Cell phone credit checks

Have your credit score ready for a new cell phone purchase

When you purchase a new cell phone or plan, your credit score may be used by the carrier, manufacturer or 3rd-party entity to assess your financial responsibility. A higher score may increase your chances of securing financing or better terms for your purchase.

Here’s what they may check:


Payment history


Lifetime of credit


Outstanding balances


Active accounts


Credit Impact

Is there a minimum credit score needed to purchase a cell phone?

While there is no minimum credit score that will ensure a cell phone contract approval, providers may use your score to assess creditworthiness. A higher score may help you secure more preferable options.

Understanding your credit and taking steps to improve it may increase the likelihood of qualifying for a cell phone service plan. Reporting tools and personalized tips from CreditWise may lead to better credit scores.

Will a cell phone contract affect my credit score?

Before you make a decision to purchase a cell phone or plan, try the Credit Score Simulator from CreditWise from Capital One. Learn more about how different financial decisions may potentially influence your credit.

What may influence your credit


Hard credit pulls

Applying for a phone or plan may cause a hard credit pull, temporarily reducing your score.



Cell phone financing accounts may be reported to credit bureaus and appear on your report.


Making payments

Timely payments for reported accounts may help improve your credit score.


Missing payments

Missed or late payments—or accounts in collections—may stay on your credit report for years.

Frequently Asked Questions

It may be possible and there may be different pricing options available for varying credit scores and income levels. However, if you have bad credit when financing a cell phone, you may have less favorable terms, such as higher monthly payments or interest rates.

Paying your cell phone bill generally only affects your credit if the account is reported to one or more of the major credit bureaus. If you consistently make on-time payments in full, the account may help build positive payment history over time.

Typically, you can get financing from a carrier, manufacturer or 3rd party to purchase a cell phone. Financing accounts may require a hard credit check and may be reported to credit bureaus, which could impact your credit report. 

The hard credit inquiry may cause an initial, temporary drop in your score. The addition of a new account and outstanding balance may temporarily reduce your score as well, but positive actions like on-time payments may help your credit score over time.

If you have enough credit available on the account associated with that credit card, you can generally use a credit card to purchase a cell phone. A purchase of this nature would appear as a balance on your credit card, which could affect your credit utilization and/or payment history over time.

More CreditWise Resources

Check your score before the store