantage of the 0% APR Instacash advance from MoneyLion to help you with cell phone minutes or month-to-month bills until your next payday.

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Build your credit and save

Join Credit Builder Plus to get a loan up to $1,000, credit monitoring, exclusive rewards, access to 0% APR cash advances, and more. Over half of members raise their credit over 60 points within 60 days!

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