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 you apply for a new contract the provider will still run a credit check 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 find out how to do this here and 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. In that case, check out our guide to improving your score for tips on cleaning it up.

However, if there is no good reason you can see for a 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 wrong information about you. If you spot any mistakes, ask to get them corrected.

What if you need a phone now?

  • VOXI sim only
    • 12GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • Unlimited social data
    • £10.00 per month
    1 month contract From VOXI
  • Three sim only
    • 12GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • £8.00 per month
    12 month contract From Three Mobile
  • Virgin sim only
    • Exclusive
    • 50GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • Includes a £20 Amazon Gift Card
    • £16.00 per month
    12 month contract From Virgin Mobile
  • BT Mobile sim only
    • 15GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • £12.00 per month
    12 month contract From BT Mobile
  • EE sim only
    • 120GB of 5G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • £20.00 per month
    24 month contract From EE Mobile
  • GiffGaff sim only
    • 10GB of 4G data
    • Unlimited minutes
    • Unlimited texts
    • £12.00 per month
    1 month contract From giffgaff

Of course, understanding why you've been rejected won't help you with your immediate problem of getting a mobile contract.

But if you have an old handset you can use or if you can buy or borrow one, you do have a couple of other options.

Pay-as-you-go has changed a lot in the last few years and there are some good deals around. Some PAYG SIMs even offer a package of benefits – including a certain amount of data, texts and minutes – so long as you top up by a fixed amount each month.

There won't be any credit checks with this kind of deal so you don't need to worry about being rejected. However, the downside is that you could pay more each month than with a contract and it won't help you strengthen your credit score and get approved next time.

A better option could therefore be to look at pay monthly SIM-only deals.

There will almost certainly still be a credit check but because the provider isn't giving you a phone, because the contract length is so much shorter and because you'll probably be paying lower bills, there's a much better chance of being accepted.

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

Should I just apply again?

No. The trouble with failing any kind of credit check is that any credit search 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 will be able to successfully apply for a contract.