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How to Shop for Electronics With Bad Credit

Written by
Andrew Tavin, CFEI
Andrew Tavin is a personal finance writer who covered budgeting with expertise in building credit and saving for OppU. His work has been cited by Wikipedia, Crunchbase, and Hacker News, and he is a Certified Financial Education Instructor through the National Financial Educators Council.
Read time: 4 min
Updated on March 19, 2024
young couple having coffee and using an iPad to learn how to shop for electronics with bad credit
Your best bet is to skip making this purchase altogether, but some savvy deal searching or shopping refurbished could also work.

It may seem overwhelming as more and more cool gadgets are released every day, and you might feel behind the times if you don’t have the newest one.

What if your credit isn’t so great? Can you still gain access to these technological wonders?

Why do I need credit for electronics?

If you have enough cash to buy a device outright without jeopardizing your budget and finances, then your credit score doesn’t factor into the equation.

However, if you don’t have enough cash on hand, your ability to purchase electronics will depend on your credit. If you have good credit, you will likely have a wide range of options. If you qualify for a credit card, you can use it to purchase the electronics you need, so long as they are within your credit limit.

If you want to maintain your good credit, make sure to pay your credit card bill in full each month to avoid racking up interest.

Some electronics stores have proprietary credit cards with specific benefits if you shop there regularly. Big box stores often offer cash back and/or financing options. These cards are often easier to qualify for, but they usually have higher interest rates; so be sure to read the fine print.

If your credit still isn’t good enough to qualify for one of those cards, there still may be other options.

If you have poor credit, be careful with "alternative financing" options.

If your credit isn’t great, it will limit your options for purchasing electronics and other things. One option if you have poor credit is, of course, to not buy the item. Unless the electronic device in question is something vital to your job or another part of your day-to-day life, you are probably better off waiting until your credit is in a better place before making the purchase.

In the meantime, if you don’t qualify for a traditional credit card, you may consider a secured credit card. A secured credit card requires you to put down cash as collateral, but you may be able to get one even with poor credit.

Then you can use that secured credit to make purchases and build up your credit. Remember, to build your credit, you should pay your bill in full each month and try to spend no more than 30% of your credit limit.

Renting a film on a laptop is one thing, but renting a laptop?!

If  purchasing an expensive but necessary electronic device like a computer is out of your reach, you might consider computer rental services. Many of them are “rent-to-own,” meaning every payment is applied towards eventual ownership.

If you do consider a rent-to-own agreement, be sure to read the contract very carefully. Aside from confirming you can afford the payments, you need to be aware of penalties for missing a payment and for getting out of the deal early. The last thing you want is a penalty that will damage your credit score.

Deals, deals, deals.

Another method for getting the electronics you need when your credit score precludes you from other options is to find deals. By keeping an eye out for deals and taking advantage of sales, you may be able to purchase a TV or computer for considerably less than you would normally pay. Be sure to check your apps, as many provide virtual coupons or other deal opportunities.

It may also be worth looking into cheaper alternatives, such as used or refurbished products. For example, you may find that there are tablets that are significantly cheaper and can serve as an alternative to a laptop.

Bad credit doesn’t mean you can’t purchase things you need or even want, but it does mean you should be very careful and thoughtful about how and what you spend. If you're considering taking out a bad credit loan, be sure to read the OppU Guide to Bad Credit Loans first.

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