9 Ways To Get Approved For a Cell Phone With Bad Credit

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If you think about it, a cell phone is now something you cannot survive without. Yeah, indeed, we’ve said survive, especially with the new age of social media, as well as online learning, shopping, and even working. Anyway, in this post, we’re to show you how to get approved for a cell phone with bad credit or no score at all.

That’s right. You can replace your damaged phone or upgrade to the latest model when you even have no cash or a stellar credit score. Sure, the deal won’t be as great as for those people who have a perfect credit history. But there’s a chance to get your desired smartphone or at the very least a working model that you hang on for the time being.

Buy Now Pay Later May Be Your Best Haven

In general, there are two main ways to get a cell phone of your desire. The first one is from the carrier you’re using for your service, whereby you can purchase outright or finance through an installment agreement. Then, the other will be by purchasing from third-party dealers.

In the case of carriers, many of them require you have an impressive credit score to get approved for device financing. But like in many things in life, there are a few exceptions, whereby you can lease a cell phone with no credit check required.

Meanwhile, buying your cell phone from third-party dealers is somewhat the best option. For one, you can buy unlocked phones, which you can use with not only your current carrier but others as well.

Secondly, and most important of all, some consumer stores are now part of the buy pay later catalogs for people with bad credit. So, you can order your desired cell phone, then pay for it in small payments that you agree with the financing company.

Needless to say, your total purchase payments over the financing period will be a little more than the regular manufacturer retail price. But then, that additional fee is what keeps these financing companies in the health and ensures they’re always there whenever you need them.

Some of these buy now pay later sites you can get approved for a cell phone with bad credit are Luthersales, LeaseVille, and Zebit.

What To Know Before You Apply For A Cell Phone With Bad Credit

Before you decide to finance a cell phone, it’s always wise to first assess your credit situation. That way, it will become easier to find the right provider who will give you considerable interest. Remember, the lower the APR, the lower the monthly payments and total amount will be.

In case you may be wondering, having a low credit score doesn’t necessarily make it fall under bad credit. According to Investopedia, “bad credit” is where you have a history of failing to pay your bills on time. These bills can either be a bank loan, student loan, mortgage, credit card, or monthly payments to the car dealerships you owe on your SUV and Sedan.

Also, cell phone providers like T-Mobile and Verizon and AT&T can forward accounts with negative engagement to a collection agency. The collection agency will then report your account to the credit bureaus, which may hurt your next credit report.

Poor Credit vs Bad Credit

Note, your new credit account will have a low credit score before you can build it to the exceptional range. However, in that case, we’ll just call it poor credit, considering you have not had any record of due payments.

As of now, Experian counts a  poor credit range on the FICO Score model between  300-579 points. If you’re lucky with the one and you get 580 points, your account is now at the fair credit range.

Below is a table summarizing what your FICO score means in terms of credit range and risk level.

FICO ScoreCredit RangeRisk LevelAverage Consumers %
800 – 850Exceptional (well above average)Exceptionally Low Risk21%
740 – 799Very Good (above average)Very Dependable25%
670 – 739Good (slightly above average)Dependable21%
580 – 669Fair (slightly below average)Less Risk17%
300 – 579Very Poor/ Bad (well below average)High Risk16%

In the table, you can see over 65% of Americans have a good credit score, which is spectacular to the owners and the potential lenders. But, on the other hand, about 16% of the consumers fall on the very poor credit range, which also includes those with bad credit.

If you have a poor credit score or bad credit, creditors and lenders usually feel you’re highly risky to have a deal. So, many of them will reject your application even before they’ve checked your other credentials.

But as was mentioned, there’s still some hope for you to get approved for a cell phone with bad credit. In this case, the prospective lender will consider your “other credentials”, whereby they can now approve your request or still deny it.

Well, this now brings us to our main topic. So, let us jump to it and see which option will be more favorable for your kind of situation.

How to Get Approved for a Cell Phone with Bad Credit

First up, it’s worth mentioning again that buy now pay later providers usually depend on your responsibility to survive the night. So, before they can finance your gadget, they still will want to make sure you’ll be able to pay them back. For this, they’ll need your other financial factors, such as income level and your employment.

In confirming these details are correct, the lease-to-own providers might run a soft credit check on your account. No, the pull won’t have a negative impact on your credit report as what the providers will be reviewing are basic financial information. That’s your payment history, lines of credit, and collection amounts, all of which show how well you manage your debt.

How to Get Approved for a Cell Phone with Bad Credit

Anyway, here are nine different ways you can get approved for a cell phone when you even have bad credit or no score at all.

Try Lifeline Program

That’s right. The lifeline program is the cheapest way to get approved for a phone with bad credit. In the programs, the participating providers will give you a free touchscreen government phone and rate plan.

Of course, the device you receive is usually an entry-level model, which is also a few years old. But you could make it work if the reason you’re on bad credit is from the loss of work from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Even so, you still need to prove you deserve the free phone. The two main ways to join the lifeline group are if your total income is below the federal poverty guideline or in case you participate in any of the government-funded programs.

Some of the best providers you can check out for free phones include Assist Wireless, Assurance Wireless, Safelink, TAG Mobile, and Trueconnect.

Have a Stable Income

Well, buy now pay later cell phones with no credit check is also an easy way to get approved for a handset with bad credit. In the method, the participating stores usually rely on your other financial factors, including income level to determine your eligibility. So, they may ask about your salary when filling up the lease application. If not that, they can perform a soft pull check, which, as we said earlier, is to determine how you manage your debt.

