How do I get no credit check broadband?

Like taking out a loan or mortgage, setting up a new broadband account often requires a credit check. However, if your financial history is full of blemishes, there are ways to sign up for a broadband without a credit check. Below, we consider the various options and outline what’s involved.
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What is no credit check broadband?

Not all providers require a credit check as part of a new customer registration process. No credit check broadband simply refers to deals without this requirement, making these contracts ideal for anyone with poor credit or a shaky financial history. It’s still possible to switch broadband providers as you would under any other contract.

Are there providers offering broadband without credit checks?

There are a few providers that don’t rely on this time-honoured method of new customer processing. One internet service provider (ISP) offering broadband without a credit check is Direct Save Telecom. Credit isn’t a factor in processing applications for new connections, but customers have to settle the first invoice before a broadband service is activated. This invoice includes charges for the line rental, a partial month’s charges for the intermediate period from activation to the start of the subsequent month, and the first full month of broadband charges. 

There are no restrictions on the type of broadband available through Direct Save, and no restrictions on the amount of data which can be utilised. However, it’s important to factor in these upfront costs when applying for a Direct Save broadband service. Apart from line rental and the first month of charges, customers also pay an activation fee, plus postage and packing for their hardware. 

Contracts are at least 12 months in duration, but there is also the option to sign up with Direct Save for a rolling monthly service at a higher cost. This underscores the fact that accessing broadband without credit checks often involves paying more for the privilege. 

Broadband for bad credit

As an alternative to no credit check broadband, it may be worth investigating broadband deals from major providers like TalkTalk, Sky, BT and Virgin Media. Although these companies perform credit checks for all new customers, they don’t automatically bar applicants with poor credit histories. Most providers are still keen to attract new customers; for example, Plusnet offers 12 or 18-month contracts with a choice of connection speeds. There are also standard broadband deals with no annual contract, though you’ll pay a higher activation charge for this option. 

Even in the minority of cases when applicants are rejected outright for bad credit, alternative arrangements can often be made:

Pay a deposit instead

Some firms may accept a deposit in lieu of a good credit history, avoiding the likes of a BT or Virgin Media credit check. This will often be detailed in the FAQ sections of each provider’s website, and it’s a recognised route to accessing broadband services with a less than unblemished credit history. Essentially, you pay a sum of money to the provider up front, which it retains for a set period of time – six months in the case of BT. If you’re unable to pay a bill on time, the provider will use this deposit instead. If all bills are settled in full during the course of the contract, the deposit will be returned.

Mobile broadband 

Another potential way to get broadband but no credit check is by opting for mobile broadband services. Pay-as-you-go options that don’t require a credit check include mobile Wi-Fi, tablet data plans and MiFi dongles. 

It’s important to factor in the cost of the dongle or MiFi device upfront, in addition to the funds you’ll pay to top up this device. Signal strength may be an issue indoors, though mobile broadband services are likely to improve as networks strengthen their 4G infrastructure and simultaneously roll out faster 5G services. 

Rolling contracts

People with a patchy credit history may be well advised to consider a monthly rolling contract, rather than an annual deal. Providers like Virgin Media and NOW Broadband offer 30-day rolling contracts. 

Because you’re paying cash upfront each month, your credit plays less of a role in the application process. However, expect to pay a higher set-up fee for this type of contract, which may still necessitate a Direct Save or Virgin Media credit check. We list all the latest no contract broadband deals here. 

Broadband without direct debit 

With standard contracts, you’ll usually need to provide banking details to set up a direct debit. However, there are options for broadband without direct debit. A pay-as-you-go mobile broadband plan allows customers to top up funds using whatever method they prefer. 

Another option is to sign up for a service like NOW TV broadband, famous for its monthly TV and movie passes. This Sky subsidiary offers broadband without any need for a credit check or direct debit. To set up a NOW TV account, you simply need a valid bank card, which will be checked at the time of application to verify a minimum 10p balance is available. This will be taken out and then reinstated into your account for verification purposes. 

A rolling monthly fee covers NOW TV and broadband services, through the payment method of your choice. Packages include a variety of broadband speeds, with average speeds of 36Mb or 58Mb for unlimited fibre optic. The Wi-Fi router is provided without charge. 

No credit check internet for low-income households

If you receive benefits, you may be eligible for broadband at a lower cost. BT offers phone and broadband services for households that meet certain criteria, without any need for a credit check. 

