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What happens if you're rejected for a mobile contract?

Have you applied for a new phone contract and been turned down? Don't worry, there are options...

A new phone contract may not seem like a big deal; after all, it's not exactly a mortgage or a credit card.

However, when applying for a new pay-monthly contract, the provider will still run a credit check to make sure you can pay it off – and being turned down can be a big shock.

So, if you've been rejected for a mobile phone contract, what are your options?

Check your credit record

If you genuinely have no idea why you might have been turned down following a credit check, the very first thing to do is to check your credit record.

You can do this quickly and easily with our free Credit Monitor tool. You'll be able see exactly what the phone provider was looking at when it made its decision. Once you've seen your credit report, the reasons for your rejection may be much clearer.

However, if you can't see any good reason for your rejection, then it could be useful to check your report via all the main providers (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to make sure that none of them are carrying any incorrect information about you. If you spot any mistakes, ask to get them corrected.

What if you need a phone now?

  • O2 sim only
    5G
    • 30GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • EU roaming included
    • £7.99 per month
    12 month contract From O2
  • Three sim only
    5G
    • 120GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Three+ rewards
    • £12.00 per month
    12 month contract From Three Mobile
  • VOXI sim only
    5G
    • 75GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Unlimited social media and music
    • £12.00 per month
    1 month contract From VOXI
  • GiffGaff sim only
    5G
    • 25GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • £10.00 per month
    18 month contract From giffgaff
  • Three sim only
    5G
    • 30GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Three+ rewards
    • £8.00 per month
    24 month contract From Three Mobile
  • Lebara Mobile sim only
    5G
    • Exclusive
    • 15GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • download speed limit
    • Discounted price for 3 months
    • £6.99 per month
    1 month contract From Lebara Mobile

Of course, understanding why you've been rejected won't help you with your immediate problem of getting a mobile contract. If that's the case, our guide to bad credit phones goes through your options, as well as tips on improving your credit score in the meantime.

If you have an old handset you can use, or if you can buy a more affordable one – consider refurbished, mid-tier or older models – you'll be able to get a cheap SIM-only deal to go with it.

The vast majority of monthly rolling or pay-as-you-go SIM plans don't come with any credit check at all, so you can sign up straight away. For a small outlay, you can get a decent monthly allowance of data, texts and minutes. Networks like giffgaff, SMARTY, Lebara and Lycamobile offer such SIM deals.

However, if you want to work on strengthening your credit score so you can get approved for a pay-monthly phone contract in the future, you could sign up to a longer-term SIM plan: for example, a 12-month contract.

There will usually still be a credit check, as the network will want to make sure you can commit to making the monthly payments. But because you're not paying off the cost of a pricey handset, the contract length will be much shorter and your monthly bill will be lower – as a result, you'll have a much better chance of being accepted for a SIM-only contract.

Networks that offer SIM-only deals with a credit check include iD Mobile.

Importantly, paying your monthly SIM bill on time will help show that you can sensibly manage a contract. This will help with your credit score and improve your chances of being accepted for a standard contract next time.

Trying to trim your outgoings right now? Take a look at our handy tips for cutting your phone bill.

Should I just apply again?

No. The trouble with failing any kind of credit check is that it leaves a footprint on your file –and this can temporarily make it even harder to get credit or be accepted onto a contract.

That means that if you simply start applying for every contract you see in the hope that one accepts you, you'll have even less chance of getting accepted.

But don't worry. Take some time to brush up your credit score, prove you can be trusted using a SIM-only deal and before long you'll be able to successfully apply for a contract again.

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