How to Get Approved for a Cell Phone with Bad Credit

Updated on January 6, 2024
At a Glance:
  • Phone companies consider a credit score below 600 as “bad” credit, although specific criteria may vary.

  • For example, Sprint considers a credit score of 700 and above as “excellent” and anything below 550 as “fair.”

  • AT&T may require a deposit for credit scores below 600.

  • Options for getting a phone line with bad credit include prepaid plans, buy now pay later plans, joining a family plan, or using a cosigner.

  • Prepaid plans offer advantages such as no deposit, lower monthly bills, flexibility, and affordability.

  • Some prepaid plan options include Verizon AllSet, AT&T GoPhone, T-Mobile Simply Prepaid, and Sprint Prepaid.
  • Right about now, about 96% of the American population has a cell phone. These phones are not only used to keep you entertained but also to keep you connected and organized. They are so essential that when your phone breaks, you need to find and buy a new one immediately.

    With that in mind, not everyone can cough up the money to buy a new phone right away – in which case, you need to find some credit alternatives. Knowing that your credit is not in such a stellar way, you can’t help but wonder how to get approved for a cell phone with bad credit. Well, luckily for you, there are a couple of ways for you to do so.

    10 Best Prepaid Phone Plan Options

    Below, you will find out picks for the best prepaid phone plans for folks with bad credit.

    1. Visible+ Plan

    Priced at $45/month ($35/month with code 35FOR6), it offers 50GB of premium data and best 4G LTE coverage. Taxes and fees are included.

    Learn more about the Visible+ Plan

    2. Mint Mobile Unlimited Plan

    Costs $30/month, providing 3, 6, and 12-month bundles, best 5G coverage, and 40GB of premium data.

    Learn more about the Unlimited Plan

    3. T-Mobile Unlimited Plan

    At $29/month, this plan uses the T-Mobile network, offers best 5G coverage, and is hotspot capable.

    Learn more about the Unlimited Plan

    4. Visible $25 Plan:

    For $25/month, get unlimited talk, text, and data, access to 4G LTE and 5G networks with a compatible phone, and unlimited hotspot at 5Mbps.

    Learn more about the Visible $25 Plan

    5. Mint Mobile Unlimited Data Plan

    Costs $15/month, offers unlimited talk, text, and 40GB of premium data, and access to 4G LTE and 5G on compatible devices on T-Mobile’s network.

    Learn more about the Mint Mobile Unlimited Data Plan

    6. US Mobile Unlimited Premium

    Priced at $45/month, it includes unlimited talk, text, up to 100GB of premium data, and 50GB of mobile hotspot data.

    Learn more about the US Mobile Unlimited Premium

    7. Twigby Unlimited Talk & Text and 5GB Data

    This plan starts at $10/month for the first three months (then $20/month), offering unlimited talk and text, and 5GB of high-speed data on the Verizon network.

    Learn more about the Twigby Unlimited Talk & Text and 5GB Data

    9. US Mobile Unlimited

    Utilizing Verizon & T-Mobile 5G & 4G LTE networks, this plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data, starting free with a $25/month offer after the trial.

    Learn more about the US Mobile Unlimited

    8 Cell Phone and Cell Phone Plan Options for Bad Credit

    If you have bad credit and are looking to get approved for a cell phone plan, there are several options available to you:

    1. Prepaid Plans

    These plans don’t typically require a credit check. You pay in advance for your usage, which eliminates the risk for the provider. Prepaid plans have become increasingly competitive, offering similar services to postpaid plans. Below are top 3 prepaid mobile plans:

    2. Pay-as-You-Go Plans

    Similar to prepaid plans, these plans allow you to purchase a set amount of talk, text, and data. You only pay for what you use, and there’s no need for a credit check. Below is one of top pay as your phone plan provider:

    3. Family Plans or Group Plans

    Being added to a family or group plan can be an option. The primary account holder’s credit is usually the one that is checked, so your credit might not be a factor. Below is a sample Family Plan:

    5. Co-Signer or Guarantor

    Some carriers may allow you to sign up for a plan with a co-signer or guarantor who has good credit. This person would be responsible for the bill if you’re unable to pay.

    6. Deposit

    Some carriers might offer you a contract plan if you’re willing to pay a security deposit. This deposit reduces the carrier’s risk and can sometimes be returned or credited to your account after a period of on-time payments.

    7. Store Financing

    Some retailers offer their own financing solutions for purchasing phones and might have different criteria than traditional carriers for credit checks.

    8. Less Expensive Plan

    Opting for a more basic plan or a less expensive phone can sometimes help in getting approval.

    Remember that different carriers have different policies, so it’s worth shopping around to see which one can offer the best plan for your circumstances. Additionally, always read the terms and conditions of any contract or agreement to ensure you understand the commitment and any potential fees or penalties.

    Read More

    The Bottom Line

    You don’t have to remain phoneless or work with old and unresponsive phones. You don’t even have to save much money to get a phone upfront. You just need to go with the right plan that you may pay in installments.

    Cell Phone Plans With Bad Credit FAQ

    Below, you will find some common questions about getting a cell phone plan with bad credit and their answers.

    Can I get a cell phone plan with bad credit?

    Yes, you can still get a cell phone plan with bad credit. Options include prepaid plans, pay-as-you-go plans, and family/group plans where credit checks are typically not stringent. Some carriers might also offer postpaid plans with a security deposit.

    What are the best options for someone with bad credit looking for a cell phone plan?

    The best options include prepaid and pay-as-you-go plans, which do not usually require credit checks. Other alternatives include being added to a family or group plan, finding carriers that offer plans with a co-signer, or paying a deposit for a postpaid plan.

    Do prepaid plans require a credit check?

    No, prepaid plans generally do not require a credit check. You pay upfront for your usage, which negates the need for a credit assessment.

    Can I improve my credit score to get a better cell phone plan?

    Yes, by using financial tools such as secured credit cards responsibly, you can improve your credit score over time. This can eventually help you qualify for more favorable cell phone plans.

    Are there cell phone plans available without a long-term contract?

    Yes, many carriers offer no-contract plans, including prepaid and pay-as-you-go options, which are ideal for individuals with bad credit or those who prefer not to be tied to a long-term contract.

    Can I get a high-end smartphone with a bad credit score?

    etting a high-end smartphone might be challenging with bad credit if you want it on a postpaid plan. However, you can purchase the phone outright or choose a prepaid plan where you bring your own device.

    Will I need to pay a deposit for a cell phone plan if I have bad credit?

    It depends on the carrier and the plan. Some carriers may require a deposit for postpaid plans if your credit score is low, but this is not typically required for prepaid or pay-as-you-go plans.

    Can a co-signer help me get a cell phone plan?

    Yes, some carriers allow you to sign up for a plan with a co-signer who has good credit. The co-signer would be responsible for the bill if you’re unable to pay.

    Are there any special programs for individuals with bad credit to get a cell phone plan?

    While specific programs for individuals with bad credit are not common, many carriers offer various plans that cater to different financial situations, including those with less favorable credit scores.

    Can I switch carriers if I have bad credit?

    Yes, you can switch carriers even if you have bad credit. You might find more flexible options or better deals with different carriers, especially among prepaid and pay-as-you-go plans.

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    Frank Gogol

    I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.