While mobile ads might make it seem like anyone can pop into a store and walk out with a shiny new smartphone and great rates, the reality is less pleasant. Unless your credit is pristine, there’s a good chance you’ll walk in and face a hefty deposit -- if you qualify for a monthly plan at all.
Speaking with Raconteur, Derek McManus, COO at O2 notes, “Four in every five adults own a smartphone and 4G data usage has almost doubled in the last year. The consumer appetite and growth opportunity are clear.”
But what do you do if you have bad credit--or no credit--and need a mobile? Before you pay that deposit, consider these no credit check phone plans and alternative ways to get a phone without having to empty your piggy bank!
In this guide...
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2022
By the time you consider the deposit, the phone costs and tariffs, you’re potentially talking about a thousand plus pounds per year for a monthly contract.
You can avoid some of these costs -- especially if you’re a light mobile user -- by using PAYG bundles through a smaller network carrier. While you might find that bundles offer a few less features than a monthly tariff -- and won’t include mobile device subsidies--they are a great option for mobile service. Better still, they don’t require a credit check!
NOTE:Device subsidies are the discounts many carriers offer in exchange for a contract agreement. New flagship smartphones can exceed £500 or more when purchased upfront! Unless you own a mobile already--or don’t mind using something from the last generation or two--you might not a save at all on a new mid-to-high-end phone versus paying a deposit.
The plans offered by the these carriers run the line between PAYG credits and monthly tariffs. While you’ll pay for them in advance like prepaid credits, most don’t meter things individually unless you exceed your monthly allotment.
Networks with prepaid monthly bundles that don’t require credit checks include:
If you’d prefer to stick to one of the major networks, PAYG service quality and device options through networks are on par with the offerings available to those with monthly tariff.
For most of these, you must bring your own mobile or purchase one upfront. However, most kiosks and stores include a few affordable options--especially when compared to the deposit fees you might face at bigger providers.
Better still, there’s never any worry about overages or extra charges. If you run out of time or data mid-month, you can top off your account. Many providers have eliminated physical cards and make it easy to top off using an app or online purchase.
Choose a network below to compare prepaid options:
If you have a friend or family member with an old phone from any of the major networks, there’s a good chance you can use it on their prepaid services. This means no hassles with unlocking and you might save over buying a new phone!
While your friend or flatmate must be willing to assume the credit risk if you don’t pay for your monthly tariff, adding a line to a friends’ plan offers rewards for the both of you.
Most major networks now offer a family plan. As lines are added, the per-line tariffs typically decrease. This means if you and your friends all pay equal parts of the bill, you’ll all pay less!
However, with the shift to multi-line plans, many networks also shifted to shared data and minute pools. Before finding a group plan, make sure you’re intended or typical usage won’t put them over limits and incur additional charges.
With deposits ranging from £100 to £1000+ depending on your needs, they’re not always easy to fit into your budget. However, most providers will refund the deposit -- many with interest -- once you’ve met certain conditions. In most cases, this means maintaining service and making payments on-time for 6 to 24 months.
While you’re paying your monthly tariff, you’re also working to improve your credit and establish a history of payments with the carrier. This might lead to better offers in the future and eliminate the need for deposits with other business!
Many service providers issue the refund as a credit to your bill or in-store gift card instead of check. Most will also limit the amount of the refund or cancel it entirely if you’re late even once on a bill. This can cause issues if you’re planning to apply that boost of cash to something else and it never arrives.
With the tips in this guide, you should be able to find a quality mobile network that offers the service you need.
Did we miss anything you’ve use to find no credit check mobile tariffs in the past? Have a question we missed or have a different experience finding a no credit check tariff? Leave the details in the comments below!
P.S. Most networks that don’t require credit checks either meter your data usage or offer lower caps that the major networks. If you’re looking to keep your bills low and get the most from your mobile data tariff, our Data Savings Guide offers tips to help!
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