Most mobile deals require a credit check before you sign up with them - but that’s not always ideal. If you have bad credit history, or a damaged one because of a challenging financial period, you may find it difficult to land a deal.
There are loads of reasons this may happen - a history of debt, being on a zero-hours contract, being new to the country, having moved homes frequently to name but a few. Even simply lacking credit history can mess up your chances of grabbing a good deal.
Regardless of your circumstances, there's no need to worry. There are mobile networks that offer deals without credit checks, and they're great value to boot.
What can I get with no credit check?
The good news is that those deals aren't half bad. Because they only last a month, they're nice and flexible, so you can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel whenever you want. And as well as that, they don't tend to cost a whole lot, so you needn't compromise on price.
What do I need?
To get a credit-check-free SIM-only deal, you will need:
- An unlocked phone. It's no use having a SIM if you don't have a phone to put it in. And make sure it's not locked to one particular network, so you can put in a SIM from any provider. Need a new one? Check out our guide to cheap phones.
- A debit account, so you can pay your bill.
Although the network won't do a credit check, it'll probably still do an ID check to prevent fraud - for which you usually just need to provide your name, address, and bank details.
Which networks offer SIM-only deals with no credit checks?
It's not just a place for good value groceries - ASDA offers good value SIM plans through its mobile branch too.
Once again its SIM-only plans work on a monthly basis. You'll get a free SIM card, to which you can then add 30-day bundles. These are sets of minutes, texts, and data to use within a month, and with prices ranging from £5 to £25, you've got quite a lot of choice. And it makes things very flexible too - or if you prefer the peace of mind of a monthly contract, you can set your favourite bundle to automatically renew when it runs out.
Its SIM-only plans work a little differently from most. Each month you can buy a 'goodybag' of calls, texts, and data to last you 30 days, meaning it's easy to change your tariffs around whenever you like. And, most importantly, it also means there's no need for a credit check.
If you're looking to avoid the hassle of a credit check, iD Mobile's SIM-only plans are a good choice. The operator runs on Three's network and offers affordable 'Value Bundles' of data, texts and minutes. You can get up to unlimited 5G data, and you're not locked into any contract, so you chop and change at any time.
A wallet-friendly offshoot of Three, SMARTY specialises in simple SIM-only deals on rolling 30-day plans – with most costing a just a tenner or less per month.
Monthly allowances range from 4GB up to unlimited data, with unlimited calls and texts too. And all plans give you 5G, inclusive EU roaming, and unrestricted tethering.
Does a bad credit rating mean it’s difficult to get a phone contract?
The short answer is yes – having a bad credit rating can sometimes make it difficult to get accepted for mobile contracts.
How likely you are to get accepted or rejected, however, does depend on a few factors. For instance, your exact credit score, how lenient the network or retailer is, and what kind of plan you’ve chosen.
Mobile contracts that come with long term commitments tend to be stricter, as are more expensive ones. For example, it’s harder to pass a credit check for a three-year contract from a major network on the latest iPhone.
On the other hand, you might pass a check for a cheaper plan on an older model of phone.
SIM-only deals, meanwhile, are much easier to get accepted on. And for some of them – like the ones we’ve listed here – the network won’t check your credit history at all.
Who are credit check SIM-only deals for?
SIM-only deals that require credit checks tend to be long-term plans, especially more expensive ones with high allowances and lots of extras.
The credit check is undertaken because the network wants to make sure you’ll be able to commit to paying every month – and therefore don’t present a financial risk for them.
What is a bad credit SIM?
In contrast to a contract that requires a credit check, the deals we’ve listed here under ‘bad credit SIMs’ are ones that don’t check your credit at all.
Therefore they’re appropriate for anyone with a poor credit history who wants to guarantee they can get mobile service.
These deals are all SIM-only, meaning you’ll need to already have a mobile phone or buy one separately. This is because all mobile contract plans on handsets from mainstream retailers and networks do require a credit check (though some are more lenient than others).
How do bad credit SIMs work?
The reason why most of the above networks and SIMs don’t require a credit check is because – in most cases – they work a little differently.
Most of them are 30-day rolling plans, with no long-term commitment from either side. Rather than signing up to a long term contract, you just pay for your next month’s usage upfront.
So, you pick an allowance for the coming month and pay for it. Then when the month is over and your allowance runs out, you can renew it, choose a new allowance, or cancel it entirely.
Some will let you auto-renew, so you don’t have to worry about faffing around with your plan every month. And some will even give you a discount if you do.
Once you've sorted out your mobile plan, why not also switch home broadband? A new plan could save you money each month - take a look at our exclusive guide:
When you've picked your provider and are ready to take the plunge, why not check out this week's best deals in our curated best SIM deals page - where one of our experts have carefully sifted through the market and handpicked the best deals.