flame Compare Deals and save hundreds of pounds Sim Only Deals Phone Deals

Can you get a phone contract with bad credit?

26th November 2021

Bad credit

Having bad credit can affect a number of things, particularly when it comes to getting loans, credit cards or contracts, but is a phone contract among the affected things? Is it possible to get a phone contract with bad credit? And what other options do you have?

Below, we’ll answer all of those questions, so you can find the best smartphone solution possible.

Can you get a phone contract with bad credit?

That will depend on exactly how bad your credit is but the answer generally is no. Mobile networks and other retailers will almost always do a credit check when you apply to buy a phone on contract. Very cheap handsets sometimes won’t have a credit check, but smartphones almost always will.

If you do see a retailer offering smartphone contracts without credit checks then it could be a scam, so tread carefully.

Still, even with credit checks, applying for a cheaper contract will mean the bar for success is lower, so this could be one approach if you’re not sure you’ll be accepted. Different retailers have different credit score requirements too, so if you fail with one you could try with another – just don’t make loads of applications in a brief period or this could hurt your credit rating even more.

What other options are there?

If you can’t get a phone contract with your credit rating then there are a number of other options available to you.

Obviously if it’s financially viable you could buy the phone outright, or you could continue using an old handset or borrow one off a friend or family member while you work on improving your credit score.

With any of these options you’ll still need allowances to use with your phone, but no credit check SIM deals are quite common.

These are SIM-only plans where you’re not tied into a contract – so you can cancel any time, and so the network doesn’t need to worry about whether you can pay long-term.

Giffgaff, VOXI, Lebara, and Smarty Mobile all offer these sorts of plans at the time of writing. There are a number of other networks that offer 30-day SIM plans, which are similar, but in some cases will still include a credit check, so double check before applying for one.

However, as with applying for a cheaper phone, if you’re applying for a short-term or low-value SIM-only plan, any credit checks should be easier to pass than if you go for a 12-month plan or one with big allowances (and big costs). SIM-only plans in general will also be easier to get accepted for than a contract phone.

You could also of course just choose a Pay As You Go plan. That way you’re really only paying for the allowances that you use, and there’s again no credit check.

EE, O2, Three, Vodafone, iD Mobile, Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile, Asda Mobile, Lebara, and Lycamobile all offer Pay As You Go at the time of writing.


What’s the minimum credit score to get a phone contract?

There’s no minimum credit score required, as different networks and plans have different requirements, and they check your score with different credit agencies.

Can I get a phone contract with a bad credit rating?

Generally not – especially if you’re after a smartphone, but it will depend on how bad the rating is and what plan and network you’re looking at. The lower the cost the better your chances.

Will I have to pass a credit check to get a phone contract?

Yes, almost always. While some smaller retailers may offer contracts without a credit check, these will usually be for very affordable (non-smart) phones, and some could be scams – if something seems too good to be true it probably is.

What alternatives are there to a phone contract?

You could buy or borrow a phone – or keep using your old one, and pair it with a no credit check SIM deal or pay as you go.

Editorial Manager

James has been writing for us for over 10 years. Currently, he is Editorial Manager for our group of companies ( 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk) and sub-editor at TechRadar. He specialises in smartphones, mobile networks/ technology, tablets, and wearables.

In the past, James has also written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media, Smart TV Radar, and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV. He has a film studies degree from the University of Kent, Canterbury, and has over a decade’s worth of professional writing experience.

Sign up for our newsletter.