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How to Get a Cell Phone with No Credit Check

4 minute read

By Christopher Brown

Love it or hate it, owning a cell phone is a modern day essential. More and more elements of our lives move online every single day, rendering the cell-phone free life all but impossible. As if living a life with bad credit — or no credit at all — could get any more difficult.

You see, most mobile carriers require credit checks to qualify for a phone plan. As much money as they make, carriers still take harsh steps to protect their investment. Namely, staying away from anyone with a bad credit score.

Thankfully, you don’t really have to go phoneless as there are ways to get a cell phone without needing to bother with a credit check.

Select a Prepaid Carrier

The standard cell phone plan is billed monthly. The cell phone carrier assesses your usage, sits that next to the agreement that you signed at the beginning of your contract, crunches a few numbers, and sends you a bill with the expectation that you have enough money to pay. All this is contingent on a successful credit check.

Should you decide to forgo the credit check or fail to meet your carrier’s stringent criteria, you still have options. AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon all offer prepaid cell phone plans. Prepaid plans get loaded up with data and minutes ahead of time and work for as long they are loaded up.

Gone are the days of going over your monthly cap and being charged exorbitant overage fees or long and unwieldly contracts. Better yet, if you opt for the prepaid option, all those pesky cell phone carrier credit checks will be a thing of the past too.

Join a Family Plan

Family plans are all the rage now, and it’s easy to see why. They can save you and your family a bunch of money by pooling all your resources together. Plus, a lot of them allow you to mix and match desired services.

Even better, going this route will help you sidestep a credit check. Most family plans on offer are contracted around the primary account holder’s credit score. So, if one of your parents or a friend of yours has good credit, you could hop onto a family plan with them and enjoy all the perks of a contracted cell phone plan without the inevitable rejection that comes with going it alone.

With that said, you still need to be diligent with your payments. With family plans, late payments will affect the primary account holder’s credit as well. Something to keep in mind should you opt for the family plan route.

Pay a Security Deposit

You aren’t the first person with credit problems. It’s safe to say you won’t be the last person either. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to discover that there are indeed several ways for credit-deficient consumers to upgrade their phones.

Should all the main carriers determine that your credit score warrants an alternative approach, they may offer you the opportunity to pay out a security deposit. Security deposits can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars. However, they do serve as a way for people with bad credit or no credit history at all to benefit from everything that comes with the latest cell phone technology.

Moreover, should you manage to pay your bills on time for a period of time set by your cell phone provider, you’ll most likely get that security deposit back.

Find a Co-Signer

Soliciting the help of a friend or family member with good credit is always an option. Just like with a loan, most cell phone carriers will offer a co-signing option for new phones and phone plans.

A co-sign is a type of joint credit, where a second person would sign alongside you, to guarantee approval of the contract by the cell phone provider. It’s a way for those big telecom companies to ensure that the bills will be paid on time by leveraging the credit of the co-signer.

Keep in mind, failure to pay your bills on time will negatively impact the credit score of the individual who co-signed with you. Which could, among other things, put a strain on your relationship with that person.


For most consumers, getting a cell phone is as simple as a few targeted clicks on an online retailer’s website. Unfortunately, poor credit can make even the most fundamental purchases an absolute chore.

While paying a security deposit, finding a co-signer, joining on a family plan, or choosing the pre-paid cell route may not be ideal, they are workable solutions for those with poor credit. Cell phones are an essential part of living and succeeding in the modern world, so not having one could put you at a social and professional disadvantage.

Christopher Brown



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