This includes applicants who receive: 

  • Income Support

  • Pensions Credit

  • Employment and Support Allowance 

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Universal Credit with zero earnings.

BT Basic includes a straightforward home phone service at a low monthly cost, with the cost for extra calls currently capped at £10. The phone line can be upgraded to include broadband, but this comes with usage limits that are also capped at 15GB per month. You can learn more about data limits here, though the BT website claims 15GB is enough for users to do all the following: 

  • Stream one standard definition (SD) film per month

  • Browse the internet for 30 minutes per day

  • Listen to or stream 100 music tracks per month

  • Upload 100 photos per month to social media

  • Play games online for one hour per week.

Additional charges apply if you go over the allotted 15GB of data, but you’ll be sent a warning by email in advance. Perks of this scheme include BT Parental Controls and BT Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the UK. You won’t be able to obtain BT Basic Broadband without the phone line being installed first, so both services must be bundled together.

Eligible applicants can request the BT Basic plan without a credit check. Instead, they will be required to provide their National Insurance number and date of birth, along with relevant details about any benefits they’re on. BT can then cross-check these details with records held by the Department for Work and Pensions. 

How to compare broadband no credit check deals

There are several options when it comes to finding broadband packages without a credit check. You can compare these deals as you would with any other broadband service.  The first step is to find out what’s available in your area, and what you might be eligible for. Secondly, narrow down these offers with relevant criteria and questions:

  • Speed. Do you stream a lot of video content, or simply need a fast connection? Line speed could be a significant factor in choosing the right package, with today’s market including high-speed, superfast, ultrafast and hyperfast options. Full fibre broadband is the fastest connection type available, promising download speeds up to 1Gbps.

  • Price. Will you be able to afford the monthly bills on top of upfront installation fees? Can you pay the deposit for a no credit check broadband deal?

  • Data limits. Is there a limit on the amount of data available to use each month? Will this cover anticipated needs, particularly if you use the internet for work and leisure? Look at excess data charges and factor these into any calculations about a particular package’s costs.

  • Customer service. What is the provider’s reputation for billing accuracy and technical support? It’s worth analysing customer service reviews, as some ISPs perform better in this regard than others. 

  • Package deals. Does the offer come with TV or mobile services as well? Are there additional discounts for combining multiple services into one package?

These are some of the key questions to ask when comparing no credit check broadband services. With plenty of deals on the market, there’s likely to be a broadband package suitable for your unique requirements. 

Understanding credit: Bad credit broadband FAQ

What’s a credit check?

Whether you’re signing a new phone contract or searching for a competitive broadband deal, any ISP will want an assurance you’re capable of making payments on time. Credit checks protect lenders and other companies from risk, reducing the likelihood of having to chase up unpaid debts. This involves a check with one of the UK’s three credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

What causes bad credit?

From missed council tax payments to unpaid credit card bills, discrepancies in payment histories contribute to bad credit ratings. Everyone’s credit rating is on a scale, and the occasional dip in your score shouldn’t cause you to miss out on competitive broadband deals.

How can I check my credit file?

It’s a good idea to periodically check your credit record, regardless of whether or not you’re in the market for a broadband contract. Each record lists past credit agreements, applications and associated addresses. You’re entitled to request a report from all three credit reference agencies, but be sure to look over these reports carefully and correct any mistakes. 

Why do I need to check all three agencies? 

Lenders may run a credit check using any combination of the three reference agencies. Each firm uses a different method to calculate its score, which means you could receive a better report from one than from another. It’s also important to check because each failed credit check leaves another black mark on your record, cumulatively adding to a perception of poor credit. 

Can I still get broadband with bad credit?

There are other ways to prove reliability apart from your credit history, so you may still be able to find broadband for bad credit. Emphasise a long-term employment history, a long-standing bank account or a fixed landline number. It may be advisable to apply for broadband from the same company providing your current phone services.

Are there any easy ways to improve my credit?

Paying bills consistently and in a timely manner improves your credit rating over time, but more immediate actions can also improve a moderate score. Registering on the electoral roll can be hugely beneficial, as can fixing inconsistencies in your files (like old addresses you no longer have a connection to). If you’ve split up with a partner, issue a notice of disassociation to the credit agencies to ensure you aren’t held liable for late or missing payments in their name. 

Does bad credit go away?

Credit ratings naturally improve over time because any defaults or missed payments will be removed from your report after six years. Broadband providers and other lenders are more interested in your ability to pay now than they are in historic financial hiccups or periods of low income.

Last updated: 3 November 2020