Home > Personal Finance > Bad Credit? Now You Can Get the Same Smartphone Deals As Everyone Else

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New smartphones can cost several hundred dollars, and many people can’t afford to pay that upfront when phone shopping. While there are financing options available from electronics vendors and phone dealers, they sometimes require a credit check. That doesn’t leave you with many options if you have poor credit.

T-Mobile is running a promotion to change that. They’re calling it Smartphone Equality, President and CEO John Legere announced in a Jan. 22 blog post. Some of the best deals offered by T-Mobile and other carriers are available only to buyers with a good credit history, which Legere wrote, “pisses me off.” Now, what Legere calls T-mobile’s “very best device pricing on every smartphone and tablet we sell” will be accessible to everyone who has paid their mobile phone bill for 12 consecutive months.

Instead of using a credit history, T-Mobile is using your cellphone bill history. If you’ve paid your cellphone bill for a year without issue, you can get a smartphone from T-Mobile for zero down, zero interest and zero credit checks. It seems the idea (besides being a marketing ploy) is to give more people access to new technology.

Of course, you need to have been an existing T-Mobile customer to take advantage of this new strategy. That bill payment history must be with T-Mobile, the company confirmed in an email to Credit.com.

T-Mobile is the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with roughly 53 million subscribers, according to 2014 Strategy Analytics figures. (For comparison, Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 carrier, had more than 125 million subscribers in 2014.)

The announcement doesn’t indicate how many customers T-Mobile anticipates being able to sell smartphones and tablets to as a result of the new policy, so there’s not much else to do but wait and see how “Smartphone Equality” pans out. As for the millions of other U.S. mobile phone users who don’t use T-Mobile, checking your credit before buying a new smartphone can show you where you stand and help you compare financing rates for the best deal for your credit range. You can see your credit scores for free on Credit.com, with updates every month.

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