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Can I get a mobile deal with poor credit history?

Thursday, June 8th 2017

A bad credit history can be a difficult hurdle to get over when you’re looking for a mobile plan. But that’s not to say it’s an impossible barrier, as there are several ways to get a decent phone plan or mobile contract.

From SIM-only deals and pay monthly phones to pay-as-you-go, there are several options. So if you’ve got a bad credit history, read on to find out exactly how you can stay connected on the move.

Why bad credit is a problem

Crucially, different lenders will interpret your credit rating differently, so if one provider has rejected you it doesn’t mean all providers will treat you the same. However, applying to every mobile company in the hope that one will accept you is not a smart move either as this can actually damage your score further.

Each time a firm carries out a credit check it leaves a search footprint on your record, which remains for 12 months. Many footprints within a short space of time trigger alarm bells with providers. While the searches don’t register credit rejections, credit agency Experian warns that firms may still assume you’re having financial difficulties, or even suspect identity fraud.

How to get a new mobile contract with bad credit

If you know or think you have poor credit history, check your record (see below) and then consider these options before applying for a new phone contract.

Find a pay monthly deal that doesn’t require a credit check

Asda Mobile

Asda Mobile, which runs on EE's 4G network and is a Which? recommended provider, offers 30-day SIM-only plans with no credit check at all. Asda offers a variety of plans with a set amount of minutes, data and unlimited texts – at a budget price.

Visit Asda Mobile

The People’s Operator

Another provider offering pay monthly no-credit check deals is The People’s Operator. You can select from a range of options with different data limits and you can also keep your existing mobile number.

Visit The People’s Operator

PG Mobile

A lesser-known provider called PG Mobile (previously Shebang) that runs on the Three network also offers pay monthly and SIM-only plans with no credit check. The provider calls itself “the mobile phone network for everyone” and offers 100% guaranteed acceptance. PG Mobile also offers a small selection of pay monthly handsets.

Go for a SIM-only deal

Since you’re just taking a SIM card without a new phone, the credit check for SIM-only deals is much less stringent. The choice to sign up for 12 months or for 30 days is also useful. A short contract is particularly handy if you’re taking steps to improve your credit record with a view to reapplying for a longer, pay monthly contract in the near future.

SIM cards are competitively priced and much cheaper than pay monthly deals, although you’ll need to put your SIM into an old handset or buy a new one outright. If SIM-only sounds like the right option for you, check out our useful guide to SIM-only plans for more details.

Compare SIM only deals

No credit is required for pay-as-you-go

As you just pre-pay for what you need and top-up when you run out of credit, there’s no risk of defaulting with pay-as-you-go, so no need for a credit check. You can pick up a SIM from an online retailer or highstreet phone shop (they’re often free) and top it up with a chunk of credit.

Some SIM deals operate on pay-by-usage, while others allow you to buy a bundle with inclusive texts, minutes and data that runs for 30 days. Plus, if at any time you want to stop using the service, you can, without penalty.

There are dozens of PAYG providers to choose from, including Family Mobile, PG Mobile, ASDA mobile, and The People's Operator – who donate 10% of what you spend to charity.

Visit Asda Mobile

Why your credit history matters

All consumers have a credit score based on their past credit behaviour (ranging from a low of 300 to a high of 850). Whenever you apply for credit – whether a mobile phone contract or mortgage – your score will determine how much you can borrow, what rate you can borrow at and crucially, whether you can borrow at all.

Customers are effectively borrowing a new handset on credit with pay monthly plans, so must sign a contract agreeing to pay back the cost over the course of the term. If a provider has any doubt that you may default on payments as a result of a low credit score, it will view you as high risk and reject your application.

How to check your credit record

Whether you’re about to apply for a new contract or have already been rejected, it’s worth checking your record regularly to ensure it’s up-to-date. As well as your score, it will detail all your past credit agreements and applications in the past six years – including outstanding balances and missed payments.

You can apply to credit agencies Equifax, Experian or Callcredit for a copy of your statutory report for £2.

How to improve your credit record

Missing one or more bill payments is a sure-fire way to damage your credit, but there are other less obvious issues that can negatively affect your score too. Here’s what to look out for, with simple tips to boost your rating.

Check the data is up-to-date

If a debt that you’ve paid off is still showing as outstanding or any other entry is out of date, contact the provider involved and ask to for it to be corrected.

Be on the lookout for identity theft

If you don’t recognise a credit agreement or application, it could be an indication of identity theft and a fraudster applying for credit in your name. Contact the provider concerned and inform them of the problem: they will investigate and help to rectify the issue.

Register on the electoral roll

Providers use the Electoral Roll when processing credit applications to check that you are who you say you are and live where you claim to live as a precaution against identity theft. Not being registered on the Electoral Roll could have a negative impact on your credit rating too, so contact your local council for an application form.

Be a good borrower

An anomaly of the credit industry is that having no credit history can be almost as harmful as having a bad one. If you’ve never had a personal loan, mortgage or credit card for example – there’s no record of your repayment history so providers have nothing to base their decision on.

Help build your score by using credit sensibly: stick to your agreed limits and pay bills and repayments on cards, loans and your mortgage on time each month.

Look at your financial ties

If you have a joint account or have applied for credit with a partner in the past, you’re likely to be linked to them on your credit report. If they have a poor credit history – whether through their own fault or by falling victim to fraud – it could negatively impact yours.

Encourage your partner to check their own report, or if you’re no longer financially connected with them, contact your providers to break the link so that their credit problems won’t affect you.

Conclusion

Having a poor credit history limits your mobile options, but it doesn’t cull them completely. There are a few providers like Shebang and The People’s Operator who can get you connected with friends and family on a no-credit check plan, or you can plump for a pay-as-you-go plan.

Ultimately, we advise viewing your credit record before applying for any new deal and take the necessary steps to boost your score if it’s not looking good.

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