Does Your Credit Affect Your Cell Phone Bill?

Written by
Does Your Credit Affect Your Cell Phone Bill

Everyone has seen the bundled deals: buy the latest Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy for $0. You can pay for it with your regular cell phone deal. While it sounds amazing, you are paying for the phone plus interest. Free, in this case, is not free. And not only will you pay for the phone plus interest, but you could also potentially impact your credit score, either positively or negatively. 

Does your credit affect your cell phone bill? If you’re buying a phone with credit, it can. Learn how and what you can do to get a cell phone deal and boost your credit score below. 

PRO TIP! A good credit score can lead to lower interest rates and increased borrowing power. MoneyLion offers a free and convenient way to find offers from our trusted partners to help you improve your credit.

How your credit affects your cell phone bill

If you qualify for a one- or two-year contract when you lease or buy a phone, you can make monthly payments. Cell phone companies run a credit check to determine whether you can pay the phone’s monthly fee or use their service. Having no credit history, bad credit, or marks on your credit report, like missed payments or delinquent accounts, can raise questions about your creditworthiness. 

If you are rejected for a payment plan, consider alternative options available through other outlets, such as BestBuy, Walmart, or other stores.

How to get approved for a cell phone with bad credit

Your credit score is not permanent and can fluctuate based on your credit history. To increase your chances of qualifying for a cell phone plan with lower interest rates, consider working to improve your credit score over the long term

Report bills

Even if you don’t have a credit card, you can start building your credit by having your monthly payments on qualifying products or services reported to the credit bureaus. It might be bills you pay for streaming services, rent, or utility payments. A program like Experian Boost will help you report these types of payments to the three major credit bureaus. 

You can also consider other rent reporting companies. Paying on time every month can help increase your credit score over time. Likewise, you can consider a prepaid credit card or becoming an authorized user. Below, you’ll find the details on those. 

Alternate plans

Building your credit is not a quick process. As you work on improving your credit score, you can look into alternative phone bill plans such as:

  • A prepaid plan that requires a full payment for the length of the contract or prepaid monthly payments. 
  • A month-by-month contract mimics long-term contracts’ monthly payments but typically shuts off service faster if you miss a payment.

Either option can be a quick solution for not having a phone plan and might allow you to work on establishing your credit before getting a phone plan. However, in either case, you’ll need to pay for your new cell phone in full. 

Join another person’s plan

When plans such as prepaid or month-to-month don’t suit your needs, you could consider joining a friend or relative’s plan. Ask a friend or family member if you can add a line to their plan.  

Get a cosigner

You may have the option of asking a cosigner to join you on a cell phone plan. A family member or friend with a good credit score could cosign your phone bill to verify that these fees will be paid. Ensure your cosigner understands they will be responsible for the bill if you stop paying. And then, continue paying so you avoid straining the relationship!

Improve your credit score over time

The best long-term solution is to improve your credit score over time. Consider applying for a Credit Builder loan through the MoneyLion WOW membership, which allows you to build your credit score with no hard credit check. Other steps you can take to improve your credit score over time include:

  • Make on-time payments: On-time payments are the single most significant factor in your credit score. Set up automatic payments to avoid missing a payment. 
  • Pay off debt: If you’re carrying debt, especially credit card debt, plan to pay it off as quickly as possible. You can consider the snowball or avalanche methods or other debt repayment strategies. 
  • Micropayments: If you can’t afford to pay off all debt at once, make micropayments as often as possible. For example, if you are paid bi-monthly, you could make bi-monthly payments on your credit cards. 
  • Credit-building loans: If you have a low or no credit score, consider a credit-building loan to improve your credit score. 
  • Student credit cards: If you’re a student or new to credit cards, consider a student credit card or secured credit card to start building a positive credit history. For maximum benefit, keep balances low and pay the card off in full and on time each month. 
  • Track credit progress: You can track credit progress with most major and online banks, as well as in the MoneyLion App. You’re also entitled to a free credit report from all three credit bureaus at
  • Authorized user: One of the fastest ways to boost your credit score is by becoming an authorized user on a credit card of someone with a good credit score. If you have a friend or family member with a 740-plus credit score and a long credit history, ask if they’d be willing to add you as an authorized user. They don’t even have to give you the credit card for you to see the credit score boost. 
  • Create a budget: By creating a budget, you can allocate more funds to paying off debt, building an emergency fund, and saving for a down payment. 

Should You Get a Cellphone with Credit?

While your credit score won’t affect certain cell phone plans, buying a cellphone with credit can affect total costs and approval. Remember that you usually pay for the convenience of a pay-over-time plan and consider buying a cellphone upfront. Alternatively, use MoneyLion’s tips and tools to help build your credit score and save more on your cell phone this year. 

You can check out types of credit cards to earn more points (or free cell phones!) and find some of the best savings accounts for your emergency fund. Remember to start building strong financial habits now (like paying bills on time) to reap the rewards of a good credit score, greater savings, and long-term financial freedom.


Do cell phone companies look at credit? 

Yes, your cell phone carrier may perform a credit check, especially if you apply for financing. If you opt for a prepaid plan, the phone carrier won’t usually perform a credit check. 

Is it hard to get a phone contract with bad credit?

Generally, no minimum credit score is required for a phone contract. It can be more challenging to get a phone contract with bad credit, but shopping around with different carriers can give you options. You can also get short-term, sim-only contracts or pay-as-you-go cell phone contracts.

Can your cell phone service be disconnected for bad credit?

It’s unlikely that your cell phone service will be disconnected because of bad credit. However, failing to pay your phone bill could harm your credit score (if reported to credit bureaus) or lead to your service being disconnected. 

Can your credit score cause your cell phone bill to increase?

Your credit score is unlikely to directly increase your phone bill. However, if you get a phone on a payment plan, your credit score could impact the interest rates or other terms. 

Does paying for a cell phone build credit?

Paying for a cell phone only builds credit if the lender or cell phone provider reports to the credit bureaus. Therefore, paying your cell phone bill regularly may not help increase your credit score. However, you could use a rent reporting company to get credit for on-time payments. 

Do cell phone companies report late payments to credit bureaus?

Cell phone companies don’t typically report a single late payment to credit bureaus. However, if you have several late payments, they could be reported to credit bureaus or sent to collections (and reported). 

Do family cell phone plans require a credit check?

For a family plan, the cell phone company usually checks the primary account holder’s credit. The rest of the family won’t be subject to a credit check.  

Sign Up
Sign Up

Fast, interest-free advances anytime

Get Instacash advances up to $500 for everyday expenses or life’s surprises. There’s no credit check, no monthly fee, and no interest.

Sign Up