A credit check is sometimes required when you buy a mobile phone or SIM card in the UK. Find out how credit checks work and discover ‘no credit check’ deals.
In the UK, you’ll sometimes need to undergo a credit check when you buy a new mobile phone or SIM-only deal. This depends on the type of product you’re buying, as well as the provider you’re buying it from.
In this article, we’ll explain the credit check process for mobile phones and SIM-only contracts in the UK. We’ll also look at the credit check process on each UK mobile network, along with the best ‘no credit check’ deals that can save yourself lots of time and hassle.
|No Credit Check:|
|Requires Credit Check:
(most plans, exceptions apply)
|Best ‘No Credit Check’ Provider:||Lyca Mobile|
|Free SIM Card:||Get a Lyca Mobile SIM (no credit check) →|
What Are Mobile Phone Credit Checks?
Will I Need A Credit Check?
In the UK, you might need to undergo a credit check when you buy a new mobile phone or SIM-only deal. This will depends on the type of product you’re buying.
The following table shows whether you’re likely to need a credit check:
|Will I need a credit check?||Type of product|
|Yes, a credit check will always be required:||
|Sometimes, a credit check may apply:||
|No credit check is required for:||
If you’re buying a SIM-only deal, whether you’ll need a credit check depends on the mobile network you buying it from. The following table shows whether you can expect to be credit checked when you sign up for a new SIM-only deal:
|Mobile Network||Is a credit check required for SIM-only deals?|
|ASDA Mobile||No credit check & no contract (all plans)|
|EE||Credit check is required (except on EE Pay As You Go)|
|giffgaff||No credit check (contract applies to 18m plans)|
|Honest Mobile||No credit check (contract applies to 12m plans)|
|iD Mobile||Credit check is required|
|IQ Mobile||No credit check & no contract (all plans)|
|Lebara Mobile||No credit check (contract applies to 12m plans)|
|Lyca Mobile||No credit check & no contract (all plans)|
|O2||Credit check is required (except on O2 Pay As You Go)|
|Sky Mobile||Credit check is required|
|SMARTY||No credit check & no contract (all plans)|
|Talk Home||No credit check & no contract (all plans)|
|Talkmobile||ID check required|
|Tesco Mobile||Credit check is required (except on Tesco Mobile Pay As You Go)|
|Three||Credit check is required (except on Three Pay As You Go)|
|Virgin Mobile||Credit check is required|
|Vodafone||Credit check is required (except on Vodafone Pay As You Go)|
|VOXI||No credit check & no contract (all plans)|
What Does A Credit Check Involve?
If your chosen product requires you to undergo a credit check, this will normally take place during the order process. In order to pass the credit check, you’ll typically need all of the following things:
- You’ll need to be over 18 to pass a UK credit check.
- You’ll need some form of UK credit or financial history.
- Ideally, you’ll need to be on the electoral register at your address.
- You’ll need a good credit score with no history of defaults, CCJs or bankruptcy.
There isn’t a precisely defined ‘minimum credit score’ that you’ll need to pass: it depends on the product you’re looking to buy, and the mobile network you’re buying it from.
Before you apply, it’s worth taking some time to ensure all of your information is correct and up-to-date (e.g. on the electoral roll and your credit record).
When you apply, you’ll normally need to provide information such as your address history for the past 3 years and details of your current employment. In addition, you might be asked for other bits of information to verify your identity (e.g. the month in which you opened your main bank account, etc). Double-check to make sure all of the information has been entered correctly as a mistake on the form could lead to your application being refused.
What Happens If I Fail The Credit Check?
If you’ve failed a credit check for the product that you’re looking to buy, there are three main options:
- You might be offered an alternative product. For instance, you might be offered a different phone or a different airtime plan from what you had originally ordered.
- You might be offered the product you want, with an additional ‘security deposit’. For instance, EE often adds a £50 security deposit to your first phone bill (also known as a ‘deposit for service’). This will be refunded after 6 months of successful payments on your account.
- You could get a ‘no credit check’ deal. You could choose to get a ‘no credit check’ deal instead. In fact, this will often save you money as well as lots of time and hassle, so look to see if you’re able to get a similar or better deal elsewhere with no credit check required.
If you decide to apply for another deal that also requires a credit check, it’s worth checking your credit history to make sure there are no errors on it. You can do this for free at the Experian, Clearscore (Equifax) and Credit Karma (TransUnion) websites. It’s also best to avoid making too many credit applications in a short amount of time, so consider waiting a few weeks before you apply again.
Best No Credit Check Deals
For most people, we’d recommend choosing a ‘no credit check’ deal where possible. Compared to the more traditional deals that require you to undergo a credit check, there are four main benefits to choosing a ‘no credit check’ deal:
- There’s a wider choice of ‘no credit check’ deals. Often, these ‘no credit check’ deals are offered by smaller providers such as giffgaff, Lyca Mobile, Lebara Mobile or SMARTY. However, despite the fact there’s no credit check required, you’ll often end up paying less for your plan. You’ll also get the exact same coverage that you would on one of the four big networks.
- ‘No credit check’ deals are open to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’ve recently arrived in the UK, or if you don’t have much of a UK credit history. As long as you pay for your plan, you’re good to go.
- ‘No credit check’ deals can save yourself time & hassle. It’s much easier signing up for a ‘no credit check’ deal. Just pay for your plan and provide an address for the SIM card to be sent to. There are no lengthy application forms to fill in, or obscure questions about your address or financial history to answer.
- ‘No credit check’ deals can protect your future credit applications. It’s normally best to avoid making credit applications if you’re planning to remortgage soon or if you’ve got a big purchase on the way (e.g. a car or holiday). When you choose a ‘no credit check’ deal, you avoid making an unnecessary credit application for your mobile phone or SIM card.
At present, Lyca Mobile is our recommended network if you’re looking for a Pay As You Go plan with no contract and no credit check:
In the UK, Lyca Mobile offers low-cost Pay As You Go plans from just 99p/month. There’s no contract and no need for a credit check on Lyca Mobile so you can easily pause, change or cancel your plan at any time. On your Lyca Mobile SIM card, you’ll get 4G & 5G coverage from the EE network.
As a special offer for November 2023, you can get Lyca Mobile’s 3GB plan for just 99p per month for the first 3 months. Alternatively, there’s 15GB data for £1.80, 20GB data for £1.99, 100GB data for £7 or unlimited data for £9.99 per month.
For many people, Lyca Mobile’s no credit check deals will work out cheaper than alternative deals, even when compared to other networks that require a contract and credit check.
With a SIM-free phone, you’ll normally need to pay a bit more for your phone upfront. However, you can combine it with a super-cheap SIM-only deal. Over the long run, this will normally work out to be a lot cheaper than getting a 24-month contract from one of the big networks with a handset included.
Compare No Credit Check Deals
The following table shows a list of ‘no credit check’ SIM-only deals. You can use the filters to narrow down the list of available options.
Showing 55 of 55 price plans that match your criteria
for 3 months, then £3.99/month
for 3 months, then £4.75/month
for 3 months, then £8.50/month
for 3 months, then £7.85/month
for 3 months, then £8/month
for 6 months, then £12/month
for 12 months, then £20/month
for 3 months, then £15/month
for 6 months, then £25/month
for 12 months, then £25/month
for 3 months, then £25/month
For more information about credit scores and how they work in the UK, we recommend having a look at this guide from MoneySavingExpert.
You can also find more information about the credit checking process on your mobile network’s website.