Smartphone Service with Bad Credit or No Credit: What Are My Options?

By Kevin / September 11, 2015
Smartphone Service with Bad Credit or No Credit: What Are My Options?

If you have your eyes set on the new iPhone 6s or Samsung Galaxy S6, but your credit is less-than-stellar, you still have options. Unfortunately, you may have more trouble actually finding a carrier or store that has an iPhone 6s in stock than actually qualifying! Here is what you should know about getting the latest iPhone or any other hot smartphone with bad credit.

And while the examples below all consent the Apple iPhone, they are applicable to Samsung Galaxy phones and any new smartphone you might desire - the only difference being in the device cost.

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iPhone 6s with AT&T

If you want to go with AT&T, you can expect a credit check regardless of which type of plan you choose.

You have a few ways to get an iPhone with AT&T:

  • 2-year contract with $216 due today
  • AT&T Next plan with $0 down (qualifying credit) and monthly payments of $21.67 to $32.50
  • AT&T Next with Downpayment, which mean a $195 downpayment today and monthly payments of $16.25.
  • Full retail price of $649.99 (save up to $25/month on a Mobile Share Value plan)

Let’s start with the AT&T Next plan, which requires the smallest amount down.

The AT&T Next program is a financing arrangement that requires 20 to 30 monthly payments with 0% APR. There are the installment plans available:

  • AT&T Next 12 requires $0 down and 20 monthly payments of $32.50. After you make 12 payments, you can trade in your iPhone 6s for a new phone.
  • AT&T Next 18 requires $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $27.09. After you make 18 payments, you can trade in the phone and upgrade.
  • AT&T Next 24 requires $0 down and 30 monthly payments of $21.67. After you make 24 payments, you can trade in the smartphone and upgrade.
  • AT&T Next with Downpayment requires a $195 downpayment and 28 monthly payments of $16.25. After 12 payments, you can trade in your iPhone for a new phone.​

AT&T Next requires a credit check unless you are an existing customer with an account in good standing.

Be aware that AT&T Next with $0 down appears to have strict credit requirements, as many people with good credit have even been denied. AT&T seems to base the requirements on a credit class and AT&T credit history more than your credit history with other companies.

If you have bad credit, you may not get approved for the Next plan with $0 down.

Your first option will be choosing AT&T Next with Downpayment, making a $195 downpayment and paying $16.25 per month for 28 months. This option, however, comes with a reduced device access fee of up to $25 per month and allows you to upgrade in as little as 12 months.

Your other option will be signing up for a two-year contract, which will require paying the subsidized cost of the phone ($199) and a higher device access fee. You can also shop AT&T GoPhone prepaid plans - which are compatible with the latest smartphones. (Read our GoPhone review here.)

iPhone 6s with Verizon

With Verizon, you have 2 ways to get an iPhone 6s now that they replaced both the Edge plan and subsidized contracts with the Verizon Plan:

  • ​$27.08 for 24 months with 0% APR (2 year contract)
  • $649.99 full price with no contract

Verizon currently does not let you sign up for their prepaid ALLSET plan with an iPhone 6s, unless you buy it elsewhere and bring it to the plan.

Let’s start with the contract option.

If you want to buy a Verizon iPhone 6s with a 2-year contract, they will run your credit. It seems most people with a credit score of at least 600-625 do not have to pay a deposit unless they have a bankruptcy on their record.

If you have bad credit, you may need to pay a deposit to start service. Verizon deposits range from $150 to $1,000 per line, not per account, and most people get a deposit of around $400. 

You can pay the full purchase price for the phone upfront and have a no contract Verizon Plan (read our review) or AllSet prepaid plan (click here for our review).

iPhone 6s with Sprint

There are three ways to get an iPhone 6s through Sprint:

  • Lease through iPhone Forever plan with $0 today and $22 per month (Editor’s Note: Sprint currently has a promo where your lease price can be as low as $15/month and you will always have the latest iPhone).
  • Finance with Easy Pay plan for $27.09 per month
  • 2-year contract with $200 due today and an additional $25 per month

Sprint’s iPhone Forever (formerly iPhone for Like) Plan, is the cheapest way to get your hands on the iPhone 6s. The plan offers unlimited data for $50 a month and lets you “lease” your new iPhone from Sprint. If you get the 16GB iPhone 6, you can lease it for $0 down and $22 a month, for a total cost of $72 per month (plus taxes).

And, right now, you will be guaranteed a new iPhone whenever one is released, when you trade in your old one. (The old iPhone for Life Plan only guaranteed a new iPhone every 24 months when you trade in your old one.)

Sprint claims this is “the most economical way to get an iPhone 6s today,” and it’s the first national carrier to offer a leasing option. After running the numbers, we found it to be the cheapest way to get a new iPhone 6s – and you can do it for $0 down.

If you would rather finance your new iPhone 6s, you can also go with the new Easy Pay program.

Easy Pay lets you keep your iPhone after 24 months with low monthly payments and taxes paid upfront. You can also choose an Early Upgrade option for an extra $5 per month. If you go with the Easy Pay installment plan, you will pay sales tax of $52 upfront. There will also be a $50/month charge for the Unlimited plan plus the installment payment of $27.09 per month.

You can be a new or existing customer to be eligible for Easy Pay, but a credit check will be required. The good news is it seems there are no real credit requirements to get approved, but you may need to make a down payment if you have bad credit with a score of less than 640.

You can also go with a 2-year contract and pay the subsidized cost of $216 (including taxes) upfront - and Sprint will ding you with higher monthly data charges.

There is a credit check required. Sprint has pretty easy credit requirements, and you will most likely get approved as long as you do not have serious recent derogatory marks on your credit like bankruptcy or charged-off telecommunications accounts.​

If you have bad credit, you will probably be required to pay a deposit to set up service, however. The good news is Sprint has the lowest initial deposit among carriers of just $50, but it can be as high as $1,000. Most people pay a deposit between $50 and $750. If you know you have credit problems, you may be better off trying for the Easy Pay plan.​

iPhone 6s with T-Mobile

T-Mobile offers prepaid plans with no contracts. To get an iPhone 6s at T-Mobile, your best option is purchasing the phone with the Equipment Installment Program. The amount you need to pay up-front depends on a credit check, though.

If you have very good credit, you can qualify for $0 down and monthly payments of $27.08 for 24 months with 0% APR.

If you have bad credit, you will be required to pay an upfront cost of $360 for the 16GB iPhone 6 (or up to $470 if you want the 128GB version), with 24 monthly payments of $12.08.

You can also choose a no credit check option. (Click here for a step-by-step guide.)

If you don’t want a credit check, you have two options:

  • Pay in advance: Pay device cost ($649.92) plus first month of service upfront.
  • Simple Choice no credit: Pay device cost ($649.92) plus a refundable deposit equal to about one month’s service.
  • This option gives you the Simple Choice Family Plan discounts.​

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