Most people assume that credit checks are just for mortgages, loans, and credit cards. In reality, many broadband providers also want to find out if you’ve got bad credit before signing you up as a new customer.
If you’re looking for a new broadband deal and are worried about your credit score, we’ve taken a look at the credit check policies of some of the UK’s most popular and cheapest providers. This page will also show you how to avoid credit checks altogether.
Yes, it’s possible to grab a great deal, even if you have bad credit.
The broadband market in the UK is very competitive, and providers are keen to sign up as many new customers as they can. This means that even the big players will consider taking you on as a customer if you have a poor credit record. There are also some providers in the UK who don’t run credit checks at all for new customers.
The first step is to use our postcode checker to find out what deals are available in your local area.
There are three popular UK broadband providers that don’t run credit checks on new customers: NOW Broadband, Plusnet and Direct Save Telecom.
Plusnet: Plusnet’s motto is ‘great-value broadband for everyone’ and the brand stays true to this promise, with no credit checks on new customers as standard. Deals are affordable and speeds are good, with contract lengths of either 12 or 18 months.
Direct Save Telecom: Generally a little pricier than NOW TV or Plusnet, Direct Save Telecom doesn’t credit check its new customers. All you have to do is pay your first invoice before your internet service goes live - this consists of your line rental and call or broadband changes for the partial days in the month of activation, plus the next month’s charges (so it will be a little bigger than your usual monthly bill).
NOW Broadband: Now Broadband’s standard and fibre broadband packages are available without a credit check, making them a great provider for WiFi with bad credit. It’s worth noting, however, that you’re liable to pay a set-up fee when you sign up for its one-month broadband packages.
BT Home Essentials: If you have a low income or are on benefits, you may be able to get BT Home Essentials. You can sign up to the service via their website or calling BT on 0800 800 864. For just £15 per month, you can enjoy average speeds of up to 67Mbps.
If you’re looking for broadband with no credit check, our reviews page will tell you everything you need to know about these providers, so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
TalkTalk, BT, and Virgin Media all routinely credit-check new customers. Sky won’t reveal its credit-checking policy, but says it will always notify customers in advance if it’s going to credit-check them.
Having a poor credit history won’t necessarily exclude you from signing up with one of these big-name providers, however. Providers are keen to attract new sign-ups, so it’s worth taking a punt on a deal with one of the bigger companies, even if your credit rating is poor.
TalkTalk, for example, says only a ‘small number’ of customers fail the credit check. For those that do, it will explore ‘other options’ with them.
Some companies, such as BT and Virgin, might accept customers with bad credit ratings if they can pay a deposit for their broadband service. This involves putting down a small sum of money (negotiated and agreed with your provider) before your service is installed. In the event that you don’t pay your bill, the company can take this money instead, which lessens the risk.
If you pay your bills in full and on time for the length of your contract, you’ll get your deposit back at the end. Some companies will also release your deposit earlier than this if you’re making your payments regularly.
Yes. You’ll receive the same service as any other customer if your credit history isn’t perfect. Plus, your provider won’t have a clue what your score is if they don’t run checks!
Most WiFi deals include a free router, and deals without a credit check are no exception. You may be asked to pay a small postage fee to have your router delivered, but this applies to all customers.
You can check your credit rating online and for free at any time, using Experian, Equifax and Credit Karma. These sites also allow you to see what’s had a bad effect on your credit rating, so you can take steps to improve it. Besides, the primary way to have a good credit rating is to pay your bills on time regularly.
Simple things you can do to get a better credit score include:
If you struggle to secure WiFI for bad credit with no upfront cost (like a deposit), mobile broadband is a useful alternative. Payment options are either pay monthly (which may not be an option if you have poor credit) and the more flexible pay-as-you-go, which doesn’t require a credit check.
Bad credit can be anything from missed utility payments to unpaid credit card bills, county court judgements (CCJs), individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), or bankruptcy.
There are different degrees of bad credit. If you’ve missed the odd payment here and there, your credit history won’t be perfect but it won’t be terrible either. However, if you systematically take out loans, credit deals and contracts and never pay what’s due, your credit history will look pretty dire.
Applying for a broadband deal isn’t like applying for a mortgage. You won’t need a perfect history to be accepted. So even if your credit file has a few blips here and there, you’ll probably be OK.
It’s not just missed payments and unpaid bills that will result in a failed credit check. There may be inconsistencies in the address details on your file – companies like the address for your bank card to be the same as your delivery or installation address. Not being on the electoral roll can also mean being turned down for credit – so get yourself registered at your current address.
If you’ve previously taken out loans or financial agreements jointly with a partner and you’ve now split up, you need to issue a “notice of disassociation” to the three credit references. If you don’t, your ex’s financial behaviour will continue to affect your credit file (you always knew they were no good for you, didn’t you?)
Even if you have bad debts or are insolvent, you may still be able to get a standard broadband deal if you can demonstrate some stability – such as a long-term employment history, residence at the same address for a prolonged period of time (ideally owned) or a consistent track record with the same bank.
Providers generally like to see a fixed landline number rather than a mobile on application forms, and may look more favourably on existing or previous customers who have a good payment record with them. If you’ve always paid your BT phone bill on time for example, you shouldn’t have any problem taking out a BT broadband deal.
Before applying for a broadband product (or any other commitment that may trigger a credit check), it’s worth taking a look at your credit record to get a full picture of your financial history. In addition to your score, it will detail all of your past credit agreements and applications in the past six years, including outstanding balances and missed payments.
Credit reference agencies Equifax, Callcredit and Experian have to provide you with a copy of your statutory report for £2. They also offer options to pay for more detailed reports or sign up for credit monitoring services. If there are mistakes on your credit file, you can ask for them to be corrected. Credit Karma offers free access to your credit report for life, so you might prefer to give them a try.
Probably, yes. A number of providers including Now Broadband, SSE, Direct Save Telecom and Virgin Media offer 30-day rolling contracts for broadband. These tend to come with higher set-up fees than 12, 18 or 24-month deals so, with you paying more cash upfront, your credit worthiness will be slightly less important than if you are applying for a longer contract.
No, there’s no such thing. Different companies will interpret your credit history in different ways and place differing importance on different aspects (for example, energy companies won’t be keen on you if you leave energy debts all over the place). There’s no blacklist, either for people or addresses.
Defaults and missed payments stay on your credit record for six years. So, even if your credit history is terrible now, if you pay everything on time for the next six years you’ll then have a clean sheet again. Generally, companies are more concerned about your recent history than things that happened five-and-a-half years ago.