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Cell phones have essentially become an extension of our body, serving as phones, computers, cameras, watches, alarm clocks, game systems, and other functions.
However, getting one can be challenging if you don’t have credit.
Carriers don’t want clients to rack up large bills and then fail to pay them. Several major cell phone companies will run a credit check on you to assess your financial responsibility and ability to pay each month.
You may have to go through some extra hoops if you have terrible credit or no credit history, but you may buy a cell phone without a credit check.
1. Sign Up For a Family Plan
Most carriers offer family cell phone plans, with some allowing up to ten lines on one account.
The main account holder must pass a credit check to get service, but individuals who use the other lines do not.
If you don’t pay your bill, the main account holder is ultimately accountable, so make sure you don’t skip any payments. You won’t be able to skip a credit check if you join a family plan.
You could be able to save some money. With a standard carrier, a single line on an unlimited plan costs $65 to $80, but an unlimited family plan split four ways can cost as little as $45 per person before taxes, fees, and autopay discounts.
2. Enlist the Help of a Co-Signer
If you have a co-signer with decent credit, you can typically get a cell phone plan with bad or no credit, similar to acquiring a personal loan with terrible credit.
Unlike a personal loan, however, the account would be in the co-signers name, which means that if you don’t pay your bill, that individual will be held responsible.
The co-signer can transfer the account to your name in the future. Most carriers will screen your credit when you do so, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay a deposit.
For example, after 60 days with T-Mobile, you can normally transfer the account to your name. Because the account is already open, the carrier will check your credit but not require a deposit.
3. Enroll in a Medicare or Medicaid Program
If you are a Medicare or Medicaid recipient, government-sponsored programs can provide you with a free cell phone. Remember that these are the most basic phones with very limited functionality.
Don’t expect the most up-to-date smartphone to come with unlimited bandwidth. These programs are in place to ensure that those most vulnerable have access to a phone in the event of an emergency.
If you’re a Medicare or Medicaid recipient, talk to your case manager about your choices for obtaining a free phone. You must meet specific eligibility requirements.
These do not, however, include credit checks or deposits. Rather, someone will assess your situation to see if you require a free phone.
4. Make a Refundable Security Deposit
You may typically receive a cell phone plan with no credit history if you make a deposit. The deposit amount will vary depending on the carrier and your credit score, but it might be several hundred dollars.
Furthermore, deposits are usually made per line, so if you wish to add multiple phones to your account, you’ll have to make multiple instalments. If you consistently pay your account on time, most carriers will refund your deposit after a year.
5. Use a Prepaid Service
A credit check is not required for prepaid cell phone plans. Because you pay for your service in advance, usually every month, the cell phone supplier has no risk.
Prepaid plans are available from the four major carriers — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile — and are often less expensive than their standard plans.
For example, Cricket Wireless and Boost Mobile are two providers that only provide prepaid services.
These carriers offer low-cost options that do not require a contract or a credit check. Many are owned by a larger carrier, such as AT&T, and operate on the same networks as the major carriers, yet they can offer lower-cost plans.
If you want a cell phone plan but don’t have credit or bad credit, a prepaid plan is usually your best bet. However, you can try out other options.