At the end of the day, the leasing company will most likely approve you for the cell phone if you have a stable income. However, the “stable income” here is not necessarily having a huge paycheck, but a reasonable debt-to-income ratio. That’s all your monthly debt payments divided by your overall income.       

If you have a higher debt-to-income ratio, the leasing company may doubt you’ll be able to pay them back. So, they may deny the request to finance your desired cell phone.

Show Consistent Employment Record

Even when you have a stable income, a leasing company will still want to make sure you can pay all the agreed installments. So, they’ll check your employment record to make sure your income flow is steady and won’t be drying up anytime soon.

Nonetheless, the minimum employment time with your current employer will vary from one lender to the other. For instance, LUTHERSALES used to ask for at least three months of continuous payments. However, they’ve recently updated their policies and now require a minimum period of one year at your current employer to give you credit.

Hold a Good Phone bill Payment Record

As was mentioned earlier, you can finance your cell phone using your current carrier. The good thing with this method is that the devices are usually relatively cheaper, plus you can upgrade even before you completed the full payment.

Even so, it’s only a few providers who can approve you for cell phone financing with bad credit. Boost Mobile is a perfect example through its BoostUP!, whereby you can get your desired iOS or Android device with no credit check required. However, this program is exclusively for loyal customers who have been consistent in payments over the last twelve months.

Also, T-Mobile does have a similar program, Smartphone Equality, which offers device financing with no credit check if you have 12 consecutive on-time payments. However, the program is not available to prepaid plans customers, but those on Magenta, T-Mobile ONE, or Simple Choice.

Have a Good Amazon Payments Records

Well, Amazon is an everyday store for many of us. It has about everything for everyone, all thanks to the wide array of products, plus sellers from all parts of the country and even outside the U.S. For instance, you can find a decent low-end unlocked cell phone under $50 and more sophisticated models over $1,000.

Although most don’t know about it, Amazon also does have a monthly payments plan. However, the program is only for loyal customers as the eligibility’s also based on a positive engagement to your Amazon.com account. That’s a good purchase history instead of the regular credit report. Thus, you can qualify even when you have bad credit or no score at all.

Even so, Amazon provides that it’s not all products or devices will be available for monthly financing. Also, you’ll need to pay an initial payment (more like a down payment) during the shipment, then the rest over four months.

Place a Significant Down Payment

When you have bad credit or a thin credit file, many lenders will see you as a risk and won’t be willing to deal with you. In various scenarios, your stable income might not be enough to convince them you’re dependable. So, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re disciplined enough and invested in the purchase at hand- the cell phone.

Yes, indeed, placing a significant down payment can help encourage a wary lender to deal with you. Many lenders choose to work with a down payment of between 15-25% of the total purchase price.

However, it’s best to choose the highest amount, which will not only make the lender trust you more. But also keep your remaining balance low and reduce your monthly installments or the payment period.

At the end of the day, you’ll have no pending obligations with your cell phone financer. Then, you’ll have a chance to build or rebuild your credit history if the credit bureaus were updating your payments.

Choose a Co-signer with Good Credit

The trick here is to apply for a credit product with someone who’s already eligible. After the lender approves your request, this person will be responsible for the debt if you fail to pay. In some cases, the debt account might also appear on the cosigner’s credit report, which could even hurt his/ her score. So, it’s great to choose your cosigner from your trust circle, someone willing to be accountable when you have your struggles.

Talking about accountability, the person you choose as your cosigner must first be financially stable. That means he/ she must have a good or excellent credit history and a steady source of income before he/she helps you.

Remember, the name of your cosigner will be the one appearing on the lease agreement that you both signed. However, you can transfer the account to your name later on after achieving a favorable credit score. Better yet,  you’ll continue to make the payments without having to place a deposit.

Note, to get approved for a cell phone with bad credit through a cosigner, you’ll mostly have to rely on a provider of personal loans. However, sprint used to have an option where someone with good credit could take a device on your behalf. Then, you can transfer the ownership to your account when your financial situation improves. But, sadly, the mobile carrier is now part of T-Mobile after their 2020 merger. So, we can’t confirm if the ownership change thing still exists.

Join a Family Cell Phone Plan

Many phone carriers do have the option to register multiple lines under the family package on a single account. However, the primary owner usually has the total authority, including managing all the account information and active lines.

Also, the main account holder is financially responsible for the entire account. We’re not just talking about being accountable for your failed payments, but also eligibility requirements. He/ she is also the only one needed to have excellent credit. So, you can take advantage of the feature and apply for a smartphone with bad credit or no credit at all.

Use the International Credit History

Last but not least, different countries usually have different models of credit scores. Here in the States, the credit bureaus mostly analyze your credit report on the FICO scoring model, However, you could also get your credit report on VantageScore models, which we could say is a little more generous.

Anyway, when you’re a newcomer, it can prove hard to qualify for a credit product before you build your new credit life. It was even harder a few years ago when your credit history was only significant in your home country.

However, today you can convert the credit data from your home country to an international score equivalent to that used here in the States. Of course, the technology for this kind of work is only limited to a few companies- such as Nova Credit.

But once they’ve given an equivalent score you can now apply for a loan or the credit product you want. And at the end of the day, you’ll now start to build your true U.S. credit score with on-time, consistent payments.

Final Thoughts

At this point, you can now see you have almost a dozen options on how to get approved for a cell phone with bad credit. Any of the methods are effective, but it all depends on your situation and who’s there for you.

In our opinion, though, financing your device through a buy now pay later under your own income will be much better. That way, the lender will only lease you a cell phone or funds to buy one based on what they believe you’re going to afford. So, it’ll be hard to miss any payments, which in turn will help build or rebuild your credit score.