Can I get a phone contract if I’m a student?
As long as you’re at least 18 years old, it’s possible for anyone to get a phone contact, even if you’re a student.
There are various student specific contracts you can choose, which have exclusive savings and deals. Student discounts are offered by most networks in the UK.
However, you’re less likely to have built a credit score, and you’re less likely to have a job with a stable income - particularly if you are young. These factors can decrease your chances of being accepted for a phone contract, particularly with more expensive devices and tariffs.
Look out for exclusive student offers
As a student, you should definitely take advantage of exclusive student deals for contracts, which are offered by nearly all networks in the UK.
These contracts are specifically tailored for and exclusive to students, with more data and huge potential savings compared to regular contracts:
O2 student discounts - get a 20% discount on the Airtime Plan with an O2 Refresh contract. Device plan is not included with the discount. Selected accessories also eligible for 20% discount. Requires UNiDAYs or TOTUM account.
Vodafone student discounts - save 10% on all Xtra Plans with a phone plan, selected 24 month tablet plans and 12 or 24 month SIM only Xtra plans. Participating universities only.
Further, universities often parenter with networks, for discounts on contracts specifically for enrolled students. Make sure you contact your university or visit their website for more information.
Will I be declined for a phone contract if I’m a student?
Although it’s more than possible to get a phone contract if you’re a student, your chances of being declined increases considerably - particularly with expensive phone contracts or non-student deals.
Furthermore, young people, particularly those under 21, are seen as more risky to networks, and may have an even lesser chance of being accepted for a phone contract.
This is because you’re unlikely to have had the opportunity to build your credit score, as you probably haven’t had a credit card, and you almost certainly don’t have a mortgage.
Furthermore, to get a phone contract, you need to have a sufficient, stable income, which is less likely if you’re a student.
Foreign students are unlikely to be accepted for a phone contract, as you need to be considered a resident of the UK - for at least 5 years with most networks.
Improve your chances of being accepted for a phone contract when you’re a student
There are several things you can do to increase your chances of being accepted for a phone contract as a student.
The most important thing you can do is to get a job with a stable income. Most networks will look at your employment status when applying for a contract, with proof of a high enough income to commit to the contract length. If you’re unemployed, or you don’t earn enough, a network will likely decline you from a phone contract because they may not believe you will be able to pay the bill every month. Remember, a phone contract is a long term commitment, and not paying on time can put you into debt and negatively affect your credit score for many years to come.
You can also improve your chances of being accepted by building your credit score with a credit card. There are plenty of free credit cards available for students and for those with a low credit score. As long as you pay off the required amount each month, your credit score will gradually improve.
Another simple thing you can do is register to vote to get on the electoral roll. This is quick and easy to do, and can be done from your local council’s website.
Having a UK bank account is a must have when applying for a phone contract. This helps a network when it comes to verifying your identity.
Alternatives for students
If you’ve been declined for a phone contract as a student, or you think you have a low chance of being accepted, there are several alternatives.
If your parents have a phone contract, they might be able to switch to a family plan. By doing so, they can add an additional plan for you to their contract. They will be responsible for paying the monthly bills and committing to the contract length, so you won’t have to pass a credit check.
Another option is to ask your parents to take out a new contract in their name, and give the phone to you. You can agree to pay them directly, without the risk of going into legal debt for missed payments.
In addition, you don’t necessarily need a phone contract. You can get a 1 month SIM only deal and pair it with your own phone, without any long term contract commitments. Such plans are also ideal for those with a bad credit scores. However, one disadvantage of 1 month SIMs is you’ll need to buy your own phone upfront, without the ability to spread the cost over several months - unlike with a phone contract.
Tips on saving money with phone contracts when you’re a student
As a student, you’ll likely want to save every penny you have. Luckily, there are several simple things you can do to save money when getting a phone contract.
Whenever possible, use free Wi-Fi. By doing so, you won’t be consuming data from your network, which can be expensive and add up quickly.
When on campus, make sure you’re always connected to the uni Wi-Fi. Not only will it be free, but most universities have superfast fibre speeds that typically aren’t available on residential properties.
Switching to pay as you go can also save you money, as you’ll only spend on what you need - and no more. However, sometimes pay as you go can end up more expensive, so make sure you do your research.
You should also keep an eye out from student deals with networks, as well as voucher codes on student websites. Some universities exclusively partner with networks for cheap deals for enrolled students.
Also, make sure to identify how much data you actually need. You may be paying for an expensive phone contract with more data than you actually require. Reduce your bill by downgrading to a cheaper contract with less data. Check out our guide on using less data to save even more money.