Do I need a Credit Check / Good Credit for Internet?

Sean Jackson
January 07, 2021

The internet is a staple in nearly every home in our modern age and the providers of this service are many. Speed is an important factor when it comes to internet, which is why most people choose broadband when signing up for internet. Something to consider when signing up for broadband internet is whether the provider does a credit check, as this can play a role for many people. The answer to this is not black and white, but rather a definite “maybe” depending on the particular company. Here we will take a look at each company and their policy on credit checking new customers. 

What is a Credit Check?

A credit check happens when you authorize a company to access your credit reports. Some companies might only pull one while others could pull one from all three credit bureaus. When companies pull your credit report, they’re checking to see how responsible you are with paying bills. If you have a history of missing payments, you might represent more risk to the company and they might be less likely to offer you service. 

There are two ways a company can check your credit, they could do a soft pull or a hard pull. Here are the differences between each:

ActionSoft PullHard Pull
Shows up on your credit reportNoYes
Counts against your credit inquiriesNoYes
Can affect your scoreNoCould drop it a few points per inquiry

Why Do Internet Service Providers Require a Credit Check?

Internet providers do a credit check to determine if you are eligible for their services. If they find you have late or unpaid balances with other internet service providers, they might conclude you’ll do the same with them and require a deposit or ask you to do a prepaid plan instead. 

Top Internet Providers and Their Credit Check Policies

AT&T: Credit check required

One of the most well known providers on this list is AT&T, as they offer multiple services all around the country. AT&T does require credit checks to open an account for any of their various services. The company is often willing to work with those who have poor credit, but this may require upfront costs to start service. 

Viasat: Preliminary credit check

Viasat offers a wide range of package options for internet services, but they do require a preliminary credit check. They run their credit check using only name and home address, which is good for those concerned about passing on their sensitive information. Viasat customers are offered a Late Night Free Zone, which means that use between the hours of midnight to 5 a.m. does not count toward their data caps.  

Wildblue: Credit check required

Wildblue is actually an affiliate of Viasat, and as such, they have offers similar to those of Viasat. This company does require a credit check to sign up for their internet plans. Like Viasat, they tend to require less pervasive information for their credit checks and they also have a pretty high approval rate. 

DIRECTV: Credit check varies

DIRECTV does not actually provide their own internet service. They actually partner with other providers and offer services through them. This means that credit checks may or may not be required, depending on the particular service and ISP that they are working with in a certain area. AT&T is the parent company of DIRECTV, and these two have been working to provide services for those with a lower credit score, as long as they can provide a down payment. 

DISH Network: Credit check required for certain packages

The DISH Network is similar to DIRECTV in the sense that they offer internet service through partners in various areas. They used to offer their own internet through their DISHnet service, but this has since been discontinued. DISH does require credit checks to sign up for certain packages and this allows a rate to get locked in for two years. Although, the provider also offers a package called Flex TV, which is a no contract service that does not require a credit check. 

Spectrum: Credit check required

Spectrum does require a credit check to open a new account. This offers a benefit though, as those with good credit may not have to pay the first month bill upfront plus installation costs. Conversely, those with bad credit may have to pay these bills upfront when signing up for Spectrum service and the costs can be quite high. 

Xfinity: Credit check required on some services

Some services through Xfinity will require a credit check when signing up. If deciding to go with this provider, be sure to ask whether the service will require a credit check. Although, Xfinity will notify a customer before they begin a credit check. 

Verizon: Offers both options

Verizon typically requires a credit check when opening an internet service account with them and it will be a hard inquiry on a credit report. For those with bad credit, Verizon also offers a prepaid service that does not require a credit check and there is no contract with this service. Although, the prepaid service does come with a $90 installation fee. 

Google Fiber: Unknown

Google Fiber is Google’s new internet option that they have been slowly implementing in various places around the country. This service is not offered in very many areas yet, so it may not even be an option. Their policy on credit checks is not very clear, so you may want to ask them directly if considering signing up for Fiber. 

Providers That Do vs. Don’t Require a Credit Check

Below is a list of the internet providers who will or won’t check your credit when you sign up for service:

ProviderCredit Check
AT&T
CenturyLink
Cox
DIRECTVVaries by program
DISHVaries by program
Frontier
HughesNetFor equipment leases
Mediacom
Spectrum
Suddenlink
Verizon
XfinityVaries by program

Low Income Community Considerations

Some of the providers that require strict credit checks are likely not the best option for those living in low income communities. These companies are generally not afraid to turn a customer down over their credit score and it may cause further detriment if the check impacts someone's score even with being turned down. In these cases, prepaid service or a smaller company may be the better option. 

Stay Up to Date on Credit Check Policies

When choosing a provider that requires a credit check, it is beneficial to find out whether it is a hard inquiry or soft inquiry. In basic terms, a hard inquiry will show up on your credit report and affect it for a certain amount of time, whereas a soft inquiry will not affect your credit. Hard inquiries can also cause a small drop in your credit score. As long as there are not multiple hard inquiries, the drop will be quite minimal and not affect your score very long. 

As said above, there is no straight answer to whether you need a credit check or good credit for internet service, as it depends on the provider. Realistically, ISP credit check requirements are changing all the time and it can be hard to keep up with. When looking for a new provider, this is a question that you should ask right away, just in case their policy has changed recently. Over time, some ISPs may begin offering better options for those with low credit scores or those who do not want to give out their sensitive information. 

How to Get the Internet Without a Credit Check

If you don’t want service providers to access your credit information, then you could sign up for prepaid internet plans instead. With them, you pay in advance for service. After that month of service expires, you can choose to stay with them by paying for another month. Here are some of the providers that offer prepaid plans: 

Xfinity: Xfinity offers prepaid internet service with download speeds of 20 Mbps for $45 for 30 days of service. Along with a monthly charge, there is a one-time modem fee of $35. With them  you can also purchase prepaid TV service that includes an entertainment package for $37/mo. or the sports and entertainment bundle for $57 for 30 days of service.

Cox: Cox offers a prepaid plan with no annual contracts for $50/mo. Included in this bundle is free installation, a WiFi modem and download speeds of up to 25 Mbps, making this perfect for smaller homes that only need to connect a few devices at a time. 

Verizon: If you’re in Verizon’s coverage area, you could take advantage of its fiber optic network without the need for contracts. Verizon’s prepaid internet plan starts from $39.99/mo. and includes download speeds of up to 200 Mbps. However, to use this service, you will need to buy a router either through Verizon or another manufacturer.