The Best Cell Phone Provider for People With Bad Credit

By Cheryl Munson

No credit - no problem.  There are tons of prepaid options.
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People with bad credit are not without choices when it comes to purchasing cell phones. You can go prepaid and choose from the best companies, the best plans and phones with all the latest apps and features. Best of all, prepaid will keep your budget locked-in. Do shop carefully. Review and compare plan details completely.

Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile was rated number one in overall customer satisfaction by JD Power and Associates in the company’s “2011 Wireless Non-Contract Customer Satisfaction Index Study.” Boost is a choice for those who need a “rich” cellular experience, loaded with features such as text messaging, the Internet and downloads. Prepaid plans are straight forward, with talk at 10 cents a minute and Internet access for 35 cents a day. Boost also offers unlimited plans, starting at $50 per month.

Tracfone, Net 10, Straight Talk

Tracfone took first place honors in PC Magazine’s “Readers Choice Awards 2010.” Tracfone is the parent company for Straight Talk and Net 10. As of June 2011, Tracfone provides incentives such as the “Double Minutes for Life” card at $50. Every time you refill your minutes you receive double minutes.

Net 10 makes figuring out rates simple. All calls (regardless of the time or day) are charged at a flat rate of 10 cents per minute. Net 10 is best suited for those who do not make many calls and basically use a cell phone for quick calls and emergencies.

Straight Talk plans starts around $30 per month and give you 1,000 talk minutes per month; 1,000 text or multimedia messages; data storage and 411 access. You can upgrade and get unlimited voice, data and messaging for $45 per month.

Metro PCS

Explore Metro PCS if you need the mobility of a cell phone without the need for a credit check. Metro PCS won a four-star rating (the max is five stars)in overall customer satisfaction by JD Power & Associates in 2011. Metro PCS offers flat rates for prepaid cell phones so users don’t have to worry about running out of minutes. As of June 2011, the lowest rate plan was $40 per month. Under this plan, callers receive unlimited local and long distance calling, unlimited text messaging, picture messaging and multiple additional features. You can even get a Metro PCS prepaid VISA card to set up bills on auto-pay and have and use the card as a debit card.

Lifeline Wireless Services

Lifeline wireless service is a choice for low-income people with poor credit. Lifeline services began as a partnership program between the FCC and major telecommunications companies to make telephone access (wireless and “land” wired) accessible, regardless of income and credit status. States individually regulate their own program. However, users typically receive up to 250 free minutes and get a free phone. Generally speaking, your household income cannot exceed $14,702 for a family of one, or $50,801 for a family of eight to qualify for Lifeline. Two companies that focus on marketing Lifeline services are Assurance Wireless and Reachout Wireless. Assurance partners with Virgin Mobile to provide phones and service. Reachout partners with several phone providers, including Motorola, Nokia and Palm.