How to finance a phone with bad credit

how to get a cell phone with bad credit and no deposit

There are plenty of options to finance a phone with bad credit including, having a deposit, a cosigner, or finding the right plan. Continue reading to learn more.

Types of Cell Phone Plans Available 

Prepaid Plan for Cell Phones

A prepaid plan requires you to buy minutes to use it. Prepaid plans offer the same essential functions as traditional cell phone plans. Still, you can determine how much money you want to invest for the total cost. 

If you want one of these plans, you will need to buy a cell phone and a separate prepaid card. Prepaid cards come in various prices and offer unlimited talk, text, and data. If you have a low credit score, you may prefer the convenience of a prepaid plan. You don’t need to undergo a credit check to get a new phone. While the cost of a new phone with prepaid plans may be cheaper, they may offer fewer features.

Monthly Plan for Phones

A monthly cell phone plan requires an account with a phone company. To sign up for a monthly plan, you need to provide an unlocked cell phone or buy a new one through the phone company. 

Phone companies offer various monthly plans depending on your budget. The cheapest monthly plan is available through Visible. You can get unlimited talk, text, and data for as low as $40 monthly! In 2018, the average person spent about $99 a month, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.1

If you don’t need an unlimited talk option, there are low-cost monthly plans based on gigabytes of data. If you don’t intend to use your cell phone daily, you can look for a cell phone plan that offers minimal data. The downside is that once you hit your data cap, you must wait until the next billing cycle to obtain more data. 

Can I Get Discounts on Cell Phones?

Most major phone carriers offer various discounts to customers. Here are some examples:

Customer GroupAvailable Discounts
VeteransDiscounts on cell phone plans for veterans.
StudentsSpecial student discounts on cell phone plans.
SeniorsSenior citizen discounts for cell phone services.
First RespondersDiscounts for first responders on phone plans.

Take advantage of available discounts to save money on your cell phone service and keep more money in your pocket. 

Is My Credit Score Important When Trying To Get a Cell Phone?

If you are interested in getting a new cell phone, just about every phone company will require a credit check when you apply. Your credit score plays an important role when trying to buy a new cell phone. 

Most buyers intend on using a monthly payment plan to afford the high cost of cell phones. Retailers use credit checks to ascertain whether a person will be able to reliably make monthly payments. Individuals with bad credit scores pose a higher lending risk. If you have bad credit, there is a possibility that you will not qualify for a new cell phone. But what is bad credit

Most lenders consider any FICO score lower than 600 to be a bad credit score. Although, the exact score cutoff that phone companies consider bad credit varies by company. You may still find a phone company willing to work with you if you have poor credit! But keep in mind that you may get higher interest rates or require a security deposit due to a low credit score. 

How To Get a Cell Phone With Bad Credit and No Deposit?

It’s possible to get a phone with bad credit, but you may have to provide an upfront deposit. However, there may be some options without a fair credit and deposit:

Enroll in a Family Plan

This plan consists of multiple phone lines and a primary account holder. Many cell phone companies offer this option. The main account holder can have numerous phone lines attached to the account. However, they are also responsible for paying for those additional phone lines. 

The maximum amount of phone lines for a family plan depends on the phone company. 

If you have a bad credit history, joining a family plan may be beneficial. You do not need great credit history to get approval for an unlimited data plan. 

Apply for a Phone With a Cosigner

Individuals with bad credit history can qualify for a cell phone plan if they use a cosigner with good credit. A cosigner can be a family member or friend added to the account. According to the cell phone contract, the cosigner is financially responsible for payments if you experience financial issues. Ensure that your cosigner fully understands the financial obligations expected of them. 

FAQS: Finance Phone With Bad Credit

What is an “early purchase option” when financing a new phone?

The early purchase option allows customers to buy the phone before the end of their credit lease term, often at a reduced total cost.

How does my past payment history affect my ability to finance a new phone?

Phone companies often review this factor to determine your reliability. Consistent positive payments can increase your chances of getting favorable financing terms, while negative history might require a deposit or money down.

Is a down payment required for every credit transaction when getting a new phone?

Not always. The need for one depends on the advertised transaction terms and your creditworthiness. Some top brands or promotions might require one, especially if it’s a credit lease.

How does a credit lease differ from a regular credit transaction for a new phone?

A credit lease allows customers to use the phone while making regular payments, with an option to purchase at the end. In contrast, a credit transaction typically means you’re paying off the cost of the phone over time.

Will my payment history with my wireless service affect my ability to finance a phone?

Yes, your payment history with your wireless service can influence financing decisions. Consistent on-time payments can be beneficial, while missed payments can be a red flag.

Is a security deposit required for all customers with bad credit?

Not necessarily. Whether a company will have a security deposit required depends on the company’s policies, the advertised transaction, and the individual’s credit assessment.

When is the first payment due after financing a new phone?

The first payment is typically due one month after the purchase or as specified in the credit lease or financing agreement.

How do the total cost and monthly payments differ between top brands and lesser-known brands?

Top brands might have a higher total cost and monthly payments due to their brand value and features. However, promotions, discounts, and affordable financing options can make them more accessible.

Can I request a loan from my bank to cover the cost of the phone?

Yes, some customers opt for personal loans from their bank to finance their purchases, especially if they find it more affordable.

Use a Personal Loan To Get a Phone With Bad Credit 

If you are looking for an alternative to get phone financing, options are available, even for bad credit. Personal loans are popular, but you can use bad credit loans, installment loans, and no credit check loans to obtain the money necessary for a phone deposit. 

Key Takeaways With CreditNinja

For those with low credit, financing a phone might seem challenging, but there are multiple avenues to explore. You can choose between prepaid plans, which offer flexibility without the need for credit checks, and monthly plans, which might require a credit assessment but offer various budget-friendly options. And these are just a few avenues to explore. You should also know that in some cases, getting your phone payments reported can help build credit. At CreditNinja, we want to highlight that while poor credit might pose some hurdles, with research and persistence, securing a cell phone plan may be possible!


  1. You may be able to save up to $268 a year by switching your cell phone plan | CNBC
  2. The best cheap cell phone plans in 2022 | Tom’s Guide
  3. How To Get Approved For A Cell Phone With Bad Credit? | House of Debt
  4. Why getting a cell phone may depend on your credit | Transunion

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