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Broadband with bad credit – Getting the best deal regardless

By Hannah Ricci
Monday, February 5th 2018

If you’ve racked up debts, have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) or been declared bankrupt, don’t fret.

While big providers aren't necessarily off limits, there are other options that don’t require a credit check. We reveal how to get broadband despite having poor credit history, ways to improve your rating, and what not to do when shopping around.

First, try NOW TV

Due to the popularity of this guide, we here at Cable.co.uk took it upon ourselves to further investigate what the best broadband provider is, should you have poor credit. After speaking directly to the team at NOW TV, we’re excited to be able to offer you some hope, and a great broadband deal.

All NOW TV requires when you sign up for its services is a 10p balance in your account. This will be taken out of your account by NOW TV to check if the card is valid, before being put straight back into your bank account. No credit checks – just 10 pence.

What makes the service even more brilliant is that they will charge you for your services one month in advance. So if you’re having a particularly tough month and you’re struggling to afford your services, you’ll have one month to get your payment sorted before your services are suspended.

You can choose to buy NOW broadband on its own or bundle it up with NOW TV. If you just want broadband, the cheapest option is standard broadband up to 17Mbps, but you can choose to pay more for fibre if you want more speed. There is an upfront fee to pay for NOW broadband, but this is considerably reduced if you can commit to a 12-month contract.

Next, try the 'big four' providers

The biggest and most dependable providers in the UK are BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, and our first and most salient advice is to try all of them before you resort to a 'sub-prime' broadband deal.

Because the UK market is so competitive right now, the 'big four' are increasingly waiving their previously high standards in a grab for new customers – even those with a poor credit history.

You should consult our broadband comparison page and choose the deal you want, rather than the deal you think you're most likely to get. You may very well find you are pleasantly surprised.

  • TalkTalk Fast Broadband

    • Up to 17Mb download speed
    • Truly unlimited monthly usage
    • Pay as you go calls
    No broadband setup fee & Fixed price for the contract length
    Zero set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • BT Unlimited Broadband + Calls

    • Up to 17Mb download speed
    • Truly unlimited monthly usage
    • Free weekend calls
    Offer ends 1st March
    £23 .99
    £19.99 set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • Sky Unlimited Broadband

    • Up to 17Mb download speed
    • Truly unlimited monthly usage
    • Pay as you go calls
    Free £50 reward card
    £19.95 set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • Virgin Media VIVID 100 Fibre Broadband + Calls

    Virgin Media
    • Up to 100Mb download speed
    • Unlimited monthly usage
    • Free weekend calls
    £20 set-up cost includes line rental See Deal

If you’ve been refused a broadband deal from all of these providers due to poor credit or low income, then, and only then consider these alternatives:

Direct Save Telecom offers packages without a credit check

Unlike most mainstream broadband providers, Direct Save Telecom does not carry out credit checks on new customers. This is a big bonus for those with a poor credit history who don’t have to worry about it affecting their chances of being approved for a broadband deal. You can discover more about Direct Save Telecom in our independent guide.

The only caveat is that customers are required to make their first payment before the service goes live. This initial payment will be made up of line rental plus call and broadband plan charges for the remaining days in the activation month, plus the next full month. So what does Direct Save Telecom offer you?

  • Broadband from £19.95 per month (+line rental)
  • one- to 24-month contracts
  • 20GB or unlimited usage
  • Choice of standard or fibre optic broadband
  • Optional line rental saver plan

We urge you to call Direct Save Telecom, rather than rummage around in their packages online – their customer service representatives will be able to find you what you want in a jiffy.

Call Direct Save Telecom and
quote Cable.co.uk on 0800 118 2309 0800 118 2309

Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

BT Basic

BT’s entry-level phone plan is designed for consumers on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits, with broadband added to the package for an extra cost.

Anyone that claims Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pensions Credit, Employment Support Allowance (income-related) or Universal Credit (and are on zero earnings) should be eligible for BT Basic. Here’s what you need to know:

  • £5.10 per month line rental, payable quarterly
  • Includes £4.50 quarterly call allowance
  • Calls to UK landlines charged at 11.3p per minute + 3.3p set-up; mobiles at 12p per minute
  • Option to add BT broadband from £23.99 per month
  • BT Basic customers not eligible for Infinity fibre broadband

See BT Basic offers →

Mobile broadband

If the previous options don’t appeal, mobile broadband is a useful alternative. Payment options fall into pay monthly contracts (to which poor credit history may still be a barrier) and the more flexible pay-as-you-go, which doesn’t require a credit check.

Mobile broadband options include:

  • Dongles
  • Tethering
  • Tablet data plans
  • Mobile wi-fi

The right choice for you will depend on your budget and what type of device you have. You can read more about all the options and how they compare in our Is mobile broadband any good? guide.

Can I improve my chances of getting broadband?

Even if you have 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. It’s helpful to be registered on the Electoral Roll too.

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.

How do I check my record?

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 agencies such as Equifax, Callcredit or Experian can provide you with a copy of your statutory report for a minimal fee.

Should I try different providers?

You can - but we don’t advise it. It might be tempting to keep trying different providers until one accepts you, yet this approach can actually damage your credit score further as telecoms firms (like credit card companies and banks) leave a search footprint on your record each time they check it.

This search record remains in place for 12 months, and collecting a number of these footprints within a short space of time suggests financial problems to providers, and can even trigger warnings of potential identity fraud.


It’s a frustrating fact of life that broadband providers - like many other companies that offer products or services - are wary of consumers with poor credit history, seeing them as more of a risk than a potential profit-maker. Thankfully, all is not lost.

Taking the time to check and understand your credit record and how providers measure risk will help to improve your chances of getting a deal. Take proactive steps to boost your credit score and improve your customer profile, and if they still don’t approve, consider one of the alternative options that doesn’t require a credit check at all.

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