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Which Credit Cards Offer Cellphone Insurance?
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For many Americans, a cellphone is more than a device. It’s a lifeline. Having it taken away suddenly can therefore feel like losing a limb. Unfortunately, it happens all the time. Someone takes it at the gym. You accidentally drop it on the sidewalk. In an instant, one of your most important possessions is stolen or broken. Luckily, there are some credit cards that can have you covered.
Replacing or repairing a cellphone is expensive. According to a recent survey by Allstate, 140 million Americans have damaged their cellphones at one time or another, and 87 million have done so in the past year. Cracked screens account for 45% of the damages. If not insured, an iPhone 12 screen repair can cost an average of $279, and an average of $249 for a Samsung Galaxy S20 screen repair. And then there’s water damage or even theft to consider.
Because mobile devices are so essential and so expensive, many credit card issuers have begun offering cellphone insurance as a benefit. As a result, it’s easier than ever to cushion the blow when smartphone disasters strike — provided you have the right card in your wallet.
How cellphone insurance works
If you’re interested in credit cards with cellphone insurance, there are a few things you should know, says Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree.
First, you only qualify for protection when you pay your cellphone bill with the card that offers the perk, in which case coverage typically kicks in the first day of the month after you pay your cellphone bill. For example, if you pay your cellphone bill with your credit card on June 15, your cellphone will be protected beginning July 1. When your next bill comes due on July 15, and you choose to pay it using your checking account, your cellphone coverage will lapse effective Aug. 1 and reactivate again only when you resume paying your bill with your credit card — again, on the first day of the month after you pay your bill.
It’s also important to know what is and isn’t covered. “Generally speaking, what’s covered is a damaged or stolen phone,” Schulz said. “If you just lose your phone — if you leave it in a taxi while you’re on vacation — you’re not going to receive any money back.”
In the case of a stolen phone, you typically must file a police report within 48 hours of the theft. And in the case of a damaged phone, you may be asked to provide a repair estimate from an authorized cellphone repair facility if you plan to have your phone fixed; a receipt for a replacement phone if you had to buy a new device and want to be reimbursed; or even the phone itself so it can be evaluated for damages.
Although there are some minor differences, benefits are generally the same across cards, according to Schulz, who says the maximum benefit typically covers only a fraction of the cost of replacing the most expensive smartphones. As a result, card issuers generally consider their insurance to be “supplemental” — intended for use in combination with other insurance policies in order to cover costs they don’t.
Which credit cards offer cellphone insurance?
What was once a novel benefit is becoming more and more common. “That’s because cellphones have become such an important part of everybody’s lives, and because they’ve gotten so expensive,” Schulz said. “Card issuers are always looking for new ways to differentiate themselves from the competition; when you’re dropping several hundred to $1,000 on a phone, insurance starts to seem like a valuable thing to have.”
Among the cards offering cellphone insurance is the Citi Prestige® Credit Card* ($495 annual fee), which began offering it on May 1, 2019, and has one of the industry’s most generous benefits: up to $1,000 coverage per claim and up to $1,500 in coverage per year for up to five eligible cellphones per account, with a $50 deductible per claim.
Another popular choice is the Uber Visa Card, whose coverage — up to $600 per claim and up to two claims per year, with a $25 deductible — is typical of most offerings, including those of Wells Fargo, which offers identical coverage across each of its consumer credit cards.
Even carriers that don’t offer explicit cellphone benefits might cover your damaged phone. Capital One, for example, offers on some cards (e.g., its Visa Signature cards) a purchase security benefit of up to $500 for items that are damaged within 90 days of purchase, and on other cards offers extended warranty coverage that doubles a purchase’s original manufacturer warranty up to a maximum of one year. Although they won’t help with old or stolen devices, both are alternative means by which to protect a new cellphone from damage.
|Credit Cards with Cellphone Insurance|
|Credit card issuer||Credit card name||Cellphone coverage/deductibles|
|American Express||The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card from American Express for Goldman Sachs
|Coverage for a stolen or damaged eligible cellular wireless telephone is subject to the terms, conditions, exclusions and limits of liability of this benefit. The maximum liability is $800, per claim, per eligible card account. Each claim is subject to a $50 deductible. Coverage is limited to two claims per eligible card account per 12-month period.
