No credit check phone services are popping up all over the place. The success of the low cost carrier, Cricket, has led even traditional big name wireless carriers to offer some kind of service available without a credit check. If you’re looking for a service that provides no affordable telephone plans, you’re in luck. There are many options to choose from, though each service has its advantages and disadvantages.
First, let’s take a look at why phone services tend to run credit checks on their customers. If you want a phone, it helps to understand the process somewhat.
Why would you normally have to undergo a credit check before getting phone service?
The main reason for a credit check before establishing phone service is because you have to sign contracts with most major phone carriers. Many phone services offer incredibly low rates on the phones themselves (and sometimes even the phone plans) because you have to “lock in” to a few years of service. Of course, these contracts are generally impossible to break once signed. For that reason alone, companies don’t want to make contracts with people with poor credit history, for obvious reasons. If you’ve defaulted on loans or bounced hot checks, you are very likely not going to keep your end of the bargain. This cost the phone company a ton of money in lost revenue.
If you look at it from the phone company’s perspective, it makes a ton of sense. If you ran a business, would you want to set up a contract with someone over a two or three year period if that person is known for not paying their bills?
Obviously, you would be hesitant to loan a friend money if they never pay back their debts. Just like you, the phone company is looking out for number one — when they make a contract with a customer, they want to ensure that the customer is going to hold up their end of the bargain.
No Credit Check Cell Phone
That’s what popular wireless carrier Cricket Wireless is built on — the notion that their customers never have to sign a contract, and can cancel their service at any time. Similarly, if you neglect to pay your bill, Cricket can cancel your service at any time. It’s a double-win situation for carriers that don’t set up contracts. They don’t lose any money if you fail to pay your bill, and can sell your number to someone else, providing a new revenue stream if-and-when you decide to stop paying your bill.
Cricket Wireless is probably the most widely recognized provider of no credit check telephones in America. Their service has become so popular that Cricket payment centers and sales floors are popping up faster than Starbucks in most areas of the country. Cricket Wireless prides themselves on their wide variety of phones and phone plans. They were one of the first companies I personally heard of to offer phone service without a contract.
You might ask yourself: how can Cricket afford to offer service without contracts?
The prices on their phones are not as cheap as their contract based competition. Its true — you may find a cheaper phone at a major wireless carrier, but you’ll have to lock into a twenty four or thirty six month contract in order to get that cheap phone. Besides, Cricket is not truly “contract free” — you simply renew your “contract” on a month to month basis, ensuring that you are fiscally responsible for phone service in any given month. In layman’s terms — you can’t simply not pay Cricket. They will hold you responsible for your bill, even when you cancel service, up to the end of the month in which you cancel.
Cricket plans start as low as $30 per month, plus applicable taxes. This affordable plan offers customers the bare minimum of wireless services — unlimited talking minutes and free caller ID. This plan does not allow you to use text messaging, pix messaging, internet access, or any of the other high end options offered by major cellphone carriers. However, Cricket famously provides the first month of service for free — once you pay for the phone and the “activation fee” — typically around $30. Plans move up in increments of $5, from $30 up to $60 per month. At the $60 per month level, customers enjoy unlimited text, phone calls, pix, internet access, plus an additional free 200 roaming minutes, as well as free 411 assistance, call waiting, call forwarding, 3-way calling, and voicemail. Cricket set the standard for no-strings-attached telephones, and all other companies are scrambling to match their offers.
The only real competition for Cricket is AT&T’s new “GoPhone” service. Ranging in price from $30 – $70, GoPhone service is basically “prepaid wireless” with a slight difference. AT&T offers their customers the ability to have their “bill” drafted automatically from a credit card or bank account. AT&T brags that they have the “largest digital voice and data network in America”, and taking a look at their coverage map, they may just be right. However, their plans simply don’t compare to Cricket.
For instance, at the $30 level, customers only get 200 minutes of use — perfect as an emergency or backup cellphone, but not convenient for people who want to use their cellphone as their main means of communication. Even at the highest level, $70 (ten bucks more than Cricket’s total unlimited package), you may be surprised to find that you get much less than you pay for. Yes, night and weekend minutes are unlimited, but you only get 650 “anytime” minutes, whereas with Cricket, you can get complete unlimited calling for just $30. It would seem that AT&T is banking on customers who see Cricket Wireless as a ‘discount’ service, or who don’t like Cricket’s somewhat limited coverage area.
Hopefuly, GoPhone rates will get better over time, as competition becomes more fierce.
Best No-Contract Smartphones for 2015
Since this article was first written, the no-contract smartphone has become a trend. Other phone designers have come out with their own models, trying to catch the wave.
Here are some other no-contract phone options for late-2015, for those needing other options:
- LG Tribute
- Nokia Lumia 635
- HTC Desire 510
- Moto G
- Sharp Aquos Crystal
Each has its advantages, but CTN Technology believes the Sharp Aquos Crystal is the best no-contract option on the market at the moment.
I apologize for the annoying voice of that narrator on the CTN Technology News list. I didn’t hire him. This video does provide a solid rundown of the best no-contract Android phones for the latter stages of 2015. It has the added value of providing video of each brand in action.
These less complicated telephone services are the wave of the future in terms of phone service. More and more companies are turning to a contract-free system. It allows both the company and the customer a certain amount of financial freedom if the service doesn’t work out, for whatever reason.
Back in 2010, Sprint might have been your only option, or one of the few. No longer. In 2015, the possibilities now seem endless. Even the University of Toledo has their own program: Rocket Wireless. It isn’t the only college with such a program, so students should look at the services on their local campus. The University of Main and Mansfield University of Connecticut also have their programs, for example.
Don’t like your phone company’s customer service or wireless coverage? Simply cancel your service, pay out your bill for that final month, and you can wash your hands of their service.
That phone company can do the same with you — they are rid of a customer that would otherwise default on a contract, and they can continue to make money on the phone number you’ve been using, instead of having that number exist in a kind of phone limbo. A smartphone purchased without a complicated credit check may be the best option for both the customer and the phone company. Do some research, find a service that offers the best rate and options for you, and enter the world of no contract phone service.