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If you’re planning to get a new wireless service through Sprint, you’ll most likely need to undergo a credit check.
Sprint requires a credit check for new customers and new lines, and the good news is the have one of the lowest initial security deposits in the industry. If you’re going to get a new service from Sprint, here’s what you should know first.
Update: We have created a new tool that lets you estimate your required deposit amount for wireless service with Sprint based on your credit score. This allows you to compare deposits between various carriers based on historical data.
Check Your Credit Scores First
It’s always a good idea to check your credit scores before signing up for service with Sprint or even upgrading existing service. To avoid a deposit, you will want to verify that all three of your scores are 720 or above, in the good to excellent credit range.
If any of your scores are below 720, you may be required to put down a substantial deposit.
Minimize Your Deposit
If you are required to pay a deposit, Sprint has some online promotions that may help to offset or eliminate the cost of the deposit. Sprint current is offering a $100 credit on your bill when you purchase a new phone online and sign up for easy pay.
Why Does Sprint Perform a Credit Check?
All wireless carriers perform credit checks on new customers or existing customers adding new lines because it’s much easier to run up a high bill on a cell phone, especially a smartphone. Studies have confirmed that people with bad credit are at a higher risk of default or skipping out on bills, so this credit check is done as a safeguard to avoid sending expensive cell phones to individuals with a history of failing to pay bills.
It’s definitely true that not everyone with bad credit is irresponsible, and having poor credit doesn’t mean you won’t pay your cell phone bill on time. Still, Sprint will hedge their bets like all carriers because a cell phone line is a line of credit they’re extending.
When Sprint performs a credit check, they’re going to look at how much debt you currently owe, whether you have a history of on-time payments and the limits on your credit accounts to get an overall picture of your financial stability. They will also get your credit score.
Will I Need to Pay a Deposit?
Depending on your credit history, you may be required to pay a deposit, or you may be denied for service altogether. In most cases, even a very low credit score or no credit at all will get you approved for service with a deposit, while those who have declared bankruptcy recently may be denied for service completely.
Sprint has one of the lowest initial deposits of only $50, but it may be as high as $1,000. This deposit may be required per line, not per account. According to Sprint, most people are asked to pay a deposit of $50 to $750 to establish service.
According to their Terms and Services, they reserve the right to change the deposit at any time, and the deposit, the length of time they hold your deposit and any changes to the deposit amount is determined by your payment and credit history. This means you may get your deposit back after 1 year or even 2 years, assuming your account stays current and you don’t have your service disconnected for non-payment during that time.
How Can I Avoid a Credit Check?
If you’re sure you’ll be asked to pay a deposit and you want to skip the credit check completely, Sprint does have a pay as you go plan.
The Sprint As You Go Plan has no contract and no credit check, with plans starting at $50/month (or $70/month for smartphones). To sign up for this plan, you’ll need to pick one of their As You Go phones. They don’t have too many phones you can choose from, but they currently do allow you to get an iPhone 4 on the pay as you go plan.
Tips for Minimizing or Eliminating the Deposit
If you don’t want any of the phones in the Sprint As You Go Plan, you can try these steps to minimize or eliminate the deposit with their regular service.
1. Answer the Identity Questions
When you go through the credit check, a representative will ask you three questions to confirm your identity. A lot of people ran into problems here, including one person who was denied for service because they couldn’t remember the name of the street they lived on 25 years ago. These questions are used to confirm your identity and make sure it’s actually you ordering service, and if you can’t answer them, you’ll be told to wait 60 days and try again.
2. Speak with a Representative
Many people have claimed it’s possible to get Sprint to waive the security deposit completely by calling Sprint and asking to speak with someone in the credit department or an account supervisor. This doesn’t work for everyone, as often times representatives will claim they do not have the authority to do this. This may work for you if Sprint initially told you a deposit would not be required, and then changed the decision and required a deposit of, say, $500.
3. Try a Lower Plan
Your deposit amount may be determined not only by your credit history but also by the cost of the plan you want. Try lowering it to a more basic plan initially and this may lower the deposit you need to pay.
4. Order through Apple
If you want an iPhone, you might try ordering your phone through the Apple website, not Sprint, and then setting up an appointment at an Apple Store to pick up the phone and have it activated. Some people claim you can still get service through Sprint without submitting to a credit check or paying a security deposit.
4. Go Under a Family Plan
Sprint does not allow co-signers, and only one social security number is allowed per account. If you want to avoid a security deposit, one option is just joining a family plan. You won’t get service under your own name, but you will have a phone.
Improve Your Credit First
To improve your chances of getting approved for service through Sprint without a deposit, start by cleaning up your credit report a few months in advance. This will take some time, but it’s your best chance to get approved. Begin by ordering copies of your credit report for free through AnnualCreditReport.com and check for any mistakes. This may include accounts or public records that don’t belong to you. Dispute any mistakes with the credit bureaus.
You’ll also want to look for red flags on your credit reports, such as using too much of your available credit or missed payments. If you’re utilizing a high percentage of your credit, work to pay down the balances. If you have missed payments being reported, try to get them removed by contacting the lender and asking for a goodwill adjustment.
Call up your credit card issuers and ask for credit limit increases, which will increase your available credit without opening a new credit account, which could actually hurt your credit.
Keep in mind changes will take at least 30 days to report to your credit, so start this process a few months before you plan to apply for Sprint service if you can.
The good news is Sprint is one of the more lenient carriers and you may only be required to pay a deposit of $50 or $100, which is refundable. You can also sign up for their Sprint As You Go plan to get a smartphone with no credit check.