Sometimes it feels like your credit score is everything. Doing simple things like leasing a new car, getting a small personal loan, or even getting an account with the electric company, are more difficult when your credit score is bad. But your bad credit score doesn’t have to stand in the way of the new smartphone you’ve been craving.
Save Up for a Big Deposit
When your credit isn’t great, making a deposit on the phone is something most carriers require you to do. Sometimes this functions as a security deposit and the carrier will refund the deposit or apply it as a credit to your bill after you’ve consistently paid your bill for a specified amount of time, usually a year.
Sometimes the deposit is actually a down payment. You pay for a portion of the new phone to lower your monthly payments, taking away some of the carrier’s concern that you won’t be able to pay for the phone due to your credit score.
Buy the Phone Outright
Not everyone has several hundred dollars to spend on a new phone, and not everyone is able to save up that much money. So buying your phone in one fell swoop isn’t always an option, especially if you need a new phone right away. However, if you can save up for the entire phone, go for it. Sometimes picking up a side hustle or being extra frugal for a couple months will put the money you need in your hands.
When your credit is bad enough, or you don’t have any credit, your best bet might be finding an affordable mid-range model, buying it at once, and avoiding the credit question completely.
Find a Carrier With Credit Plan Variations
If your credit score isn’t stellar but your phone bill payment history is, T-Mobile has you covered with their Smartphone Equality program. If you spend a year paying off your contract on time, or if you maintain prepaid payments for a year, you qualify for this program. That means you get the same phone payment plan deals that used to only go to customers with good credit.
What can you do with this deal? Make payments on a new smartphone for two years with no money down. You’ve been eyeing the Samsung Galaxy S7, and now it’s almost yours. Plus, you don’t have to apply for the plan and wait a whole year. It works retroactively. If your past year of paying T-Mobile phone bills has been flawless, you can walk in tomorrow and qualify.
Join Someone’s Family Plan
Image via Flickr by blakespot
Finding someone to let you join their family plan is like getting someone to co-sign on your lease with you. If you default on a payment, the other person becomes responsible. So be prepared to make every payment perfectly on time if you’re going to hop on a family plan with someone else.
When you join a family plan, nobody checks your credit. Only the plan holder has a credit check. So if you have a sibling, a spouse, a best friend, or a parent with stellar credit willing to let you on a family plan, that new phone can be yours. To be a responsible plan companion, do your math first and make sure you can afford the payment for your new phone plus the payment for your portion of the plan. Happily, your line of the family plan will probably be less expensive than if you went for a solo plan.
Check for Employee Discounts
If you’re a K-12 teacher, a college professor, or a staff member of a K-12 or college institution, T-Mobile offers an education discount on smartphones. Some big businesses have deals with providers to offer their employees discounts on phones, too. When you have bad credit, every little bit helps, and that discount will get you one step closer to affording that new smartphone.
Bad credit is difficult to live with and takes time to recover from, but you still have access to smartphones and reliable networks.