We can help you find the network or online phone shop that has among the highest historical acceptance rates for bad credit contracts.

If you have bad credit and you are searching for a mobile phone contract it is important to consider that all mobile phone retailers and networks have differing criteria for contract acceptance. In other words you could apply to one retailer for a contract and get refused, but applying for a similar deal at a different provider you could be accepted.

To stand the best chance of getting a bad credit phone contract accepted, the retailers that have higher pass rates based on our data are –

No 1 Virgin Mobile
No 2 The Smartphone Company
No 3 – O2

Check the deals at all of the top rated retailers/networks below to see which mixture of free minutes, free texts, free data allowance and free phone suits you best.

Networks with higher contract acceptance rates


See Deals

virgin-mobileVirgin Mobile

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Other phone retailers with higher acceptance rates

phones-co-ukThe Smartphone Company

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mobile-phones-directMobile Phones Direct

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Checklist for getting a phone contract application accepted


If you have a bad credit history it can severely affect the chances of you being able to get a mobile phone contract. Basically, retailers are wary of giving contract phones to people with bad credit because the worry is that the phone shop will provide a brand new phone as part of a contract, but the applicant will not be able to pay their bills as some point during the contract. So it is important that you address the reasons why you have bad credit and attempt to fix the problems before applying for a bad credit phone contract.


There are a number of reasons (some quite simply fixed) that can cause a person to be classified in the eyes of a credit agency as having bad credit. These can include –

Not being registered on the electoral role (being listed on the electoral role is a large part in a phone company being able to prove that you live where you say you do). Adding yourself to the role can be done online at http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/

You could order our credit file at Experian or Equifax to see if/where your credit score is poor and take steps to improve it.

Having bills that have not been paid within the agreed timescales will likely contribute to bad credit status.

If you have not taken credit in the past through loans, mortgages or credit cards, you could be classed as having a low credit score. This seems unfair as you are effectively being penalised for not borrowing money, but by taking out credit and repaying it within the agreed terms you would demonstrate that you are financially responsible and could lead other companies to trust you with their credit terms (mobile phone companies).

On the other hand if you have too much access to credit in the form of too many loans or too many credit cards then a credit agency could class you as being high risk in the sense that you have too much access to available credit and could easily go into debt.

If you have applied for several forms of credit (or mobile phone contracts) and have been declined, then these will negatively affect your credit score. Only apply if and when you think you stand the best chance of being accepted i.e. when your credit worthiness is at its highest.

Even if your credit status is poor there are still opportunities for you to obtain a phone contract. For people with the very bad credit there are 100% guaranteed phone contracts that require no credit check which are on offer. Although you should note that the prices are slightly higher than those at regular online phone shops (because the companies offering guaranteed phone contracts will likely try to offset the risk in offering free phones as part of a contract to customers with a higher likelihood of defaulting by charging slightly more for them).


There are also options for people with bad credit in the form of mobile phone shops whose application criteria are more favourable towards people with poor credit. No phone company will give details on exactly what you need to do to pass their credit checks but our historical data shows us that there are certain mobile phone networks and retailers which would appear to have more lenient application terms for customers with bad credit so to maximise your chances of getting a contract phone on bad credit terms you could look towards the deals on offer from the following retailers which consistently have higher contract pass rates than the others. The highest acceptance rates for bad credit contracts come from –

Virgin Mobile
The Smartphone Company
Mobile Phones Direct


Take into account that mobile phones which are offered completely free of charge as part of a contract are likely to be more difficult to obtain for customers that are applying under a bad credit basis. Perhaps consider choosing a contract where you contribute a share of the cost of the handset or maybe choose a reconditioned handset.


The type of mobile phone handset that is on offer plays a big part on the likelihood of having a contract application accepted if you have bad credit. The most expensive handsets will be included in contracts that are the most difficult to get for people with bad credit. So instead of considering the likes of the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One, etc. you might want to consider an older type of phone such as an iPhone 4s, Samsung Galaxy S4 or Samsung Galaxy S3 – all of which are still excellent, very capable modern smartphones.


The cost of the actual monthly line rental is also something that should be a major consideration. Be careful that you do not apply for a line rental that is too high per month for your needs. Recent research suggests that most mobile phone contract users in the UK do not use anywhere near their full entitlement of free calls, texts or data so careful plan how much inclusive freebies you will need on your contract and choose your contract accordingly. Keeping costs down will not only help towards a successful application but will also be good for your overall finances.


If you already have a mobile phone which you are happy with and you are on a pay as you go or contract deal that is no longer suitable you might want to consider taking out a SIM only contract. These are contracts that do not include a free phone, they provide you with a SIM card which you slot into your current phone and the free minutes, free calls and free data that is part of your deal will be loaded onto the SIM card. The benefit of SIM only deals is that they tend to have more free inclusive perks that the equivalent standard phone contracts because the retailers do not need to subsidise the cost of a new mobile phone into the cost of the contract so they can be more generous with free calls and texts, etc. Plus the fact that there is no mobile phone included in the deal means that there is less risk to the retailer because the only physical item that is sent to the customer is a SIM card which costs pence to manufacture as opposed to a new phone which can retail at up to £600 each.