|Chase||Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||Up to $600 per claim; up to $1,800 in coverage per year; $100 deductible|
|Citi||Citi Prestige® Credit Card||Up to $1,000 per claim for 5 eligible cellphones per account; up to $1,500 in coverage per year; $50 deductible|
|Deserve||Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students
Deserve® Classic Mastercard
|Up to $600 per claim for up to 3 eligible cellphones per account; up to $1,000 in coverage per year; $50 co-pay per claim|
|Fifth Third Bank||Secured Card by Fifth Third Bank
Stand Up To Cancer® Credit Card
TRIO℠ Credit Card
Truly Simple Credit Card
Fifth Third Cash/Back Card
Fifth Third Preferred Cash/Back Card
|Up to $200 per claim; up to two claims and $400 in coverage per year; $50 deductible|
|First Citizens Bank||First Citizens Rewards Visa® Card
First Citizens Smart Option Visa® Card
|Up to $500 per claim; up to two claims and $1,000 in coverage per year; $50 deductible|
|First National Bank of Omaha||FNBO Business Edition® Visa® Card
Evergreen® by FNBO | Business Edition® Credit Card
FNBO Business Edition® Secured Mastercard® Credit Card
|Up to $600 per claim for up to 5 eligible cellphones per account; up to $1,000 in coverage per year; $50 deductible|
|Barclays||Uber Visa Card||Up to $600 per claim; up to two claims and $1,200 in coverage per year; $25 deductible|
|U.S. Bank||U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card||Up to $600 per claim; up to two claims and $1,200 in coverage per year; $25 deductible|
|Wells Fargo||Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
Wells Fargo Cash Back℠ College Card
Wells Fargo Rewards Visa® Credit Card*
Wells Fargo Cash Back Visa® Signature Card
|Up to $600 per claim; up to $1,200 in coverage per year; $25 deductible|
What are your other cellphone insurance options?
Because card issuers typically intend for their cellphone benefits to supplement other coverage, it’s important to know which types of primary insurance are available.
One is carrier-provided insurance. According to Consumer Reports, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon offer plans through insurer Asurion, while T-Mobile offers them through Assurant. With each, you can customize your coverage based on the amount of protection you want, as well as the number and price point of devices you want to protect. Monthly premiums range from just $6.75 per month to insure a single smartphone through Verizon to $34.99 per month to insure three devices through AT&T. Carriers typically cover loss in addition to theft and damage, and generally pay more per claim than card issuers in exchange for higher deductibles; Verizon, for example, charges a $149 deductible to protect an iPhone 8, but will pay up to $2,000 per claim.
Some phone manufacturers also offer coverage. Apple, for example, insures iPhones through AppleCare+, which starts at $129 for a two-year plan to insure Apple’s cheapest device against accidental damage only and goes up to $299 for a two-year plan to insure its most expensive device against damage, theft and loss. For Galaxy users, Samsung offers Samsung Protection Plus, which starts at $99 for two years and covers only accidental damage or mechanical breakdowns.
Yet another option is personal insurance, according to Beth Maerz, vice president of customer experience and innovation at insurance company Travelers. She says many homeowners and renters insurance policies cover cellphones for damage or theft, although higher deductibles — typically $500 to $1,000 — apply.
“If somebody comes into your apartment and takes $20,000 worth of stuff, it’s only a $500 deductible to replace it, and that includes your phone,” Maerz said. “On the flip side, if you just damage your phone, you still have to pay the same $500 deductible; if all you have is a cracked screen, that really isn’t going to help you.”
A possible solution is “flexible” personal insurance. In 2018, for example, Travelers launched Traverse, which allows consumers to insure only the items that are important to them, like their cellphone. Like SquareTrade, it covers cellphone-specific loss, theft and damage in exchange for a monthly subscription; but while SquareTrade costs $8.99 per month and charges a deductible of up to $149 per claim, Traverse starts at $4.75 for a smartphone and charges no deductible.
However, Traverse is currently available only in New York, but the company plans to expand soon.
Should you choose a card that offers cellphone insurance?
Clearly, credit card-issued cellphone insurance is just one option. Depending on your needs, it could be the best option.
But that doesn’t mean you should seek a credit card based exclusively on its cellphone benefits.
“It probably shouldn’t be priority No. 1,” Schulz said. “If you carry a balance, you should be looking for cards with low APRs and fees. And if you’re seeking rewards, you should be looking at sign-up bonuses and redemption policies. But if you’re trying to decide between a couple of comparable cards, and one of them offers cellphone insurance, it could be a deciding factor. Because $600 per claim is not an insignificant amount of money — especially if you have a top-of-the-line cellphone.”
The bottom line
Cellphone insurance alone does not a great card make. But if you can’t live without your phone, and you already have or covet a card that offers it, it’s a benefit you should definitely exploit.
The information related to the Wells Fargo Platinum card , Evergreen® by FNBO | Business Edition® Credit Card, FNBO Business Edition® Visa® Card, FNBO Business Edition® Secured Mastercard® Credit Card, Citi Prestige® Credit Card, Deserve® Classic Mastercard, Fifth Third Cash/Back Card, Fifth Third Preferred Cash/Back Card, First Citizens Rewards Visa® Card, First Citizens Smart Option Visa® Card, The Platinum Card from American Express for Goldman Sachs, Secured Card by Fifth Third Bank, Stand Up To Cancer® Credit Card, TRIO℠ Credit Card, Truly Simple Credit Card, Uber Visa Card, Wells Fargo Cash Back Visa® Signature Card, Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card, Wells Fargo Rewards Visa® Credit Card, Wells Fargo Cash Back℠ College Card has been independently collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. These offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or are no longer available. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.
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