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Three's credit checks: reasons to fail and how to still get a deal

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If you've been declined by Three for a phone contract or SIM only, there are still ways to get a deal. We look at their credit check policy for your options. Last updated: 7th February 2022.

Three’s credit check policy

Credit checks on Three: what are they?

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Three get info from credit agenciesRead privacy policy

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Credit checks are where a network look at your credit history, which is kept by a credit agency and is based on whether or not you keep up with monthly payments on lots of things in life. On Three you’ll have to pass a credit check for any pay monthly product.

How this works is that Three will send the personal details you give them along to a credit agency who will then check your credit history and send Three a report (you can see their guide to credit checks here).

After looking at your credit history and getting details about your identity and address, Three then compile this information into a score of their own. If you don’t meet their criteria you will fail the check.

You’ll have to pass a credit check whether you’re taking a pay monthly SIM only plan or a phone contract. There are no credit checks on Three’s pay as you go phones or SIMs.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the reasons you might have failed your credit check with Three and show you some other ways of going about getting a SIM only or phone deal with them.

I wanted a: Phone Phone contract | SIM card SIM only contract

Phone contracts

Declined for a phone contract on Three

We’re here to help. We’ll go over some approaches to getting accepted for a different Three product


Have you put in your details correctly?

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Typos will cause problemsGo back now

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You’d be surprised how many people fail credit checks by putting in wrong or misspelt details. Whenever you take a pay monthly plan, make 100% sure all your details are entered correctly.

When Three send your details to the credit agency, even the smallest thing like getting your date of birth or postcode wrong can end up with you failing your credit check.

It might be worth talking to Three’s customer service to see why the credit check failed. You could also check your credit score with an agency like Experian just to help diagnose the issue.

Before having another go at getting a contract make sure all your details are correct. Multiple failed attempts will look bad on your credit history and could make it harder to get accepted later on.

If you’re sure you put in all your details correctly, Three may have just found something that made them wary of trusting you with a mobile phone contract at this moment. Not to worry, there are still more options available to you.

Useful link: Return to Three’s phone contracts

Can you get someone else to take out the contract for you?

Friends holding shoulders and a contract icon

Friends and family can help youReturn to phones

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If you’ve struggled to get accepted, it’s perfectly legal to get someone else to take a contract out for you. But you’ll have to make sure you both trust each other.

There’s no guarantee that they’ll actually pass the credit check and failing one could leave a mark on their credit history. So make sure you let them know that before asking them to take out your contract.

Three will also link the applicant’s data to their spouse, to joint applicants and other financial associates, so bear that in mind if you previously failed the check.

If it all goes well and you get the contract you want, remember that you’re not actually building on your credit file by keeping up with payments. If you want to build up credit you have to take the contract out in your name.

You’ll also have to be absolutely sure to keep up with payments, as any missed payments could affect the person’s credit score and strain your relationship with them. Trust is key in this sort of arrangement.

Never take out a contract using someone else’s details yourself, especially without their explicit consent. This is fraud and is illegal. They need to be the one to take out the contract, or at least be present when you do it.

Useful link: Back to Three’s phone range

Consider taking a cheaper phone model

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Example pricing onlyFind cheapest phones

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Going for the most high-end phone on the biggest plan would mean you’d have to have a really decent credit score. Networks often divide their models into different tiers of value.

This makes sense. At the end of the day they’re effectively shipping you an expensive piece of electronics on the promise that you can pay them back over the contract. The greater the value of the phone, the bigger the financial risk they’re taking.

So if you’ve failed a credit check, it might be worth looking at contracts for a cheaper model. It might not be your dream phone, but getting accepted for a cheaper model now could be your route to better ones in future.

Of course, if you do get accepted with a cheaper model you’ll have to make sure you’re paying on time. Doing this will build some confidence with the network and should improve your credit score in general.

Useful link: See Three’s cheapest phone models here

Retailers selling Three contracts may have different policies logoMobile Phones Direct logo

These resellers offer Three contractsCompare all retailers

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If you’ve had no luck getting a phone contract on Three directly, there are third party resellers who sell Three phone contracts at generally lower prices.

These are independent companies that operate separately from Three. When you take a contract they may check with different credit agencies and could have different criteria for accepting new users.

But there’s no guarantee you’ll be accepted with these either. Remember, each failed attempt could affect your overall credit score negatively, so don’t push it and make things worse.

Some of these resellers include Samsung,, Mobile Phones Direct, Metrofone, Fonehouse and ChitterChatter. These offer many high-end phone models at decent prices. Shop around and find one that suits you.

Useful link: Compare all retailers of Three phone contracts

Take a SIM only plan to build up credibility with Three

Three SIM only deals
SIM only

a month

Easier to pass a credit checkSee latest deals

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If you need to build up your reputation with a mobile network then one of the best ways to do that is to take a SIM only contract. These are typically easier to pass as there’s no phone involved. It’s a good way to start off on a path to getting a phone later.

