If you have bad credit, you can still get a cell phone by using a prepaid or no-contract provider. In addition, some providers offer plans that replace the standard credit check with an analysis of a customer's payment history, allowing subscribers to finance phones with no credit check after establishing on-time payments with the carrier.
The simplest option for cell phone users with poor credit is to use a prepaid carrier. These carriers offer service for a monthly fee paid upfront, and many offer similar rates to traditional contract cell phone service. The major disadvantage to a prepaid carrier is that the subscriber must pay up front for the phone. While some carriers offer subsidized phones that are locked to their service, consumers can also opt for more expensive "unlocked" phones that can be ported to any compatible carrier.
After the recession of 2008, many cell phone carriers found it difficult to take on new customers due to poor credit. T-Mobile instituted what it called "Smartphone Equality," a plan where 12 months of regular payments qualifies any subscriber for a cell phone financing plan. Consumers with poor credit can use the carrier's prepaid service for 12 months and then switch to a traditional contract with phone financing options.