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Want to apply for cell phone service but your credit isn't so great? Unfortunately, this can get you into some trouble as most companies will require you to pay a down payment if your credit score is lacking.
Virtually all cell phone providers require a credit check before service is activated, and those with a credit score that fails to meet their internal checks must pay a hefty but refundable deposit.
Here's a look at both AT&T and Verizon's approach to bad credit applications and what you should expect.
Virtually all cell phone providers require a credit check before service is activated.
Wireless Service with Bad Credit
There are some possible alternatives, although you may be stuck paying a deposit ranging anywhere from $50 to $1,000. (If you want to see what others are paying as security deposits, click here.)
If you're looking for solid wireless service with bad or average credit and want to avoid paying a large deposit, many visitors are having success with Prepaid/Pay-as-You-Go Plans. Carriers are now offering 4G LTE pre-paid plans that include unlimited talk & text and start with 1 GB of data for $45 a month.
AT&T Service with Bad Credit
AT&T has the highest initial security deposit, which usually starts at $250 and may go as high as $750. Your deposit will be refunded after 12 months of on-time payments.
With ATT, many people with a credit score in the low- to mid-500's are approved with a deposit ranging from $100/line, up to $750 total.
If you've declared bankruptcy and your score is below 600, you may not be approved at all. On the other hand, some people with a credit score in the mid-500's received approval with no down payment necessary.
AT&T does offer it GoPhone Pay as You Go plans, designed for people with bad credit. It has no contract, no deposit and no credit check necessary. You choose whether you want to pay by the minute, by the day or by the month. (Read our review.)
AT&T in A Nutshell
- Security deposit ranges from $250 to $750 for postpaid plans.
- Deposit is refunded after 12 on-time payments.
- AT&T Pay as You Go plans available with no credit check or deposit.
- Credit scores between 500 and 650 may require deposit of $100 per line (up to $750 total).
Verizon Service with Poor Credit
The credit requirements at Verizon are similar to those at AT&T, although their security deposits start at $125 and then go past $400. As with AT&T, your security deposit is refunded after a year.
Many people report approval for Verizon wireless service with a credit limit around 600 and up with no deposit. Like AT&T, Verizon also offers a prepaid plan intended for individuals with bad credit.
If you're looking for solid wireless service with bad or average credit and avoid paying a large deposit many visitors are having success with Verizon's 4G LTE AllSet Prepaid Plan.
Verizon AllSet is now offering 4G LTE plans and service with no annual contract, no credit check and no activation fee. These plans include unlimited talk & text and start with 1GB of data for $45 a month.
You can buy an additional 500mb of data for $5 or 1gb for $10. Verizon is also currently offering free overnight shipping if you order through the online store. You can see all Verizon Prepaid deals here. Or you can read our review here.
Verizon in A Nutshell:
- Security deposit ranges from $150 to $450 for post-paid plans
- Deposit is refunded after 12 on-time payments
- Verizon Prepaid plans available with no credit check or deposit
- Credit scores above 600 may not require a deposit
Two Possible Solutions to Avoid Down Payments
Option #1 - Order Your iPhone Through Apple
Want an iPhone? Many people have reported success by ordering their iPhone through the Apple website -- as opposed to starting with AT&T -- and then setting up an appointment to pick up the phone at a local Apple Store. With this method you may be able to get your phone service through AT&T with no deposit required.
Option #2 - Go with a Prepaid Plan
Choose a prepaid or pay-as-you-go plan that doesn't require a credit check. Many companies offer prepaid plans, including Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon, with the ability to chose among a range of smartphones. And, with T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon you can get the latest iPhone and Samsun Galaxy smartphones with their prepaid, no credit check plans.