Again, there’s no 100% guarantee you’ll be accepted for a SIM only contract either. But if you are, you can start building your credit score, which may make it easier to pass a credit check for a phone later.

If you absolutely need a new phone this might not be the best option, but if you go with the network you want to take a phone from then this is one step on the right path.

There’s no special upgrade scheme on Three to help you get onto a phone deal quickly from SIM only, you’ll just have to be patient. But you could give it a few months (minimum 3) and then ring Three about the option.

But if you’re in dire need of a phone now, your best bet is to pay the whole cost upfront. That way you won’t have to pass a credit check. You can buy one from Three, from the manufacturer or from a company like Carphone Warehouse.

Useful link: See all SIM only plans on Three

SIM only plans

Declined for a SIM only contract with Three

Don’t worry, there are still steps you can take to get on the network.

SIM card

Did you enter your details correctly?

Spelling mistakes in checkout

Make sure you enter everything correctlyReturn to SIMs

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It’s surprisingly common for people to fail a credit check because of small mistakes when applying for their SIM only plan. Even the smallest typo can cost you dearly.

When you take a SIM only plan on Three they need your precise details to check your credit with credit agencies. So absolutely make sure you’ve entered all your details correctly.

You can also check your own credit with a credit reference agency like Experian. Or if you’re sure something went wrong, you can contact Three’s customer service to ask why your credit check failed.

If you’re going to give it another go, make sure you put everything in right. If you fail again that could leave a mark on your credit history and make it harder to get accepted in the future.

Now, if you’re certain you put everything in correctly then it’s likely Three found something in your details which made them unable to trust that you’d be able to pay for your SIM contract at this moment.

Useful link: Contact Three’s customer service

Someone you trust can take out your SIM only contract for you

Two friends and a contract

Got a friend with good credit?Join Three here

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If you’ve failed Three’s credit check, you could get someone you trust who has good credit to take out a SIM only deal for you. It’s perfectly legal to do it, but there’s a few downsides to this approach.

Again, there’s no guarantee they’ll pass the credit check and any failures can be bad for their credit scores. But if all goes well they’ll be responsible for making the payments and the contract will be in their name.

You’ll really have to have a good relationship with the person, as any missed payments could be very bad for their credit score. There’s no way to transfer the contract to your name later on either.

It also sort of defeats the point, as you’ll likely want to build up your credit rating. If you get someone else to take out a deal, then they’re the one who’s credit score will be affected, not yours.

To be clear, never take out a contract using someone else’s details. Either have them do it, or have them be present when you take it out. Otherwise it’s fraud and illegal to do.

Useful link: Return to Three's SIM only contracts

Get a SIM only plan on SMARTY who use Three’s network

SMARTY logoiD Mobile logo

Both providers use Three's network

SMARTY are a low-cost network that were actually set up by Three and as such they use Three’s network. They also offer 1-month contracts where you pay for everything up front, so no credit checks.

They have some genuinely nice benefits too which add value on top of value. All you have to do is register a payment card and choose your month’s worth of minutes, texts and data.

You get a decent amount of flexibility too as you can change your plan every month. If you need a smaller plan, to take a break from SMARTY or cancel altogether, you can do so with little notice.

You can also get a SIM only contract on iD who are another low-cost network that use the Three network. They offer 1-month contracts like SMARTY, but you will have to pass a credit check with them.

This is because their contracts work via direct debit, and aren’t paid upfront like SMARTY’s. However, they’re a lot cheaper than Three, so passing a credit check with them is a bit easier than with Three.

One good thing about iD is that even with their 1-month contracts you’ll be building credit score, where with SMARTY you won’t. But if you need a SIM now, then they’re both good choices.

Useful link: SMARTY’s home page | iD Mobile SIM only deals

You can Pay As You Go with Three

Three pay as you go SIM deal banner

No credit checks, everything paid up frontSee Three PAYG SIMs

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Three are one of the few networks that still let you pay as you go in the traditional way, where you top up with credit and pay for your usage out of that. You can also pay up front for a monthly bundle of minutes, texts and data.

This is a decent option if you want to be on Three directly and have been rejected for a SIM only deal with them. You won’t have to sign a contract and you won’t be subject to a credit check.

How it works is you’ll order your free SIM and then either top it up with credit online or buy your monthly bundle to add to your SIM. If you use the traditional method you’ll pay as you go at these rates:

If you take a pay monthly bundle you can either set it to auto-renew or keep paying manually, and if you keep up with payments then you’ll show Three that you’re a reliable customer.

This might make your chances of getting a SIM only deal with Three a bit better, so you can contact their customer service to ask about moving to pay monthly if you’ve been keeping up with payments.

But it’s worth knowing that Pay As You Go won’t help build your overall credit profile.

Useful link: Three’s Pay As You Go bundles

Compare all no credit check SIMs

Here are more options with no credit check to pass

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